“But I say life goes on end of tunnel, T.V. set spot in the middle static fade, statistical bit. Soon, I’ll fade away, I’ll fade away.” – Dave Matthews, Warehouse
The Cubs were off yesterday, but days off don’t have that anticipatory desire for the next game that they used to. In fact, the Royals arrive at Wrigley Field this afternoon as one of the few teams that have a worse record than our boys in blue. I actually expect the Cubs to sweep, which would give them a five-game winning streak heading into Monday’s tilt with the Rockies.
I’m more excited to watch guys like Michael Hermosillo, Frank Schwindel, and Patrick Wisdom than I’m concerned about where the Cubs will draft next season. They’re steaming toward a top-10 pick, but I’d rather view the last six weeks of this season as a preview to spring training. I’m specifically looking forward to Saturday’s game because Keegan Thompson should get the start. He was recently named Triple-A Player of the Week and could be a rotation mainstay next April.
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) August 16, 2021
In those 8.1 scoreless innings, Thompson allowed just three hits with nine strikeouts and only one walk, which is impressive no matter the competition. In four starts with Iowa since the organization started stretching him out, the rookie has pitched 14.2 scoreless innings with 16 strikeouts against five hits and five walks. That’s a nifty 0.68 WHIP.
It’s taken a good three weeks, but I’ve finally allowed myself to move on from the pre-deadline Cubs. Though I wish each of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez, and Craig Kimbrel nothing but the best, they’re enemies now, I’ve accepted their estrangement from the team. I don’t think any of them will be back next season, though I actually believe Andrew Chafin will return.
With that in mind, I’m interested to see how these Replacement Cubs fare between now and October 3. How will the hitters do as teams learn to exploit their weaknesses? Will they adjust or regress? As far as the team’s young pitchers are concerned, I’d like to see how they handle adversity. Justin Steele showed last week that he is perfectly capable of getting big outs when needed, so I’d like to see the same from Thompson. Both should eventually excel at limiting baserunners.
In the past, I’d generally turn my attention to other activities if the Cubs fell out of the race. However, some of the new faces intrigue me. Though nobody believes Thompson and Steele are the next Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, uncovering their fourth and fifth starters for 2022 means the front office won’t be overpaying for the likes of Tyler Chatwood or Jake Arrieta.
Cubs News & Notes
- Playing for the Cubs is a childhood dream come true for Hermosillo.
- Wednesday’s starter and winner Adrian Sampson is hoping to seize a long-term role in Chicago’s rotation.
- You’ll need a subscription to The Athletic to read the full article, but Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma believe there will be no “next core” for the Cubs and that Hoyer will instead look for more year-to-year flexibility with short term free-agent contracts at higher AAV. It’s an eye-opener, especially when you consider that the previous core had no interest in negotiating extensions with the team.
- Crane Kenney knows you’re upset with the current play of Chicago’s North Side Baseballers, and he empathizes and admits you deserve better. Kenney also called the spending to renovate Wrigley Field “heroic.”
- Rob Manfred attended yesterday’s rededication ceremony and talked a little bit about next year’s Field of Dreams Game, progress with the new CBA, and the possibility of Wrigley Field hosting an All-Star Game in the near future, but declined to comment on purposeful tanking.
- The Cubs signed former Red Sox pitcher Marcus Walden to a minor league contract. The 32-year-old right-hander had a solid season with Boston in 2019 and the front office hopes they can recapture that success with help from the team’s pitching infrastructure led by VP and director of pitching Craig Breslow.
- MLB Pipeline released their latest Top 100 prospect list, and Brennen Davis is the highest-ranked Cub at No. 14. Brailyn Márquez is ranked No, 94, and no other Chicago farmhands made the list.
Odds & Sods
Admit it…you’d love to see Chafin return to the Cubs next season.
— andrew chafin (@BigCountry1739) August 19, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“People asking questions, lost in confusion. Well, I tell them there’s no problems… only solutions.” – John Lennon, Watching the Wheels
No game yesterday, so here’s some scouting information on Thompson:
- If you favor deep analytics, baseballsavant.mlb.com provides just about every pitching metric available.
- Here’s the book on the rookie starter from MLB Pipeline.
- Here’s what CI’s Greg Huss said about Thompson earlier this year:
“Thompson is going to be 26 years old on Opening Day this year and he has only pitched 10 regular season innings since 2018, but he impressed at the alternate site last year in his return from injury. His curve is a true out-pitch and I think Thompson has back-end of the rotation written all over him in the next couple of years.”
How About That!
MLB is ending its 70-year affiliation with the Topps Trading Card Company. Sports apparel company Fanatics will now make all officially licensed baseball cards.
Bryant could be the centerpiece of San Francisco’s next core. The Giants are trying to lock up Buster Posey and then could set their sights on negotiating an extension for the former Cubs’ third baseman.
The Brewers’ magic number to win the division is now down to 32, which is not as much a reflection of how good Milwaukee is, but how bad the rest of the NL Central has been playing.
The White Sox and Rays will meet in a key series this weekend that could be a preview of this year’s AL playoffs.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Ty France – The Seattle first baseman had a nice night, going 3-for-6 with a home run and three RBI as the Mariners upended the Rangers 9-8.
- Phil Gosselin – The journeyman infielder led the Angels to a 13-10 win over the Tigers by going 3-for-6 with three runs scored, a homer, and two RBI.
- Madison Bumgarner – The veteran starter pitched like he turned the clock back five years, going eight innings and getting the win as the Diamondbacks beat the Phillies 6-2. Bumgarner held Philadelphia to one earned run on three hits with five strikeouts.
The Cubs released “Saving Wrigley Field” yesterday, their documentary about the Wrigley Field renovation project.
They Said It
- “In many ways, the story of the long road to saving Wrigley Field mirrors the success we’ve had on the field. Now Jed and his architects are at it again, making tough decisions and long-term investments to build the next great Cubs team.” – Tom Ricketts
- “Let me also say to our fans. We know our current play on the field is not what you expect or deserve. And we assure you that winning another World Series continues to be our No. 1 goal.” – Crane Kenney
Friday Walk-Up Song
Hanging Around by Counting Crows – I love the attitude of wanting to stick around beyond this year by the Replacement Cubs.