Cubs Set a Starting Pitcher Record, Contreras's Awesomeness, Competing Without Him(?), and Other Cubs Bullets

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Cubs Set a Starting Pitcher Record, Contreras’s Awesomeness, Competing Without Him(?), and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Little Boy wanted to race me yesterday. I absolutely dusted him. Beat him so badly I could turn around and run backwards into the finish line, waving with a smile as I did it. Maybe next year, son.

But the joke’s on me, because this morning my hamstrings and quads and groin are on fire and I’m not entirely sure I can tie my shoes. Hooray aging!

  • Speaking of groins on fire – where’s he going with this?! – Good news on Adrian Sampson. Meghan Montemurro says that his removal yesterday was for mere groin “tightness” and was precautionary. Hopefully, then, it’s not a legit strain that could have any impact whatsoever on his offseason. Given how solid he was this year, and how he’s earned that 40-man spot for the offseason, you just want him to be able to have a normal build-up to Spring Training, where he’ll possibly compete for a rotation job, but most likely settle in as optionable starting depth or long relief (until needed).
  • Sampson’s day was not his best because of the injury, but it didn’t stain the starting pitching’s performance overall in the second half … and look at the history they made in the process:
  • Hey, that’s an extremely narrow-banded record, but come on. If someone showed that to you in March – that it was going to happen – you would be ENCOURAGED AS HECK about the pitching infrastructure and some of the young arms. I certainly am.
  • Might as well enjoy the last set of Cubs highlights for the year, especially since it was such a fun, blowout win:

  • I’m still not quite ready to dig in fully on the “Willson Contreras Legacy” stuff, because there’s still the whole Qualifying Offer process to go through – and if the Trade Deadline taught us anything, it’s don’t make assumptions about Contreras’s imminent departure! But here are some bits of legacy:
  • Getting back to winning without Contreras is going to be a challenge. The organization, if they don’t re-sign Contreras, is going to have to be correct in their bet that the loss in his offensive value (to say nothing of his clubhouse value) can be more than offset by the combination of (1) increased value in the defensive/game-planning/game-calling catching stuff if they find the perfect catching combo there, and (2) the redeployment of resources elsewhere. It’s not impossible, but it’s an added challenge for this offseason. Contreras is not perfect, and I do think we got plenty of signals this year that the defensive concerns are legitimate (maybe in ways the numbers don’t quantify perfectly). But he’s among the best hitting catchers in the game, and you will simply not find offensive production like that, at this position, anywhere else right now. It’s going to be a major, major hit to the offense.
  • WAR is always imperfect, and maybe especially so for catchers, but just to put some context on it: Contreras’s 3.3 WAR this year was 9th highest in baseball, and unless you’re pulling off a monster trade with the A’s for Sean Murphy, none of the other eight are even close to being available for 2023. The Cubs have Yan Gomes and P.J. Higgins in-house, but I’ve gotta believe they would like to add an additional glove-first, game-planning-type catcher to fold into the mix. Again, assuming they don’t pull off a Murphy trade or some other surprise.
  • The Mets are thinking about doing the starter-okey-doke in the Wild Card series: Max Scherzer will start game one, but Jacob deGrom will ONLY start game two if the Mets lose game one. If the Mets win game one, they’ll try to clinch with Chris Bassitt so that they can then use deGrom twice in the division series against the Dodgers. I think there’s obviously a risk there in not just trying to lock down those first two games, but the risk reward might be worth it, since it’s not like Bassitt is some slouch.
  • OK, it’s the offseason now, please go trade for Shohei Ohtani:
  • Aaron Judge is officially the REAL chess champion:

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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.