The Rundown: Cubs On Historic Roll, Castellanos Keeps Mashing, Postseason Race Tightens

When the Cubs first traded for Nicholas Castellanos I was of the opinion that signing him this offseason should be more of a luxury than a necessity, and certainly not a priority. I have now changed my tune. Nicky Two Bags was a big part of last night’s 8-2 win over the Reds, a game in which it seemed at times like the Cubs had no business winning. I guess we can thank Cincinnati for leaving 11 runners on base, but the North Siders sure gave them plenty of chances to win the bend-but-don’t-break game.

I didn’t feel certain of a Chicago victory until Castellanos hit his two-run double in the 8th inning. The Greek God of Hard Contact continues to rake, putting on an offensive display that baseball hasn’t seen since the 1930’s. As such, he is going to make some serious cabbage this winter, and agent Scott Boras is already ramping up the rhetoric, championing his client whenever given the opportunity.

Some of the geekier analytics eggheads will tell you that the Cubs can’t open the 2020 season with both Kyle Schwarber and Castellanos in the same outfield, even with Jason Heyward manning center on a full-time basis. Heyward is much weaker in center than right, and the two corners aren’t likely to win any Gold Gloves in the foreseeable future. But is saving a few runs worth giving up the kind of firepower that that outfield would supply?

  • Castellanos is slashing .293/.340/.872 with 26 home runs, 72 RBI and a mind-blowing 55 doubles. He looks like he is made to play in Wrigley Field and face NL pitching for the rest of his career.
  • Heyward is having his best season since 2012, when he played for the Braves. He’s still 29 years old and as been a consummate teammate and leader. His 21 homers represents a personal high water mark since joining the Cubs in 2016. It’s his second-highest total since hitting 27 in 2012.
  • Schwarber is enjoying a career year, slugging .515, and with 37 longballs he is on pace to be the first Cub to surpass the 40-HR mark since Derrek Lee in 2005.

That outfield is worth -16 defensive runs saved over the course of their careers (with Heyward at CF), per Baseball Reference. I believe the smart play would be keeping all three and finding a solid defensive replacement for the late innings of close ball games. I don’t know if the Cubs will have the coin to keep Big Stick Nick, however.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Castellanos is the third right-handed hitter in MLB history to have at least 55 doubles and 25 homers in a season. Cha-ching.

How About That!

After beating the White Sox last night, the Twins are now five games up with 12 to play, reducing their magic number to eight over Cleveland.

ChiSox ace Lucas Giolito, who is enjoying the best year of his young career, will miss the rest of the season because of a mild lat strain.

Padres’ starter Garrett Richards made his club debut, returning for his first big-league start since last July. Richards spent the better part of 14 months rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Astros second baseman José Altuve has been absolutely mashing since returning from injury. He’s batting .336/.385/1.004 with 18 home runs in 64 games since the All-Star break, good for a 165 wRC+. Houston has no weakness right now, though closer Roberto Osuna has struggled somewhat.

Former Cubs’ coach and current Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez was hospitalized yesterday for a cardiac procedure. Further testing will be required before his availability is determined.

Monday’s Three Stars

There were no truly exceptional individual performances yesterday, but fans of the game are certainly enjoying the Wild Card races in both leagues,and NL Central baseball is truly must-see right now.

On Deck

Got some unsettling news regarding my father-in-law yesterday evening, but he remains in good spirits and is enjoying another September surge by his beloved Brewers. He’s hoping for a Chicago-Milwaukee NLCS and believes that is exactly what will happen. I hope he sticks around long enough to see his prediction come true.

Extra Innings

I can’t even.

They Said It

  • “Every game right now is a playoff game. We have to win.” – Cole Hamels
  • “I want to play as soon as possible, whether it’s now or Game 1 of the World Series. I have every intention of trying to do everything I can with the training staff to get back on the field with the boys. I think in a few days it’ll really tell a lot just by how it reacts.” – Anthony Rizzo
  • “It’s torture for [Rizzo], but at the same time, we kind of love seeing him roll around. If he’s going to make a bunch of jokes about it, we’ll make a bunch of jokes about it and have fun with it that way.” – Jason Heyward

Tuesday Walk Up Song

The Race is On by George Jones. Perfectly baseball-apropos and a song my father-in-law truly loves. I wish you could hear him sing it.

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