“Everything here is so clear, you can see it. And everything here is so real, you can feel it. And it’s real, so real, so real, so real, so real, so real. Can you dig it?” – Friends of Distinction, Grazing in the Grass
The Cubs are 6-6 in their last 12 games and would be on a much better roll if they hadn’t been swept by the Reds last week. They’ve beaten the Mets, Rays, and Padres twice, however, and remain an MLB enigma. Chicago’s obvious weakness is its bench, but it is nice to see the bullpen taking shape.
Julian Merryweather has become one of the Cubs’ most reliable relievers and has allowed just two runs in 14.1 innings with 20 strikeouts over his last 14 appearances, including yesterday. It looks like David Ross can trust Merryweather in high-leverage situations, and his trade value is getting a boost as well.
The veteran relief pitchers on this team will probably be gone by the deadline, and rightfully so. Jeremiah Estrada, Nick Burdi, Adbert Alzolay, and Codi Heuer are the future. Keep an eye on Daniel Palencia at Iowa, too. He is transitioning from the rotation and could be a star with his big fastball. Let’s not forget about Brailyn Márquez and his 100 mph heater, either.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs placed Justin Steele on the 15-day IL and recalled catcher Miguel Amaya.
- Amaya had a huge day on his return to the show.
- Yesterday’s win was a terrific all-around effort after Yu Darvish pancaked Chicago 6-0 on Saturday. If the Cubs can avoid any significant losing streaks, they certainly still have a shot at winning the NL Central.
- That sweep at the hands of the Reds hurt Chicago’s playoff chances a great deal, especially after the way Cincinnati rolled over and died against the Brewers this weekend.
- Speaking of rolling over and dying, I think it’s safe to say we are all tired of Chicago’s lefty-heavy lineups.
- Injured outfielder Cody Bellinger is progressing in his rehab but is unlikely to join the Cubs until they return home.
- Marcus Stroman and Juan Soto provided some excellent extracurricular theatrics on Sunday.
- Bellinger and Stroman are near the top of the list of players who will be sought heavily by other teams at this year’s trade deadline. They are the only Cubs listed, by the way.
- Jameson Taillon turned in his best start of the season on Friday night, and more good things are coming. His ERA-FIP gap is still a very high three runs.
- Friday not only marked Taillon’s first victory with the Cubs, but it was also the first time the Cubs won a game he had started.
- Ben Brown could find a path to the bigs this season as a reliever. Steele also started his career as a reliever and Keegan Thompson has pitched out of both the bullpen and the rotation. Brown will be an ace in due time, however.
Odds & Sods
This kid thinks he’s Roger Clemens or Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh. So much for announcing your presence with authority.
there is confidence and then there is overconfidencepic.twitter.com/cLZehN3pc1
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) June 4, 2023
- St. Louis: The Cardinals have lost 10 straight games with Jordan Montgomery as a starter, and though he’s now 2-7 on the season, Montgomery wants everyone to know he’s “not a loser.”
- Milwaukee: The uninspiring Brewers lead the NL Central with a 32-27 record simply because there is little fight in the competition. Milwaukee goes for the sweep in Cincinnati this afternoon.
- Cincinnati: Gordon Wittenmyer is the new beat reporter covering the Reds, and that’s a shame for Chicagoans. Best wishes, Gordon, but please be kind when you cover the Cubs-Reds tilts.
- Pittsburgh: Mitch Keller is the first starter in team history to have 90 or more strikeouts by June 1. He’s also third overall in punchouts, trailing Spencer Strider and Kevin Gausman.
Climbing the Ladder
“I dreamed I was in a Hollywood movie, and that I was the star of the movie. This really blew my mind, the fact that me, an overfed long-haired leaping gnome should be the star behind a Hollywood movie.” – Eric Burdon & War, Spill the Wine
The Cubs finish their series with the Friars this afternoon and then head to Anaheim and you can bet the house reporters will be trying to connect Shohei Ohtani to our Boys in Blue. Amaya had a fantastic game yesterday, hitting his first MLB home run and reaching base four times. Yan Gomes and Trey Mancini also went deep in the 7-1 win. Stroman is pitching like an ace. Extend that man.
Chicago’s team batting average continues to drop as their strikeout rate climbs. It might be a good idea to send Matt Mervis back to Iowa if he reaches 100 plate appearances carrying that sub-.200 batting average.
- Games Played: 58
- Record: 26-32 (.448)
- Total Plate Appearances: 2,219
- Total Strikeouts: 539
- Strikeout Rate: 24.29%
- Team Batting Average: .251
- Runs Scored: 257
- Runs Allowed: 251
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 24.4%, 0.4% to win the World Series
How About That!
MLB remains a sport divided by payroll disparity, but free agent expenditures this year, especially by the Mets, pushed the gap between the top and bottom teams to new extremes.
The Padres’ already-stretched payroll needs a boost from local television rights now that Diamond Sports Group defaulted on its payment.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Amaya – The rookie catcher had a career day. We forget Amaya was once a top prospect in this system and it’s nice to see the young man break out.
- Liam Hendriks – The White Sox reliever earned his first post-cancer win thanks to a walk-off grand slam by Jake Burger. Hendriks had two strikeouts in a hitless inning of work.
- Rich Hill – The 43-year-old Hill kept the Cardinals off balance and earned his fifth win of the season. The Pirates will probably shop Hill at the deadline and he could be a hot commodity.
Can we call Amaya “Miggy?” I’m going to. Sorry, not sorry.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 4, 2023
Monday Moring Six-Pack
- Be prepared to shell out more at the gas tank this summer. In a surprise move, major oil exporter Saudi Arabia announced it would cut production even more to boost oil prices that have been sagging hard under the gloomier economic outlook. You better buy those oil and gas call options, too.
- The city of Las Vegas could decide today if it is willing to pony up nearly $400 million to attract the A’s. Roger Noll, professor emeritus of economics at Stanford who studies stadium financing, told the AP that new sports stadiums do not typically boost residents’ incomes and that there is “no serious contrary view” among his colleagues.
- The Davis School District in Utah is removing the King James Bible from its elementary and middle schools after a parent complained it was too violent and vulgar to be read by children.
- Believe it or not, the 16th season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia debuts Wednesday Night.
- Hundreds of thousands of people marched in an anti-government protest in Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, with citizens traveling from across the country to voice their anger at officials who they say have eroded democratic norms and created fears that the nation is following Hungary and Turkey down the path to autocracy.
- I will not be attending the two Dead & Co. shows at Wrigley Field this weekend for health reasons, though I will be watching from home.
They Said It
- “I just so happened to [strike Soto out], but that’s not easy to do. I’m not gonna sit here and say anything, cause I know he’s gonna get me at some point, too. Just some gamesmanship. He’s awesome to play against. So, it’s a chess match, pitching against him because you need to go in the zone, he’s not gonna expand, he’s not gonna go outside the zone, so I love that AB against him.” – Stroman
- “[Brown] has that mentality. If he comes up and we throw him in the bullpen, he’s not like ‘I’ve got my routine and I do all this.’ He’s more like ‘Just give me the ball. I want to throw.'” – Tommy Hottovy
Monday Walk-Up Song
Just a mood.