Decided to do an impromptu boys trip with The Little Boy to Chicago this week, hopefully taking in some Cubs-Padres. I don’t know how this series will go – what with the Padres being exceptionally good and the Cubs being extremely banged up – but it should make for a good test of the recent relative hotness of the Cubs.
• This series kicks off a brutal June that will see the Cubs face just one team under .500, the Marlins, who actually have a positive run differential. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that if the Cubs can come out of this month within a game or two of first place in the NL Central, that might be the dividing line on whether they become buyers or sellers in July. That, in turn, probably requires going about .500 against this rough slate, with two West Coast trips, and with just one off-day between now and June 22. The more I look at it, if the Cubs do go .500 in June, I’m thinking they absolutely should bet on themselves as buyers. If they don’t, even that might not totally close the door if the Cardinals and Brewers also have a down month. The Cubs did what they needed to do in May to keep this conversation going. June is going to be much tougher (but they probably don’t have to do quite as well, so there’s that!).
• Today’s starter is still a TBA with Trevor Williams out following his appendectomy, and I wonder if the Cubs will try to just cover it with Keegan Thompson going a few innings to open the game, or if they’ll call up someone like Kohl Stewart, who is on the 40-man and who is on the same starting schedule as Williams. Stewart, 26, is still kind of like a developing prospect, despite his big league experience, so I kinda hope he gets this shot. I want to see how he looks (he’s mostly been successful at Triple-A so far this year).
• The full infirmary at the moment, hopefully some of whom the Cubs will be getting back in the coming weeks:
The Cubs now have 13 players currently injured:
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) May 30, 2021
• Just one day after losing their 38.1 inning no-earned-run streak, the Cubs’ bullpen is already back up to a 9.0-inning scoreless streak.
• When it comes to trade season in the months ahead, Ken Rosenthal points out an issue organizations will confront:
The soaring strikeout and walk rates in the minors, combined with an injury rate one executive described as “through the roof,” will increase the degree of difficulty for teams evaluating prospects as potential trade acquisitions. As another executive put it, “What am I supposed to make of a guy I’ve never heard of averaging 15 strikeouts per nine in A ball?”
Teams already were working with much less information than usual because of the absence of a minor-league season in 2020 and belated start in ’21. Some clubs were open to sharing video from the alternate sites and allowing rivals to scout their players in Instructional League and spring training. Others were not.
• Like last year, there will be extreme information imbalances, even as the ability to scout in person (if you didn’t fire your whole staff, that is) has returned. I wonder if it will reduce activity at the Trade Deadline, as trades might be harder to cobble together. The Cubs, you’ll recall, let go a great deal of their scouting staff last year.
• Setting aside the obvious remarks you might make about this, I would point out that I don’t know how true it is – consider how much hype the White Sox were getting before the season even started (deservedly), and how the Cubs were left for dead and largely undiscussed (also deservedly):
Liam Hendriks signed in January and has already accrued the South Side chip on his shoulder.
"I feel like we have to take four steps to get any sort of national recognition while our crosstown rivals just have to put together one game and then they'll get on it."
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) May 30, 2021
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• Based on his latest IG post, it sounds like top Cubs prospect Brennen Davis’s rehab stint at South Bend is complete, and he’ll be heading up to Double-A Tennessee to begin his real opening assignment this week. Can’t wait.
• I’m just trolling, because there’s so much more to these numbers, but I’m gonna do it anyway: Zach Davies May ERA: 1.72. Yu Darvish May ERA: 2.20.