Tauchman and Wisdom, Smyly and Wesneski and Wicks, Hoerner’s Chance, Mastrobuoni Scratched, and Other Cubs Bullets

I was so close to being over my recent back issue – a particularly vexing one because I still don’t know what I did, and it was unlike any of the usual lower-back stuff I’m pretty good about avoiding/recovering from quickly.

The pain and spasms had finally narrowed enough that I was able to trace the origin to my left lat. That meant I knew what I could and could not do at the gym for a while to allow it to really heal, and I’ve been very careful not to do anything with weights that could even remotely impact that muscle. Was seeing great progress, and was thinking I was going to add back in some additional things today.

And then like an absolute dumbass I picked up The Littlest Girl this morning from a seated position while twisting awkwardly to my left, and all the pain came right back. Did I just undo two weeks worth of recovery? Did I make things even worse than they were before? How long did I just set myself back for?

I am not a professional athlete – I’m just a 41-year-old schmo who likes to go to the gym and stay in shape – but I was instantly reminded how easy it can be to have a physical setback with ONE BRIEF AND VERY SMALL lapse in judgment just living your normal life. It’s impressive how disciplined players can be at all times, in all activities, for weeks or months at a time, when they are trying to get over some injury as quickly and completely as possible.

  • I’m still so angry about yesterday’s loss – how it happened, how it easily shouldn’t have happened – but I’m going to try to make a conscious decision to put that aside. It’s not that I’m saying I’m going to just turn the page and focus on today’s game and hope the Cubs bounce back (though I am doing those things, too); it’s that I just don’t want to be angry. So I don’t want to focus on that frustration this morning. I don’t want to let it sit with me. I don’t want it to impact my day today. So I am going to try to explore what went wrong with the game without getting further emotionally involved in those issues.
  • I’m not saying that Mike Tauchman, alone, transforms the Cubs from a loser to a winner, but his presence atop the lineup – a split-neutral presence, I might add – does seem to set everyone else up for success. Also, this is just a fact:
  • It was particularly hard to stomach Tauchman not starting yesterday when the Cubs were facing a lefty with an elite changeup – i.e., a guy who is really good AGAINST RIGHTIES – all so that Patrick Wisdom could be in there playing first base (ultimately making an error that led to the decisive run). I know Tauchman can’t necessarily play every single day – for rest purposes, I mean – but I think you need it to be as close to every day at possible.
  • Wisdom has been very good at the plate in limited doses ever since the Cubs started picking out his match-ups carefully, so maybe that was another good one based on pitch mix and bat path and whatever else. But it sure didn’t look like it on paper, and it didn’t look like it on the field.
  • Speaking of the Wisdom error that preceded the Bobby Witt Jr. home run, I just have to get over that Jameson Taillon pitch; an 86 mph cutter that barely moved and was as dead center as a pitch can possibly be. It was just a mistake, at a bad moment to the wrong hitter, and that happens. As with the Wisdom error, you’d hope that the Cubs’ bats would’ve put them in a better spot to weather those mistakes.
  • The Cubs are averaging just 3.67 runs per game since the Braves series, and it is mostly due to issues we saw in May: a lack of consistent power output, and a lack of timely hits in the biggest spots. I’m not sure you can really *DO* anything about those issues, since (1) the Cubs have the power that they have and it’s not changing now – it comes and goes; and (2) the timing of hits is a flukey thing that we’ve seen come and go this very season. I’m not sure these are controllable issues, other than making sure the right guys are in the lineup as often as possible (and maybe STOP hitting Ian Happ third against lefties? wtf, man … ).
  • I get that a lot of folks don’t agree with me about Nico Hoerner’s baserunning decision in the 9th yesterday (which wasn’t just a hindsight beef for me, as I was shouting at my TV to stooopppp even as the play was unfolding live). For me, with the play in front of him and the defender at the ball at the same moment Hoerner is only just touching first base, and given that it’s the 9th inning of a one-run game with one out, I think this was a really bad decision:
  • People were talking about that Waters play like it was all-universe … I just don’t see it. He fielded an easy and shallow grounder near the wall, and then made a reasonably accurate – but not like it was a rocket! – throw to second base. I think he was licking his chops about the chance to make that play.
  • Hoerner is probably going to try to steal second anyway if he holds up at first, so maybe he was going to be exposed to risk eventually. But he has an 86% success rate on steals. So even if you argue that he was going to take this chance anyway, you aren’t going to convince me that he had a BETTER than 86% chance of making second base on that play, when Waters fields the ball as Hoerner rounds first base. I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before.
  • Like I said yesterday, I’m hardly going to dump on Hoerner (or for his pick-off), because he had a good game overall, and he wouldn’t even have been in that spot if not for a good at bat that resulted in a hit. Hoerner is great. It was just a play I didn’t like. (Also, even if he stays at first base, there’s obviously no guarantee that the Cubs tie or win the game.)
  • Another really good looking one-inning relief appearance from Drew Smyly in a tight game. Any chance he’s just straight up a reliever now? Or are the Cubs using those opportunities to try to springboard him back into starting success? The Cubs will need Smyly or Hayden Wesneski to start next week (assuming Jordan Wicks doesn’t come up), and maybe they piggyback off of each other in any case.
  • Speaking of Wicks, though, the lefty pitching prospect was dominant on Thursday:
  • Wicks has put together a run of four strong starts in a row for the Iowa Cubs by the results (2.29 ERA), though none has been longer than 5.0 innings, and the strikeout/walk rates don’t look as dominant (21.5% K, 8.9% BB). Of course, sometimes a guy will get a little extra juice from a call-up, and Wicks doesn’t have to be dominant to be a solid five-inning option for the Cubs on a fill-in basis right now.
  • He just kind of appears. I’m not even sure you need three outfielders if PCA is out there:
  • Miles Mastrobuoni got scratched from the Iowa Cubs lineup last night just before their game started – after the big league Cubs game ended – which might just be an injury issue for him, but it’s also possible the Cubs knew they were going to be bringing him back. Hopefully nobody on the big league team got dinged.
  • Not gonna stop pulling for this guy, who is out on his latest rehab assignment (looks like a typo there on the draft year):
  • Pretty incredible moment here:
  • https://twitter.com/MLBNetwork/status/1692753348418580914

  • MLB is getting ahead of a rare west coast hurricane situation by playing some preemptive double-headers today:
  • HEADS UP if you want to win some Madden:
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.

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