The Rotation to Come, Thompson and Steele, Hermosillo’s Catch, Estrada’s Night, More Weird History, and Other Cubs Bullets

Sorry about the late Cubs Bullets today. I was hitting my 800th class at the gym I go to and they were making a little celebration of it, morning White Claws and everything …

  • The Cubs are mapping out the last couple weeks of their rotation and bullpen, knowing that Keegan Thompson is coming back soon, but will be pitching out of the bullpen. Justin Steele (back) last threw a bullpen a week ago, and I wonder if the Cubs are just not keen on pushing him unless he’s super-duper-extremely 100%. Here’s how pitching coach Tommy Hottovy described it to the Sun-Times: “Realistic (to return) is possible. Whether we want to push it — he’s gonna have to check a lot of boxes to make sure that we’re in a good place where we’re like, ‘OK, we’re going to do it.’ Because we know what he’s done; we know the workload. But, again, there’s just that mental side to, ‘OK, I’m healthy; I feel good; I can go compete.”
  • That kinda sounds like Steele might not come back this year, which means the Cubs will be doling out the remaining starts to Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly, Wade Miley, Adrian Sampson, Hayden Wesneski, and Javier Assad. The Cubs could let all six take starts, or could move one to the bullpen. The guess there would be Wesneski or Assad, but David Ross said he envisions Wesneski getting at least one more big league start. For now, the Cubs have announced their starters only through the rest of this Marlins series (Adrian Sampson and then Drew Smyly). The Cubs have 13 games remaining after that, and all else equal, I’d love to see Wesneski and Assad get multiple of those.
  • Adbert Alzolay will keep pitching out of the bullpen, and we’ll see if he continues to opt for increased curveball usage. I definitely noticed this in his appearance against the Rockies – it was four-seamer-curveball heavy, rather than sinker-slider, as he’d been for a lot of last year:
  • Had it in the EBS last night, but in case you weren’t jumping to read about a 10-3 loss to the Marlins, this late catch from Michael Hermosillo was outstanding:
  • Hermosillo’s offensive numbers have been terrible this year (albeit in just 56 PAs), but the glove has flashed as good as we’ve seen from any other center field option the Cubs have put out there this year. That tracks with his career numbers, and it could help ensure that he finds himself a good minor league deal after this season if the Cubs do not keep him on the 40-man roster. I tend to think that’s what is going to happen (because of the injuries this year, the bat, and the lack of minor league option years going forward), and I also wonder if he’s going to speculate that he can have a better path to the big leagues in another organization. I do think the Cubs are going to want a plus defensive center field type in their bench mix next year, but I think – all else equal – they’re going to try to have that person bat lefty, given the composition of the rest of the expected roster.
  • But, hey, if Hermosillo does wind up signing a minor league deal and does want to stick with the Cubs, I do think there’s good value in keeping that glove – and offensive upside against lefties – in the organization.
  • Jeremiah Estrada looked quite good last night after that opening walk:
  • Estrada has thrown 5.2 big league innings so far, with a 3.16 ERA, a 32.0% K rate, a 12.0% BB rate, and he’s given up one dinger (which moves a lot of the peripherals in a small sample). Mostly I just wanted to see another outing like last night, where I can observe the pitches and say, yup, that’s back-end big league stuff.
  • I didn’t have a chance to mention this yesterday – who knew September 19 was such a history-laden date! – but anyone remember this? One of the craziest and scariest fan moments in recent sports history:
  • Pitcher Win-Loss records are stupid, but I do appreciate the history:
  • This is wild:
  • Another way to think about the AL MVP race, and why Aaron Judge should win it:
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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