“And when you ask ’em, ‘How much should we give?’ Hoo, they only answer, ‘More, more, more, more.'” – Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fortunate Son
The Cubs own the Pirates right now and they’ve beaten Pittsburgh in four straight after last night’s 8-0 win. Drew Smyly was masterful for five innings, and the bullpen was efficient. Chicago lives and dies by its starting pitching, which has been splendid most of this season.
- 27 Wins (t-1st)
- 3.96 ERA (3rd)
- 1.21 WHIP (3rd)
- .242 BA Against (t-4th)
- 15.62 Pitches Per Inning (1st)
- 31 Quality Starts (t-2nd)
I’m most impressed by the 31 quality starts. The offense is on a roll too, and the Cubs have outscored Pittsburgh 36-11 in four games this season. Marcus Stroman takes the bump tonight, so expect another win. He’s given up two runs or less in nine of his last 10 starts including six straight.
Cubs News & Notes
- Chicago’s offense has been every bit as good as the team’s pitching during their current hot streak. The Cubs have now won eight of their last 10 and have played their best baseball of the season in those wins.
- Before getting hurt, Cody Bellinger was playing at a 5-fWAR pace. Adolfo Phillips (1967) and Corey Patterson (2004) are the only Cubs center fielders to play a full season at that level.
- Jed Hoyer indicated that Christopher Morel might see more time at third base, which has as much to do with Morel’s power as it does with the lack of production from Patrick Wisdom and Nick Madrigal.
- Morel said his improved mental approach to hitting has been the most significant change he’s made this season.
- Hoyer also said Stroman’s openness about wanting to remain with the Cubs is a positive.
- Stroman is linked to the Angels, Dodgers, and Padres in the latest from Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.
- Smyly is 3-0 with a 1.61 lifetime ERA at PNC Park after last night’s outing.
- Cubs players are now talking World Series, though it’s not a matter of getting ahead of themselves.
- George Frazier, a reliever on the 1984 division-winning Cubs who pitched for five big-league teams and was a longtime broadcaster with the Rockies, died at 68.
- Even though their current playoff percentage puts their postseason odds at roughly +300, the Cubs would probably be buyers if the trade deadline was tomorrow.
- Chicago would be in first place if they reversed their record in one-run games.
- A Cubs fan saved a Brewers fan’s life outside of Miller Park 15 years ago and now the two are very good friends who meet once each summer when the two teams play.
Odds & Sods
I’m with Bleacher Jeff on this one, and I no longer sit in the bleachers because of those insipid cup snakes.
Written rules say to sit down when theres a batter in the box. Cup snakes are for barstool bros who'd rather try to get likes and retweets than watch a 2-0 game in the fifth inning when we're trying to sweep the cardinals. It's an embarrassment on national tv.
— Bleacher Jeff (@BleacherJeff) June 14, 2021
- St. Louis: The Cardinals activated WBC hero Lars Nootbaar yesterday and sent promising slugger Luken Baker to Triple-A Memphis as a corresponding move.
- Milwaukee: The Brewers honored golfer Paige Spiranac with a bobblehead night last week, and that didn’t sit well with the team’s fans.
- Cincinnati: The Reds won again last night, and now sit atop the NL Central for the first time since 2021.
- Pittsburgh: Pirates fans are using the phrase “June Swoon” after seven straight losses, though that may trigger some older Cubs fans who survived Wrigley Field baseball in the 1970s.
Climbing the Ladder
“There’s a party next door, sounds like it’s cooking. I poked my head over the wall and took a look in.” – Chuck Prophet, Summertime Thing
Mike Tauchman is making it very difficult for David Ross to keep him out of the lineup. The center fielder and leadoff phenom was 3-for-5 yesterday with two runs scored and three RBI. Friends and teammates call him “Tauch” but I’m anointing him “T-Money.”
