MLBits: The Sticky Era Ends(?) Tonight, Franco Gets the Call, the Cardinals Prefer Rain, More

I’m going to tonight’s game between the Cubs and Indians at Wrigley Field, and I’m excited for a whole host of obvious reason: Adbert Alzolay is making his return from the IL, it’s my first live Cubs game in almost two years now, I’ll be in the bleachers, the Cubs are in first, etc.

But I’m also really interested to see how the umpires will change their behavior with respect to the sticky stuff crackdown (which begins tonight). Fortunately, ESPN has a FAQ style guide to what we might see and expect, which I’ll encourage you to check out.

Sticky Impact

The short version of how it’ll actually play out? Pitchers will be checked after innings and/or when they come out of a game, but they CAN be checked during an appearance, as well. Closers, by contrast, will be checked as they come into the game, so there’s not awkward walk-off moments. Position players can also be checked if the umpires think they’re handing sticky stuff off to a pitcher. But boy, if you’re going that far to hide what you’re doing at this point, that sure feels like legitimate cheating.

If a pitcher is caught with sticky stuff, he will be immediately ejected from the game, suspended for 10 days (with pay), and his team will NOT be able to replace him on the roster – they’ll play a man short (can you imagine the impact of playing multiple men down?).

There’s much more at ESPN, including expectations, comments from pitchers and position players, alike, and more. I don’t think we’ll see many ejections right away given how much attention is on the issue, HOWEVER, perhaps we could see lower velocity (pitchers trying to reclaim control lost by the lack of sticky stuff), lower spin rates, and more balls in play. That would actually be a very good thing, given the earlier-season sentiment about how the game has been trending.

The one thing you obviously DON’T want to see is injuries, either to pitchers who’ve adjusted their grip or mechanics, or batters who get plunked because a pitcher got wild.

Wander Franco

The No. 1 prospect in MLB, Wander Franco, is debuting this week, and here he is finding out the big news in front of his entire team:

https://twitter.com/DurhamBulls/status/1406783608971530242?s=20

Franco, 20, is a switch-hitting shortstop who posted wRC+(s) of 159 in rookie ball, 155 in A-Ball, 157 in High-A, and 148 in Triple-A (he skipped Double-A entirely), all while being extremely young for his level. Some scouts believe he might be the best switch-hitter of his generation, with great instincts at the plate as well as actual physical talent. Even in an era loaded with extremely impressive young players, Franco has a shot to stand out. It’s going to be fun to watch.

The Cardinals Need a Vacation

I don’t want to derive too much pleasure out of the Cardinals misfortune, because the Cubs are also struggling to both score and prevent runs (let alone win) at the sort of pace they enjoyed in May, HOWEVER … a little Scardenfreude never hurt anyone:

“I think right now, honestly, getting rained out is probably not the worst thing in the world for this club, and it allows us to take a timeout or break because right now we’re not playing great baseball,” said [John] Mozeliak, the club’s president of baseball operations….”

The Cardinals president prefers a rain out, because that’s how little he believes the healthy part of his team can win a game. I just … come on. I know there’s a reasonable message in there, but I’m choosing to take it the worst and most embarrassing way I can, because it’s the Cardinals and I owe them nothing.

Mozeliak continued: “We are at a little bit of a stress point right now.”

The Cardinals lost 12 games in April and 12 games in May, but they’ve already lost 12 June games here on June 21st. An alternative fun fact for that one annoying Cardinals fan friend you have: St. Louis has a winning overall record (individually) against only the Diamondbacks, Rockies, Marlins, and Pirates this season. Oh, and here’s my personal favorite: They’re 1-5 against the Cubs.

Steve Cohen Speaks

Eminently-available Mets owner Steve Cohen was interviewed by the New York Post over the weekend and hit on a lot of good stuff, including the Trade Deadline. My favorite part was his response to whether or not he’d consider mid-season acquisition(s) that would take his team over the luxury tax threshold of $210M.

“It’s something to think about because there is a price to pay if you go over [the threshold] for the following year or the year after,” Cohen said before the Mets faced the Nationals. “I am not going to go over for a million or two million. That’s stupid, so if you are going to do it you are going to do it, so we’ll see what’s available.”

