The Cubs can at least avoid a sweep today in San Francisco, but they’ll probably need some length from Jon Lester in order to do it. There’s a chance Willson Contreras could be activated for this one to catch Lester (and perhaps also add some much-needed offense). Stay tuned.
- Cole Hamels first minor league rehab start appeared to be a success, as he went 2.1 innings and 35 pitches (the results don’t so much matter in a situation like this, but they were fine). Reasonable estimation remains that he’ll make his next start with the Iowa Cubs, stretching out to 50-ish pitches, and then start with the big team on August 3.
- Coughing loudly intensifies:
Two more hits for Ian Happ tonight, who is now hitting .314 this month (22-for-70) with the @IowaCubs with nearly as many walks (16) as strikeouts (19).
— Alex Cohen (@voiceofcohen) July 24, 2019
- Since we’ve been discussing for a while the fact that Happ is finally in a very long stretch where he seems to have well-adapted the swing/approach changes necessary to cut down on his strikeouts (against AAA pitching) while maintaining his power (against AAA pitching), and since that was more or less the express reason he was sent down to open the season, I don’t really understand why he isn’t up with the big league team, starting in center field immediately. The only plausible conclusions at this point are (1) the Cubs see the results but there is some underlying issue that still isn’t corrected; (2) the Cubs are trying to trade Happ and don’t want to disrupt that process; and/or (3) the Cubs are trying to trade Albert Almora and don’t want to disrupt that process. What other plausible explanations are there for continuing to deploy Almora over Happ right now?
- Keeping in mind, for all we love about Almora’s glove – and we do! – he is now the worst hitter in all of baseball with at least 300 PAs by wRC+. And going back to the All-Star break last year:
Players with at least 400 PAs since the All-Star break in 2018. pic.twitter.com/Si6tVnqfvw
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) July 24, 2019
- Speaking of the Cubs’ offensive issues, Sahadev Sharma wrote a great piece about the Cubs’ bench depth, with a number of interesting nuggets. Among them, something we’ve all speculated/wondered about: “[Daniel] Descalso has a 48 wRC+ on the season. Up until May 4, when he left a game against St. Louis with an ankle injury, Descalso had a respectable .726 OPS and had proved to be a capable bench bat. He refused to make excuses when asked about it, but sources have indicated that while Descalso fought through the ankle issue and continued to play, he may have developed some bad habits to compensate. As much work as Descalso may be doing behind the scenes, it’s nearly impossible for him to get his stroke back without regular playing time, something he’s not going to get with the big-league club.”
- Obviously the composition of the roster can and will change in this coming week, but even if Descalso is “healthy,” can the Cubs really justify having him on the bench if he (1) is not quite right, and (2) cannot get right while never playing and on the bench?
- Apropos of these bullets, and presented without additional comment:
- In a 13-inning game, where the starting pitcher departed after the sixth inning, the Cubs did not use their long reliever, Tyler Chatwood. Doesn’t that strike you as notable? Like I wrote yesterday, I really wonder if the Cubs are considering his tradability.
- Michael is still just the right level of weird:
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) July 23, 2019
- A very nice milestone for our friends at Obvious Shirts, and thus a special sale: