The Rundown: Imanaga Effort Wasted in Loss, Cubs Add to Bullpen, Morel Swings Big Stick, Female Announcers Make History

“He’s the hairy-handed gent who ran amok in Kent. Lately, he’s been overheard in Mayfair. You better stay away from him, he’ll rip your lungs out, Jim. Huh, I’d like to meet his tailor.” – Warren Zevon, Werewolves of London.

Shōta Imanaga struggled on Monday night but still put the Cubs in a position to win their game against the Braves. Chicago’s offense had other plans, and a two-spot charged to Hayden Wesneski resulted in a 2-0 loss to Atlanta. The Cubs banged out a mere five hits, with three coming in the final two frames, but never threatened to win the game.

Imanaga was brilliant again despite a high pitch count but remained 5-0 on the season. He did lower his ERA to a mind-blowing 0.96 through 46.2 innings and he’s struck out 51 opposing batters while allowing a scant eight walks. Blaming Wesneski for the loss is unfair, but it was another hit to Chicago’s beleaguered bullpen. However, help is on the way in the form of Tyson Miller. Jed Hoyer sent third baseman Jake Slaughter to Seattle to reacquire Miller, a fourth-round pick by the Cubs in 2016.

Miller’s acquisition isn’t a game-changer by any means. He’s pitched well this year, but his 5.91 career ERA and 3.8 walk rate make him no better or worse than any of Chicago’s relievers. Slaughter is the better player but doesn’t have a spot in the organization. That said, Miller is precisely the type of reliever Jed Hoyer covets. Even if he’s the 28-year-old journeyman is pitching better than he has at any time previously, he is a regression candidate. Hoyer loves to flip that coin like the Harvey Dent of baseball executives. Miller could be a revelation, but he might just as easily implode, and probably at a critical point.

The bullpen continues to be a piecemeal project, though Chicago’s offense can’t seem to get untracked with any consistency. The team showed some improvement against the Pirates, then backslid in Atlanta last night. Ian Happ is still struggling and his prolonged slump looks even worse when he fails to reach base. His OBP has dropped from .410 to .333 over the last month and he’s struck out 19 times with a .221 average and just six walks in 51 plate appearances since May 1.

Hoyer deserves little credit for his weak attempt at fortifying his bullpen. Even if Miller is little more than meat for the slaughter (pun intended), he is a necessity due to Chicago’s growing list of injured relievers. Craig Counsell must be frustrated, but he’s at least mildly familiar with Miller’s body of work after managing him with the Brewers for seven games in 2023. Sadly, the righty’s stat line during his stint with Milwaukee aligns identically with his career numbers. Maybe Hoyer will catch lightning in a bottle with what looks like a triage move at best. I wouldn’t count on it though.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

“Chris Cornell painted in song the darkness and beauty of living in Seattle.” – Mike McCready

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

“I lay my head on the railroad tracks and wait for the Double-E. The railroad don’t run no more…poor, poor pitiful me.” – Linda Ronstadt, Poor Poor Pitiful Me

Chicago’s offense is struggling, particularly with runners in scoring position. The Cubs are 5-for-29 (.172) in those situations in their last three games. They were 1-for-12 on Sunday and 0-for-4 last night.

The Cubs will have to make a procedural move to add Miller, who is out of options, to the 40-man roster. They could move Alzolay or another injured player to the 60-day IL or they could DFA somebody. Caleb Kilian and Julian Merryweather are already on the 60-day IL. Matt Mervis could be designated, but that seems unlikely because he’s tearing it up once again at Iowa. Hoyer could make another trade, too.

  • Games Played: 42
  • Record: 24-18 (.571), 2nd place in NL Central
  • In One-Run Games: 8-7 (.533)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 1,590
  • Total Strikeouts: 364
  • Strikeout Rate: 23.89%
  • Team Batting Average: .237
  • With Runners in Scoring Position: 82-for-342 (.240)
  • Runs Scored: 195
  • Runs Allowed: 179
  • Pythagorean Record: 23-19
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 85.9%, 3.9% chance to win World Series 

PSA: Understanding the issues concerning suicide and mental health is an important preventative step, helps others in crisis, and changes the conversation around suicide. It’s certainly nothing to joke about and that isn’t my intent. If you are feeling like you need help, or know someone who might, take a moment to learn the risk factors, and please call the suicide and mental health crisis line by dialing 988.

