The season premier of ‘Game of Thrones’ did what they all do: set the stage, tease the future, etc. I would say that I’m not going to spoil anything for you, but it wasn’t really *that* kind of episode. I am glad it’s back.
- Also back? The Cubs! Well, according to Willson Contreras, who tells CSN, “We are back to who we were last year. We keep battling every pitch, no matter what the score is. It feels good when you start hitting like that.” I’ll wait to see the Cubs facing another pitching staff before making proclamations, but they certainly did explode on the Orioles, putting up 27 runs on 41 hits, including 10 homers.
- Kyle Hendricks will be the next “back” thing, as he makes what is expected to be his final rehab start today with AA Tennessee. If that goes well, he’ll come back to the rotation, and very likely bounce Mike Montgomery into the bullpen, for better or worse. Joe Maddon says “we’re not there yet” when asked about the possibility of John Lackey heading to the bullpen (CSN). I tend to think, if it comes to that, the Cubs would be more likely to simply move on from the 38-year-old righty than move him into the bullpen, but, in either case, Maddon’s right – we’re not there yet. If Lackey can get a little more life on his fastball in the second half, and a little more bite on his slider, he may yet remain a perfectly capable fifth starter. But if the Cubs add another arm? Or if Brett Anderson comes back ready to go at some point? Or if the Cubs decide they really want Montgomery back in the rotation? Hard choices may come. Right now, Lackey has not put together many competitive starts this year, and sports a 5.20 ERA and 5.66 ERA as he’s been plagued by hard contact (37.0%, yikes) and homers (2.19 HR/9, worst in baseball).
- Lackey will come off of the disabled list (plantar fasciitis) and start tomorrow against the Braves. My guess is Eddie Butler is optioned to AAA Iowa at that time, unless the Cubs want to go back to eight relievers, in which case it could be Tommy La Stella heading back to Iowa. Mike Montgomery is slated to start the next day, and that’s probably the spot in the rotation Hendricks will take thereafter.
- I thought it was fun that Jose Quintana’s 12 Ks yesterday tied a franchise record for a pitcher making his Cubs debut, last accomplished by Matt Garza in 2011 – the last cost-controlled starting pitcher the Cubs acquired by trading a haul of big-time prospects. The big difference, of course, being that the Cubs acquired Garza before the 2011 season in a desperate attempt to be competitive at a time when it was clear to almost all outside observers that the rebuild should instead begin. GM Jim Hendry was fired midseason, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer came on board after the season, and the rest is history.
- The new friend goes at the head of the table:
- Luis was on CLTV’s Sports Feed talking Cubs and Bears, and generally looking dapper.
- If you missed anything this weekend, catch yourself up here.
- Logan Morrison believes in extreme bat flips:
Oh sweet merciful batflip, LoMo! pic.twitter.com/nhWkGgTQmn
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) July 17, 2017
- Today’s deals at Amazon include a food vacuum storage thingy, one of those cool headlamp tactical looking thingies, and, um, a mermaid tail blanket.
- Beautiful work, my friends! So far, so good:
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) July 17, 2017