So, here we are, on the final day of the All-Star break. How are you feeling? Eager for baseball to return? Anxious for what will happen when it does? Nervous about how insanely you’ll react if the Cubs somehow continue to lose at a seemingly inappropriate pace? A little hungry?
Yes to all of those things?
That’s where I am. I miss baseball, because obviously. But I’m pretty nervous about how we all, collectively, will handle ourselves if the Cubs lose more than they win over the next week or two. Heck, I’m nervous that Cubs fans will metaphorically burn the place down if the Cubs lose tomorrow. The break was good for a whole lot of reasons, but I’ve been around the block enough to know that the discomfort everyone was feeling before the win on Sunday will come rushing right back very quickly and very extremely if the Cubs don’t win immediately. Which is totally silly, right? The break wasn’t a magic button. And, to the extent it helps teams, it doesn’t just help the Cubs.
So, the Cubs will lose some games in the second half, and some of those games will probably come soon. A loss on Friday or a stretch of losing for the next week or two does not necessarily mean anything more than losses two months ago or two months from now.
Can you tell I’m mostly talking to myself at this point?
- Bob Nightengale pointed out some notable schedule bits for the Cubs in the coming weeks:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 13, 2016
The #Cubs will have only one round trip flight to take for the next 37 days,staying all but 6 nights in own bed
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 13, 2016
- Much of the focus on the Cubs’ schedule coming out of the break has been about the caliber of the teams they’re facing (warning: it’s a lot of good teams), but this is no less important. Remember the Cubs’ unbelievably hot run last August, starting with that four-game sweep of the Giants? Well, much of it took place during a 21-day stretch when the Cubs never had to leave Chicago. Here’s hoping they’re similarly able to take advantage this year, and really put some distance between themselves and the other NL Central contenders.
- About that schedule, if you haven’t checked: the Cubs’ next six series come against the Rangers (above .500), Mets (above), Brewers (below), White Sox (above), Mariners (above), and Marlins (above).
- Moreover, the Rangers series is going to feature not only Cole Hamels on Sunday, but the return of Yu Darvish on Saturday. Fun for baseball fans, because the guy is crazy good when he’s healthy, but perhaps not so fun for Cubs fans who want to see them get right out of the gate with some wins. Darvish was out for over a month with shoulder soreness, but reached 72 pitches in his latest rehab assignment on Monday. That is to say, I’m not sure he’ll be that limited against the Cubs, but it still might be a good idea to try – to the extent possible – to run up that pitch count. It’ll be a National League game, so it’s very conceivable to see him pulled at any point over 75 pitches when his turn comes up to bat in the 5th/6th inning.
- (Man … the back of the Rangers’ rotation is a revolving door nightmare, and the Cubs won’t see any of it. Hamburgers.)
- Patrick Mooney offers a first-half-recap-looking-ahead type piece, with plenty of interesting quotes from Theo Epstein, who sees things very much the same way we all have been: it’s fair to be concerned (it’s always fair to be concerned), everything went wrong at the same time for a stretch, but the team is very good and will probably lock back in. What else can you say, really, on the doorstep of the second half?
- Mark Gonzales notes in his latest Q&A that Kyle Schwarber’s left calf is looking more like his right one now, which means the process of building back that strength is ongoing but successful. This was in the context, by the way, of whether Schwarber can still catch going forward. For now, it shouldn’t be ruled out (at least no more or less than it was before the injury).
- We talked yesterday about how Brian Matusz could wind up helping the Cubs in the bullpen even if he’s currently being stretched out as a starter in the minors, and it sounds like it could be coming soon. Matusz will head to AAA Iowa for his next appearance, and, at that point, joining the big league team could happen at any time (Tribune). Dream scenario? Matusz is up with enough time before the Trade Deadline that the Cubs can see how he looks before they have to decide on making a move (and perhaps even be fortunate enough to show potential trade partners that they aren’t desperate for a bullpen fix, improving their current no-leverage position).
- Kinda want a new Cubs shirt, and I like this one, but I can’t decide if the logo is too … I don’t know how to articulate. Like, right in your face? It’s not that it’s too big necessarily, just that it could look really cool since it’s the only thing dead center, or it could look like too much. These are things I think about when making clothing purchase decisions.
- If you missed it yesterday, I made a promise to folks that if they reached a certain level in the fundraiser for Make-A-Wish, I’d let my family soak me … and boy did they. We’re still a long way from our overall goal of $15,000, so maybe watch the video, and if it makes you smile, donate some funds to Make-A-Wish: