The Rundown: Cubs Treading Water Despite Win, Báez Protects Rizzo, Pederson Nears Return, MLB Bans Alomar
“I know perfectly well, I’m not where I should be
I’ve been very aware you’ve been patient with me.” – Brian Wilson, You Still Believe in Me
The Cubs and Reds split the first two games of their series and Chicago was so overjoyed with what Ryan Pace and the Bears in the NFL Draft did this weekend hardly anybody noticed. It’s hard to get a read on the Cubs now that we are one full month into the season, but I suppose as each day passes it looks more and more like dueling pianos:
- A small glimpse into the future thanks to promising starts by Nico Hoerner and Adbert Alzolay; and
- A wistful victory lap for pending free agents Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Báez.
Let’s not forget Craig Kimbrel, who has finally emerged as the dominant closer we all hoped he would be just in time for Jed Hoyer to shop him to teams with genuine postseason aspirations.
What a ninth. pic.twitter.com/lYRyMjF3ov
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) May 2, 2021
Despite yesterday’s 3-2 win over Cincinnati, Chicago remains in last place in the NL Central, five games behind the torrid Brewers. While Milwaukee has been terrorizing teams like the Padres and Dodgers, the Cubs have struggled against the likes of the Pirates and Reds. I know the Nationals proved in 2019 that even the worst teams can look pathetic through mid-May before turning it around, but that was a rare instance. We know who the Cubs are based on the last month of last season and the first month of this one: A team that will struggle to play .500 baseball.
Barring an unlikely stretch of about .600 baseball, expect the trade rumors to start as this month progresses. The good news is that despite three-game stretch against the Dodgers starting tomorrow, the Cubs have a very winnable stretch of May games against teams like the Pirates, Nationals, Reds, Indians, and Tigers. The bad news is, well, you’ve seen how bad the Cubs looked against Pittsburgh earlier this year.
Cubs News & Notes
- Zach Davies and the Cubs rotation have been unable to pitch deep into games much of this season and that continued yesterday. Davies barely lasted four innings, the fifth time he hasn’t pitched at least five innings this year.
- The trade to acquire Davies and his slow start has been magnified by the successes of Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini in San Diego, and is a direct reflection on Cubs ownership.
- Darvish has picked up where he left off last season, when he finished second in Cy Young voting. Darvish is 3-1 with the 49 strikeouts in 39 innings with the Padres.
- After Saturday’s 3-for-3 performance, Hoerner’s halfway to his entire 2020 hit total. The Gold Glove-nominated second baseman has 12 hits in 10 games since being recalled. Last season, he tallied 24 in 48 games.
- Tensions were high in the 8th inning after Amir Garrett struck out Rizzo. Garrett was belligerent in his celebration, and Rizzo and his teammates took exception as both benches cleared. Cincinnati third baseman Mike Moustakas staved off Báez to avoid what looked to be a certain melee.
- It’s nice to see that fire in El Mago. The Reds and the rest of baseball may see what happens by not letting sleeping bears lie.
- The streaky Cubs are a tale of extremes after a month of baseball.
- Joc Pederson is on the mend and participated in live batting practice this morning. The 29-year-old appears to be in the final stages of rehab.
Climbing the Ladder
“Aprils have never meant that much to me.” – Truman Capote
- Games Played: 27
- Total Plate Appearances: 1,003
- Total Strikeouts: 273
- Strikeout Rate: 27.2%
- Team Batting Average: .218
Odds & Sods
I don’t know what’s going on here but I can’t wait until the Cubs play the Rockies just to get a little more insight on the mound presence of Justin Lawrence.
It's time for everyone's new favorite relief pitcher…
Justin Lawrence pic.twitter.com/2Svy22KEfm
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 2, 2021
How About That!
Angels outfielder Mike Trout had a superb April and is playing the best baseball of his career.
Meanwhile, MLB umpires are off to their worst start ever. Bryce Harper was ejected from the dugout the other night for arguing a blown call on Andrew McCutchen.
When analysts talk about baseball’s best shortstops, Nationals star Trea Turner is often overlooked. Perhaps he deserves more attention.
The Brewers are making waves against some of the better teams in the league. Travis Shaw was the hero in Milwaukee’s 6-5 win over Los Angeles last night. Craig Counsell’s team goes for the four-game sweep this afternoon.
Roberto Alomar, who had been serving as a consultant to Major League Baseball, has been placed on the league’s ineligible list after an investigation into a 2014 sexual misconduct allegation.
The Blue Jays, who retired Alomar’s number, have also cut ties with the Hall of Fame second baseman.
Saturday’s Three Stars
- Nico Hoerner – The future face of the Cubs was 3-for-3 with a run, an RBI, a stolen base, and the go-ahead single in the 6th inning yesterday as he continues on with his true coming out party.
- Jack Flaherty – The St. Louis ace improved to 5-0 on the season, striking out nine Pittsburgh batters in six solid innings as the Cardinals upended the Pirates 12-5.
- Jameson Taillon – Kudos to the Yankees starter for winning his first game in two years as the Bronx Bombers defeated the Tigers 6-4.
I’ve said this a hundred times if I’ve said it once, but Cubs fans are really going to miss Bryant if he plays elsewhere this season or next.
Kris Bryant leads the NL with 16 extra-base hits.#CubTogether pic.twitter.com/yv3L8O1DH6
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) May 1, 2021
They Said It
- “I’m just not gonna let [Amir Garrett] or anyone disrespect my teammates or my team. I really don’t know, I don’t know what he’s got against Rizzo. He did it to me in the past. Like I said, I like what he does, he’s just got to do it to his team, not to us. Not after a strikeout. I hit three homers against him and I didn’t do anything to show him up, or his team.” – Javy Báez
- “To be disrespected by another player on the field kind of challenges your manhood. I think those are things that I wouldn’t have stood for as a player, that’s for sure. I would have been the first one in line for that. I can’t do that anymore, so I don’t fault any of our guys. That’s not the way that I think baseball is intended to go, but I think that’s [Garrett’s] style. I don’t agree with it. I think it’s garbage, but he’s not on my team.” – David Ross
Sunday Walk Up Song
Sloop John B by the Beach Boys – A Brian Wilson Pet Sounds bookend is a nice way to close the weekend.