The Mets are currently about $10M away from the luxury tax threshold, so on the one hand, there is room to improve, but on the other hand … does this mean he’d go WAY over or not at all? That seems like a pretty convenient and wisely worded cop out, doesn’t it? Meant to make him look like he’d go way over if he could, but oh darn there wasn’t enough to go way over, so we’ll sit back and remain under $210M. How about you just do what it takes for your team to succeed – and what your baseball operations department suggests – and worry about the escalating penalties (that could be erased by the new CBA this offseason) later? You’re a first place team with a very good looking playoff-type roster – this year counts, yes?

Cohen has done plenty for the Mets already – so this is not a criticism of him, individually – I just really hate when there are preemptive excuses that can be easily picked apart.

Cohen also discussed a potential extension for Jacob deGrom, who can opt-out after 2022, as well as Marcus Stroman (free agent at the end of the year), but pretty much stuck with the understandably cagey responses (in this case, I think that’s OK): “I like Marcus, he is a good guy and he is pitching great, too,” Cohen said. “You have got to love it. These are all big decisions. No one has an unlimited amount of money. … You have got to be disciplined. We’ll figure it out when we get there.”

Stroman could be a good Cubs target after this season. And don’t even get me dreaming on deGrom.

By the way: despite leaving his last two starts early with arm issues (including last time out against the Cubs), deGrom is once again starting tonight on regular rest.

Odds and Ends

•   The Rangers wound up getting Tyson Miller through waivers, so that’s that. Good luck to him on whatever comes this year, and then he can hit minor league free agency after the season if he’s not put back on the 40-man roster.

•   How about a triple play to end a one-run game in the 9th? Heartbreaking for the A’s, better than a run-of-the-mill walk-off for the Yankees. By the way, Chapman, 33, has a 1.98 ERA. His lowest since the year he was on the Cubs.

From now until game time, you can get $5 off the ADBERT ALZOLAY IS NASTY shirt by clicking the link in that tweet. Or going right here. And adding the code CERAMISHOP at checkout.

written by

Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

more cubs news

Chicago Cubs Officially Announce 10 Draft Signings

The Chicago Cubs have officially signed half of their 2024 MLB Draft class, including top pick - 14th overall - Cam Smith, as discussed this weekend. From the Cubs: "The Chicago Cubs today announced they have agreed to terms with...

Does a Suddenly-Hot Nico Hoerner Make Sense for the Now Ozzie Albies-less Braves? Eh…

In the almost two months from April 27-June 22 (175 PAs), Nico Hoerner was ice cold. During all that time, the Cubs second baseman managed just nine extra base hits (only two homers) and slashed .200/.291/.284 (68 wRC+). But since...

The Rally Bucket Returns, Shōta’s Partial No-No, Lester HOF, Prospect Dingers, and Other Cubs Bullets

We're having a Happy Hour this Saturday in Chicago, and it'll be a fun and free time! Details here, register here! While I could focus on the long scoreless streak that preceded it, I do think it was very nice...

Let’s Go … Build That Trade Value? Brewers vs Cubs Series Preview

[BN_drinks] Cubs vs Brewers — The Cubs needed to win AT LEAST two of three against the Diamondbacks this weekend to make this coming Cubs-Brewers series "matter," but they came up short. And worse, they once again looked generally lifeless,...

Cubs Could “Theoretically” Listen to Trade Offers for Justin Steele

The Athletic trio of Ken Rosenthal, Patrick Mooney, and Will Sammon dropped a Trade Deadline article that got me sitting up in my chair and typing rapidly this morning. You drop Justin Steele's name in a rumor-type article and my...

Wake Up and Watch Shōta Imanaga Dominate, and the Cubs Literally Walk It Off

The Chicago Cubs salvaged the Sunday finale of their series against the Diamondbacks, and although the series as a whole is hardly worth celebrating, the win did feature a few very good things. For one, you had Shōta Imanaga coming...

New Cardinals Home Run Celebration Raises Questions

Although I'm sure Jim Edmonds would be UTTERLY APPALLED to see that his St. Louis Cardinals are celebrating home runs, the team has recently gotten together with a distinct home run celebration. Because the celebration visually evokes images from the...

