That game-winning run that Javy Báez scored yesterday for the Mets (which was just so poetically perfect, given the preceding days) … turns out it was a suspended Mets game from April 11, back when Báez was playing with the Cubs. The Cubs scored just one run that day in a loss to the Pirates. The guy who scored? Of course it was Javy Báez. The universe is just having some fun with sports.
Thanks to Michael for covering the game last night, which wound up being a sneaky wild one late. He also hooked me up with a lot of the in-game Bullets stuff that follows, so consider this a Michael Cerami heavily contributed to this post situation ….
• At one point last night, Zach Davies retired nine straight Twins batters, but a couple of baserunners in the fifth inning chased him from the game as the third time through the order loomed with two on and no outs in a one-run game. But overall, it was another fine(ish) outing from Davies, whose had several fine(ish) starts in a row after getting absolutely lit up by the Rockies and White Sox immediately after the Trade Deadline (something somethings great timing something something). He’s still struggling with home runs (he’s allowed 12 homers over his last 7 starts), but the walk rate has really come down. He didn’t give up a single free pass last night and that comes after a stretch of four straight games with no more than one walk in each. He’s finally starting to approach something looking remotely like his typical self with respect to walk rate:
• Debate amongst yourselves how much it matters whether Davies finishes strong, but he’s probably putting himself back into position to get a decent short-term deal in free agency as a guy who can frequently give you five competitive innings and who will be just 29 next year. Given the enormous vacuum in the Cubs’ rotation after this season, it’s not inconceivable that they could look for a low-cost reunion, but I’d be a little surprised if it actually came together. It doesn’t seem like the Cubs’ pitching infrastructure, for all its success with OTHER pitchers, has brought out the best in Davies. If he gets a one-year deal, he’ll probably want to make sure it’s somewhere that he can have a lot of success. That might not be with the Cubs, who themselves might be fine with moving on. Never say never, I guess, if something tangible clicks with both sides the rest of the way, but I would not bet on a return, especially given the Cubs’ overflow of command/control guys and also 4th/5th type starters.
• There was this moment in the 5th inning last night where veteran Cubs catcher Robinson Chirinos locked eyes with Manny Rodriguez, who was maybe getting a little wild, and encouraged him to calm down/focus (or something to that effect). The next pitch? An inning-ending double play, stranding two runners at what was, at that point, the most tense moment of the game. I don’t want to take away too much credit from Rodriguez, who certainly executed well in the moment, but I do want to throw some love Chirinos’s way. That pitcher-catcher relationship, and the constant evaluation/adjustment/feedback that’s going on is critical.
• That was not the first time we’ve seen him take an active leadership role with a young Cubs pitcher this season (Michael: I saw it a lot in person at Keegan Thompson’s last start … stuff between innings you probably wouldn’t catch on the broadcast) and I suspect he does that a lot more behind the scenes than we’ll ever see. It’s not the most important thing in the world, but the Cubs probably really lucked out with him this year, especially considering the carousel of backup catchers that preceded his fortuitous arrival. Chirinos also hit an RBI triple last night and caught Byron Buxton stealing second base. Pretty good game for the old man, eh?
• The Cubs can thank their bullpen for the win last night, and although each of Manny Rodriguez and Codi Heuer had to be bailed out of his multi-inning appearance, there is clearly potential there for a back-end duo next year. Combined with Rowan Wick, if he gets fully right, the Cubs may have themselves a nice little bullpen core brewing ahead of next season. More from Sahadev Sharma here:
A pair of young relievers have helped the Cubs hold a one-run lead so far tonight. I wrote about both in the latest edition of "He's on the team for next year." https://t.co/K9Mgea1NLq
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) September 1, 2021
• Speaking of important pieces for the 2022 bullpen, it sounds like Brad Wieck’s cardiac ablation procedure went well yesterday.
• In case you missed it, Willson Contreras homered last night (and scored two runs) in his first rehab start at Triple-A Iowa:
— Iowa Cubs (@IowaCubs) September 1, 2021
• Flashes of power at 17 are what get me the most excited for his future. Because the hit tool and the discipline already appear to be solid. But flashes of in-game power already at this young age? I love it:
Cristian Hernandez today – 2 solo dingers. Now hitting .283 AVG/.397 OBP/.861 OPS pic.twitter.com/bEQJTYmntW
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) August 31, 2021
• The 17-year-old shortstop, considered by some to be the best IFA prospect in last year’s class, is now up to a .283/.397/.465 slash line, 40% better than league average. You love to see that from a sweet-gloved shortstop. Funny thing? That’s not the best wRC+ among 17-year-olds in the Dominican Summer League. That distinction belongs to Hernandez’s org-mate, Pedro Ramirez, a SS/2B out of Venezuela who is hitting a whopping .380/.429/.537 (168 wRC+) with an 8.3% K rate. I’m 100% scouting the slash line, but … decent power with that teeny tiny strikeout rate? At 17? How? I cannot wait to hear more about Ramirez after the season, as it’s possible the Cubs found a diamond (but I’ll want to hear more on the scouting side before thinking TOO much, since he was not – as far as I can find – a bonus baby with extensive pre-signing scouting reports out there).
• The White Sox lost Lance Lynn (knee inflammation) and Lucas Giolito (hamstring tightness) on the same day. Better than late September, but oof. That seems not good. At least they keep getting dominance from Ryan Tepera! The former Cubs reliever had another scoreless outing for the White Sox last night, which adds up to just 2 earned runs in 15 relief outings (12.1 IP). I’m still surprised there wasn’t more on the table in trade for him out there, but hey, hopefully Bailey Horn emerges as a quality arm in the coming years.
• Speaking of former Cubs relievers in that game, Luis Robert did this to help Craig Kimbrel notch just his third scoreless appearance in his last 7 games.
GIVE LUIS ROBERT THE PLATINUM GLOVE pic.twitter.com/Hq43tWgR8r
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) September 1, 2021
• Oh, and in case you missed this last night, Shohei Ohtani literally stole home:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) September 1, 2021
• If you’re going to be in the area this week and want a discount, grab your Javy Báez jersey (or Obvious Shirt!) and swing by the best dive bar in Wrigleyville for 30% off (not an ad, just love):
I love this. I love Nisei. I love Javy. I love Chicago. I love all of you. https://t.co/uSCntD4jt2
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) September 1, 2021
• Completely random here at the close. You have to know a little bit about LOTR for this to land, but I am crying actual laugh-out-loud tears at this tweet and the reply GIF:
— Gus Nuñez (@YosemiteChangs) August 7, 2021