We are fast approaching the mid-month end of the first half of the minor league season, and all three Cubs’ affiliates who are in a first-half winner league are sitting in playoff contention. None of them are sitting comfortably, though, and in every case there are significant playoff implications riding on this week.
Iowa is the odd team out right now. Not only does the Pacific Coast League not declare first and second half winners, Iowa would not be in contention even if they did. The Cubs (24-30) are in fourth place and sitting eight and a half behind leading Colorado Springs. After a long homestand against Oklahoma City starting Monday, the Cubs will head out to Colorado and could help their standings position tremendously with a sweep.
Tennessee also could use a sweep. The Smokies (30-24) are still in first place, but they are clinging to a half game lead over both Chattanooga and Montgomery, and just a game and a half over Jackson. They just wrapped up a series against Montgomery, and now the Smokies play the rest of the division on the way to the All Star break. First up – bottom dwelling Birmingham. The Smokies really need to pad their lead a bit against last place at home because after that they head to Jackson for five.
For Myrtle Beach, their first half title situation could change significantly by midweek. The Pelicans (31-25) are still in second and still trail Buies Creek, but that margin is down to just one game. And the Pelicans are headed to Buies Creek for three starting today. If the Pelicans can take over first place, and this is their last head to head chance to do it, they would immediatley come home to face a Carolina team currently lurking just a game and a half back of Myrtle Beach.
For the South Bend Cubs (34-21) the situation has not changed. They are still way over .500, and yet are still sitting in third place… the top two teams recieve a ticket to the postseason. And, unforunately, the Cubs get no more direct chances against West Michigan (4 games ahead) or Dayton (3 ahead) the rest of the half. The Cubs do spend the week playing two sub-.500 teams (Bowling Green and Great Lakes) while Dayton and West Michigan are headed for a four game showdown next weekend. If the Cubs can start chaining together some wins, that series in West Michigan just might create a chance for the Cubs to sneak into one of those top two spots.
- Seth Frankoff: 5.2 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K
- David Rollins: 1.1 IP, 1 BB, 2 K
- Conor Mullee: 2 IP, 2 K
- John Andreoli: 1 for 3, BB, SB
- Victor Caratini: 2 for 4, 2B, HR
- Stephen Bruno: 3 for 3
- Ali Solis: 1 for 3, 2B
- Duane Underwood: 3.2 IP, 9 R, 12 H, 1 BB, 5 K
- Daury Torrez: 1.1 IP, 1 K
- Ryan McNeil: 1.1 IP, 2 K
- Yasiel Balaguert: 1 for 4, HR
- Tom Hatch: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 5 K
- Dillon Maples: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 K
- P.J. Higgins: 2 for 5
- Daniel Spingola: 1 for 5, SB
- Eloy Jimenez: 2 for 4
- Tyler Alamo: 2 for 4
- Matt Rose: 1 for 4, HR
- Trent Giambrone: 2 for 4, HR
- Robert Garcia: 2 for 4, 2B
- Andruw Monasterio: 3 for 4
- Matt Rose, first baseman for Myrtle Beach, has now hit ten homers on the season.
- Duncan Robinson has allowed more than one earned run exactly once this year. That was on April 23 against Dayton when he pitched 3.2 innings of relief. Yesterday he not only was stingy with the runs, he also struck out a season high nine. His ERA is down to 1.34 and batters are hitting just .199 off him. Robinson was the Cubs’ ninth round pick in the 2016 draft.
- The Dominican Summer League has fired up, and once again the Cubs have two teams (DSL Cubs 1 and DSL Cubs 2) in that circuit. Cubs 1 plays in the North division, and Cubs 2 in the San Pedro division. Neither team will be covered as part of the Daily, but I will keep an eye on the stats and call out anything noteworthy in this space. It will take awhile for stats to stabalize though, so you may not see any news from the DSL for a few weeks.
- As a reminder, the Eugene Emeralds and the AZL Cubs will be covered in the Daily, as usual, when those teams take the field later this month.