“Give me a word or give me a sign. Show me where to look and tell me, what will I find?” – Collective Soul, Shine
Kyle Hendricks looked a lot more comfortable on the mound last night, though it would be a mistake to label his performance as vintage. The Cubs beat the Rays 2-1 thanks in large part to the bullpen. Julian Merryweather, Mark Leiter Jr., and Adbert Alzolay combined for four innings of one-hit ball to seal the victory. Alzolay got six outs to earn his second save of the season.
Hendricks yielded six hits and struck out three in five innings in his second start of the season after he was sidelined by a right shoulder strain since last July. His pitch count was a little higher than we’re used to seeing, but progress nonetheless. Justin Steele takes the bump this afternoon as the Cubs surprisingly look to broom Tampa Bay.
Cubs News & Notes
- A shallow fly ball off the bat of Ian Happ that landed softly between Brandon Lowe and Josh Lowe sparked yesterday’s win. Happ hustled to second base and was driven in by Mike Tauchman.
- Hendricks said he feels much more like himself after Tuesday’s effort.
- Yesterday’s win featured excellent pitching and pristine defense, which is how the club was originally constricted.
- The Cubs recalled starter Hayden Wesneski from Iowa and then optioned reliever Michael Rucker in a corresponding move. Wesneski could work out of the bullpen or as a swingman now that Hendricks is healthy.
- Consecutive one-run wins over the Rays have kind of flipped the script on an up-and-down season.
- Tampa Bay leads the majors in home runs and stolen bases, but the Cubs have shut them down through two games. The Rays have three stolen bases and have yet to go deep in the series.
- If the Cubs engage in another deadline sell-off, Marcus Stroman could be one of the team’s best trade assets.
- The Cubs have a lot of problems right now, but Laurence Holmes of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that David Ross isn’t one of them.
- Outfielder Trey Mancini sent a congratulatory message to Liam Hendriks upon the White Sox closer’s return after his battle with cancer.
- Hendriks also shared a message from Jameson Taillon that he received when he was initially diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Odds & Sods
Nobody can accuse Rod Carew of overspending. The retirement struggle is real.
My aunt makes me hot dogs that I sneak into the theater in my pockets. Nothing better https://t.co/7mvDmVc8MU
— Rod Carew (@RodCarew_29) May 31, 2023
- St. Louis: Miles Mikolas tied a career-high in strikeouts with 10, outdueling Zack Greinke of the Royals in a 2-1 win. The Cardinals remain in last place, however, a half-game behind the Cubs.
- Milwaukee: The Brewers placed outfielder Jesse Winker on the 10-day IL with a cervical strain. Winker hasn’t homered all season, and, in fact, has just three extra-base hits in 127 plate appearances.
- Cincinnati: The Reds have a pipeline of talent approaching the major leagues, and though that may mean some tough decisions, the club feels that’s a good problem to have.
- Pittsburgh: The Pirates started the season 20-8 but have won just seven of their last 26 games. Things have been so bad that closer David Bednar earned his first save since April 29 in last night’s 2-1 win over the Giants. Like the Cubs, however, a crummy division means Pittsburgh is still in the mix to win the NL Central. They’re one game behind the Brewers with one-third of the season in the books
Climbing the Ladder
“Lucky I’m sane after all I’ve been through. I can’t complain but sometimes I still do.” – Joe Walsh, Life’s Been Good
Christopher Morel is slumping a bit but I’d prefer that Ross bat him near the top of the order. Alzolay looks like the real deal as a closer. He threw 16 of 20 pitches for strikes and punched out four Tampa Bay batters.
- Games Played: 54
- Record: 24-30 (.444)
- Total Plate Appearances: 2,080
- Total Strikeouts: 497
- Strikeout Rate: 23.90%
- Team Batting Average: .255
- Runs Scored: 245
- Runs Allowed: 239
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 24.1%, 0.6% to win the World Series
How About That!
MLB has assumed ownership of Padres broadcasts after Bally failed to make its scheduled payment.
It’s not even June yet and the Athletics are 24.5 games out of first place. I’m sure Vegas is on pins and needles in anticipation of the team’s move there. Oakland is on pace to be the worst MLB team since 1899.
MLB Mock Drafts
The MLB Draft is only a handful of weeks away so here are the latest mocks. Catcher Kyle Teel of Virginia has been linked to the Cubs more than any other prospect. The first round takes place on July 9 and will be broadcast by MLB TV.
- Baseball Prospect Journal
- MLB Pipeline
- Kiley McDaniel of ESPN ($)
- Keith Law of The Athletic ($)
- Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report
- Future Stars
- Through the Fence Baseball
- Just Baseball
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Freddie Freeman – The Los Angeles first baseman was 4-for-5 with an RBI and he extended his hitting streak to 19 games as the Dodgers beat the Nationals 9-3.
- Adolis Garcia – The Rangers right fielder also had four hits in five trips last night, but he didn’t plate any runners.
- Kodai Senga – He pitches seven innings of one-hit, shutout baseball with nine strikeouts in the Mets’ 2-0 win over the Phillies.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 31, 2023
Wednesday Morning Six-Pack
- I don’t like it when futuristic movies from two decades ago become reality, but many are worried that artificial intelligence could cause an extinction-level event. Worst of all, I, Robot is based on a novel by Isaac Asimov that was written back in 1950. This is quite an ominous statement from the Center for AI Safety: “Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”
- Twitter is worth one-third of the $44 billion Elon Musk paid for the company, according to Fidelity Investments, which recently reduced its holdings in the social media platform.
- I’m not sure if gas prices have dropped to levels low enough to plan cross-country road trips, but if that’s something on your summer agenda, these routes will create an itinerary through cities where the average temperatures are 70 degrees or higher.
- ESPN plans to launch a direct-to-consumer platform in 2025 or ’26, though you should expect the monthly rate to be in the $20-to-$30 range or higher. The sports and entertainment platform currently receives what amounts to a $9.42 per-user tax from cable companies across the country.
- Air New Zealand is weighing passengers before allowing them to board their planes on international flights. The goal isn’t to single out passengers who might contribute to a plane being overloaded or out of balance — instead, the airline says, the process is part of a survey to gather real-world information. Perhaps they need data points for robot pilots in our future AI World.
- I am going to get back to writing for Bears Insider starting this evening now that I have adjusted to the side effects of my injection therapy treatments.
They Said It
- “Everyone is on the radar at this point. We’re also hoping Codi Heuer comes back soon. That could be, hopefully, another big-league arm that is able to help us out. Ben Brown has been throwing the ball really well in the starter role. Daniel Palencia has been sent to the ‘pen, too, to work out of the ‘pen and try to learn that role — what that consists of, how to go back-to-back, and the recovery with all that. There’s a plan in place, for sure, and big-picture stuff. But this is what we’ve got right now. We have conversations daily about those things.” – Ross
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
A two-game winning streak and both one-run wins over the best team in baseball.