“Stood alone on a mountaintop staring down at the Great Divide. I could go East, I could go West it was all up to me to decide.” – Bob Seger, Roll Me Away
The Cubs are off today before beginning their final homestand of the season tomorrow night when they take on the Twins. Despite entering the Great Reset at this year’s trade deadline, the season went by a lot quicker than any of us expected. If anything, it was nice to finally attend games at Wrigley Field and stress levels should be low because nobody will be clinching anything during the two-game set with Minnesota.
That wasn’t the case over the weekend, as the Brewers clinched a postseason berth for the fourth straight season when they beat the Cubs 6-4 on Saturday night. It’s hard to believe, and even harder to write, that Milwaukee has been the dominant team in the NL Central since 2018. The reckoning may have come a year or two too late, but I don’t think any of us would be wrong in saying the North Siders have badly underperformed for the past few years. Where they go from here is all up to the president of baseball operations, Jed Hoyer.
The first thing Hoyer should do is name a GM. It may be someone already in-house, such as Craig Breslow or Dan Kantrovitz, but it might be nice to get an outsider’s voice, too. It probably won’t be Jason McLeod, who, though I’ve not seen anything in print, I’ve heard may be moving to the Padres organization once the season ends. Like Marvin Gaye once said, and later echoed by John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival, believe none of what you hear, and half of what you see.
In the meantime, and despite the mixed feelings we all share after the big selloff, you have to give Hoyer credit for a couple of under-the-radar moves he has made since taking over for Theo Epstein. Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom were the heroes in yesterday’s 6-4 win and both should enter 2022 as the team’s starting corner infielders. Wisdom set the team home run record for rookies when he launched his 27th of the year yesterday, surpassing Kris Bryant. Rafael Ortega should stick around as a platoon outfielder next season, too.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 19, 2021
Adrian Sampson also looks like a decent find. He probably won’t be a starter next season, but he’s certainly capable of taking the swingman role if Hoyer and David Ross decide to permanently move Alec Mills into the rotation. Millsy has at least earned the right to be considered for one of the five spots.
Hoyer could make a splash in free agency, at which point Ortega, Wisdom, and Schwindel could give Chicago some of the best depth in the league. If anything, the emergence of all three should make David Bote expendable, especially if Hoyer brings Matt Duffy back. Of course, we are all hoping that Ian Happ will be able to do over a full season what he has historically done in late-season spurts.
After the Twins leave town, the Cubs get the Cardinals for a three-game set starting Friday. Depending on how his start goes against the Brewers Tuesday night, Jon Lester could notch his 200th career win at the Friendly Confines on Sunday afternoon. With seven games left against the Redbirds, it’s also possible the Cubs could play the spoiler by knocking St. Louis out of the Wild Card race. The Cardinals have a three-game lead over the Reds for WC2.
As far as draft position, Chicago currently holds the eighth spot. Barring another double-digit losing streak to close out the season, they’ll probably finish somewhere in the 6-9 range. If you want to do some early scouting, Prospects Live has a comprehensive look at the players who will be eligible. It’s amazing to see how the order has changed in two months. At the time of their mid-July synopsis, the Cardinals were actually picking ahead of the Cubs.
Cubs News & Notes
- It may be difficult to properly evaluate the job Ross has done as manager since the Cubs are a vastly different team than the one that started the season.
- Ross is not worried about his job security.
- The Cubs activated Nico Hoerner and Keegan Thompson before yesterday’s game. Dillon Maples was designated for assignment and Nick Martini was optioned to Iowa to make room for the pair on the roster.
- Hoerner will be the team’s starting shortstop going forward, as he is likely to start there next season while Nick Madrigal takes over at second base.
- Pitching prospect Daniel Palencia induced 18 whiffs the other night. Palencia was acquired from the A’s in the Andrew Chafin deal.
- Justin Steele got his first MLB hit Saturday night off of Milwaukee’s Cy Young award candidate Corbin Burnes.
- Kyle Hendricks is expected to continue starting for the remainder of the season.
Odds & Sods
Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. could not play nice the other night and the Padres look like they have a gigantic leadership void right now. Considering how the team has underperformed, at least as far as expectations, there could be some change in that organization this winter. The language in the video below is NSFW by the way.
Fernando Tatís Jr. and Manny Machado were going at it in the dugout 👀
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 19, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“A thousand skeptic hands won’t keep us from the things we plan unless we’re clinging to the things we prize.”– Howard Jones, Things Can Only Get Better
- Games Played: 150
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,518
- Total Strikeouts: 1,488
- Strikeout Rate: 27%
- Team Batting Average: .233
The Cubs struck out 42 times in the three-game set with the Brewers, and they’ll have to make more contact if they have any hope of unseating Milwaukee next year. Chicago finished the season series against the Brewers with four wins in 19 games.
How About That!
The Yankees are struggling badly and may miss the postseason.
Both the Yankees and the Padres are on the outside looking in right now, something almost nobody predicted at the start of this season.
Soto could be a darkhorse candidate for MVP despite the Nationals’ poor record.
The NL East will be won by the Phillies or Braves and we could see a photo finish.
The next two hurricanes will be bestowed with the names Pete and Rose and baseball fans are loving it. The two storms are developing in the Atlantic basin and I can neither confirm nor deny that Charlie Hustle has placed any bets on where each storm will make landfall.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- José Ramírez – The Cleveland third baseman/DH had a 4-for-4 day with his 35th home run of the season, plating three runners as the Indians smoked the fading Yankees 11-1.
- Eddie Rosario – The Braves outfielder hit for the cycle yesterday in Atlanta’s 3-0 win over the Giants.
- Jarred Kelenic – The rookie outfielder had his best game of the season yesterday, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, and three RBI to lead the Mariners to a 7-1 win over the Royals. Seattle is four games behind the Blue Jays for the second Wild Card entry in the AL.
Congratulations are in order for Trayce Thompson. The former White Sox 2nd round pick launched his first home run as a member of the Cubs.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 19, 2021
They Said It
- “[Wisdom] plays good defense. He’s versatile. He’s got a real thump in the bat, and the fact he breaks the rookie record for this organization with some really talented players that have been here and in that fashion was awesome. We needed it. He needed it.” – Ross
- “You’re going to get knocked down plenty of times and you’ve just got to get back up and keep moving forward. And then you come out stronger on the other end and you can look back and be like: ‘I got through those times. I can make it through this next obstacle that’s in front of me.’ Being resilient in your mindset and your mental fortitude can take you a long way to get you over any obstacle in front of you.” – Wisdom
Monday Walk-Up Song
Ripple by the Grateful Dead – Had a decent tie with amazing friends at Dead & Company Friday night despite torrential storms that forced the Cubs organization to evacuate Wrigley Field twice.