Rizzo Leads With His Stare, Strop Continues to Succeed, Smyly's Soreness, and Other Bullets

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Rizzo Leads With His Stare, Strop Continues to Succeed, Smyly’s Soreness, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. to Aretha Franklin, who passed away yesterday at the age of 76.

  • With last night’s win, the Cubs moved to 20 games over .500 for the first time this season. They are 3.5 games up in the NL Central, and have reached 70 wins. For years, from 2010 to 2014, that was pretty much where the Cubs’ season-ending win total would wind up.
  • In the 9th inning last night, current-closer Pedro Strop struck out the first two Pirates he faced, and then hit David Freese with a two-strike pitch. Suddenly, the tying run was on base, and Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey came out for a mound meeting. At the conclusion of that meeting, Anthony Rizzo wanted to make sure Strop knew it was time to get it done:

  • Heh. I actually tend to think Rizzo was having some fun with Strop there in the moment, loosening things up, and keeping his closer relaxed. You can see the faintest hint of a smile on each man’s face as they part. Whether serious or not, it was funny as heck for us.
  • In the second half, when he has served as the Cubs’ closer, Pedro Strop has put up a 2.79 ERA, a 2.43 FIP, a 58.3% groundball rate, a 27.5% strikeout rate, and a 7.5% walk rate. That’s a good closer, my friends.
  • … though it still will improve the overall bullpen considerably when Brandon Morrow returns. He was throwing again on the field yesterday, but has not yet pitched off the mound after his biceps injury. A report indicated he could pitch off the mound for the first time this weekend, but we’ll see.
  • Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein reacted to the José Ureña pitch that drilled Ronald Acuña, Jr. because he was playing too well:

  • More details here at NBCS Chicago on Drew Smyly’s rehab process, and why it went from possibly August to now possibly September. As he puts it, “[My body is] just not really responding the way I want it to. It’s completely normal. It’s just part of the of the rehab process — shortening the window. When I’m on the mound and well-rested, I feel great and I walk off it excited where I’m at and ready for the next step. I kinda wake up the next day and the soreness just lingers.” Everyone recovers from Tommy John surgery differently, and very few pitchers are “themselves” again 12 to 14 months later, even if they’re able to pitch. So, it’s very possible that Smyly will simply finish out the season still rehabbing, and then gear up to compete for a rotation spot next spring.
  • The Cubs are popular, especially El Mago:

  • To be sure, Harrison Bader is having a really strong season, hitting .285/.354/.446 (118 wRC+) and playing good defense at age 24 in his first full season in the big leagues. He also has a .378 BABIP that looks at least somewhat unsupported by his contact data, and if that slips, his overall line will take a big hit. I won’t even touch the dang “Trout” thing.
  • You can get $100 off iPad Airs at Amazon today.
  • It took a surprising amount of time and correspondence and pushing and justifying (thanks, Michael), but we finally got our Facebook Page for BN Bears changed from The Ten-Yard Line. So, that seems as good a reason as any to remind you fine folks that we also cover the Bears, and you can follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook right here:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.