Enhanced Box Score: Cubs 2, Diamondbacks 1 – July 21, 2024

BEGGERS CAN'T BE CHOOSERS! The Cubs did nothing offensively for almost nine full innings, but Nico Hoerner scored the tying run in the bottom of the 9th, and then "drove in" the winning run on a walk-off walk: https://twitter.com/Cubs/status/1815127531047309382 We...

Cubs May Be Opening to the Idea of Trading Jameson Taillon, Reportedly Have Had Talks

In the last two days, Jameson Taillon's name has popped up twice in relation to the upcoming MLB Trade Deadline. This happens against the backdrop of the Chicago Cubs probably very eager NOT to sell, but the reality of their...

Pre-Gamin’: Cubs vs Diamondbacks (1:20 CT) – Lineups, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

CUBS LINEUP — The Cubs season isn't hanging on by a thread anymore. At this point, after two lifeless losses to the Diamondbacks to open the second half, they'd have to undergo a miracle resuscitation —something for the history books....

Latest News

Red Sox vs. Rockies Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, July 22, 2024

Ezequiel Tovar leads the Colorado Rockies (36-64) into Monday's matchup with the Boston Red Sox (53-45) on a three-game homer streak. His Rockies are underdogs for the contest, however, with sportsbooks naming the Red Sox as -169 moneyline favorites. The...

Phillies vs. Twins Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, July 22, 2024

The Minnesota Twins (54-44) will lean on Byron Buxton, following a two-homer game, to lead them in a matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies (63-36) on Monday at 7:40 PM ET on NBCS-PH. The Twins are -104 underdogs for the contest,...

Red Sox vs. Rockies Probable Starting Pitchers – July 22

The Boston Red Sox (53-45) look to end to a three-game skid as they visit the Colorado Rockies (36-64) on Monday at 8:40 PM ET.The Red Sox will call on Tanner Houck (8-6) against the Rockies and Austin Gomber (2-6).Red...

Legal DraftKings Sportsbook States: Where the Sportsbook is Available in the US

DraftKings, a powerhouse in the daily fantasy sports (DFS) and sports betting industry, has taken the US by storm. But with constantly evolving legalization landscapes, navigating where you can legally place a wager can be tricky. Fear not, sports fans!...

Royals vs. Diamondbacks Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, July 22, 2024

The Kansas City Royals (55-45) will vie for their fourth straight victory when they host the Arizona Diamondbacks (51-49) on Monday at 8:10 PM ET on BSKC. The Royals are listed as -157 favorites by oddsmakers, while the Diamondbacks are...

Rangers vs. White Sox Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, July 22, 2024

The Chicago White Sox (27-74) hope to avoid their eighth straight defeat when they visit the Texas Rangers (47-52) Monday at 8:05 PM ET on BSSW. The Rangers are listed as -171 favorites, while the White Sox are +145 underdogs...

Brewers vs. Cubs Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, July 22, 2024

Following a two-homer game in a win over the Twins, Eric Haase leads the Milwaukee Brewers (57-42) into action as -122 favorites against the Chicago Cubs (48-53). First pitch from Wrigley Field at 8:05 PM ET on Monday, live on...

Braves vs. Reds Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, July 22, 2024

A losing streak will come to an end Monday when the Atlanta Braves (54-44), losers of two straight, take on the Cincinnati Reds (47-53). The Reds are hoping to avoid their fourth loss in a row. The Braves are -150...

Tigers vs. Guardians Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, July 22, 2024

The Cleveland Guardians (59-39) enter Monday's matchup with the Detroit Tigers (49-51) following their 1-2 series defeat to the Padres. The Tigers, coming off of a series win against the Blue Jays, are listed as -130 favorites for Game 1....

Pirates vs. Cardinals Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, July 22, 2024

The Pittsburgh Pirates (50-49) are set to take on the St. Louis Cardinals (52-47) Monday at 6:40 PM ET, airing on BSMW. The Pirates are listed as -126 favorites by bookmakers, while the underdog Cardinals have +107 odds for the...

more cubs news