The Rundown: Cubs Losing Streak Hits Four Games, Mervis Practicing Plate Patience, Rays Good at Baseball
“I’ve been trying to find what’s heavy that’s been messing up my mind. I think I found the answer, ’cause it was right there all the time.” – Staple Singers, Heavy Makes You Happy
David Ross and Jed Joyer have been called to task as the Cubs have hit a frustrating patch, and rightfully so. Ross has made a high number of questionable decisions this season and Hoyer can be considered guilty of keeping Christopher Morel and Matt Mervis in the minors longer than necessary. And for the love of everything baseball, the back end of Chicago’s bullpen isn’t scaring anybody.
It was kind of disappointing to see Justin Steele saddled with a loss. Hopefully, Chicago’s North Side Baseballers can turn it around today.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs have now lost a season-high four straight games.
- Insider Jon Heyman says the Cubs are better than their current record suggests.
- Hayden Wesneski will head to Iowa to work on a few things, Nick Burdi is the temporary replacement and Kyle Hendricks is on his way.
- The Cubs are opting for a four-man rotation until Hendricks is ready. The team doesn’t need to go through a five-man rotation until the Reds series at the end of the month.
- Burdi said he is “ecstatic” to play for the Cubs.
- Pete Crow-Armstrong is now ranked No. 15 overall at MLB Pipeline, but no Ben Brown? C’mon, man!
- Seiya Suzuki homered last night and is starting to find his rhythm at the plate, but he’s still a bit dissatisfied.
- Mervis said he is doing his best to remain patient at the plate with a positive mental approach.
- Mervis homered last night and gave the commemorative baseball to his mom as a late Mother’s Day present.
Odds & Sods
I wish the Cubs would trade for or would have signed Aroldis Chapman. I’ve never understood the organization’s disregard for stud closers outside of competitive windows. They’re a great deadline asset, and I think teams generally play better knowing there is a lock-down reliever ready to pitch the 9th inning. Michael Fulmer is definitely not that guy and the Cubs have four blown saves in nine opportunities.
That said, the Cardinals have blown 11 of 18 save opportunities, so I’m sure Chapman is on their radar.
Aroldis Chapman, 104mph ⛽️
And K Stare 👀 pic.twitter.com/IJoR8nemfp
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 17, 2023
- St. Louis: The Cardinals remain committed to trading outfielder Tyler O’Neill — in the right deal, of course — so they can get Willson Contreras more playing time in left field. Contreras is catching again, but only because St. Louis wants his bat in the lineup every day.
- Milwaukee: The Brewers beat the Cardinals last night but may have lost Wade Miley for at least a few starts. The veteran starter exited the game with a lat strain after facing five St. Louis batters.
- Cincinnati: The Reds have called up Matt McLain to be Cincinnati’s everyday shortstop. Joey Votto was placed on the 60-day IL to open a roster spot for the rookie.
- Pittsburgh: The Pirates are mired in a historic offensive slump and have 12 losses in their last 14 games.
Climbing the Ladder
“Take the last train to Clarksville, now I must hang up the phone. I can’t hear you in this noisy railroad station, all alone, and I’m feelin’ low.” – The Monkees, Last Train to Clarksville
Chicago’s run differential has taken a big hit in the last week or so, as opponents have nearly halved it in the last five games. The team’s strikeout rate has spiked, too, and the additions of Morel (43.33%) and Mervis (39.47%) are a big reason. Morel has also yet to draw a walk in 30 plate appearances. The highlights are magnificent, but once you add Patrick Wisdom (35.17%) to the mix, the whiffing becomes excruciating. In fairness, Mervis has faced a slew of tough lefties.
Chicago struck out 16 times on Monday night and another 10 times yesterday. I love the additions of the M&M boys, but all of a sudden the Cubs look a lot more like those 2017-22 teams than the club that won 11 of its first 18 games. I prefer more contact and less power to elevated strikeout rates. For what it’s worth, I also prefer a .611 winning percentage. The Cubs have played .333 baseball since that high-water mark.
- Games Played: 42
- Record: 19-23 (.452)
- Total Plate Appearances: 1,629
- Total Strikeouts: 377
- Strikeout Rate: 23.14%
- Team Batting Average: .269
- Runs Scored: 200
- Runs Allowed: 177
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 38.8%, 1.0% to win the World Series
How About That!
Sign stealing no longer exists in baseball because sign sequences have been eliminated by the advent of the PitchCom device. Pitch-tipping still exists, though.
Yankees starter Domingo Germán was ejected from his start Tuesday night against the Blue Jays after the umpire crew deemed he had been using illegal foreign substances. German is facing an automatic 10-game suspension, though he has the right to appeal.
Aníbal Sánchez, who tossed the most famous one-hitter in MLB history, has officially retired.
The Mets are calling up power-hitting prospect Mark Vientos.
The Rays now have 10 different players with at least five home runs this season. They are the only team in MLB history to have 10 different players reach that mark before playing 50 games in a season. Randy Arozarena and Yandy Díaz are pacing Tampa Bay with 10 taters apiece. The Rays are also an MLB-best 32-11 (.744) this season, a 120-win pace.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Isaac Paredes – The ex-Cub farmhand had two home runs and five RBI on a 2-for-5 evening.
- Adolis García – The ex-Cardinal leads the majors with 44 RBI and hit his 11th home run yesterday. I love that St. Louis sold him to Texas for cash considerations in 2019.
- Ryan Noda – A pinch-hit grand slam that ties a ballgame is worthy of inclusion.
There’s nothing better than a plate full of mashed taters from Mervis.
First career home run for @mmervis12! pic.twitter.com/ki20qWOtOR
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 17, 2023
Wednesday Morning Six-Pack
- Our latest edition of First & Long over at Bears Insider is jam-packed with a crap ton of Bears and NFL news.
- Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys dropped 57 years ago and it’s still magnificent. Did you know that Glen Campbell played guitar on some of the tracks? If you haven’t seen The Wrecking Crew, I highly recommend it.
- Next time you take a road trip to see the I-Cubs make sure you try Kool-Aid Pickles.
- If you’ve got 20 minutes to spare check out the video “A History of the World Through Getty Images.”
- Elizabeth Holmes has lost her latest attempt to avoid an 11-year prison sentence. She also needs a cool $452 million to pay back everybody she defrauded.
- Squeeze is going on tour with the Psychedelic Furs and I need someone to get me a date with Molly Ringwald. They’ll be in Chicago on September 24 but I am willing to travel for Molly. I have a thing for redheads, what can I say?
They Said It
- “From experience, I know how hard it is to hit while thinking about mechanics. That was at Low A. Now at the big-league level, it’s going to be harder. So I’m really trying to avoid that. I have to trust my pregame work and just take that swing, whatever swing I have that day, using it in the game and competing.” – Mervis
- “Right now things aren’t going our way and we gotta find a way to win ball games.” – Ross
- “This is the first time all year we’ve been in this situation where we’ve had two short starts and we’re scrambling a little bit. I mean really we hadn’t gotten blown out in so long and we had [it in] back-to-back [games].” – Hoyer
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
Gotta start turning some of these losses into wins.