The Rundown: Bullpen Implodes on Launch Pad, Suzuki Blasts Two Bombs, T-Minus One Minute to Ohtani Trade Rumors
“Here’s your ticket, pack your bags, time for jumpin’ overboard. Transportation is here.” – Talking Heads, Burning Down the House
The Cubs bullpen is a dumpster fire, but I’m not telling you anything new. I read a Twitter post that said Chicago has failed to do this year what they’ve done so well in the past, which is to build a competent bullpen chock full of castoffs and rejects. That’s a false statement because the Cubs are just unlucky this year where good fortunes previously found them.
Drew Smyly deserved a win last night and every reliever except Adbert Alzolay let him down.
I simply do not understand their insistence on ignoring the back end of the bullpen for the last like 15 years. It's cost them repeatedly.
— Brad Robinson (@bradrobinson8) May 18, 2023
Cubs News & Notes
- Chicago’s bullpen? Yep, yep, yep, yep.
- I’m taking a break from this section today because I’d rather not be the bearer of any more bad news. Let’s all day drink and enjoy a Cubs-less morning. You haven’t lived until you’ve started the day with a shower beer.
- After that, why not watch Stanley Kramer’s “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World?”
Odds & Sods
The Cubs’ Pythagorean record is the inverse of their actual record. Nothing screams “your bullpen sucks” any louder than that.
- St. Louis: The Cardinals have a worse bullpen than the Cubs and may turn to free agent Corey Knebel to serve as the team’s closer.
- Milwaukee: The Brewers have completed a trade that will send Lucas Erceg to Oakland for cash. Erceg is a hard-throwing reliever who was drafted as a hard-hitting third baseman.
- Cincinnati: The Reds have named Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard their honorary captain for Friday’s City Connect game.
- Pittsburgh: The Pirates and Opening Day starter Mitch Keller are reportedly working on a contract extension.
Climbing the Ladder
“I showed up late one night with a neon light for a visa, but knowing I am so eager to fight can’t make letting me in any easier.” – The Who, You Better You Bet
Brandon Hughes, Keegan Thompson, and Mark Leiter Jr. imploded last night. Thompson was the worst of the three, but Hughes took the blown save and the loss. I half-expect the Cubs to recall Jeremiah Estrada today, but I doubt Hoyer has the gumption to do so. If you’re looking for a silver lining, at least Brad Boxberger was unavailable.
Chicago’s team batting average has dropped 10 points since the start of their last homestand and Cubs hitters struck out 35 times in the three-game set with the Astros. That said, Patrick Wisdom, Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki, Cody Bellinger, and Christopher Morel are significantly better than the league average. Dansby Swanson is playing at a 6-WAR level. Nelson Velázquez has a 148 OPS+ but he’s in Iowa.
- Games Played: 43
- Record: 19-24 (.442)
- Total Plate Appearances: 1,676
- Total Strikeouts: 386
- Strikeout Rate: 23.03%
- Team Batting Average: .266
- Runs Scored: 206
- Runs Allowed: 184
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 35.2%, 0.7% to win the World Series
How About That!
The Angels lost last night and dropped to .500, so those Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout trade rumors should start in 3…2…1.
What is it about Diamondbacks pitchers and low-flying birds? Zac Gallen pulled a Randy Johnson yesterday.
Umpire Phil Cuzzi is really bad at his job.
Pitchers are trying to trick batters into pitch clock violations and Rob Manfred will have none of it.
The A’s have reinvented the MLB rankings scale by getting a “G” as a first-quarter grade.
Don’t feel too bad for Oakland, though. Rookie Brent Rooker is drawing comparisons to Mark McGwire, and I’m assuming for just the positive aspects of Big Mac’s career.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Suzuki – The right fielder was 3-for-3 with two jacks and three RBI in Chicago’s losing effort.
- Adolis García – The RBI machine hit two solo home runs last night in a loss to the Braves.
- Rich Hill – The ageless Pirates starter blanked the Tigers over six innings with seven strikeouts to improve to 4-4 on the season.
Morel just doesn’t hit any cheap home runs. Do the Cubs still do the Southwest Airlines “How Far Did it Fly” promotion, or did that die when Sammy Sosa was exiled?
To the moon! 💥🌙 pic.twitter.com/pibFztwPWp
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 18, 2023
Thursday Morning Six-Pack
- Perdue, which is known for selling chicken, is getting into the beer business, specifically the business of selling cans of limited edition “Beer Can Chicken Beer” for shoving inside poultry.
- Mandy Patinkin called out Elon Musk for his incorrect self-comparison to Inigo Montoya from Princess Bride.
- 17th & 18th century Quakers had the coolest names ever, and I’m personally thinking of changing mine to “Fettiplace Church.”
- The new Indiana Jones flick premiers at Cannes this evening. I’m impressed that octagenarian Harrison Ford can still wield the bullwhip like that. It gives me hope that Tom Cruise will still be doing Top Gun and Mission Impossible moves 20 years from now. Sympathy for the Devil is an excellent choice for the IJ-5 promo song if I’m being totally honest.
- Heaven has a bathrobe-clad receptionist named Denise, and I’m thinking it’s entirely possible that Morgan Freeman really is God. Should we queue up another Talking Heads song?
- Yes just dropped their 23rd studio album, and I can’t tell you if it’s good or bad, but they’re still doing the same types of album covers. You can always count on Yes or Jackson Browne for not coloring outside the lines when it comes to album art. Browne has had the same haircut since 1968. He should just start naming his albums “Same Haircut.”
They Said It
- “We’ve gotta win that game, [and] we’ve gotta pitch better on the back end. The offense did enough tonight. [We] played good defense I thought overall, really nice plays. We’ve gotta cash that one in.” – David Ross
- “I don’t feel any different. Things just aren’t going my way right now. Just had some hard contact today and it was a punch to the gut. It just sucks to let the team down.” – Thompson
Thursday Walk-Up Song
That Pythagorean record though…