The off-day after an ugly pair of losses and before a huge series against the Pirates. Today’s gonna be long.
- It’s been a bad week or so for the Cubs’ bullpen – except for Travis Wood and Trevor Cahill, anyway – but Joe Maddon is being careful not to sound any alarms, even as it’s tough to take sufficient encouragement from his words (CSN, Cubs.com, Tribune). Outside of Jason Motte, the arms are healthy, so at least there’s that. Maddon indicates some more confidence is needed, and he’s not going to make any dramatic changes to the mix of guys to whom you’ve already become accustomed in certain roles. The hope is that guys like Justin Grimm and Pedro Strop are just in a little slump from which they can emerge the guys they were down the stretch last year. That probably won’t happen for Neil Ramirez, whose season was derailed by injuries, but if the Cubs can get solid contributions from guys like Wood, Cahill, Fernando Rodney and Clayton Richard, and if Grimm, Strop, and Hector Rondon pitch anything close to their abilities, the Cubs should be all right. “All right” is about as far as I can go.
- The bullpen probably won’t be a strength the rest of the way without some guys – Carl Edwards, Jr.? Tommy Hunter? Zac Rosscup? – becoming hugely pleasant surprises. It’s an unfortunate possibility, but you should steel yourself against the expectation that the Cubs will be good from here on out in every phase of the game. The offense is excellent. The defense is solid. The bench is outstanding. The rotation is mixed but solid overall. The bullpen – that’s the question mark right now. Most teams should be so lucky to be in that situation.
- Chris Coghlan’s huge game – four hits, including a homer and two triples (and his one out was crushed to deep center) – bumped his season line up to .257/.343/.457 with a 116 wRC+. His ISO is up from last year’s breakout, his walk rate is up, and his strikeout rate is down. He has been exceptionally good – there’s a reason he’s consistently hitting third on a team with as much thump as the Cubs.
- The last remaining Cubs minor league team in the playoffs, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, took the opener in the Carolina League championship series.
- If you missed it earlier, here’s your Scoreboard Watching.
- And if you missed anything this weekend, you should catch yourself up here.