Davies at a Low Point, Six-Man Rotation, Deichmann, Schwarber, Soler, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Davies at a Low Point, Six-Man Rotation, Deichmann, Schwarber, Soler, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs
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From the White Sox to the Brewers. Fun stretch right here for the Cubs, eh? And yet all I can think about is “banked losses” because, while draft position ain’t everything in baseball, the Cubs – as a big market team – can always use as much bonus pool as they can get. And if they’re gonna lose a lot of games the rest of the way anyway, might as well lose as many as possible and increase that 2022 bonus pool … just sayin’ …

•   Not sure what else to say at this point about Zach Davies, who has had some decent stretches this year, but mostly has been a guy whose previously pristine command has abandoned him. And without premium stuff or velocity, you cannot survive like that, whether it’s because you’re walking guys, or getting into deep counts and being forced back into the zone, or because guys are pouncing on elevated, soft pitches that completely missed their spots. Last night was a great example, with three meatballs getting absolutely crushed in the first inning. The game was over.

•   There is no plan to bounce Davies – or anyone else – from the rotation, by the way. Instead, the Cubs are bringing up Justin Steele to start tomorrow, and it’ll become a six-man rotation. From pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, via Marquee:

“For the most part, every guy was understanding about what we’re trying to accomplish,” pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said. “They understand the workload side of it. Every single guy is having a heavier workload than last year. And they all want to finish healthy. That’s the goal.

“The guys that are gonna be free agents next year especially want to finish the season strong. Going with a 6-man is gonna cost them 1 start. It’s not like they’re gonna miss 3 or 4. They go from 10 to 9. It’s really not that big of a deal. It allows them to have extra work in between and continue to build.

“They also understand that it’s important for us as organization to evaluate some of the young guys so we can make better decisions when we go into the offseason. … As an organization, it’s important for us to be able to give them the room to work through some outings and be able to see what we have and make better decisions.”

•   So what happens when Keegan Thompson is ready to come up and make some starts? Seven-man rotation! No, I expect the Cubs are thinking it’s at least 50/50 that someone else will have to sit down (injury? innings management?) by that point anyway. Cross that bridge when it comes, and Thompson probably has at least a couple more starts at Iowa before he’s stretched out.

•   The Chicago Cubs are here to help:

•   Stray note on Greg Deichmann from what little we’ve seen so far: he’s working good at bats, has a good sense of the strike zone, and is comfortable working deep into counts. You can see why he has had a huge walk rate in the minors. What’s been interesting to me, though, is that he’s got this longer swing that I would expect to have more swing-and-miss and generate more power, but instead – last night, for example – he’s fouling off pitches that I thought he was for sure gonna swing through. He was choking up, so that definitely helped, but the swing still had some length to it.

•   It’s not really something I have seen recently for a comp (or at least none is coming to mind quickly), but it does help me understand how it is that his strikeout rate keep shrinking and everyone is projecting all that power (which hasn’t shown up yet). I can also better see how it is that he has remained high up on the prospect radar even as he got a little on the older side. Really interesting guy, and although I don’t know that he can cement himself as an Opening Day starter right now, I do think it’s a job he could wind up winning eventually if that power comes along.

•   The connection is completely irrational, but every time I see Eloy Jimenez or Dylan Cease do something great now – especially at Wrigley Field, like last night – I can’t help but think, damn, I’m really gonna need Nick Madrigal to be awesome. Not because I want to rub it in anyone’s face, but because I want an internal excuse to stop thinking about what could have been with Jimenez and Cease all the dang time. (Of note, I am still not sure how the Cubs actually would’ve deployed Jimenez. The bat was always gonna play, but he’s not a left fielder.)

•   Your not-so-random reminder that Jed Hoyer was not into sending Jimenez in the Jose Quintana trade. Here’s hoping he brings more of those instincts to bear over the next several years. Er, actually, scratch that: here’s hoping he already brought them to bear with the many trades the Cubs just made.

•   The Red Sox traded a top 10-15 system prospect to the Nationals for Kyle Schwarber in late-July, who was then rehabbing a hamstring strain. The expectation was that he would be back by mid-August, and the Red Sox obviously hoped he would continue the extreme hot streak he was on when he went down. But unfortunately Schwarber has hit a snag in his rehab – a groin issue – and now it might be late August before he makes his Red Sox debut. The team had planned on playing him at first base, where he’s never played before, and it feels all the more risky to count on that from a guy coming off two lower body injuries. I’d love to see him show up and keep raking, though. Either way, it’s going to be another interesting free agency for Schwarber.

•   Oh, and since we’re talking about former Cubs who were traded at the deadline by the team that had them after the Cubs, Jorge Soler has been hitting the ball as well as anyone since July 20. Prior to then, he was sporting one of the worst bats in baseball, which was crazy given how much he’d broken out with the Royals. His will be another really fascinating free agency case, and like Schwarber, will be entirely changed by the DH in the NL question.

•   Glad Len Kasper is getting to do what he wants to do, and he’ll still always be beloved among Cubs fans:

•   An interesting point here about the two teams in the 2016 World Series and what has happened since:

•   I tend to agree that if you have to either route, I’d much rather the Cubs went the HARD all-in and then HARD sell-off, rather than the drip-drip decline of the Guardians (are we calling them the Guardians now? Fine by me – I gotta start practicing at some point). But obviously the Guardians amateur acquisition/development on the pitching side has been far superior (to most teams!), and that makes a huge difference in being able to do the drip-drip if you prefer. Ideally, you wouldn’t have to go either of these routes, and could just float in a competitive zone because you’re making savvy one-off moves and ALSO doing a great job on amateur acquisition/development.

•   Here’s hoping this winds up just being another one of those minor Javy things that he comes back from immediately:

•   Báez left yesterday’s game, without running to first, when he felt something in the hip on a grounder to second base.

•   Meanwhile, with Anthony Rizzo out with COVID-19, his former mates and manager just hope he recovers well (Tribune). The Cubs obviously have had good luck and good protocol enforcement to have had no player positives in either of the last two seasons, though Yankees manager Aaron Boone suggested it could’ve been a Yankees road trip to Florida – where cases are exploding – that led to the infection. It can happen to anyone, and hopefully Rizzo’s symptoms stay mild. In the meantime, hopefully it is one more data point for others that it is worth getting vaccinated if you can safely do so.

•   Because of the timing of the announcement, I didn’t get a chance to cover it more closely, but you have to mention it: A’s outfielder Ramon Laureano got popped for PEDs and suspended 80 games. As is often the case, he blamed the unknowing ingestion of a steroid:

•   I never quite know how to react in these situations, because my empathy bone always makes me want to say, “Yeah, but what *IF* it really was unknowing and it totally wasn’t his fault? What if he’s getting kinda screwed here?!” But the flip side is that we know how easy it is to claim an accident after the fact. Sometimes people cheat, and sometimes people lie about the cheating when they’re caught. It’s just a bummer for A’s fans. Ironically, the loss of Laureano is softened by the acquisition of Starling Marte … who was himself suspended for PEDs four years ago, and also claimed it was just a mistake.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.