Frank No Tank, Cubs Making History, Debut No-Hitter, Megill, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Frank No Tank, Cubs Making History, Debut No-Hitter, Megill, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

It was preseason. It was against second and third stringers on a possibly bad team. Unsuccessful quarterbacks of the recent past have also had great debuts. Blah, blah, blah. I know it all. I’m just saying: it was really fun to watch Justin Fields yesterday. He just looked so exciting and also capable. The near-term future for the Cubs looks shaky, but at least the Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks (and White Sox, I suppose) are all in pretty interesting phases. I will use that to soothe my fandom.

… because the Cubs are strikingly terrible. Who would’ve thought that a team that can lose 11 games in a row with their best players on the roster would really struggle when those players were gone?

•   For the second time this season, the Cubs have lost 10+ games in in a row, the latest coming after they’d seemingly come back late to win one against the Marlins. Frank Schwindel, who is hitting a ridiculous .381/.422/.714 (200 wRC+, 17.8% K rate) with the Cubs, gave the Cubs the lead with this bases-clearing double:

•   But then a couple errors and hard hits in the very next half-inning and the lead was gone, and the game was lost. Schwindel summed it up:

 

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•   The loss dropped the Cubs into an effective tie with the Twins for the 8th worst record in baseball, the first time they’ve not had the 10th worst record in two weeks (despite the losing streak). Another loss today, and the Cubs will also pass, at a minimum, the Marlins. Root however you want – I’m just passing on the facts for now.

•   The multiple 10+ game losing streaks in a single season is just the second time in team history that it’s ever happened (1954). So the Cubs are gonna have to sneak in a win real quick so they can go for the club record!

•   David Ross on Sergio Alcantara’s night, which featured three errors that led to all five of the Marlins’ runs (Cubs.com): “He had a rough night, but I think that happens to anybody that’s able to play this game long enough and have the privilege to play at this level,” he said. “You’re going to have some bad nights, so you’ve got to turn the page. The quicker you flush it, the quicker you’ll be able to contribute to us. [If] you hang onto it, it’s not going to be good.”

•   Rafael Ortega has reached base safely in 18 straight games, the Cubs’ longest streak in over two years (Anthony Rizzo, 23 straight in mid-2019). He got screwed out of a triple, though:

•   As he was called back up yesterday, I said that Trevor Megill was going to need to start showing better location with the fastball and do more with his breaking pitch(es) if he was going to make himself into a real option for 2022. The physical projection and velocity, alone, can get you only so far when it becomes a crowded 40-man roster situation. Well, wouldn’t you know it, last night was maybe his best appearance with the Cubs. Not only did he strike out two in a scoreless inning, but he got multiple whiffs on his slider, and he was locating the fastball much better at the top and bottom of the zone. Interestingly on that front? His fastball velocity was down about a MPH on average in the appearance. A fluke? Maybe/probably. An intentional effort to gain a little more command? Maybe.

•   I chuckled:

•   After a long-ish lull in no-hitters (the Cubs’ combined no-hitter, which preceded their 11-game losing streak, was the last), we got a surprise one last night from Tyler Gilbert, a *minor league Rule 5 pick* making his first big league start:

•   Pretty darn incredible. Gilbert, 27, was a long-time Phillies prospect who had some success as a reliever at Triple-A in 2019, but given his age and lack of a season in 2020, I can understand why he was unprotected at the Triple-A level in the Rule 5 Draft (by the Dodgers, who’d acquired him in February 2020). It’s extremely rare to get a future big leaguer in the minor league phase, much less a guy who comes up and throws a dang no-hitter in his first start! He may not go on to be “a guy,” but this will always be a special moment.

•   Matt Chapman will always have a case that he, not Nolan Arenado, is the best defensive third baseman in baseball. And dang if this isn’t one of the best catches I’ve seen at third base in years:



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.