20 Games Under, Steele's Big Rebound, Morel's Energy, Happ Humbled, and Other Cubs Bullets

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20 Games Under, Steele’s Big Rebound, Morel’s Energy, Happ Humbled, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

All right. Well. The Cubs got smoked by the Dodgers and the scorching hot Orioles, but at least now they get to face … the team with the second best record in the NL, the Mets.

  • The Cubs are now a season-high 20 games under .500. In case you were morbidly curious, the 2014 Cubs team never went 20 games under .500. The 2013 team did not reach 20 games under until the end of August. The 2012 team got there by early June, so, you know, DOING BETTER THAN 2012!
  • At least the Cubs helped the Orioles keep their impressive 10-game winning streak alive:
  • Initially, Justin Steele looked like a dude who had been up a couple nights as his and his wife’s new baby boy arrived. No shame in it! The fastball didn’t have the usual late life, and the slider wasn’t really locating well. The Orioles were all over him, fouling off close pitches, and hammering the ones that came back into the zone. It figured to be one of those “ah, you know, he was rusty” outings. But that lasted just one and a half innings, because then Steele locked it in, retiring 13 of the final 14 batters he faced. It was, in some ways, as impressive as any of his dominant starts this year, and was probably at least as important: great to see that a guy can settle himself, get his stuff back, and then cruise even after a rough beginning.
  • From David Ross at Cubs.com: “He found his groove and looked really good. The fastball was jumping late. The slider, he was able to command that even better later on in the game. I thought he did a nice job of getting back into a rhythm after his first couple innings.” After the outing, Steele’s ERA remains below three since the start of June.
  • And as for the new kiddo, congrats to the family, and with the name Beau Steele, he’s gonna have to at least be in the draft in 18 years so he can wind up on one of those lists of badass draft names:
  • As noted by Meghan Montemurro on Twitter, with his triple last night, Christopher Morel is now tied for the NL rookie lead in extra-base hits with 23. It was also his 4th triple on the year, which is one behind the big league lead.
  • I love how pumped he gets:
  • Theo Epstein sent a congratulatory message to Ian Happ on his All-Star nod (NBC), and it makes me think about how Happ was the Cubs’ last top 10 pick in the draft (9th overall in 2015). Here’s hoping this weekend’s pick also becomes an All-Star some day. That’s not even the baseline for a top ten pick, by the way – it’s still a big win to get there.
  • While we’re on that: I remember that draft well, and the rumors had it that the Cubs were hoping to land Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi, but he was snagged by the Red Sox two picks earlier. Whether that was true or not, the Cubs took Happ instead, and I could argue that turned out for the (much?) better. Ironic connection between the two outfielders given their now-dueling presences on the trade market.
  • From Happ on the All-Star selection, via NBC:

Happ called it “humbling” to reach All-Star status and be recognized as part of the best group of players in baseball.

“That’s probably one of the most special parts of it, is that that’s attached to you forever,” Happ said. “They can’t take that away from you, so that’s a really, really cool thing.

“To represent this team and this organization, this city — especially coming up here, being drafted here, wearing this jersey for as long as I have, being able to go out in LA and represent the organization, I’m really, really thankful for that.”

  • Cubs owner Laura Ricketts and her wife, Brooke Skinner, have reportedly had talks with Chicago Sky owner Michael Alter about investing in the WNBA team (Tribune). Note that the Sky have a TV deal with Marquee, so there are already some overlaps in business interest here. As we’ve seen recently with the latest failed soccer bid, the Ricketts Family has an interest in extending their ownership dalliances into other sports.
  • Yesterday marked the five-year anniversary of the Jose Quintana trade, which was accompanied by the latest Eloy Jimenez injury (left the game early with a leg issue). It made me think about how unlikely it was that I could have predicted precisely how the trade would work out, from Quintana’s initial dominance, to his dramatic fall-off, to his contract being the reason the Cubs signed Yu Darvish, to the Eloy Jimenez extension before he’d even played, to the myriad Jimenez injuries that now make that deal look potentially rough, to the Dylan Cease breakout after his struggles. It’s a head-spinner when you think back.
  • This spared the Cubs from falling into a tie for the third worst record in baseball:

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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.