Breaking Sad HR Records, Russell's Hand, Darvish's Start, Strength of Schedule, and Other Bullets

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Breaking Sad HR Records, Russell’s Hand, Darvish’s Start, Strength of Schedule, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I’m (Michael) taking over the bullets today, because Brett can’t bring himself to get out of bed. I think this weekend really got to him, guys (or he’s working on something on the back-end of the site and needed me to cover … I’m not one to gossip).

  • Sure, the first-place Cubs are still 19 games over .500 with an NL-best 3.5 game lead here in the second half of August (that actually felt really nice to type “out loud,” so to speak), but the concerted efforts to ruin our spirits with four games of offensive silence and Yu Darvish’s failed rehab start have worked. There’s plenty to be happy about in the big picture, but a narrow lens sure justifies the frustration.
  • At least the Cubs are still out there breaking records, I guess …

  • That’s just sad.
  • Two of those four solo home runs were from Kyle Schwarber, who added a single and three walks over the weekend, as well. That said, it’s been a bit of a grind lately for the Cubs primary left-fielder, who just isn’t having a strong second half in the results column (77 wRC+). But let’s put a pin in it, because this is a much-wider discussion we’ll have later today. For now, know that there’s actually some reasons to be optimistic, both in the long and short term.
  • I suspect Willson Contreras’ leg action here would’ve been a lot more controversial had Pirates had lost yesterday. So … bullet dodged? I kid.

  • It’s all about location, location, location:

  • I didn’t catch most of yesterday’s Cubs/Pirates finale because I was in South Bend watching Yu Darvish, but I did see that ninth inning play at a rest stop on the way back and smiled from ear to ear when I realized it was a “4-9-3″ double play. That’s fun.
  • Speaking of South Bend … Luis and I made our way down there to watch Darvish’s start and it obviously didn’t go well. Before the end of the second inning, I had to draft up a post that led with “Oh, no…” and that’s just not where we thought we’d be at least not so soon. And especially not after Darvish ended the first inning with a 95 MPH strikeout:

  • Here’s video of his post-game interview, where he discussed some of things we touched on yesterday. The takeaway, of course, is that he requested another MRI, which is not a particularly common request from a player in my experience, and that he still wants to pitch this season:

  • At this point, I think it’s fair to wonder if he’ll be back at all this season, but it’s certainly not out of the question. It’s equally plausible, I suppose, that the MRI comes back clean (again) and he just gets right back on the horse. The issue, however, is that Minor League seasons are ending in early September, so his opportunities for rehab assignments will begin to dwindle soon. I’m guessing we’ll hear more today, so stay tuned.
  • Ah, actually I have a final thought: One thing I found particularly strange about yesterday is how and when Darvish came out. I wouldn’t have been surprised if after throwing 3-4 innings yesterday, Darvish woke up sore and set-back today, but that’s not what happened. Instead, he stopped things after just 19 pitches and 1.0 inning. So … what was different about those 19 pitches than the 55-pitch simulated game he made last week? Or the simulated game before that? If anything, you’d think the adrenaline of the live-game action would’ve masked any discomfort in the short-term. After all, Darvish had already been throwing off a mound, throwing hard, and using his entire repertoire. It’s just difficult to understand why things had to stop there in the moment. Injuries aren’t black and white, but I’m sure getting sick of the grey.
  • Before yesterday’s game, Patrick Mooney caught up with Joe Maddon to discuss Addison Russell’s offensive drought and it sounds like our earlier guess may have been correct: “I know the hand’s bothering him more than he’s saying,” said Maddon. Maddon added, however, that despite being aware of Russell’s offensive struggles, his defense is still very valuable and helping them win games. We can argue about that, but it seems besides the point. That hand injury is a continued issue.
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
  • If you recall, we discussed this just two weeks ago. In the month leading up to getting his hand stepped on in the Tigers game, Russell was slashing .333/.396/.481 (135 wRC+). Since then, however, he’s slashed just .209/.264/.269 (44 wRC+). And yesterday, his manager said he thinks his hand is bothering him more than he’s letting on. It’s fair to question, then, if Russell is just playing through an injury and, then, whether he should be. Some injuries don’t really require “rest,” but if this one does, the Cubs would be wise to give him a breather.
  • This’ll seem promising if you’re most afraid of the Cardinals or terrifying if it’s the Brewers:

  • Former Cub Zac Rosscup threw an immaculate inning yesterday:

  • This is unrelated to the Cubs (and is only indirectly connected to the Bears, I guess), but if this penalty is called all year … it’s gonna be a long season for the NFL … yeesh:

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami