Busy few days in Chicago sports, eh? You got the Blackhawks trading and drafting, you got the Bears (finally) trading Anthony Miller, you got Zach LaVine playing in the Olympics as I type, and you’ve got the Cubs in the run-up to the Trade Deadline …
• With the Cubs losing to the Diamondbacks yesterday and the Brewers winning, the Cubs are now a season-high 10.0 games out of first place in the NL Central. Couple “fun” facts about that: (1) at this time in 2016, the dominant Cubs were up only 6.5 games; and (2) the Cubs haven’t been double-digits games out in nearly six years. And even that time was late in 2015, when the Cubs were looking fantastic and streaking their way toward a Wild Card appearance (they were so far out only because the Cardinals were winning 100 games).
• The Cubs remain 17.5 games ahead of the Diamondbacks, by the way, who are doing a historically good job of locking down that top pick in 2022. Even after yesterday’s win, they’re on pace to win 50 games. Just 50. With a run differential of something like -280.
• Speaking of the loss, the game was delayed in the 9th (with the Cubs down five runs) for an hour and 39 minutes. Upon the return, Willson Contreras got sufficiently frustrated by what he saw as a bum call (stacked upon other bum calls on the day) that he got himself ejected. He wasn’t even at the plate, and when he tried to get some words in, David Ross was quick to pull the ole block move:
Willson Contreras gets ejected, then tries to do a run-in and cut promo on the ump. David Ross holds him back. pic.twitter.com/lEOxdTlogF
— Justin Groc (@jgroc) July 25, 2021
• David Ross on the Contreras ejection (Wittenmyer): “I love his passion. I’ve gotten thrown out of games, too. That’s just part of the game when you’re upset. He probably has as good a feel as anybody when you’re catching about where the strike zone’s been all day …. That can play into it.”
• Contreras, who homered in the game, is on one, though: he’s hitting .272/.416/.506 with a 153 wRC+ since June 21.
• Since returning from that Injured List stint (calf, but mostly rest, I suspect), Ryan Tepera has been perfect and has struck out half the batters he’s faced. Teams will be calling.
• Tomorrow can be simulated game day at Wrigley Field:
Ross said Jake Arrieta will throw a simulated outing Monday at Wrigley to gather some data on his progress.
Rowan Wick may also be here to do the same, per the manager.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 24, 2021
• With Wick, you’d like to see him back for a month or two in the second half to set things up for next year with him. Cubs will want to know how he’s looking and recovering for purposes of the bullpen construction. With Arrieta, I really don’t know how this going to go. Even with the Cubs not competitive, there are other guys I’d prefer to see getting those second half starts. Maybe Arrieta gets a send-off start? Maybe he gets some time in the bullpen – even if for his own benefit – to see how that might look as he heads into free agency again?
• When Alec Mills takes off his glasses, he reveals that he is Shohei Ohtani:
Alec Mills, doubles hitter. pic.twitter.com/HEK0gDNRjB
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) July 24, 2021
• Please pay minor leaguers a reasonable salary – it’s madness that they have to deal with this stuff, and they’re among the most important parts of your organization (to say nothing of the simple humanity):
“It’s gotten to the point now where there are guys who are in a serious mental health crisis because of how stressful money is here.”
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 23, 2021