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- Things get a little trickier for the Cubs, starting today. The bum luck of the rainout draw has them facing stud righty Corey Kluber in today’s makeup game against the Indians. The game that was rained out was going to be Jake Arrieta versus Trevor Bauer. Jon Lester starts today instead, so at least that part’s a close approximation. Then the Cubs head out west for visits to San Francisco and L.A.
- How about this nugget in a great piece by Mark Gonzales on veterans Chris Denorfia and Chris Coghlan at the Tribune: “Interestingly, Coghlan had to be convinced that the Cubs were the right team to sign with by agent Scott Boras.” Coghlan said there were multiple teams looking to sign him before the 2014 season, but Boras was a big part of why he chose the Cubs, presumably seeing the best fit there. Since signing that minor league deal with the Cubs last year and working his way to the big leagues in May 2014, Coghlan has been a quiet offensive revelation, and, this year, a surprisingly versatile piece. Since June 2014, all Coghlan’s done with the Cubs is hit .273/.350/.465 with a 125 wRC+ and fantastic peripherals. The average NL left fielder is hitting .258/.321/.405 this year with a 99 wRC+. If you don’t realize how excellent and valuable Coghlan has been these past two years, you’ve been sleeping. And it sounds like the Cubs owe a thanks to Scott Boras on that one. (Well, and the front office for identifying a possible breakout guy after Coghlan essentially struggled through four straight seasons of injuries and ineffectiveness.) Under control for one more arbitration year, Coghlan should get a bump from his current $2.5 million salary, but the 30-year-old will still likely be a highly valuable piece.
- Addison Russell was pulled from the game yesterday in the 6th inning after experiencing what Joe Maddon described as “tightness in the groin” (Cubs.com). Maddon suggested Russell could miss today’s game, but it’s unclear if this is a long-term concern or just a precautionary thing. It’s possible no one really knows until they see how Russell is feeling today and tomorrow. Although you’d hate to see Russell go out for any stretch of time given how hot he’s been lately, it’s a spot where the Cubs do have some coverage – they could let Starlin Castro resume starting (and, to be fair, he does have offensive upside) or could turn to Javy Baez, who continues to rake at AAA.
- Of his solid start yesterday, Jason Hammel said, among other things, that he felt like himself for the first time in a long time (ESPN). He mostly looked the part, too, and hopefully the post-All-Star-break lull was just a period where he needed to make some adjustments as he got over his hamstring injury. When Hammel and Kyle Hendricks are pitching well, the Cubs’ rotation suddenly goes from shaky to excellent.
- Ken Rosenthal reiterates that the Cubs tried to get Chase Utley in a deal back in July, but, because he was on the DL at that time, Utley didn’t feel comfortable approving a trade. By the time he was healthy, the Dodgers had a need, and that’s where he wanted to go.
- Rosenthal’s article includes a bit on Korean infielder Jung-Ho Kang, which reminds me that I have mixed feelings that the Cubs didn’t more aggressively pursue him (not that I know where or how he would have fit in – I suppose he probably would have, at some point early in the year, become the starting second baseman … which means Addison Russell might still be in Iowa or at least much longer into the year … which means … well, it’s a whole butterfly flapping its wings thing, so I won’t go down the road, because it’s actually impossible to predict how things would have played out). Kang’s hitting .290/.364/.463 on the year, which is fantastic, though it comes with a .344 BABIP (is that flukey for him? we won’t know for a couple years) and 16 HBP (again, is that flukey? or a skill of his?). Still, the strikeout rate, walk rate, and ISO all look solid. So far, pitchers are not exploiting him as many predicted. Meanwhile, the Pirates have the versatile 28-year-old under contract for just $8.3 million total for the next three years, plus a $5.5 million team option for 2019. The posting fee was just $5 million. Grumble.
- The fan struck by a foul ball yesterday was transported to a local hospital for further examination, but was conscious (Cubs.com).
- Joe Maddon is involved in two upcoming charity events, and you can get more details here.
- This morning’s Scoreboard Watching.
- If you missed anything from the weekend, catch up here.