Coinflip Loss, Kudos to (Most of) the Bullpen, Hoerner Hot, Pitching Maneuvers, and Other Cubs Bullets
Decided to do a little two-a-day at the gym yesterday for no particular reason, and boy are my old bones feeling it this morning. Didn’t help that I was up past midnight for the game and the coverage, made all the more galling by the loss …
- Although the final score got lopsided because of the grand slam, last night’s game was really more of a “coinflip” loss – the kind where it is tight until the late innings, and you could take a guess on which team is going to win, and you’ll be right 50% of the time. That doesn’t make the loss any less painful – in some ways, close losses make you a lot MORE frustrated – but it was another game where you could very clearly say: the Cubs are competitive with this Dodgers team. Even with a fill-in starter called up, the Cubs were not outclassed. That would’ve have always been the case.
- Really impressive work by the bullpen (non-Fulmer edition) to keep the Dodgers off the board for innings four through eight. Gave the offense a chance, and they just couldn’t get the big hit in a number of spots. Some nights that will happen, and the Cubs had otherwise been pretty darn good/fortunate with runners in scoring position so far this year. Look on the bright side: if the Cubs had entered the 9th with a three-run lead, a grand slam would’ve been even more painful!
- Specific shout to Brandon Hughes, who gave the Cubs two innings of DOMINANT work. Boy did he look like the best version of Hughes:
- It’s a small thing, but I don’t get why we didn’t see Luis Torrens pinch-hitting in the bottom of the 9th. The Cubs were down four at that point, so whatever, but why would you let Tucker Barnhart hit in that spot when you still have a theoretical chance in the game? Barnhart, for as great as he is behind the plate, has looked completely hopeless at the plate this year (including last night). You’re carrying three catchers in large part so you can aggressively deploy Torrens in precisely spots like that.
- (There will be much more to say about the failings of the 9th inning last night, but I’m gonna get into the Michael Fulmer stuff in its own post.)
- Given how much the bullpen was needed last night, and given that Drew Smyly tends to have shorter outings, I wonder if Cubs send Javier Assad down today so they can bring up an extra reliever. One issue there is that the only guy on the 40-man is Jeremiah Estrada, so it has to be him unless you want to make a 40-man move (which, hey, don’t get me wrong – bring Estrada!).
- Another issue is that if you option Assad, you cannot re-call him (absent an injury) for 15 days. So the Cubs would have to have someone else fill in as the substitute starter at least twice (unless you want to use an off-day to skip one of them). Caleb Kilian, who could line up his start that next time through, is the only other healthy starter on the 40-man. He did have a good outing this week, but boy am I not sure he’s ready to get exposed to the bigs again just yet. There is also Riley Thompson and Roenis Elias, each of whom had fantastic outings yesterday, but neither is on the 40-man, so a move would be required. The Cubs could get REALLY wild and call up Ben Brown to make just one spot start (he’s on the 40-man), but obviously he hasn’t yet pitched at Triple-A.
- As for the guy who hit the IL to create this opening, Jameson Taillon says he’ll do his best to be back and healthy:
- The Cubs say Taillon’s groin issue came up while playing catch on Wednesday. “We didn’t feel like that’s something we should push. It’s pretty sore,” David Ross said. “He got some work on it. It loosened up a little bit, but then some time went by and it tightened back up. Hopefully it’s a minimal stay on the IL.” It’s a fine hope, but with a “mild to moderate” groin strain, I wouldn’t expect a minimum stay on the IL for Taillon. It might not be months or anything like that, but a few weeks would not be a surprise.
- Jed Hoyer on pitcher injuries like Taillon’s (The Athletic): “It’s just part of what we have to deal with. There’s always going to be someone banged up. There’s always going to be guys getting hurt. Last year, we didn’t have enough depth to withstand that. This year, with guys like Javy (Assad) and hopefully Kyle (Hendricks) coming back soon, we’ve built up some more depth. Injuries can never be an excuse, right? So you just have to have guys ready to fill those spots.”
- Big praise from Hoyer on Nico Hoerner’s start to the season:
- Hoerner is currently hitting .338/.384/.400/117 wRC+, and while the .365 BABIP is probably going to come down a little bit, he might wind up walking more than 5.8%, ISO’ing more than .063, and that 25.7% line drive rate means he is blistering the ball. Couldn’t be happier with his start to the season atop the Cubs’ lineup.
- If you missed it this week, pitching prospect Daniel Palencia left his start with some apparent discomfort, but Jed Hoyer would not disclose to the Sun-Times what the issue was. This was the play:
- Great job staying with this play from Myrtle Beach center fielder Christian Franklin:
- After a double-header sweep yesterday, the Iowa Cubs moved their record to 11-4, the best in all of Triple-A.
- Mookie Betts made his big league debut at shortstop last night, filling in, and he pulled off a nifty double-play, which was very annoying (but respect):
REPORT: Police Looking for Former Chicago Cubs Prospect Accused of Shooting Friend to Death (UPDATE)