Chicago was 5-for-14 (.357) with runners in scoring position last night and Nico Hoerner continues to excel in those situations. The second baseman had a two-out RBI single in the 3rd inning to boost the lead. Dansby Swanson and Seiya Suzuki were also big in the series opener, and Tauchman was 2-for-3 with ducks on the pond. Is it just me, or do the Cubs tend to score more when they do not homer?
The Cubs and Reds are baseball’s hottest teams right now and I expect both to separate from the rest of the division in the next month or two. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Brewers and Cardinals become deadline sellers, while the Pirates will just keep on Pirates-ing.
- Games Played: 72
- Record: 34-38 (.472)
- Total Plate Appearances: 2,750
- Total Strikeouts: 666
- Strikeout Rate: 24.22%
- Team Batting Average: .247
- Runs Scored: 326
- Runs Allowed: 309
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 51.1%, 2.7% to win the World Series
How About That!
Davis found out about his promotion in a very heartwarming way.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Luis Arráez – The Marlins’ star was 5-for-5 yesterday, the third time he’s done that this month.
- Francisco Lindor – The star shortstop has been a bust since joining the Mets, but he had a home run and five RBI last night.
- Merrill Kelly – The Arizona hurler outpitched Corbin Burnes as the Diamondbacks blasted the Brewers 9-1. Kelly has seven strikeouts in seven innings to earn his 9th win of the season.
You can’t stop Tauchman, you can only hope to contain him.
Tauchman's third hit and third RBI on the night! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/NJmFs7jIfU
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 20, 2023
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
- Paul McCartney said the Beatles are going to release their final record this year, and they’re using artificial intelligence to add John Lennon’s vocals. By the way, The Beatles Bible and The Annotated Grateful Dead are two of my favorite websites.
- The summer solstice arrives tomorrow, marking the astrological beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s also the longest “day” of the year above the equator, and the only day Stonehenge doesn’t charge an admission fee. Soak in those 9 pm sunsets because we start losing daylight on Thursday.
- If you can’t make the trip to Salisbury Plain, you can watch a live stream of tomorrow’s sunrise on YouTube courtesy of The English Heritage.
- Twitch streamer Félix “xQc” Lengyel has inked a deal worth $100 million to move over to rival platform Kick, in case you needed further proof that your parents were wrong that you can’t make a career out of playing video games.
- Thanks to Architectural Digest, YouTube, and the magic of Hollywood, we get to watch Margot Robbie tour a lifesize facsimile of Barbie’s Dream House and play Malibu Barbie, too.
- Pure photography without filters and Photoshop seems so 1990s, but trust me when I tell you that these untouched photographs put professional and amateur picture editors to shame.
Bonus: Here’s a fantastic tribute to James Gandolfini, who passed away 10 years ago yesterday, from the actors that shared the screen with him. The man who played Tony Soprano also used to share his bonus checks with all his cast members, which is one of the most heartfelt gestures you’ll ever read about.
They Said It
- “[Morel] has done a nice job sort of bouncing around, but I do think that for some guys, it’s important to find a position and settle in. We’d love to be able to find that spot. I think third [base] makes some sense. His hands work really well. He probably needs to spend a lot of time working through some footwork things. He’s got such a strong arm, he should be able to do it.” – Hoyer
- “When you have an opportunity to deliver and fail, you want to like go check and make sure that in your next at-bat, you don’t fail. When I fail one at-bat or a second or third, I want to — and I’m getting better at this — get back the three that I failed in one at-bat. It’s impossible.” – Morel
- “I wouldn’t call it a controversy. I actually think it’s a positive. [Stroman] really wants to be here. That’s a great thing. I feel like he’s been so positive for us since he got here. I think I said it to the media, when we got him, we said, “Hey let’s let this guy be himself. He works as hard as anybody. But let’s take the boundaries off a little and let him be him and let him prepare how he wants to prepare.’ And he’s been awesome for us.” – Hoyer
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
George always was the introspective one.