The Rundown: Cubs Resemble Past Tanking Teams, Suzuki Ice Cold, Schwindel Optioned, MLB Moms in Spotlight on Walk-Off Sunday
“I’m gettin’ up soon in the mornin’ and I believe I’ll dust my broom.” – Elmore James, Dust My Broom
I had to check, but after being swept in a weekend series, the Cubs have won just three of their last 17 games and have now lost five straight, their longest losing streak of the 2022 season. Things have rather quickly gone off the rails for Chicago’s North Side baseballers, and they’re not much fun to watch these days. It’s even more maddening to see the success of the Dodgers because good ownership and a savvy front office would have the Cubs at or near the same level competitively.
Even the post-game press conferences leave little to get excited about. Willson Contreras, who has been one of the team’s better performers, said “it’s really tough to watch” the Cubs after the team issued nine walks in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader.
“I know it’s been a really tough stretch,” the enigmatic catcher said. “As I told Nico [Hoerner] earlier, a lot of time we focus so much on results that we end up frustrated instead of enjoying the moment, enjoying just playing baseball. Then the results are going to happen.
“As a human, you fall into [a trap of] wanting the results right away. A lot of times, baseball doesn’t work that way.”
Statistically speaking, the Cubs are so bad that I’d be ashamed to go into too much detail. Nevertheless, being outscored 20-3 in the three-game set with Los Angeles provides a perfect portrait of Chicago’s struggles at the plate and on the mound. Since back-to-back wins over the Rockies and Rays on April 8-9, opponents have outscored the Cubs 84-55 and that includes a 21-0 win over the Pirates on April 23. You don’t have to be a mathematics professor to see how just how poorly the North Siders play offensively minus that thrashing.
“It’s really cold,” said Seiya Suzuki, who is 6-for-47 (.128) with 17 strikeouts, three walks, and two RBI since that Pittsburgh game.
“Obviously we’re losing games and we’re not in a great situation right now, condition-wise,” the rookie outfielder continued. “But it’s a long season and it’s a part of the season [that] we just want to get over.”
The pitching staff has been equally abysmal. Entering Sunday night’s game, which couldn’t have been a ratings bonanza for ESPN, Cubs starters ranked 27th in all of baseball with a 5.30 ERA. Fans can lament that the Dodgers spend like the big market team they are, but the Cubs have piecemealed together a team that looks a lot more like Jed Hoyer’s great social experiment than anything else. Maybe he’s subliminally sending a message to Tom Ricketts to open up the checkbook, but Chicago has no power at the plate or on the mound, and even worse, no forward direction or momentum. A loss seems inevitable with the first pitch of each contest.
By all rights, the Cubs shouldn’t be fighting Cincinnati or Detroit for the first pick in next year’s draft. Hoyer said his team is not in rebuilding mode and I am going to side with the president of baseball operations on that notion. That’s because Chicago has yet to hit rock bottom in a season that looks more like a calculated tanking, the likes of which we haven’t seen since 2012, with each miserable loss. It’s hard to envision playing at the same level as the Dodgers when it’s reasonably understandable to doubt if the Cubs could beat the 5-23 Reds or the 8-19 Tigers.
Cubs News & Notes
- Justin Steele started last night but was removed at the start of the 5th inning with a “frustrating” thumb injury.
- The Cubs have promoted Nelson Velázquez to Triple-A Iowa. He’ll have to handle the adjustments that Brennen Davis is struggling with right now (.584 OPS through 22 games), but the Cubs will have two-thirds of their future outfield playing together for a few months or more.
- The Dodgers are everything the Cubs should be.
- Contreras and Nico Hoerner were the team’s lone bright spots during Chicago’s 0-5 homestand.
- The organization didn’t sugarcoat things for Frank Schwindel when they optioned him to Iowa. “This is a league that you gotta produce and he’s working on some things,” manager David Ross said. “Just going to take a little bit of the bright lights off and let him work through some things.”
- Schwindel’s option was one of a handful of roster moves the Cubs made. The team scratched Marcus Stroman from his scheduled start and placed him on the injured list without a designation and they selected the contract of righty Adrian Sampson.
- Ross mentioned that Ian Happ has been the team’s MVP over the first month of the season.
