The Rundown: Cubs’ Win Streak Reaches Two, Finding Fun Playing Spoiler, League Makes Initial CBA Pitch to MLBPA
“A witness to this tragic train wreck… I’ll float on forever in waters so deep, dark, and wide. My heart may sink but my love will lift me high.” – Jennie Arnau, Float On
Frank Schwindel, Rafael Ortega, Michael Hermosillo, and Adrian Sampson are really trying to throw a monkey wrench into Jed Hoyer’s plan to lose 100 games and secure a top 5 draft pick. Don’t look now, but your Replacement Cubs have a two-game winning streak and are trending upward.
Farewell, baseball. pic.twitter.com/aZo6I3nZxh
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 18, 2021
After yesterday’s 7-1 win against the Reds, Chicago now sits two full games behind the Marlins for the No. 5 overall pick in next year’s draft. Though that’s fun to track, MLB draft picks are never a guarantee. Since the draft was instituted back in the 1960s, several high picks have failed just as much as lower picks have succeeded. Mike Trout is probably the poster boy for the latter, as 24 teams passed on the outfielder before the Angels grabbed him at No. 25 overall, right after they selected Randal Grichuk one pick prior.
With that in mind, it’s fun to see the Cubs play competitive baseball, win a few games, and try to put that 12-game losing streak behind them. Wins have been rare since mid-June and winning streaks, no matter how modest, even rarer. It’s doubly nice when the Cubs can beat up on teams in their own division, especially ones fighting for a postseason berth. Playing the heavy is not as much fun as playing the favorite, but it’s nice to turn the tables on the teams that have historically been the biggest thorns in Chicago’s side when the Cubs were fighting for the division title in previous years.
It’s also fun to root for new guys, especially the ones listed previously, and watching Kyle Hendricks as he leads the league in wins while playing on one of the worst teams in baseball has been nothing short of astonishing. He won’t get any votes for the Cy Young Award — heck, he’s yet to be selected for a single All-Star Game — but The Professor will be laser-focused as he attempts to win 20 games for a team that may struggle to win 70 overall. Such is the life of being a fan of these Cubs.
Cubs News & Notes
- The organization is unveiling its new Hall of Fame with an initial roster of 56 franchise luminaries, though Sammy Sosa has been excluded.
- The Cubs and the rest of baseball are bracing themselves for a late-season COVID-19 threat. Chicago remains one of seven teams that has not met MLB’s recommended 85% vaccination rate.
- Daniel Winkler was designated for assignment to make room for Hermosillo, and Kyle Ryan was officially outrighted.
- Winkler hasn’t been pitching well since the league banned foreign substances.
- Schwindel has been a pleasant surprise and is one of the league’s hottest hitters. He was 2-for-4 with an RBI yesterday and is now slashing .329/.361/.994.
- Gorden Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago offers a five-step plan for the Cubs to weather their “Game of Thrones” rebuild.
- For Andrew and Austin Romine, playing together for the Cubs has been a blessing.
Odds & Sods
Rumor has it Lance Lynn won’t take the mound until somebody ties his shoes, either.
White Sox ace Lance Lynn ejected for throwing his belt near the umpire during a foreign substance check: 'Obviously, I hurt his feelings' https://t.co/FlTu2xT1L3 pic.twitter.com/dy7nSppw03
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) August 19, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t, so here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my road.” – Florence & The Machine, Shake it Out
- Games Played: 123
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,520
- Total Strikeouts: 1,202
- Strikeout Rate: 26.6%
- Team Batting Average: .231
The Cubs have improved their batting average by seven points since the trade deadline if you’re looking for little victories. Though you have to account for small sample sizes, the North Siders had two .300 hitters and five players with an OBP of .340 or higher in their lineup yesterday.
How About That!
Major League Baseball made its initial proposal to the MLBPA on Wednesday, one that reportedly included a new salary minimum of $100 million for each team. The league also proposed a lowered luxury-tax threshold of $180 million with steeper penalties than those in the current agreement
With approximately 40 games left in the season for most teams, there are several milestones to keep an eye on, including 1,000 career strikeouts for Hendricks.
Walker Buehler, Zack Wheeler, Corbin Burnes, and a few others all have legitimate shots at this year’s NL Cy Young Award. Which one should win depends entirely on who you ask and what their methodology is.
Brewers infielder Kolten Wong stole second twice off of Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, then literally stole the base.
Other than acquiring Kyle Schwarber, the Red Sox basically chose to stand pat at the trade deadline despite dearly needed relief help and could be on the verge of a historical collapse.
Jake Arrieta did not have a good debut with the Padres.
San Diego’s biggest strength was their starting rotation at the start of the season, and now the team lacks the depth to remain competitive that they thought they’d secured.
Tigers announcer Jack Morris has been suspended indefinitely by the team’s regional sports network for using an offensive accent on-air concerning Shohei Ohtani.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Freddie Freeman – The Braves first baseman hit for the cycle for the second time in his career, going 4-for-5 with two RBI.
- Shohei Ohtani – The hands-down AL MVP tossed eight innings of one-run baseball and hit a solo home run to boot. The two-way all-star is now 8-1 and has hit 40 taters this season.
- Max Muncy – The Dodgers infielder enjoyed a 2-for-3 day that included two home runs and five RBI as Los Angeles sunk the Pirates 9-0 for their sixth straight win.
“Life comes at you pretty fast.” – Jed Hoyer
Amazing stat: Jesus Aguilar, on the low-scoring Marlins, leads the NL with 86 RBI
Even more amazing star: Kyle Hendricks, on the dismantling Cubs, leads the NL with 14 wins
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 19, 2021
They Said It
Is the future really that bright? Let’s cue Timbuk3.
- “Right now it’s almost Game of Thrones-esque. We’re being asked what kind of role we want to play in this organization going forward. It’s ours for the taking. If you want it you’ve got to go get it. That’s my thought process. I really want this job, and I’m going to do everything I can to be successful.” – Adrian Sampson
- “A lot of talent [at Triple-A Iowa]. Every single guy throws upper-90s, which is incredible. Wipeout sliders, good changeups, a lot of feel for the game. … The future’s bright for this club.” – Sampson
- “I was very excited to get picked up by the Cubs. It’s just an awesome opportunity and they made a bunch of moves, which [allowed me] to show up and play. I’ve been having a great time so far and just want to keep it going.” – Frank Schwindel
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Our Day Will Come by Amy Winehouse – Let’s end it on a positive note for a change. Some of these Sub-Cubs are legitimately earning a shot to be part of Hoyer’s Great Reset.