The Rundown: Makeshift Lineup Drops Third Straight to Mets, Cubs May Add Starting Pitching at Deadline, Gerrit Cole Voices Displeasure Over New Rules
“I pick myself up off the ground to have you knock me back down again and again.” – Nick Lowe, Cruel to Be Kind
A lineup that includes Rafael Ortega and Jose Lobatón with starting pitcher Robert Stock is about as off-brand for the Cubs as these fine cereals. Since it seemed that manager David Ross deemed a loss to Jacob deGrom a foregone conclusion, I had little incentive to watch last night’s game. No matter the recent accolades of Chicago’s up-and-coming farm system, Stock showed that the minor league Cubs still have a ways to go when it comes to developing starting pitching. For a while, it seemed the journeyman wanted to match the Mets starter walk-to-strikeout.
After last night’s 6-3 loss to the Metropolitans, Chicago’s baseballers have lost three straight on the heels of an epic five-game winning streak that included a sweep of the Cardinals. The 38-30 (.559) Cubs are now 14-20 (.411) on the road, very reminiscent of the 2019 team that went 33-48 (.392) away from the Friendly Confines to grease the skids for the exit of Joe Maddon.
DeGrom was on his way to what looked like a perfect game when he exited after three innings due to a recurring shoulder injury. Up to that point, he’d struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced and looked to be as dominant as any pitcher Chicago has faced in the history of the organization. After striking out Eric Sogard in the 3rd inning — his seventh straight punchout — deGrom left the game with a 3-0 lead and offered the Cubs at least some hope of a comeback. Mets relievers never missed a beat, however, amassing an additional eight strikeouts across the final six frames.
2nd home run of the year for Rafael Ortega!#CubTogether pic.twitter.com/n02ussiQJo
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) June 17, 2021
A 9th-inning home run by Ortega made the score respectable, and now the Cubs will need a win tonight to avoid the four-game sweep in Gotham. They hope Kyle Hendricks will be the stopper they so desperately need as he faces Marcus Stroman before Chicago heads back home for five games against the Marlins and Indians.
- The Good: Two-thirds of the Cubs’ hits went for extra bases, including home runs by Ortega and Anthony Rizzo. Unfortunately, the Cubs had just three hits on the night.
- The Bad: Stock looked very not-ready-for-prime-time on the New York stage, allowing five runs on four hits with six bases on balls in four innings of work. He also hit a batter.
- The Ugly: The Cubs struck out 16 times last night and have flailed at the plate 31 times over the last two games.
Cubs News & Notes
- Just asking, and I’d never thought I’d reach this point, but does anybody know when Nico Hoerner is coming back? Sogard just isn’t cutting it offensively as the team’s go-to replacement at second.
- The Cubs’ starting rotation is ranked No. 27 in all of baseball.
- The Cubs made a flurry of roster moves yesterday, including the additions of Stock and Cory Abbott, though the results were less than spectacular. Stock, who wields a 100+ mph fastball, held a career 4.24 ERA in 52 major league appearances entering last night’s game and has been used almost exclusively as a reliever.
- Adbert Alzolay should return during the team’s upcoming homestand. He’s been sidelined with a blister on his pitching hand.
- Per Gordon Wittenmyer, the Cubs are planning to add at least one starting pitcher before this year’s trade deadline.
- Just my opinion, but German Márquez might be a decent under-the-radar acquisition who would theoretically benefit from leaving Coors Field. The 26-year-old righty has a 3.67 career ERA with a 1.17 WHIP in away games, as compared to 4.94 and 1.47 respectively in Colorado.
- Chicago has two first-place baseball teams right now, setting up what could be one of the more memorable summers in the Windy City.
- That cup snake on Sunday night represented about $30,000 worth of beer.
Odds & Sods
Decidedly apropos this morning.
"Rats! We lost again! And now it's starting to rain… Where were you in the fourth inning?!" ~ Charlie Brown (Classic Peanuts – June 17, 1970) #MLB #Baseball pic.twitter.com/Px2IAPcn8Q
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) June 17, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“When I’m riding in my car and a man comes on the radio and he’s telling more and more about some useless information supposed to fire my imagination…I can’t get me no, satisfaction, no, no, no.” – Devo, Satisfaction
- Games Played: 68
- Total Plate Appearances: 2,500
- Total Strikeouts: 647
- Strikeout Rate: 25.9%
- Team Batting Average: .230
Apropos of Nothing
I discovered a couple of great CBGB performances from the late 1970s while scouring Youtube for today’s music selections, including savage versions of Psycho Killer by Talking Heads and Rip Her to Shreds by Blondie, the latter so raw and unbridled it makes you dream of the time of punk music’s American infancy.
How About That!
Astros second baseman José Altuve became the first player to launch a leadoff homer in a game after hitting a walk-off slam, according to STATS.
Rays starter Tyler Glasnow may need season-ending elbow surgery.
Gerritt Cole of the Yankees is unhappy about the crackdown on the sticky substances and believes injuries will be the result of pitchers gripping the baseballs too tightly to compensate.
Former Yankees and Blue Jays starter David Wells thinks the new rules are absurd and that the league might as well let the hitters bat from a tee.
The pickings are mighty slim for teams looking to add starting pitching at this year’s deadline. Jon Lester will probably be available, and wouldn’t it be something if he ended up back with the Cubs. Lester’s contract is well within Chicago’s budget and won’t cost Hoyer much in the way of minor leaguers. The big lefty is seven wins shy of 200 for his career.
The Dodgers have promoted outfielder Steven Souza, Jr. The Cubs castoff had a 1.057 OPS at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
High-ranking prospect Matt Manning of the Tigers will make his major league debut tonight against the Angels and starter Shohei Ohtani.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Paolo Espino – The Nationals starter earned his first major league win against the Pirates last night. He’s 34 years old.
- Tyler Mahle – The Reds starter improved to 7-2 on the season while striking out 12 Brewers batters in six innings of work. Milwaukee, who shares first place in the NL Central with the Cubs, scored just four runs while being swept in the three-game set by Cincinnati.
- Nelson Cruz – A 1-for-5 night is no reason for addition here except it’s the ageless Cruz and his one hit was a three-run bomb, his 14th of the season.
Copycats, and a poor facsimile at that.
we got a beer snake at Dodger Stadium pic.twitter.com/4ivihxq5w3
— Hector Diaz (@iamHectorDiaz) June 17, 2021
They Said It
- “We don’t give pep talks around here. We’re going to run across some good pitching coming up. We understand that. This is part of baseball. We’re going to go out and compete the way we do every single night.” – David Ross
- “We haven’t hit with runners in scoring position in a while, so we just have to get that out of the way and get back on track, get on base, take our walks. As an offense as a whole, we just haven’t done that well. Our guys, we’re grinding, but that’s what we do. Just keep playing. We know there are ups and downs in the season.” – Anthony Rizzo
- “What we decided to do this weekend was just let them snake. A year ago, the ballpark was a food pantry and the hotel across the street was a shelter for our physicians… People were letting it out and they were having some fun this weekend.” – Crane Kenney
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Because the Night (Live) by Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band – A live version of one the greatest rock and roll songs of all time, from one of music’s best eras.