Just Retire Already, the Decision to Pitch to Pujols, Stroman's Great Start, Hoerner's Tough Stretch, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Just Retire Already, the Decision to Pitch to Pujols, Stroman’s Great Start, Hoerner’s Tough Stretch, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

It is extremely weird to me that the Chicago Cubs (and five other MLB teams) aren’t playing today on Labor Day. I know it’s not like a baseball-associated holiday or anything, but I guess it just feels like every summer holiday is attached to baseball for me, personally. I want to watch the Cubs today. Yes, even after what happened yesterday.

  • It was wholly appropriate, if not at all enjoyable, that Albert Pujols did it to the Cubs one last time before he retires. I know some were saying Brandon Hughes should’ve been asked to walk Pujols in that spot – first base was open, Pujols is killing lefties – but if you do that, you’re ensuring that Paul Goldschmidt would come up with runners on base, unless Brendan Donovan hit into a double-play. So, try to pitch to Pujols, or potentially lock in run-scoring chance for Goldschmidt? Pick your poison. I think the Cubs made the right call, it’s just that Hughes, God bless him, made a terrible pitch.
  • The loss, which completed the sweep for the Cardinals in St. Louis, dropped the Cubs back to 22 games under .500, a level they’ve not seen since … they were swept by the Cardinals in St. Louis exactly one month ago. The Cubs currently have the 8th worst record in baseball, two games better than the Reds (5th), and two and a half games worse than the Rangers (11th). That’s roughly their range right now. If you were curious, based on the way the lottery odds work, if the Cubs finish with the 8th worst record, they are highly likely to pick 8th, 9th, or 10th next year in the first round. Fifth is where you take a considerable jump forward in your likelihood of landing a higher pick. So, you know, if the Reds want to beat up on the Cubs the rest of the way, there would be something to be said for that. (OR! As we’ve discussed, win a whole lot of games the rest of the way, because there’s value in both directions. Just don’t linger in the 8-10 range, because that kinda sucks.)
  • Regarding Pujols and 700, I’ve gone back and forth on it enough to know I just don’t care. On the one hand, seeing tremendous and historic milestones achieved is part of why we watch sports, and I do believe Pujols has earned this. On the other hand, this is a guy who tortured my Cubs fandom for so long that I’m permanently scarred against enjoying anything he does. So you balance those scales and, for me, I land on: whatever, man. Get to 700? Fine. Whatever. Fall short? Fine. Whatever.
  • … I suppose I would find it pretty funny if he got to 699 and then came up one foot short on a deep fly ball in the final game of the season. 😈
  • Random factoid on the start of Pujols’ career against the Cubs, which is now mercifully over:
  • Wood last pitched 10 years ago. Farnsworth 8 years ago. Heredia 17 years ago.
  • Marcus Stroman was fantastic yesterday, and now has his season ERA down to 3.73 (about 12% better than league average, and he’s been stellar since those early-season injury/COVID issues).
  • Nico Hoerner has quietly had a really rough last few weeks (and he’s actually been solidly below average at the plate overall since the start of July), which have seen his overall season numbers at the plate drop to just about league average overall. Certainly not bad for a great defensive shortstop, but also certainly not where things were trending earlier this year. Some of his recent struggles have just been bad luck, as I eyeball the data, but some of it is the average exit velocity that barely tops 80 mph. He’s simply not been hitting the ball very hard lately. Hopefully he finishes up strong, and then the Cubs extend him.
  • Shohei Ohtani is so ridiculous. “How about I just figure out a 100 mph sinker?”:
  • Well this could have been a DISASTER:
  • How. How is this not just a looping double to the gap:
  • A heads up for folks who’ve wanted to get one of these – they’ll be available at 1:20pm today at Obvious Shirts:

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.