Taking Another Series, Wick's Cold Stretch and Roster Considerations, Alzolay's Rehab, Miley and Steele, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Taking Another Series, Wick’s Cold Stretch and Roster Considerations, Alzolay’s Rehab, Miley and Steele, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Preseason caveats. It doesn’t prove anything. But holy smokes did Justin Fields – and the offense built around him – look so good last night. Do that in two weeks, and the Bears might actually win … seven games!

  • Doing so will take a bounce-back performance from Adrian Sampson, who had his first real clunker of the year last time out: 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 0 BB, 0 K, 2 HR. That came on the heels of learning about the many changes to his game he and the Cubs have been working on since last season, which would give you reason to buy him as a depth starter/swing-man for 2023 *IF* he continues to have success the rest of the way (and keep him on the 40-man all offseason). That’s not to say today is suddenly a huge start for him, but it’s just the reality of his unique situation as a late-emerging guy who doesn’t blow you away with his peripherals: his results are scrutinized more closely.
  • Rowan Wick imploded last night, continuing his very colllllllld stretch of late. He had a nice long successful run before that, but David Ross suggests there were concerns even then:
  • Of note, batters are swinging more than ever at Wick’s pitches in the zone, and they are making more contact than ever with his pitches in the zone. That means a wholllllle lot fewer strikes (called or swinging), and a wholllllle lot more balls in play. Obviously that, in turn, means Wick’s strikeout rate is way down this year, but he’s also giving up more hard contact than before, more homers than before, etc. The .385 BABIP is probably slightly unlucky, but, I mean, even a .350 BABIP is scary bad, and it’s possible he’d be earning something in that range. Oh, and his walk rate is approaching 10%, so it’s not like that’s good either.
  • In sum: something is off for Rowan Wick, has been off for long stretches at a time, and I’d say it’s a considerable concern for a guy who is 30 in November and is going to be arbitration-eligible on a team that is loaded with up-and-coming relief talent. Yes, I’m saying his 40-man roster spot is in question for this offseason. It’s hard to just give up on a guy who has multiple quality pitches like he does, but obviously there’s more to successful big league pitching than just having “good pitches.”
  • More from Jordan Bastian on Wick’s struggles and what the organization hopes he can still show from here:
  • Adbert Alzolay started for the Iowa Cubs last night, going two innings, but 49 pitches. His night was shortened by a first inning that started out sufficiently wild that it took him 33 pitches to get through the inning (my guess is the goal was to have him go three innings and 45-50 pitches). Here’s the thing, though: Alzolay went single, walk, walk … strikeout, strikeout, strikeout, strikeout, strikeout, strikeout. So clearly he had some nasty stuff working. Oh, and if Gameday is correct, both of those walks featured plenty of missed strike calls.
  • The question now is just how quickly the Cubs bring him back up (I actually now think it could be as soon as this week), and what role he takes (multi-inning relief seems most likely, but maybe he “starts” a bullpen game?). I’m just excited for him to be back and to see how he looks – it’s easy to forget how he’d remade himself at the end of last year following an IL stint. We never got to see the fruits of that transformation this year.
  • Manny Rodriguez, at a minimum, thinks Alzolay is a beast at this point:
  • Speaking of arms coming soon, Wade Miley threw a bullpen session and he looked and felt good (Sun-Times). He said he’d start tomorrow if the Cubs would let him, but he also knows that there have been setbacks in his shoulder rehab already. I’m sure he’d champing at the bit to get back before the offseason just to show teams he can be healthy: “I ain’t got no choice; I can’t shut it down,” he said. “If I want to keep playing baseball beyond this year, I have to prove to people that I’m not broke. And I don’t feel like I’m broke by any means.” For the Cubs, it’s probably mostly about trying to limit innings for other starters, and also to be seen as a good org that tried to make it happen for Miley.
  • Meanwhile, the Cubs haven’t put Justin Steele on the IL (lower-back tightness) because no one seems to think his injury is all that serious (he was on the broadcast last night talking about it and, truly, it sounds like nothing). That said, it’s possible they will use the Thursday off-day to skip Steele’s start this turn through the rotation (Sun-Times).
  • Speaking of his appearance on the broadcast, I know that in-game interviews aren’t for everyone, but Steele’s last night was a good one. It balanced informative stuff well with the lighter fare:
  • Cubs first base coach Mike Napoli went OFF on the home plate ump after a truly terrible call on Chris Morel:
  • Careful with them tats:

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.