  • Suicide is not inevitable for anyone. We can prevent self-harm and save lives by starting conversations, providing support, and directing help to those who need it.
  • Evidence shows that engaging support services, talking about suicide, reducing access to means of self-harm, and following up with loved ones are just some of the actions we can all take to help others.
  • By offering immediate counseling to everyone who may need it, local crisis centers provide invaluable support at critical times and connect individuals to local services.

How About That!

Announcers Julia Morales and Jenny Cavnar made history during Monday’s Astros-Athletics game. It marked the first time two females handled play-by-play duties in the same game.

MLB insider Ken Rosenthal likens the Cardinals’ fall from grace to the crumbling of an empire.

Juan Soto provides the perfect marriage of bat speed and precision. Take notes, Jed.

William Contreras leads the league in blasts, one of the new bat-tracking metrics.

Ippei Mizuhara will plead not guilty as a formality of his plea agreement. Mizuhara allegedly stole nearly $17 million from Shohei Ohtani to pay off sports gambling debts during a yearslong scheme. He will be required to pay Ohtani restitution totaling nearly $17 million. The bank fraud charge carries a maximum of 30 years in federal prison, and the false tax return charge carries a sentence of up to three years in federal prison. Mizuhara also owes the IRS more than $1 million.

Tarik Skubal and Zack Wheeler are leading the Cy Young Award race at the quarter mark of the season.

Data shows MLB umpires aren’t as bad as you may think.

Airborne meats, specifically sausages and hot dogs, have become baseball’s latest gimmick.

Monday’s Three Stars

  1. Bryan Reynolds The veteran outfielder was 5-for-5 with a home run and two doubles, leading the Pirates to an 8-6 win over the Brewers.
  2. Alex Bregman – A 3-for-3 game with two taters and four RBI is a great day at the office, even at the expense of the Athletics.
  3. José Ramírez – The Cleveland star reached base five times and plated four runners in a 7-0 win over the Rangers.

Extra Innings

Imanaga picked off two runners on Monday night.

Tuesday Morning Six-Pack

  1. The Rome OdunzeCaleb Williams connection is drawing rave reviews from Bears players and coaches alike.
  2. Tory Taylor will replace Trenton Gill as Chicago’s punter this year and he was the first of five Bears draft choices to sign his rookie contract.
  3. Basketball phenom Caitlin Clark will make her WNBA regular season debut with the Indiana Fever on Tuesday, with courtside seats selling for $5,000 a pop.
  4. This episode of Route 66 starring Tina Louise was originally scheduled to air one week after the JFK assassination but was deemed too controversial at the time for a grieving nation. Speaking of Ms. Louise, the Ginger vs. Mary Ann debate is one that will never go away.
  5. Believe it or not, Pong was not the first commercially available video game, though it was more successful than its predecessor. Both were created by the same engineer.
  6. AI lets viewers explore The Simpsons, Family Guy, Futurama, The Office, and Friends as hi-def 1950s-themed sitcoms. The creativity is stunning, but it will lead you down a never-ending rabbit hole of discovery.

They Said It

  • “[Morel’s] actual stats haven’t caught up to his expected stats. If he has days like [last Sunday] where he’s that patient at the plate and forcing pitchers into the strike zone, he really moves up another level as far as what he could be as a run producer.” – Hoyer
  • “[Brown’s] best asset right now is he throws really hard. Without being too analytical, it’s just the hitters’ reaction. He’s beating hitters with the fastball. That’s not easy to do in the big leagues. No matter what your velocity is, it’s just not easy to do. He’s beating hitters with the fastball, and that makes you cheat. And that makes his off-speed very good. That’s kind of his formula.” – Counsell

Tuesday Walk-Up Song

Good morning friends and readers. May your day be filled with the blessings of love, friendship, and family. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, go back and read the Climbing the Ladder section.

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