“Times get tough. Oh, they get tougher, so hold on to me, I got you, darling.” – The Black Keys, I’ll Be Your Man
The Cubs have a legitimate ace in Justin Steele and if you still think he needs to prove himself, you might want to move from beneath that dark cloud that follows you everywhere. After last night’s 6-0 win, Steele now has 12 consecutive outings where he’s allowed two runs or less. He’s tied with Shohei Ohtani for the second-longest active streak, right behind Max Fried who’s done it 13 straight times. Oh by the way, Steele also has the lowest ERA among all National League starters.
Naysayers will say he didn’t have his best stuff last night. Pffft.
Apropos of Nothing
I did not realize that Eno Harris of The Athletic does a monthly column called “Caught Looking” ($) so I will have to rebrand my other column here at Cubs Insider. Any ideas? It took me three days to come up with that, by the way, so I’m a little disappointed.
Cubs News & Notes
- Yan Gomes had a helluva game last night.
- Steele has quietly become one of baseball’s most consistent pitchers.
- The left-hander allowed three hits and held the Padres scoreless for 5.1 innings Tuesday night.
- An ace is a pitcher who stops losing streaks before they become burdensome, and Steele did just that.
- Believe it or not, the Cubs have already tossed five shutouts in a season where the offense has increased league-wide. That’s good, right?
- Drew Smyly, who has an expected ERA of less than 2.00, will take the bump today.
- The veteran lefty nearly had a perfect game in his last outing.
- Smyly and Steele give the Cubs an unconventional boost to the middle of the team’s rotation.
- Brailyn Márquez is throwing from a mound again for the first time since 2020. I’m rooting for him and I believe he’s going to be the comeback story of the decade.
- Kyle Hendricks has upped his fastball into the 89-90 mph range after sitting at about 86.5 over the previous two seasons.
- Jim Bowden of The Athletic says there is no reason to buy into the early-season success ($) of outfielder Cody Bellinger. Evan Altman, the floor is yours.
- The Cubs placed Bellinger on the paternity leave list before yesterday’s game.
- Would you like to live within walking distance of Wrigley Field? Here’s your chance, as long as you can afford a $1.1 million mortgage.
Odds & Sods
Is Pedro Strop coming back? Hats to the left, my man.
MLB coming back pic.twitter.com/HgEv57wmiA
— pedro strop (@pstrop46) April 26, 2023
- St. Louis: The Cardinals lost again to move 9-15 (.375) and they sit at the bottom of the NL Central this morning. “This group’s not going to cave,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. “I don’t care what people think. This [adversity] will serve us extremely well when we get into September. I’ll tell you that.” Okay, Francis, lighten up.
- Milwaukee: The Brewers have also hit a rough patch, so they quickly retooled their bullpen. Milwaukee designated Javy Guerra for assignment, placed Matt Bush on the 15-day DL, and recalled Jake Cousins and Alex Claudio. Milwaukee has lost three straight games and now trails the Pirates by a game.
- Cincinnati: The Reds have a troubling attendance problem and may have yet to hit rock bottom. The next thing Theo Epstein must do is help baseball eliminate tanking. I know it’s helped the Cubs (twice!) but it’s disgraceful.
- Pittsburgh: The Pirates and Bryan Reynolds finally agreed on a contract extension, and it’s a win-win for both sides. Reynolds will get $106.75 million over eight years and a limited no-trade clause. Only three teams have yet to sign a player to a deal worth at least $100 million: The Athletics, White Sox, and Royals. Before you go looking at the Salvador Pérez contract, he got $82 million over four years when he signed his extension in 2021.
Climbing the Ladder
“Gotta keep goin’ gotta make my way, but I live for the end of the day.” – The Vogues, Five O’Clock World
The Cubs sure made all of their seven hits count last night. Nico Hoerner had a three-run triple, and Yan Gomes was 4-for-4 with a two-run homer and an RBI single. Trey Mancini had a single and scored twice, and Nelson Velázquez went 1-for-3 only to see his batting average drop to .571.
- Games Played: 22
- Record: 13-9 (.591)
- Total Plate Appearances: 863
- Total Strikeouts: 179
- Strikeout Rate: 20.74%
- Team Batting Average: .278
- Runs Scored: 127
- Runs Allowed: 82
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 70.3%, 2.2% to win the World Series
How About That!
Insider Jon Heyman says the White Sox need to shake things up. “It’s hard to believe,” Heyman said on 670 The Score with Mully & Haugh of the team’s 7-17 start. “I mean, the injuries are definitely a part of it. And it’s also been a problem for a couple of years now with the injuries.
The new schedule provides some oddities, and one is that the Yankees and Twins have already completed their season series. And, for the first time in 22 seasons, Minnesota has the upper hand.
The Rays were undefeated at home…until yesterday. On Monday, Tampa Bay became the first team in the Modern Era (since 1900) to win 14 consecutive home games to begin a season. Astros starter Luis Garcia held the Rays scoreless through seven innings in a three-hit performance.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Gomes – Fuggedaboutit!
- Danny Jansen – The Blue Jays catcher was 3-for-4 with two dingers and four RBI, leading Toronto to a 7-0 win over the White Sox, who have now lost six straight.
- Ozzie Albies – Atlanta’s second-baseman also had two home runs in the Braves 7-4 win over the Marlins.
Steele is good at baseball. He’s also an ace, so don’t @ me.
In his last 20 starts…
Avg Exit Velo 86.5 mph https://t.co/kB0UnF8PEm
— FullCountTommy (@FullCountTommy) April 26, 2023
Wednesday Morning Six-Pack
- Bears assistant GM Ian Cunningham provided some key insight regarding Chicago’s player evaluation and selection process ahead of Thursday night’s draft.
- As of today, the bankrupt Bed Bath & Beyond will stop accepting your 20% off coupons, which means they’re now just worthless pieces of paper.
- Groundbreaking performer-turned-activist Harry Belafonte died in his Manhattan home Tuesday of congestive heart failure. He was 96 years old.
- Barbie introduced its first doll with Down syndrome as part of its recent push to represent more types of women than just the skinny, blonde ones. Mattel bosses said they wanted to bring out the doll to “enable all children to see themselves in Barbie.” Let’s throw some serious high-fives to the toymakers, please and thank you.
- FOX News suffered a ginormous viewership hit in their first evening slot without Tucker Carlson.
- Drummer Billy Kreutzmann has left Dead & Co. as they embark on their final tour, with both sides citing “creative differences.”
They Said It
- “I think we’re starting to see [Steele] really maturing and growing as a pitcher. I feel like when we came into this season, we were talking about some of our young guys. He’s taken that next step of confidence and learning and himself and it’s exciting. He’s a great guy, and [he also] puts in a lot of work and it’s paying off and we’re enjoying seeing him do that.” – Gomes
- “I don’t think [Hendricks] is ever going to be the guy that throws 95, right? But, when he’s been at his best, he’s got a nine in front of that number, that miles per hour, and can be really good in that [range]. A healthy version of Kyle is gonna be a good version, and we believe that especially if he’s throwing a little bit harder.” – David Ross
Wednesday Walk-Up Song