Odds & Sods
Seven teams, including the Cubs, are on track to lose at least 100 games in 2022. Chicago’s current pace would result in a 54-108 (.333) season, their worst ever by win percentage. The 1901 team was 53-86 (.381) while the ’62 and ’66 squads finished 59-103 (.364).
Nine of the 30 MLB teams are on pace to win at least 100 games this season. https://t.co/ILluISStxy
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) May 9, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“Don’t keep on telling me everything’s okay ’cause if you were then you wouldn’t be crying.” – O.V. Wright, Let’s Straighten it Out
Schwindel has been battling a bad back and the cold weather probably hasn’t helped much, but he has a 61 wRC+ and a .558 OPS through 96 plate appearances. There wasn’t a single player in Chicago’s lineup last night with a .500 or better SLG.
- Games Played: 27
- Total Plate Appearances: 987
- Total Strikeouts: 237
- Strikeout Rate: 24%
- Team Batting Average: .232
How About That!
Is there anything that Moms can’t do?
There were four Mother’s Day walk-off wins yesterday!
- Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon teamed up to lead the Angels past the Nationals with two outs in the ninth.
- Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres led off the 9th inning with a solo shot to drop the Guardians.
- San Diego pinch hitter Jorge Alfaro hit a two-out, three-run bomb to down the Marlins 3-2 after his mother predicted it.
- A 10th-inning single by Ty France sent Jarred Kelenic home as the Mariners edged the Rays. 24-year-old Seattle starter George Kirby was very impressive in his MLB debut.
Super Mom Julie Megill hit a home run when it comes to raising athletes. Sons Tylor (Mets) and Trevor (Twins) are MLB pitchers, and daughter Ryleigh is a star rower at USC.
Mets hitting coach Eric Chavez suggested that the league is using juiced baseballs for its Sunday night nationally televised games.
Umpire Dan Bellino, who ejected Madison Bumgarner last week, apologized for his behavior in doing so.
Marlins rookie Joe Dunand, who is the nephew of Álex Rodríguez, hit a home run Sunday in his first professional at-bat.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Colin Moran – The Cincinnati first sacker hit two home runs, including a grand slam, and plated six runners against his former team as the Big Red Machine won their first series of the season with a 7-3 win over the Pirates.
- Pete Alonso – The Mets’ first baseman went 3-for-5 with a couple of taters and five RBI in a 6-1 nightcap win over the underperforming Phillies.
- Zac Gallen– The Diamondbacks starter shut out the Rockies over seven innings with seven strikeouts. Gallen anchors a rotation that entered play yesterday second in all of baseball with a 2.33 ERA. They’ll host the Cubs later this week.
Thanks to Alfaro, baseball is fun for Padres fans. Chicago starts a three-game series in San Diego this evening.
It doesn't get any more dramatic than this.
Jorge Alfaro hit a pinch-hit three-run home run with two outs in the 9th inning and the San Diego Padres stunned the Miami Marlins with a 3-2 win on Sunday. 🤯#MLB #Padres #MakeItMiami pic.twitter.com/KrRDO26cSM
— For Future Considerations (@PodcastFFC) May 9, 2022
They Said It
- “It just takes a lot to win a game. They’re never easy.” – Drew Smyly
- “It’s so early. I’d rather [struggle] now than in the middle of the year or toward the end of the year, like what they went through last year. We’re still trying to figure out who we are as a team and find our identity. We just got to get hot, get some confidence rolling.” – Wade Miley
- “[Suzuki] started off and was surprising everyone, ‘Wow, this guy is taking the league by storm.’ Right? Now you’re seeing the league kind of adjust and he’s also in that same boat of adjusting back to pitchers and seeing a lot of these guys for the first and second time again. It’s the Brewers getting one look at him and trying to adjust to that. I think he’s going to go through the ebbs and flows — like everybody else — of a season. But nothing has stood out to me for him other than just the timing with his mechanics.” – Ross
Monday Walk-Up Song
Father Let Me Ride by The Staple Singers. Sue passed on Mother’s Day in 2017, so it was a very tough weekend. She was good friends with the Staple and Neville families and introduced me to a lot of each’s deeper cuts.