The Rundown: Future Looks Bright for Young Cubs, Ricketts Says Fans Deserve Better, Tatis Jr. Suspended, Mets Rolling
“Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue. And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” – Eric Clapton, Somewhere Over the Rainbow
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to seeing the Cubs as a competitive team again. They gave us glimpses of that by winning three of their last four and 13 of their last 22, but when you see a team like the Dodgers or Mets, you realize just how far Chicago has to go.
The Cubs start a three-game set with the Nationals on Monday to end the easy portion of their post-deadline schedule. After that, Chicago’s North Side Baseballers bump up against a grueling 16-game stretch that includes tilts with the Orioles, Brewers, Cardinals, and Blue Jays. That’s followed by their first off day in nearly three weeks, a brief respite in the form of a three-game set with the Reds, and then six games against the Giants and Mets. By mid-September, we’ll all wish the season would mercifully end.
Chicago has baseball’s seventh-worst record right now, 10.5 games ahead of the dead-last Nationals. Despite being 19 games under .500, it never seems like the Cubs are really that bad. Players like Christopher Morel, Nico Hoerner, Justin Steele, and Keegan Thompson provide hope for the future. The farm system is loaded with promising players like Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brennen Davis, Owen Caissie, Kevin Alcántara, and Cristian Hernandez. They’ll form Chicago’s next core. If pitchers Caleb Kilian, Jordan Wicks, Cade Horton, Jackson Ferris, and DJ Herz reach their potential, the Cubs should have a dominant rotation as early as 2024.
At the big league level, Jason Heyward has been informed that he will be released from the final year of his contract, and Frank Schwindel and David Bote have been optioned to Triple-A Iowa to get a better look at players who are more likely to be part of the team’s future. The Heyward announcement was shocking but necessary. Bote and Schwindel were useful pieces but, all things considered, stopgaps only.
To get a glimpse of the future Cubs, look no further than Myrtle Beach, where Alcántara had a three-hit game on Saturday night. At South Bend, Crow-Armstrong is hitting .301 with a .890 OPS across two levels. At Iowa, Kilian is 4-1 with 95 strikeouts in 77.1 innings. The future looks bright, and the Cubs should start seeing a wave of promotions beginning in 2023.
Cubs News & Notes
- Nick Madrigal has been blessed by the BABIP gods since returning from the IL.
- Last week, Tom Ricketts said Cubs fans deserve better and that the team plans to be very active in free agency. Let’s hope he starts by signing Willson Contreras.
- It’s only been three games, but Franmil Reyes is already making a big impact with Chicago.
- Jason Heyward has had a profound impact on Hoerner, who is having the best season of his career.
- You’ll need a subscription to The Athletic to read it, but the Cubs believe Steele and Thompson are rotation building blocks.
- The 191-RBI season by Hack Wilson in 1930 is a record that’s not likely to be broken.
Odds & Sods
This is completely uncalled for and credit to Isiah Kiner-Falefa for rising above it all.
Earlier this week, some Yankees fans pushed it way too far, attacking Isiah Kiner-Falefa's father on Twitter. One fan sent something particularly dark and awful: https://t.co/cns0M7cMv2
— Brendan Kuty (@BrendanKutyNJ) August 14, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“I’m running and I won’t touch ground. Oh no, I got to keep on moving.” – Matthew Wilder, Break My Stride
The Reds snapped the Cubs’ modest three-game winning streak with an 8-5 win yesterday. Madrigal is 9-for-23 (.391) since returning from his rehab assignment. After going deep on Saturday, Ian Happ now has 16 home runs in 39 career games in Cincinnati. He’s also the first Cub ever to have 10+ home runs in his first six seasons. Reyes is hitting .353 since Jed Hoyer nabbed him off the waiver wire, and he hit his first home run as a Cub on Saturday. PS – sorry for the earworm.
- Games Played: 113
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,285
- Total Strikeouts: 1,000
- Strikeout Rate: 23.34%
- Team Batting Average: .245
- Runs Scored: 470
- Runs Allowed: 542
How About That!
After two successful Field of Dreams experiences, the league needs to keep the momentum going.
This year’s classic between the Cubs and the Reds was the most-watched regular season game of the year.
The Field of Dreams Game was baseball at its most romantic, and the Cubs should take notes in creating a more baseball-like atmosphere.
Friday night, a shockwave was sent through the baseball world when the league announced Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for Clostebol, a performance-enhancing drug.
