“You ask me where the four winds dwell. In Franklin’s tower there hangs a bell. It can ring, turn night to day, ring like fire when you lose your way.” – Grateful Dead, Franklin’s Tower
Kyle Hendricks is gassed and no matter what he or David Ross or Tommy Hottovy may say, it’s probably a good idea to commit to lightening the starter’s load. Hendricks was charged with seven runs in 3.2 innings last night, the fourth time in his last seven outings he’s thrown fewer than five innings. That’s very Zach Davies-like. Last night’s outing was more along the lines of Jake Arrieta, but let’s not go there.
The Cubs were up 7-0 in the 4th inning when Hendricks imploded (hence the Arrieta reference) and it all unraveled so quickly I’m still not sure how the Phillies recorded their second out, though I believe it was fielder’s choice. It’s just that there was so much damn traffic on the basepaths that I, like the Cubs, didn’t know if the Phillies were coming or going. If you’re looking for a positive, Hendricks didn’t allow a single home run. Though we often take solace in the little victories, that’s not necessarily one.
Final: Phillies 17, Cubs 8. pic.twitter.com/XBfUYd7qbw
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 17, 2021
Still, Hendricks isn’t fooling anybody, as his 8.21 ERA over his last eight starts indicates. The rocky 4th began with a leadoff double by Bryce Harper before The Professor drilled the next batter, J.T. Realmuto, and things spiraled out of control pretty quickly after that. Chicago was still up 7-5 when Ross went to his bullpen, but the Phillies had batted around and Realmuto laced a two-run single to close the book on the de facto ace. The final line wasn’t pretty: seven earned on six hits with three walks and two hit batters.
With 15 games left, Hendricks is likely to start three or four more times if he stays on schedule, but what’s the point? He led the majors in innings pitched last year and has tossed an additional 170.1 frames this season, which ranks eighth in all of baseball. The Cubs have nothing left to play for and he wouldn’t be the first healthy pitcher to be shut down before the regular season ends. Ross and Jed Hoyer should give those innings to Adbert Alzolay, Justin Steele, Adrian Sampson, and Keegan Thompson. Heck, bring up Cory Abbott to cover some innings, at least he’s on the 40-man.
Cubs News & Notes
- Despite the awful outing, Hendricks said he feels healthy and that he is just leaving a lot of pitches out over the plate.
- Ross said he isn’t ruling out a reduction in innings for Hendricks over the last three weeks of the season.
- Don’t look now, but Brailyn Márquez is lighting it up once again in his latest bullpen work after a season of injury, COVID-19, and other unforeseen setbacks.
- The Cubs will travel to Milwaukee to face the Brewers and with a sweep, Milwaukee could clinch the NL Central, depending on how the Cardinals fare against the Padres this weekend.
- Things have changed pretty dramatically for both teams since the last time the Cubs and Brewers met at the end of June. To quote our own Sean Holland, who previewed that series, “[The Cubs] certainly don’t want to fall six games back with a [Milwaukee] sweep.” Ouch.
- Heck, Chicago’s lineup is vastly different from the one that took the field during the first game of that series.
- Frank Schwindel continued his torrid pace with two more knocks last night.
- Speaking of torrid, Brennen Davis is on fire at Iowa (see below). As a youngster growing up in California, Davis learned to hit by swinging at oranges.
- If you are aggressively checking Chicago’s 2022 draft status with each loss, Tankathon is your best friend. Nothing screams “fastest path to a championship” like tanking, for the love of Frank. That’s me being facetious, of course.
Odds & Sods
The hardest part about waiting for Davis to get to the bigs is the waiting. Cue Tom Petty.
— NBC Sports Chicago (@NBCSChicago) September 17, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“Copper-dome Bodhi drip a silver kimono like a crazy-quilt star gown through a dream night wind.” – Grateful Dead, China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider
- Games Played: 147
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,396
- Total Strikeouts: 1,446
- Strikeout Rate: 26.8%
- Team Batting Average: .233
You can’t stop Schwindel at this point. You can only hope to contain him.
How About That!
Seattle has been formally unveiled as the host of the 2023 All-Star Game.
White Sox reliever Mike Wright and manager Tony La Russa were tossed from yesterday’s game because Wright allegedly threw at Ohtani, barely missing him twice before nailing him in the leg with a 90 MPH fastball.
The average cost of attending an MLB game increased in 2021 following the COVID-19 pandemic season, according to this year’s Fan Cost Index. The cost to take a family of four to a baseball game now averages slightly more than $253 dollars. The average ticket costs $34.91.
Disgraced Reds announcer Thom Brennaman claims 90% of the team’s fans would like to see him return to the booth. Brennaman lost his job 14 months ago for an anti-gay slur he made into a hot mic while he thought he was off-air.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Bryce Harper – Every year he has one huge game against the Cubs, and last night was it. The Philadelphia right fielder was 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI.
- Carlos Correa – Houston’s soon-to-be free-agent shortstop had a stellar game against the Rangers, going 2-for-4 with a home run and three rBI in a 12-1 win that reduced Houston’s magic number to 10.
- Salvador Perez – The Royals backstop tied the MLB record for home runs by a catcher with his 45th of the season, equalling Johnny Bench, who led all of baseball in 1970. Bench also had a whopping 148 RBI that season, winning his first of two MVP awards.
Apropos of Nothing
If you’ll be at Wrigley Fied for Dead & Company this evening find me on Twitter and I’ll meet you for a beverage or two.
Congratulations are in order for Cubs radio play-by-play man Pat Hughes. Who wants to describe his outfit?
Pat Hughes will be inducted into the @CSHOFChicago on October 28th.
Congratulations, Pat! (nice shirt 👏) pic.twitter.com/VCF81x0f4W
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 16, 2021
They Said It
- “It’s as simple as just making a lot of bad pitches, leaving it over the middle of the plate. Just got to have a little bit better focus, get back to the bottom of the zone.” – Hendricks
- “Very uncharacteristic of Kyle tonight. It looked like I was watching a different pitcher out there tonight. I didn’t see the guy that I normally [do], aggressive, fastballs to both sides. It looked like he kind of lost the feel, walking guys, hitting a couple. We’ve seen a little bit of that from time to time on the backside of the season — that one inning where it kind of derails him a little bit. Just not his best night.” – Ross
Friday Walk-Up Song
Ripple by the Grateful Dead. Many believe the chorus is a haiku, but it is not. There is a lesson, though: A single life is a ripple, while all lives are represented as still water. The chorus, then, is interpreted differently each time.