“Chippin’ around, kick my brains around the floor. There are the days it never rains but it pours.” – David Bowie and Queen, Under Pressure
The Cubs took two of three from the Royals and lost a game to the Brewers because they shredded and swept the Rangers. The fight to win the NL Central, a division that nobody has aggressively tried to win all season, isn’t going to be easy, is it? Things are heating up, but the good news is that the Cubs have a one-game lead for the third Wild Card spot and they trail the Giants by 0.5 games for WC2.
I am a little worried about the back end of Chicago’s bullpen, however. I’ve not had full faith and confidence in Adbert Alzolay all season, and he did a good job of making a point in my favor this weekend. Some on social media lament that the young pitcher is overworked, but he’s pitched 55.2 innings this year and he used to be a starter. He’s given up earned runs in seven of his last 10 appearances. Perhaps David Ross should consider allowing Michael Fulmer to close, or at least going back to deploying the closer-by-committee.
If the Cubs win two of every three games for the remainder of the season, they’ll finish with 91 wins and the division championship. They’re 39-27 (.591) since June 3, but they have a high number of games remaining against weaker opponents. It’s certainly not unthinkable.
Cubs News & Notes
- Alzolay earned his 14th save since July 5 despite a shaky 9th inning.
- Chicago entered yesterday’s game with a 5-15 record on Sundays this season.
- The Cubs reportedly have no intention of offering a contract extension to Marcus Stroman.
- Stroman marched up to the press box on Friday to explain his mysterious rib injury to members of the media.
- Ross has changed up his rotation with Stroman out indefinitely. Drew Smyly will get the ball Tuesday in Detroit with Javier Assad pitching today and Jameson Taillon taking the bump for the series finale Wednesday afternoon.
- Kyle Hendricks is betting on himself to give the team what it needs down the stretch.
- Seiya Suzuki has been on a tear and “having fun” since his reset in New York when the Cubs played the Mets.
- Jed Hoyer said Pete Crow-Armstrong is “fun to watch” but wouldn’t commit to a September call-up.
- Catcher Tucker Barnhart was designated for assignment on Saturday. The Cubs recalled Miles Mastrobuoni as the corresponding move.
- On Friday, the Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Edwin Uceta off waivers from the Mets and optioned him to Triple-A Iowa.
- Christopher Morel helped a happy couple with their rainbow baby’s gender reveal.
- Brad Boxberger started his rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa.
Odds & Sods
Can you guess which one is Gabe Kapler?
Synchronized coaching should be an annual All Star competition. pic.twitter.com/cCNfOK5zSt
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 21, 2023
- Milwaukee (68-57): The Brewers swept the Rangers after being swept by the Dodgers and they’ve beaten Max Scherzer three times this season. Milwaukee leads the NL Central by three games.
- Cincinnati (64-61): The Reds abstained from adding pitching at the trade deadline because they were counting on the return of a healthy Hunter Greene. That may have been an epic mistake.
- Pittsburgh (55-69): Pirates fans are prospect-watching now and they have some good ones in Paul Skenes, Nick Gonzales, and Jack Brannigan.
- St. Louis (55-70): The Cardinals reportedly have pitchers Julio Urías, Blake Snell, and Aaron Nola on their offseason radar, but it seems unlikely to me that president of baseball operations John Mozeliak will spend that kind of cash.
Climbing the Ladder
“Windmill, windmill for the land, turn forever hand in hand. Take it all in on your stride, it is ticking, falling down.” – Gorillaz, Feel Good, Inc.
Suzuki hit his third home run since August 9 and is batting .343 with six RBI during that stretch. Cody Bellinger had two home runs on Saturday and now has 20 on the season. He’s also slugging .561 on the year. The Cubs are sixth in home runs among all 15 NL teams, but they’re third in runs scored and stolen bases. Nico Hoerner has swiped 32 bags this season, tops on the team. That’s the most since Juan Pierre stole 58 bags in 2006.
Yesterday’s game lasted two hours and two minutes, the fastest nine-inning game at Wrigley Field since a 2-1 win over the Phillies on May 8, 2005.
- Games Played: 123
- Record: 64-59 (.520)
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,712
- Total Strikeouts: 1,102
- Strikeout Rate: 23.39%
- Team Batting Average: .254
- Runs Scored: 617
- Runs Allowed: 552
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 63.1%, 2.0% to win the World Series
How About That
The Nationals defeated the Phillies 4-3 in last night’s Little League Classic.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Brandon Belt – The Blue Jays first baseman was 2-for-5 with two homers and three RBI in Toronto’s 10-3 win over the Reds.
- Dallas Keuchel – The veteran Twins starter took a perfect game into the 7th inning against the Pirates and was removed after surrendering a double to Bryan Reynolds.
- Kyle Bradish – The Baltimore starter pitched six innings of two-hit baseball with eight strikeouts in the Orioles’ 12-1 win over the A’s.
I get angry at Ross for a lot of managerial decisions I disagree with, but batting Suzuki lower in the order has taken a lot of pressure off of the outfielder.
Planes aren't the only things flying overhead today! pic.twitter.com/FaEKbb83Rz
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 20, 2023
Sunday Morning Six-Pack
- The deadline to claim your piece of Meta’s $725 million class-action settlement over Cambridge Analytica is Friday. If you were a Facebook user between May 2007 and December 2022, fill out this form.
- The Bears lost 24-17 to the Colts on Saturday but UDFA QB Tyson Bagent outplayed QB2 P.J. Walker. Bagent-mania immediately ensued.
- We have a new writer at Bears Insider, Cole Tamarri, and he wrote a nice feature piece about Bagent.
- The first GOP presidential primary debate will take place in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Seven candidates have qualified to take the stage, but former President Trump, who leads opponents by almost 40 points in recent polls, will skip the event for an interview with Tucker Carlson.
- Pickleball, the fastest-growing sport in the country, is starting to move indoors.
- Devo announced that the band has retired from touring.
They Said It
- “I’ve actually never experienced [a timeout] before. I think it was really great for me because I was able to learn a lot of things while not playing. That can really benefit you as a player in the long run as well. I’m glad I was able to use that time wisely. I feel really good. I feel like I’m being really aggressive at the plate and making the right decisions. I’m just having fun a lot right now playing baseball.” – Suzuki
- “To come in here and play in this atmosphere with the guys, it’s special, for sure. You want to do your best all the time. You want to put yourself in a great position to help the team win. Yeah, man, it’s a special group, a special fan base. What can be better than this?” – Jeimer Candelario
Monday Walk-Up Song
I am unable to embed videos this morning so you’ll have to click this link for today’s masterpiece.