The Rundown: Could Travis Wood Become 5th Starter Again? Neil Ramirez Unavailable, Baez Homers Twice in Return to Iowa

When your starting pitcher is giving up four runs in the 1st, that’s usually not a recipe for success. So it was for the Cubs last night. Dallas Beeler was the culprit again, lasting only 1.1 innings.

In his last two starts, Beeler has gone a total of 3.1 innings and surrendered nine runs. (No, that’s not good in case you were wondering.)

Despite the bullpen keeping the game close for the most part, the Cubs’ offense really couldn’t get anything going all night, hitting a lot of weak ground balls.

Jon Lester takes the mound this afternoon. He desperately needs to pitch well and eat up some innings. Taking 2 out of 3 in this series would be a step in the right direction.

Future of the 5th starter

Travis Wood pitched an effective 3.2 innings of relief. It’s possible he is considered to fill the fifth-starter position the next time it comes around — Joe Maddon said as much after last night’s game. However, Wood seems best suited to stay where he is.

Other options could include Tsuyoshi Wada and Clayton Richard, who both pitched well in Triple-A this week. Or the Cubs could land another starter via trade.

My guess is the Cubs go out and get someone in a trade. Whether it’s one of the Padres pitchers or someone else remains to be seen. We’ll know on Friday.

2 trades

Two potential Cubs trade targets were moved yesterday — but not to the Cubs obviously.

Utility man Ben Zobrist was traded to the Royals for pitchers Sean Manaea and Aaron Brooks. Manaea was the Royals’ first-round pick in 2013.

I had hoped the Cubs would pull of a trade for Zobrist, but had a feeling it wouldn’t happen. The Royals paid a hefty price, but they are in a different place right now. They’re in position to go all in for a World Series win. And with the earlier acquisition of ace Johnny Cueto from the Reds, the Royals are definitely going for it.

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, also rumored to be linked to the Cubs, was shipped to the Nationals for Double-A pitching prospect Nick Pivetta.

Even though the Cubs’ bullpen has me a tiny bit worried at the moment, I think there are other, cheaper options the Cubs can go after. So I don’t feel bad about missing out on Papelbon.

Bullpen outlook: Where is Neil Ramirez?

Evan wrote yesterday about the state of the bullpen, particularly Jason Motte. I share a lot of his concerns, but last night presented a couple more.

Rafael Soriano was bad again in yesterday’s game. Going into the game, I had probably a 1 percent confidence rating for Soriano, but it’s now down to zero.

He doesn’t have the velocity right now to be effective, as his breaking pitches aren’t very good. I can’t imagine he will be trusted with many more late-inning assignments for a while. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

One reason we saw Soriano pitch the 8th last night is that Neil Ramirez was unavailable. Joe Maddon revealed after the game that Ramirez “felt something” in his arm.

No word on whether he will need time on the disabled list, but this is not sounding good to me.

I find the situation a bit strange, as Jesse Rogers wrote — before the news of Ramirez feeling discomfort — about Maddon’s use of Ramirez lately.

As we have heard before, Maddon said he is trying to ease Ramirez back into game shape by keeping him out of difficult spots. Ramirez’s velocity is also down.

However, Ramirez told Rogers, “It’s not my call. I’m ready to go whenever. Even at 92, 93 mph I still have to compete with what I have. More than anything it’s just the life or zip. The late life. It’s starting to come back.”

It just doesn’t seem like Ramirez and Maddon are quite on the same page, which I find curious and not typical with Maddon and his players. With the latest injury news surfacing, I’m not liking this situation at all.

Ramirez was one of the Cubs’ best relievers last season. He was unhittable at times. Not having him available pushes up guys like Soriano and Motte, and makes me think the Cubs will try to acquire someone at the deadline.

Other notes

* Welcome back, Javier Baez. Returning to Iowa for the first time since suffering a broken finger back in June, Javy smashed two home runs last night. He played shortstop and batted third. I really, really look forward to seeing Baez back up in Chicago.

* Also joining Triple-A Iowa last night was LHP Zac Rosscup, who is rehabbing from a shoulder injury. Rosscup didn’t make it into last night’s game, as Clayton Richard went seven scoreless, and Armando Rivero finished up the final two innings.

* To make room for Dallas Beeler on the roster, Yoervis Medina was optioned back to Triple-A.

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