The Cubs broke out the lumber and pummeled the Reds 10-1 yesterday, maintaining their 3.5 game lead over the Cardinals while doing wonders for their run differential. Entering yesterday’s game, the Cubs were a paltry +4, which is the Pythagorean equivalent of a 17-16 team. With that in mind you’d think the front office might be looking to boost their relief corps ahead of today’s trade deadline.
So far the Cubs have only acquired DH José Martínez, who has some power and torches lefties. Scoring runs hasn’t been a problem for this team and, though they’re not elite offensively like the Dodgers or Padres, they’re capable of being right there when they’re not slumping. With a .225 team batting average entering yesterday’s games, however, it seems almost impossible that Chicago is averaging nearly 5 runs per game. That Cubs hitters failed so many times with the bases loaded makes that run total a real head-scratcher.
The first time in MLB history a starting outfield has each had a multi-home run game ? pic.twitter.com/Ah2U9f0fNM
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) August 30, 2020
That means the Cubs are doing most of their damage via the home run, and yesterday was no exception. Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, and Ian Happ each had two-homer games, the first time in the history of professional baseball that all three starting outfielders have homered twice in the same game. As a team, Chicago has now hit 51 bombs in 34 games, which is a 243-homer pace in a regular season. That makes the acquisition of Martínez seem slightly puzzling if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer do not provide reinforcements to the bullpen.
That said, the Cubs were in dire need of a regular DH. The player David Ross has used most as the extra hitter is Victor Caratini, and he’s slashing .161/.257/.226 in games he is not catching. For comparative purposes, Jon Lester hit .188/.264/.292 last year. Josh Phegley was DFA’d to make room for Martínez, which means Caratini will see fewer at-bats at DH since he’s the only backup catcher now.
It would be nice if the front office can find a left-handed reliever and a fourth outfielder to replace the middling combination of Steven Souza Jr. and Albert Almora Jr. The two juniors are hitting a combined .155 with one home run and six RBI so far. Even Daniel Descalso provided slightly better offense than that.
Cubs News & Notes
- Tyler Chatwood was removed from yesterday’s game in the 3rd inning due to an elbow injury. José Quintana took his place and pitched well while Colin Rea was credited with the win.
- Chatwood’s injury raises the stakes for the Cubs to acquire a pitcher today.
- Martinez is apparently a coffee aficionado. He and Ian Happ should get along real well.
- Kris Bryant will take some live at-bats today in South Bend to see how his injured wrist responds.
- Saturday’s nightcap between the Cubs and the Reds saw tensions escalate after Reds pitcher Tejay Antone threw a 96 mph fastball that nearly hit Anthony Rizzo in the head.
- Yu Darvish is a legitimate contender for the NL Cy Young award.
- The Cubs made another move over the weekend, picking up former Marlins’ closer AJ Ramos off waivers from the Dodgers. The righty reliever hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2018 due to arm injuries and figures to be nothing more than an emergency replacement.
Odds & Sods
Remember when we said one of the more traditionally bad teams could sneak into the playoffs in a shortened season? It is apparent that a championship this season means as much as any other to baseball execs, which is why the Blue Jays have been involved in Mike Clevinger trade talks.
The @BlueJays have a 83.9% chance to reach the postseason, per @baseball_ref. They are 10-4 since Bo Bichette was placed on the Injured List. And they are only 1 game behind the #Yankees, as my friend @ScottyMacThinks pointed out this morning. ?? @MLBNetwork @FAN590
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) August 31, 2020
Apropos of Nothing
I woke up at 1:30 this morning from a dream where the Cubs had traded Willson Contreras and a PTBNL to the Indians for Clevenger that was so real I actually had to log on and check to see if it happened. By the way, the PTBNL allows teams to trade players not on their 60-man roster. Keep that in mind when you’re wondering which prospects are going to be moved for MLB players.
How About That!
Yesterday’s Astros-A’s game at Minute Maid Park was postponed “out of an abundance of caution” due to a positive COVID-19 test for a member of Oakland’s traveling party.
The Padres and Dodgers pulled off a blockbuster trade last night. The two teams combined on a seven-player deal that will see catcher/utilityman Austin Nola and right-handers Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla go to San Diego, while Seattle will receive top outfield prospect Taylor Trammell, infielder Ty France, catcher Luis Torrens, and right-hander Andres Munoz.
Out of Left Field
A White Sox-Cubs World Series, which could happen, would definitely signal that 2020 has been the craziest year ever.
Sunday’s Three Stars
If you do something that hasn’t been done in 145 years of professional baseball, you own the leaderboard for the day. Apologies to Ryan Mountcastle, Willy Adames, and Jake Cronenworth, who all had great games yesterday, too.
- Kyle Schwarber – Two homers, including a grand slam, and five RBI.
- Ian Happ – Happer was 2-for-5 with two taters and three RBI.
- Jason Heyward – The veteran right fielder belted two solo shots yesterday.
Twitter is usually a dangerous place for a 92-year-old man, but I have to think Vin Scully will sail the waters of social media quite smoothly. There is not a controversial cell in that man’s body.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 31, 2020
Sliding Into Home
Apparently I am not going to get my biopsy results until I see my doctor Thursday morning. Neither my family practitioner nor the internist will discuss it over the phone and the results are not available in the patient portal. So let’s all keep our fingers crossed.
By the way, I received a couple of concerning emails over the weekend regarding my absence. I know Evan wrote a Rundown column on Saturday, but that’s my day off. I did not write anything yesterday because last Sunday I didn’t get published, so I just used some of the material for Monday’s column. I will go back to the Sunday format this week. Thank you all for your concern, but I’m healthy, as far as I know.
They Said It
- “It just looked like the young man on the mound was trying to send a message to one of our best players and throw one behind him, over his head, at his head, however you want to look at it.” – David Ross
- “The Cubs chirp the most, for sure. I noticed that when they’re down, they usually get quieter.” – Tejay Antone
Monday Walk Up Song
I Heard it Through The Grapevine by Creedence Clearwater Revival – I was on a big Creedence kick all weekend and I like this version much more than those by Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight & The Pips.