The Cubs’ road splits are so bad it’s almost laughable. After last night’s 2-1 loss to the Cardinals in St. Louis, Chicago sits 12 games under .500 on the road while boasting a 36-18 record at home. In a division where only the Cardinals are playing at least .500 ball in away games, the Cubs rank last in road win percentage. That means that despite owning a +70 run differential, Chicago now sits a full game out of first place.
At some point, you have to believe things are going to start evening out. The Cubs have been as inept on the road as the contestants in SNL’s version of Celebrity Jeopardy.
The Cubs had only six hits last night, half of them by right fielder Jason Heyward, as their struggling offense continues to scream for deadline reinforcements at center field and second base. Robel García has been a nice story, but had stumbled a bit after a quick start and really has no business being the team’s leadoff hitter. Garcia is only hitting .220 and it remains puzzling that Joe Maddon continues to put him at the top of the order since he gets on base at just a .254 clip.
Here’s a sobering stat: Per ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, the Cubs are the only team in baseball to hold a lead in all of their games since the All-Star break. That has resulted in just a 9-7 record, most of which has been the fault of the bullpen, something the acquisition of David Phelps from the Blue Jays is meant to help. That said, the Cubs really wasted another stellar outing by starter Yu Darvish last night because they couldn’t come up with any big hits. Tuesday’s showing, which included 10 stranded runners, is a true microcosm of their road woes this season.
If you tend to be a glass-half-full person, the Cubs could still leave St. Louis in sole possession of first place in the NL Central by taking the final two games of the series. To do that, the Cubs are going to have to be able to score more than just one run, but may need a little help in doing so. Hopefully Theo Epstein will be able to fill the holes in the Cubs lineup by today’s 4pm ET trade deadline.
Cubs News & Notes
- Darvish had nine strikeouts last night and didn’t walk a single batter and has been the team’s best starter this month. Darvsh is now 3-5 on the season, and his eight total decisions are positively remarkable for a guy who has started 22 games.
Pick your poison. pic.twitter.com/LvA4aQT16v
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 31, 2019
- Maddon’s seat got a little heated yesterday when he was asked about his bullpen deployments. I don’t think attacking the fans is the smartest move when your bullpen has cost you four of the five losses on this road trip. “Fans…have this really ridiculous concept about bullpens and bullpen management,” said the Cubs’ skipper.
- Paul Goldschmidt hit the game-winning homer last night, something Cubs fans have dreaded since the Cardinals acquired the first baseman from Arizona in the offseason. Goldschmidt now has 11 taters this month.
- The Cardinals believe they are superior to the Cubs and Brewers and will be kicking themselves if they don’t win the division in a year when their rivals seem to be stuck in neutral.
- The Cubs certainly have the minor league pieces to forge a blockbuster deal and could move some major league salaries if needed. It’s not likely that Epstein will further deplete his farm system, however. If I had to make one bold prediction, it’s that the Cubs will move Tyler Chatwood and a few fringe players to create some salary relief to get the Cubs under the competitive balance tax threshold.
- Chatwood has been a pleasant surprise this season.
- Pedro Strop (neck tightness) was placed on the 10-day IL before the game, retroactive to Saturday. RHP Duane Underwood Jr. was recalled from Iowa and joins the Cubs for the second time in his career.
- Every time I think that Derek Holland basically cost the Cubs just a single dollar, I Eddie Murphy-chuckle to myself a little. That’s not as pathetic as the team’s current financial restraints,however.
Still, that didn’t prohibit the Reds, Indians, and Padres from making a blockbuster three-team trade yesterday evening. Cleveland sent Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati, getting Yasiel Puig in return, along with San Diego outfielder Franmil Reyes. The Padres received prospect Taylor Trammell from the Reds. Cleveland also received pitcher Logan Allen and two prospects from the Padres.
MLB.com provides six bold deadline predictions that includes the Cardinals doing nothing yet still winning the NL Central. To state that the Redbirds have fewer holes than the Cubs seems a little off and based solely on Chicago’s recent road troubles.
The Braves and Rangers consummated a deal yesterday that netted Atlanta relief pitcher Chris Martin for minor league pitcher Kolby Allard. This is strictly a rental for the Braves, as Martin is a free agent after this season. Allard was the 14th overall pick of the 2015 draft but was Atlanta’s number 12 prospect in the mid-season team rankings.
Nothing is a guarantee, and all eyes will be on the Giants and Mets today to see if either moves starting and/or relief pitchers to contending teams. As the 4pm ET deadline approaches, we could see a great number of last minute deals if acquisition costs reenter a more normalized stratosphere.
The Mets could begin their fire sale today, and we may see the A’s and Phillies make big moves to acquire pitching.
How About That!
The Pirates have been pitching up and in all season, something they have been doing since Clint Hurdle too over the team in 2009. The Reds decided they had had enough last night and an epic brawl followed. It will be interesting to see if Puig gets suspended before he plays a single game with the Indians.
It was a CRAZY night in Cincinnati 😮
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) July 31, 2019
The Dodgers crushed the Rockies and starter Kyle Freeland again last night. The Rockies pitcher has had one of the worst backslides in the history of the game. After drawing some consideration for the NL Cy Young award last year, Freeland now owns a 7.48 ERA on the season.
Former Cubs starter Drew Smyly had a stellar outing for the Phillies last night. Smyly is with is third team of the season after the Cubs traded him to the Rangers in November. Speaking of which, did Chicago ever get their PTBNL?
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Justin Verlander – The veteran Astros starter held the Indians to two hits and no walks over seven innings while fanning 13 batters. Verlander’s performance was enough to outshine Cleveland’s Shane Bieber, who had a good outing himself, striking out eight and allowing just two runs in seven innings.
- Noah Syndergaard – Thor had 11 strikeouts in his statement game last night, leading the Mets to a 5-2 win over the White Sox in Chicago.
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – With yesterday’s grand slam, the rookie Blue Jays outfielder became the youngest player in MLB history to hit multiple bases-loaded bombs.
Though Josh Hader has been nothing short of dominant against the Cubs this season, he has struggled a bit against the rest of the league. He took the loss last night as the A’s walked it off against the Brewers closer.
Josh Hader has allowed 10 HR this season, the most in any season of his career.
That's the 3rd walk-off HR he's allowed in his career and 2nd this season.
The others walk-off HR
– Freddie Freeman , 5/18/19
– Billy Hamilton, 9/4/17
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) July 31, 2019
They Said It
- “We had opportunities tonight. We just didn’t take advantage of them. We left a lot of runners on. We’ve got to drive them in. That is kind of where we’re stuck. We’ve got to get beyond that.” – Joe Maddon
- “The pitch to Goldschmidt, I should maybe go more in but he’s very good. It was a good pitch. He’s a monster [right now]. That’s why he could hit that pitch.” – Yu Darvish
- “They are good but we are better.” – Carlos Martínez
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Things Can Only Get Better by Howard Jones. I may have used this earlier this season but it is my new mantra whenever the Cubs go on the road. For the record, July’s walk up theme was music from the Netflix series Stranger Things.