The Phillies sure have been disappointing the last ten years, eh? Despite a whole lot of pushing in, they’ve not made the postseason since 2011. They haven’t even finished a season above .500 since then, thrice peaking at exactly .500, including this year after the loss to the Cubs. That’s gotta be a pretty exasperating decade to follow as a fan, and man, I really hope that’s not what the Cubs become. Consider the parallel if you dare – the Phillies started putting together some really good teams in the mid-2000s, won the World Series in 2008, won the NLCS in 2009, made the playoffs in 2010-11, and then settled into that decade of mediocrity.
• Rowan Wick is on another plane at the moment. We had already been talking about how on fire he was a week ago, absolutely owning the top of the zone with his fastball, and then embarrassing fools with his cutter and and knuckle curve. He was looking like the guy we remembered from 2019. All he’s done since then? LOOK EVEN BETTER!
• The guy has thrown five scoreless innings in the last week, allowing just two hits, no walks, and striking out seven (including all three he faced last night for the save). Wick’s swinging strike rate is nearly 15% over the last two weeks, which is a huge bump for him over where he’d been historically (11-ish%). Maybe it won’t last, but it sure has looked legit when you watch him. Wick has succeeded in the past by combining weak contact with a great put-away ability (i.e., he doesn’t get a ton of whiffs overall, but he gets them more frequently in two-strike counts). I’m just imagining him taking a step forward in overall whiffs, and it transforms him from a really good reliever to an elite one. Here’s hoping he can carry it over into 2022.
Rowan Wick strikes out the side to notch another save. He's got a 2.25 ERA and 33.8 percent strikeout rate in 16 2/3 innings this season. This is about as good as we've seen him since he arrived in Chicago.
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) September 15, 2021
• A nice showing of power from Alfonso Rivas last night – getting around on inner-third pitches in hitter’s counts is probably where his only real home run power will be – and he continues to produce reasonably well for a rookie being asked to do the part-time thing (.276/.364/.414, 115 wRC+). Given his profile, you could already get a little ahead of yourself in projecting him as a big leaguer even a couple years ago, and the question has really only been about just how big of a role he could carve out for himself. I am still not sure he could provide a starting-caliber bat at first base (even with good defense there), but I am increasingly confident that he can succeed on a big league bench while getting more than a typical volume of “bench” plate appearances. Just a good guy to have available – pinch hitting, rotating starts among 1B/LF/RF, playing regularly when there are injuries, etc. Just feels like one of those A’s type of players that they always seem to have helping out, which I say completely irrespective of the fact that he came over from the A’s organization in the Tony Kemp trade!
• Say Schwivas:
Alfonso Rivas with his first career big-league homer puts the Cubs up 3-1. I told myself I wouldn't do it, but it's starting to become inevitable. I'm going to convince myself that a Rivas-Schwindel platoon will actually work well in 2022.
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) September 15, 2021
• Javy Báez single-handedly did his part to beat the Cardinals last night (but the Mets lost in 11):
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 14, 2021
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 15, 2021
• Should’ve given them a thumbs down:
How the turntables… Javy gets a curtain call from Mets fans 👍💪
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 15, 2021
• Because of the Cardinals win and losses by the Padres and Reds, the Cardinals now hold the second Wild Card spot in the NL. With seven games remaining this year between the teams, the Cubs are going to play a central role in determining whether the Cardinals make the playoffs.
• Meanwhile, the Brewers’ magic number to clinch the Central is just 5, which means it could happen this weekend against the Cubs in Milwaukee.
• Today is now going to be known as Roberto Clemente Day:
— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) September 14, 2021
• And to that end, the honor this year for the Cubs goes to Jason Heyward, who has done so much for the community:
We are honored to recognize Jason Heyward as our Roberto Clemente Award nominee.
He has made an immeasurable impact through his generous support to address food insecurity, violence prevention, youth development and racial injustice.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 14, 2021
• I think Bryan is going to touch on this more in a bit, but Todd is right that it’s long overdue to give some love to Cubs prospect Bryce Windham:
Bryce Windham – 3-for-4 tonight, 2 RBI
Probably the most underrated prospect out there now. He's been killing it since his return on July 31.
.360 avg/.451 OBP
wRC+ of 168…
Pic by me… pic.twitter.com/ko5iy9KTfC
— Todd ⚾️🐻🦌 (@CubsCentral08) September 15, 2021
• Windham hasn’t gotten much attention for a variety of reasons: he was a later-round pick in 2019 (then the pandemic happened), he was not generating huge numbers earlier this year, he doesn’t have a power profile, and he is already 24 while only at High-A. But since that injury return a month and a half ago, it’s worth at least noting that Windham, who can play all over the field (including catcher), is not only hitting .360/.461/.535 with a 175 wRC+, he’s got a 14.7% walk rate and an 8.8%(!) strikeout rate. So, although the age raises questions at High-A, and the small sample raises even more, I can’t deny that what he’s done over this period of time is pretty ridiculous. Before this year, he had just 35 games of professional experience, in rookie ball, in 2019 (where he raked). The age isn’t exactly his fault, and he has clearly shown he is ready for Double-A next year when he’ll be 25. On the older side, without question. But no longer crazily off track when you consider the pandemic.
• These pitches get so deep before they diverge:
Gerrit Cole, 98mph Fastball and 86mph Knuckle Curve, Overlay.
That's not fair. 😳 pic.twitter.com/aajzbFRbaS
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 15, 2021
• Non-baseball, but it was such a jarring and troubling and important read (especially for me here in Columbus) that I highly recommend:
This deserves to be read and shared widely. https://t.co/o8goOgtp77
— Brett Taylor (@Brett_A_Taylor) September 15, 2021
META: We have a new writer joining us today! Patrick Flowers has been writing about Chicago sports for a very long time, and he’s going to be helping us out on our Blackhawks, Bears, and Bulls coverage. You may not see him too often here on the Cubs side of things, but he might pitch in on general baseball stuff. Treat him well! He’s a good dude.