The Rundown: Cubs in ‘Serious Hunt’ for Hamels, Interest in Mike Leake, Cardinals Pick Up Cishek, Clayton Richard Clears Waivers and Heads to Iowa

With Jon Lester taking the mound and facing Jerome Williams, yesterday was a game that on paper looked like it would be an easy win. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work like that.

Two outs from taking the first game of the series against the Phillies, Jason Motte and the Cubs bullpen couldn’t get the job done. Motte has been better than I thought he’d be this year, and him giving up the lead didn’t bother me so much. I will say, however, that I don’t have a lot of confidence in Rafael Soriano being a reliable reliever.

His pitches have looked very hittable, and they definitely were on Friday, as he gave up a two-run homer to Jeff Francoeur in the 10th. Joe Maddon has said that Soriano would be used in late-inning situations, but I’m not sure he can stick with that plan for much longer, at least until Soriano gets on track.

Yesterday’s bullpen issues aside, the Cubs’ offense failed once again and needed to score more than three runs against Williams. Now they have to face Cole Hamels today. Hamels has had two rough starts in a row, but could easily come out dealing.

Speaking of Cole Hamels…

The Cubs are one of four teams “in serious hunt” for Cole Hamels, according to Jim Bowden. David Kaplan also reports that the Cubs have been in contact with the Phillies about Hamels.

The Hamels rumors have been pretty constant since last August, when the Cubs put in a claim on the Phillies ace, before the team pulled him back off waivers. He makes sense for the Cubs if they don’t have to give up any of their top young players (who are now all up in Chicago), but I would be (pleasantly) surprised if they land him.

Earlier this week, Jayson Stark said the Cubs have dangled Starlin Castro and Javier Baez for Hamels. Ultimately, it would be nice if they could pull something off before today’s start, so the Cubs don’t have to face him. Just saying.

How about Mike Leake?

Jon Heyman writes that the Cubs “like” the Reds’ Mike Leake. However, he says the Cubs aren’t exactly thrilled about a rental.

Of the mid-level rental options, I definitely wouldn’t mind a trade for Leake. I think he’d make a pretty good option to slot into the 4th/5th rotation spot.

Leake has a 3.78 ERA (3.94 FIP), which is right around where he’s been the past couple years.

Cardinals pick up a bullpen piece

The Cardinals have acquired reliever Steve Cishek from the Marlins. Cishek was a very effective closer for Florida the past couple years, but got off to a really bad start this season. He was even sent to the minor leagues in June.

But since returning to the majors, Cishek has a 0.71 ERA in 13 appearances.

Seems like a pretty good move for St. Louis, as if their pitching really needed an improvement. Cishek will provide insurance for closer Trevor Rosenthal, in case he falters.

Other notes

* Schwarber in the outfield? Not yet, Joe Maddon said before yesterday’s game. I’m not sure when, but I’m fairly confident we will see Schwarber in left field before long.

* LHP Clayton Richard has cleared waivers and has been optioned to Triple-A, according to Jesse Rogers. He won’t be able to be called back up for Tuesday’s start, so that’s probably going to fall upon either Dallas Beeler or Tsuyoshi Wada. But it’s good to know that Richard is still around and able to provide depth.

* Javier Baez made his debut in Arizona on Thursday, going 1-for-3 with an RBI. He started at second base last night and went 1-for-3 again.

* With Chris Coghlan hitting his 10th home run of the year, he reached a career high. As much as probably a lot of us would like to see someone flashier in left, Coghlan has done a really nice job this year. Even his defense has gotten a little better.

* With top draft pick Ian Happ being promoted to South Bend, he was at Wrigley Field yesterday taking batting practice. Had to be a pretty cool moment.


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