Tatis Jr. is the latest victim of The Dairy Queen Curse.
The White Sox have been among the game’s biggest disappointments.
“Not Enough” remains the slogan of the season on Chicago’s South Side.
Former Dodger Yasiel Puig is hoping to return to Major League Baseball after a stint in the KBO. The 31-year-old realizes he’s a player that comes with baggage and appears eager to show everyone he is not the same guy.
The Orioles are in the thick of the AL playoff race, and a surging Adley Rutschman is a big reason why. The rookie catcher is slashing .284/.439/.451 with 13 extra-base hits and more walks (27) than strikeouts (20) in his last 32 games.
The Dodgers are as close to a playoff lock as any team in baseball, but the rest of the postseason races are a little hazy with just under two months left in the season.
The Mets, however, have won 17 of 20 and now have a 5.5-game lead over the Braves in the NL East.
A decade after being drafted by the Padres, outfielder Wynton Bernard made his major league debut for the Rockies, and he made it count.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Albert Pujols – The Cardinals’ 42-year-old designated hitter went 2-for-4 against the Brewers, and both hits left the yard. That’s one way to lower your BABIP. The St. Louis slugger now has 689 career home runs and a slim chance of reaching 700 before he retires at the end of the season.
- Drew Rasmussen – The Tampa Bay starter took a perfect game into the 9th inning against the Orioles before giving up a double to Jorge Mateo. The Rays won 4-1 and extended their lead to 1.5 games over Baltimore for the final AL Wild Card berth. Fun fact: Rasmussen’s outing came on the 10-year anniversary of the last MLB perfect game.
- Christian Walker – The first baseman went 4-for-5 with a home run, two doubles, and four RBI, leading the Diamondbacks to a 7-4 victory against the Rockies.
Morel has been something of a revelation this summer. I don’t like his home/road splits, but he’s improving away from Wrigley Field.
Christopher Morel is one of four rookies with 10+ HR, 20+ BB & 30+ RBI. pic.twitter.com/KPZN6hRoR6
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) August 14, 2022
Monday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears beat the Chiefs 19-14 on Saturday for their first win of the Matt Eberflus era. Undrafted free agent Jack Sanborn was the star of the game with two takeaways, and most of the rookies excelled.
- Roquan Smith didn’t start, but his situation took a bizarre turn. The team and the player are going to need to reach a resolution soon.
- Rookie Jaquan Brisker flashed his potential with a couple of big hits and he nearly had an interception. Another rookie, Braxton Jones, started and exited with the rest of the starters. It’s safe to say he will be Chicago’s Week 1 starter at left tackle. We’ve got that and so much more in today’s Camp Notes.
- NFLPA president JC Tretter blasted the Bears over playing conditions at Soldier Field. The turf was so bad that Bears staffers were trying to fill divots less than an hour before kickoff. Tretter said the NFL needs to implement new testing procedures to ensure every playing surface is safe.
- A new study says that an extreme month-long storm could bring feet of rain – in some places, more than 100 inches – to hundreds of miles of California. Similar storms, called megafloods, have happened in the past before the region became home to tens of millions.
- The series finale of Emmy Award-winning Better Call Saul airs tonight, and actor Bob Odenkirk said the cast is going to get together and watch the episode together.
They Said It
- “That power is incredible, [speaking about Reyes]. It just looks like he just drops the bat, and [the ball] goes 360 feet. We’re very happy to have him here. He’s fit right in right from the get-go. It’s hard to put yourself into a new team in the middle of the season, but it was such an easy transition for him. You’ve got to give credit where credit is due.” – Adrian Sampson
- “Keegan and Justin both have done a really nice job of just being pretty consistent throughout a major-league season. They’ve got to finish that out, but both of them continue to find where their strengths and weaknesses are. They continue to work on things.” – David Ross
- “Moving forward, it’s getting that third, fourth, fifth pitch honed in. It’s just kind of at a point right now where if it’s a turning-point situation in the game, I’d rather them beat me with my four-seam or my slider at this point. The rest of this season, and going into the offseason, I really want to come into next year with a bona fide third, and fourth pitch where I feel just as confident in those pitches as I do my four-seam and my slider. Changeup, sinker, curveball, whatever it may be, I just would like to have (that same confidence in) all five pitches that I throw.” – Steele
Monday Walk-Up Song
I really miss Flight of the Conchords.