“You never walk away from the table when you’re on a heater.” – Sid, The Hangover
After yesterday’s 6-2 loss to the Pirates, the Cubs are now 9-12 since their 13-3 start and, though they still lead the division, they don’t have the dominant feel on display through the first three weeks of the season. If you remember, they were headed to St. Louis when COVID-19 struck and sidelined nearly half of the Cardinals roster and cancelled that series.
Now the Redbirds come to Wrigley Field for five games in four days in what is truly the biggest series of the season to this point. Chicago leads St. Louis by 3.5 games, but because the Cardinals had so many postponements, they actually have one less loss than the Cubs with nine games in hand. Those games could cut into that deficit piece by piece, with each win or loss representing a half game in the standings. These are the final regular season games between the Cubs and the Cards, so taking at least three of five would force St. Louis to win all nine of those makeup games to eliminate that difference.
Odds are against a series sweep given these teams’ track records against each other, but it’s not out of the question. With Tyler Chatwood and José Quintana sidelined, the Cubs are going to really need a stellar effort from their bullpen. That’s not a comforting thought considering the inconsistency demonstrated by the relief corps this year, so the Cubs will likely need an offensive onslaught to secure the series.
The Chicago #Cubs outfield in 2020:
13.0 BB% – 1st in MLB
28 HRs – 2nd in MLB
.357 OBP – 3rd in MLB
.502 SLG – 2nd in MLB
130 wRC+ = 3rd in MLB
4.1 fWAR – 1st in MLB pic.twitter.com/MLJTEy6bPk
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) September 2, 2020
It would be nice if the Cubs can grab a win tonight in what should be the marquee game of the series as Yu Darvish will take the bump against Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty. Tomorrow’s doubleheader could be to key to the entire series, especially if the North Siders have to burn through their bullpen. It’s too bad David Ross can’t go with Darvish in one of tomorrow’s games because the Cubs’ ace and stopper is perfect for a seven-inning matchup. Ross has yet to name a starter for either Saturday game, though it’s very possible Adbert Alzolay will get the call for one of them.
Cubs News & Notes
- A heated discussion with pitching coach Tommy Hottovy and some advice from Reds starter Trevor Bauer helped Darvish regain his status as one of the game’s elite pitchers.
- Quintana was sent to the IL before Wednesday night’s game due to lat inflammation.
- The Cubs will need a lot more from Jon Lester if they hope to win the division and execute a deep playoff run.
- Ian Happ took a foul ball to the eye yesterday and had to leave the game, but x-rays were negative and he appears to be okay. He “seems to be in good spirits,” Anthony Rizzo said after the game, and could be back in the lineup tonight.
- Among Cubs regulars, only Happ, Jason Heyward, and Victor Caratini are hitting better than .240.
- Heyward has been nominated for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award. The annual honor and accompanying trophy is given to the player who “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field,” according to MLB.
- Reliever Duane Underwood Jr. appears to be “coming into his own” and is seeing significantly more time in high leverage situations.
- Hernán Pérez cleared waivers and was dispatched to the team’s alternative site in South Bend.
- The Cubs are partnering with Draft Kings on a reported $100 million deal that will add a sports book at Wrigley Field for the next 10 years.
- The Cubs play 16 of their final 23 games in Chicago, with only two trips out of town the rest of the way: Sept. 11-13 to Milwaukee and Sept. 21-24 to Pittsburgh. They finish the season with three games against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Find Your Inner Hero
Not all heroes wear capes.
Bob Marley gave a credit on "No Woman, No Cry" to one of his friends who ran a soup kitchen, to ensure the royalty checks would keep it open. pic.twitter.com/A6BMJHpZsU
— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) September 4, 2020
Apropos of Nothing
The Cubs run differential of +16 is the lowest of all first place teams in baseball, and is 11th among all 30 teams.
Odds & Sods
Rob Manfred is doing more to destroy the game of baseball than any commissioner in the game’s history except Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, whose blatant discrimination and refusal to let Blacks play in the major leagues is the sport’s biggest stain.
We took a deep look at how minor league baseball will never be the same, and how we got here.
— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) September 3, 2020
How About That!
Major League has decided to move its minor league draft to All-Star week. It makes sense to a degree, but it lessens the chances that drafted players will see action in the same calendar year, and that week is already packed with events. If MLB just wanted to push it back some, the week of the Little League Classic would make more sense to me from a marketing standpoint.
All Pirates players will wear number 21 in honor of Clemente in their Sept. 9 game against the White Sox.
On September 3, 1975, Bob Gibson made his final MLB appearance, pitching in relief for the Cardinals in a game against the Cubs. The Hall-of-Famer wild-pitched a run home and then gave up a grand slam to Pete LaCock that gave the Chicago Cubs an 11-6 victory at Busch Stadium.
Bleacher Report lists a free agency prediction for all 30 teams, including Lester re-signing with the Cubs.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Clayton Kershaw – The Dodgers ace fired six shutout innings at the Diamondbacks, allowing only a single hit. He finished the night with eight K’s, surpassing 2,500 total strikeouts for his career.
- Andrew Heaney – The Angels starter blanked the hard-hitting Padres 2-0, going seven strong while allowing just three hits, spoiling the San Diego debut of Mike Clevinger.
- Tim Anderson – The White Sox shortstop has been a monster at the plate over the past two seasons, and after yesterday’s 11-6 win over the Royals, Anderson is slashing .347/.389/.999 on the year. He was 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI in the victory.
Early in the 1985 season, after beating the Tigers in Detroit, Seaver noticed the home plate umpire, Jim Evans, at the hotel bar. He tapped Evans on the shoulder, thanked him for a job well done, but told him he had missed one pitch: a 1-1 fastball to Kirk Gibson in the middle innings. Evans was puzzled; he had called the pitch a strike.
“I don’t want you to call that pitch a strike,” Seaver said, as Evans recalled a few years ago. “That was a mistake. I got it up too high, like a ball or two above the waist, and I don’t want any batter to get used to swinging at that pitch. My fastball is still my best pitch, my bread-and-butter, but if I keep throwing that one up there, they’re going to kill me.”
Every Mets player has dirt on their right knee as a tribute to Tom Seaver, who’s knee would hit the ground as a result of his delivery 🧡 pic.twitter.com/3QkXueO8di
— SI MLB (@si_mlb) September 3, 2020
Sliding Into Home
Went to get my biopsy results yesterday and it turns out no news is literally no news. The surgeon grabbed the wrong tissue sample from my liver, so it has to be redone. People make mistakes, but someone should have called me because I was waiting on results for nine days. My general practitioner ripped the surgeon a new one right in front of me and was correct in saying “this is not how we treat our patients.”
They Said It
- “It’s important, they’re all important. All the games matter in such a short season. But we’ve got five games in four days. We gotta play well and [the Cardinals] are a good team. We try to win them all, try not to put too much importance one in front of the other. They all matter. They’re the same to me. But we know that’s the team in second place behind us.” – David Ross
Friday Walk Up Song
Celluloid Heroes by The Kinks – I’ve always said MLB should have a Walk of Fame outside their New York offices that pays tribute to the game’s greatest heroes. Godpseed, Mr. Seaver