The Rundown: Cubs Injuries Mounting, Wieck Looking Good at Iowa, Steele Nearing Return, MLB Agrees to Uniform Changes

“I’m a sailor peg and I lost my leg!” – Dropkick Murphys, I’m Shipping Up to Boston

The Cubs had a rough weekend in Boston but at least they didn’t lose any ground to the Brewers. I can easily erase Saturday’s 17-0 loss from my memory because every team gets its ass kicked once or twice a season. At least Craig Counsell found out that neither Matt Mervis nor Patrick Wisdom could pitch. Still, are they that much worse than the rest of Chicago’s bullpen?

Injuries are mounting, too. Jordan Wicks is the latest player to go to the infirmary — with a forearm strain, no less — joining Justin Steele, Kyle Hendricks, Drew Smyly, and Julian Merryweather. The Cubs are fortunate to have depth, but losing three-fifths of your Opening Day rotation before the calendar turns to May is never good. It’s tough to drive any car with a couple of donut spares while hoping your rent-a-wreck reaches its destination before losing another.

Wicks experienced a little soreness while warming up before his start Tuesday, but it went away once the game started. His forearm didn’t bounce back well following the game and Wicks again felt soreness and tightness while throwing between starts. The rookie starter described it as more lingering than when the issue has similarly cropped up and the team erred to the side of caution by shelving him.

The severity of the issue is unknown, but we could get an update as early as today. Wicks might get imaging done this week in New York for peace of mind, though he said he is not overly concerned about the seriousness of the injury. He’ll still miss at least 15 days and probably more.

Counsell’s options are limited until Steele returns unless the Cubs dip into their pool of minor-league talent. Shōta Imanaga, Jameson Taillon, and Javier Assad now lead Chicago’s decimated rotation, but Steele will make a rehab start Wednesday at Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs aren’t ruling out activating him after that but no decision has been made. One would think Steele needs a good 60-65 pitches in the start for the I-Cubs to be ready to return. Counsell still needs to go through at least one turn of the rotation before counting on Steele.

That means Ben Brown will start the final game against the Mets on Thursday, following Taillon, Assad, and Imanaga. The starter for Friday’s home tilt against the Brewers has yet to be decided. I’d love to see Cade Horton get his shot, but that seems unlikely. Though the injuries suck, that foursome is nothing to be embarrassed about. At least Mervis and Wisdom aren’t on standby, even as potential openers.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

That awkward moment when your manager has to describe a sausage.

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

“Four-door nightmare, trunk locks’ stuck. Big dice on the mirror, grill like a truck.” – Sir Mix-a-Lot, My Hooptie

There are currently nine players on the 26-man roster who opened the season at Iowa, including Sunday’s starter Hayden Wesneski. Counsell views this as a chance for other pitchers to step up, presumably not any position players posing as relievers. Mervis has an 81.00 ERA, but his FIP is a respectable 3.18. Wisdom, on the other hand, has a 0.00 ERA, but an ugly 12.18 FIP. The two allowed six runs on eight hits with a walk in one combined inning. That will put a dent in your run differential.

Imanaga (1.2) and Assad (1.0) lead the Cubs in WAR one month into the season. Seiya Suzuki (0.6), who hasn’t played in two weeks is third. The biggest surprise is Keegan Thompson, who is tied with Suzuki.

The Cubs have yet to lose three straight this season so let’s hope Taillon is a stopper.

  • Games Played: 28
  • Record: 17-11 (.607), 2nd place in NL Central
  • In One-Run Games: 4-5 (.444)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 1,062
  • Total Strikeouts: 245
  • Strikeout Rate: 23.07%
  • Team Batting Average: .245
  • With Runners in Scoring Position: 63-for-223 (.283)
  • Runs Scored: 144
  • Runs Allowed: 130
  • Pythagorean Record: 15-13
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 84.6%, 6.0% chance to win World Series 

How About That!

The league has agreed to address uniform issues after receiving several player complaints.

Changes to the uniforms won’t be implemented until next season, however.

Wyatt Langford of the Rangers hit his first career home run and it was an inside-the-park job.

Oakland’s Mason Miller is baseball’s hardest thrower, topping out at an unholy 103.7 mph.

The White Sox are playing at a 162-win pace as long as you only count their weekend sweep of the Rays.

Outfielder Tommy Pham gave a brutally honest answer when asked why he signed with the White Sox.

Sunday’s Three Stars

  1. Anthony Rizzo – The ex-Cub did his former team a solid by going 4-for-4 with a home run and two RBI, leading the Yankees to a 15-5 win over the Brewers.
  2. Nick Senzel – The Nationals bombed the Marlins 12-5 thanks in part to Senzel, who had two taters and five RBI.
  3. Wenceel Xavier Pérez – The Tigers’ right fielder notched his first big league home run, but he’s here because I dig his name.

Extra Innings

Mike Tauchman 1, Mini-Monster 0.

Monday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Many writers, including me, believe the Bears had one of the NFL’s best drafts this weekend despite having just five picks. We also have a budding bromance in Chicago courtesy of QB Caleb Williams and WR Rome Odunze.
  2. Chicago’s newest rookies are Williams, Odunze, OT Kiran Amegadjie, P Tory Taylor, and DE Austin Booker. The links direct to my analysis of each pick.
  3. A record 775,000 fans attended the NFL Draft in Detroit from Thursday through Sunday, according to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Not a single one knew what the heck the Falcons were doing.
  4. The Rolling Stones started the US leg of their tour this weekend in Texas. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are 80 years old, show no signs of slowing down, and have no intentions of retiring.
  5. American Airlines keeps mistaking a 101-year-old passenger for a baby.
  6. I’ve often wondered at what age our appetites for discovering new music stagnate. I’m not the gormandizer I once was, and this might be the most interesting article I’ve ever referenced in this section.

They Said It

  • “I didn’t think anything of it, like, I just thought it was just some random soreness, whatever. We just wanted to be precautionary this early in the season. There’s no reason to push it or put anything unnecessarily at risk. Extremely frustrated that we had to do that, but it’s the best course of action going forward with the bigger picture in mind.” – Wicks
  • “In the short term, these opportunities are going to strengthen us and strengthen these guys. Now certainly you want your best players out there, there’s no question about it, but we have to look at it as these are opportunities.” – Counsell

Monday Walk Up Song

This woman has an amazing voice. Andra Day is a gospel singer who crosses over into R&B, and yes, she’s a new discovery of mine.

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