• From the time David Ross originally spoke to the media before last night’s game to the time the Cubs made the move, something gave the Cubs reason to put Kris Bryant on the Injured List. Ross said that the IL wasn’t the plan, but then after Bryant completed his work for the day with the trainers, the move came down. Take from that what you will, but the only thing we know is that he took swings at about 50%, still felt discomfort, and that was that. He’s now ineligible to return to the Cubs for another six days, and the hope is that the discomfort can clear up quickly, and then in the run up to his return, he can go to South Bend and facing some live pitching. What happens after that is anybody’s guess, because when it comes to a hitter’s wrists, the range of lingering issues (or not) can be very wide.
• It goes without saying: this Cubs offense is nothing even close to what it can be without a healthy, effective, normal Kris Bryant in the lineup. Get well, and come back clicking in September, please and thanks.
• Speaking of the offense, which is in quite the rut, Anthony Rizzo offering the steady hand (Cubs.com): “I just think you’ve got a lot of guys that are searching a little bit right now. It happens to pretty much be a lot of us at the same time. We’re all grinding, and we’re all grinding together. That’s the thing, we’re all in it together. When the ship is sinking, you feel like you’re all just about to drown. That’s the beauty of this game. You get to come back tomorrow and keep paddling and keep playing.”
• A good read here from Sahadev Sharma on how things are going sideways for the bats, and where you can and cannot expect course correction. One problem? They’re a huge three-true-outcome team (walks, homers, strikeouts) and have been for a while … but this year, it’s increasingly been just two of those outcomes (walks and strikeouts). The homers are lacking.
• Meanwhile, on the pitching side, the Cubs allowed 5+ homers in back-to-back games for only the third time in team history, which is really wild. Part of that is because the game is different these days, but most of it is because the White Sox are on an absolutely absurd homer binge over the past week, and the Cubs’ pitchers just kept missing their spots. The White Sox are very aggressive, have a ton of power up and down the lineup, and they are not missing those mistakes. Tip your cap, stop making mistakes.
• Speaking of which, this one is a carbon copy of a homer Jon Lester gave up to Jose Abreu the night before. This one is Rowan Wick, but it’s the same batter, the same request to really bury the curveball down, the same failure to do so, the same ultimate location for the pitch, the same crushed shot, and the same reaction by Willson Contreras:
Want the pitch down, WAY down. pic.twitter.com/NOuJrQF6zD
— Ⓜ️arcusD ▶️ (@_MarcusD3_) August 23, 2020
• That homer by Abreu, his third on the night and fifth in the two games, was also a notable one for Wick:
Abreu's homer off Rowan Wick marks the first blast off the righty since Sept. 7, 2018. That snaps a streak of 191 batters faced without allowing a long ball.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 23, 2020
• It’s a bigger conversation for another day, but I see it in the comments and on Twitter, so I’ll just point out: the idea that the Cubs should now sell and start a rebuild is humorous for a first-place team through nearly half of the season, but setting that aside, the much bigger issue is that there is no market whatsoever for the Cubs to sell into. That’s definitely the case in-season, as teams are NOT going to give up major long-term assets for short-term pieces (that whole plan to sell midseason if the Cubs didn’t look like a World Series contender was gobbled up by COVID-19), and it’s ALSO going to be the case this offseason, where guys like Kris Bryant and Javy Báez are going to have very little trade value on the final year of arbitration given the financial market. It sucks, it has long-term consequences for the organization, and it’s “the pandemic’s fault,” but it’s the reality.
• For example, barring some miraculous change between now and December, getting one year of Bryant at $20+ million for the 2021 season is going to have very little trade value this offseason. Heck, even in a NORMAL environment, getting one year of Bryant at that price point does not have organization-altering trade value (see the Mookie Betts trade or the Manny Machado trade in recent years, and with love to Bryant, he is not those guys). Teams are simply not going to give up super valuable cost-controlled talent when their budgets have been slashed, especially when the prize on the other side is a really expensive single season of a guy coming off what might be a lost year. No, no, I’m pretty sure the pandemic has forced the Cubs into a ride-or-die situation through the 2021 season. And you KNOW that is not what I wanted to see the Cubs doing in these final two years of the core. But the reality of the world is the reality of the world. At this point, it might be better rooting for reasonable extensions for a lot of Cubs players (and that’s not the worst outcome!).