The final day of the regular season is here. The Cubs can finish up 74-88 or 73-89. I wouldn’t say one of those feels appreciably better than the other (I’m a sucker for round numbers, so avoiding 90 losses felt like the “big” one). But your rooting interests might look like this: with a loss, the Cubs have a chance of improving their lottery odds slightly, because they are currently tied with both the Angels and Diamondbacks in the standings. The Cubs have the tiebreaker over the Angels, but not the Diamondbacks (so definitely Go Brewers today … ).
On the other hand, a win today avoids the sweep to close out the season, and maybe it’d be nice to head into the offseason on a win? I don’t think it will matter at this point on anything the Cubs do or don’t do, or any urgency they feel to make moves this offseason. That stuff was all pretty much solidified at the margins bit by bit over the last two months (the “Winning is Good, Actually” period). But I’m sure the players would appreciate going out on a high note. Might make my evening more fun, too. So whatever. Win, lose. It’s all good.
- Javier Assad was great last night, going 5.1 innings of shutout ball, allowing just four hits and one walk, while striking out four. He also netted 12 whiffs on his 87 pitches and posted a 30% CSW. Just a good, good outing (yes, against a very bad lineup).
- “Javy threw great,” manager David Ross said after the game, per the Sun-Times. “I thought he really had the two-seamer going today, a lot of balls running in on right-handed hitters, throwing some strikes. The breaking stuff wasn’t quite as sharp as it had been, but being able to navigate through the lineup and use the fastball into a lot of those righties, I thought he did a really nice job.” (Are we calling him Javy now? I don’t know if I can do it … )
- When Assad was first called up, on the heels of a breakout at Double-A and Triple-A, it was fair to question whether he would stick on the 40-man roster after the season. Long viewed as more of an organizational depth guy with a diverse pitch mix but mediocre stuff, Assad took significant developmental steps forward this year that generated the exceptional results in the minors. The velocity ticked up. The breaking pitches became more swing-and-miss weapons. That earned him the look in the big leagues in advance of what would’ve been minor league free agency for him, but that’s all it was: a look. In that look, he performed well enough to at least stay on the radar – the stats are mixed, yes, but no one is projecting him to be a sure-fire guy: 3.11 ERA (22% better than league average), 4.49 FIP (14% worse than average), 18.1% K, 12.0% BB, 5.2% barrel, 22.4% soft.
- In hindsight, the Cubs look like geniuses for going this route with Assad specifically, because now they have 37.2 innings (over 9 big league appearances) worth of video and data to further evaluate him for offseason decision purposes. Now they know, in my view, that he’s worth keeping on the 40-man through the offseason as a depth starter for 2023 and beyond. I suppose it’s possible they see some things that lead them to believe he couldn’t get a 40-man spot elsewhere, and they try to go the waive-and-outright route if they need a spot later in the offseason, but at least the decision would then be much more informed. (I tend to think that doesn’t happen, though. Assad has the look of a very solid 6th/7th starter to me, especially with two more option years remaining).
- Oh, and important not to rule out on any of these depth guys like Assad: who’s to say he couldn’t take another development step forward this offseason, like last offseason, and become a guy who stabilizes as a quality back-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues? That potential is there, even if you can’t/shouldn’t count on it as part of your offseason plan.
- Nico Hoerner hit his 10th homer last night, after hitting just three total in his career before this season. As Jordan puts it well, Nico knows where he has to generate his home run power:
- The Braves won last night, which means they have clinched the NL East over the Mets, who now do not get the opening round bye.
- The White Sox need a new manager, and I would COMPLETELY support this for The Discourse, alone:
- I tend to think there’s no chance that actually happens, but it would be kind of funny to see the Sox hiring another former Cubs manager. Rick Renteria did not have a lot of success with a rebuilding White Sox team, and then, just like with the Cubs, he got dumped for a veteran manager as they started to emerge … in that case it was Joe Maddon.
- As for a more serious recommendation from Marcus Stroman – he says the White Sox should give Cubs third base coach Willie Harris a look:
- Aaron Judge’s 2022 season will forever be remembered for the 62 homers, but Ben Clemens writes about just how good the season is overall on the offensive side, and it’s pretty clearly one of the best handful of seasons in baseball history.
- The Savannah Bananas at Iowa?! I might have to make this trip: