Very Divergent Seasons, Sampson, Bote, Lester, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Very Divergent Seasons, Sampson, Bote, Lester, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Big, big day for the Bears, with Justin Fields making his first NFL start. Obviously the hope is that he just blows the doors off the thing immediately, and the next 15 years are incredible. You may have heard that it’s been a minute since the Bears had a true, long-term, franchise quarterback. But I’m prepared to accept that a rookie getting his first week’s worth of first-team reps in practice, and trying to read, for the first time, NFL defenses that schemed for him, is probably gonna struggle at times. Probably gonna make some eye-popping mistakes to go along with, hopefully, some eye-popping plays.

Meanwhile, the other team over which I obsess …

•   The Cubs are now on the precipice of a four-game sweep at Wrigley Field by the Cardinals. The latter is scorching their way to a franchise record winning streak and another postseason appearance. The former is playing out the string on a season the effectively ended two months ago with a massive 11-game losing streak (the first one), which is still four games shorter than the Cardinals’ current winning streak. When the schedule came out this time last year and we were looking ahead to six games against the Cardinals in the final three series of the 2021 season, I didn’t immediately picture this particular scenario, though I suppose we always knew it was possible.

•   On June 14, the Cubs were 10 games over .500, and the Cardinals were .500. The Cubs are now 13 games behind the Cardinals.

•   Nico Hoerner was a scratch yesterday with general soreness, but all the word from the team was that it was just making sure he doesn’t get actually hurt or whatever down the stretch, having just played a couple games the day before.

•   Lotta love in here for yesterday’s starter Adrian Sampson, who continues to get good-enough results for the Cubs through his 31.1 innings in the big leagues this year, but whose peripherals and contact data tell you it cannot possibly last. Of course you love a guy who is grinding his way through the minors and then Korea and then back to the big leagues, and of course you love pitchers who can seamlessly move in and out of the rotation and the bullpen. But I just struggle with seeing anything particular about Sampson’s game – in the small sample bigs stretch, or at Triple-A or in Korea – that tells me he’s a definitely-on-the-roster guy this offseason. If he wants to stick around on a slightly-pricier minor league deal, well, of course you’d be happy to do that. But I have a hard time saying you can use a 40-man roster spot on him all offseason on the basis of 31.1 innings of great results and a 5.78 FIP, a 10.5% barrel rate, and a 13.7% soft contact rate. I just have trouble squaring my head around it.

•   The Cubs are out here transforming Harrison Bader’s season. He came into this series hitting a respectable .252/.314/.420 (97 wRC+). After just three late-September games, he’s hitting .270/.329/.459 (111).

•   Although he’s gotten his batting average back to the Mendoza line, David Bote’s slash and wRC+ this year (.200/.271/.336, 63 wRC+) have him about the 6th worst hitter in baseball this year among guys with at least 300 PAs. A disaster of a season for a guy who’d otherwise had a chance to emerge in a much bigger role this year. I don’t think he goes anywhere this offseason, but the confidence that he can be a contributing bench player in 2022 has taken a hit.

•   The Padres were officially eliminated from postseason contention last night after blowing a 7-3 lead to the Braves. They are barely .500 at this point, and it’s just … really bad after everything they did to compete the last couple years. Some of those trades just look really rough by now without even having a postseason berth this year to show for it.

•   Christopher Morel, future Cubs utility man:

•   Double-A schedule for next year:

•   Jon Lester got a chance to show his old catcher some love:

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.