The Rundown: Cubs Shut Down Again, Injuries Mounting, Team Seeking Bullpen Upgrades, Deadline Sellers Starting to Emerge

“Panic is spreading. God knows where we’re heading.” – Marvin Gaye, Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

The Cubs have hit a new low offensively, and though they’re playing one of baseball’s best teams, the complete lack of firepower against the Braves is concerning. Chicago’s North Side baseballers have yet to score a run in two games after last night’s 7-0 loss to Atlanta.

Chris Sale dominated the Cubs and you had to be a little envious of relievers Aaron Bummer and Jackson Stephens. They backed up the wiry veteran lefty and quietly shut Chicago down in the 8th and 9th innings. Cubs fans would kill to have a bullpen so effectively boring. Ray Kerr, Dylan Lee, and A.J. Minter did the same thing in relief of Reynaldo López on Monday.

Tyson Miller pitched two scoreless innings on Tuesday, in case you’re looking for a silver lining. That said, Chicago’s anemic offense is a much bigger concern right now. The Cubs mustered a meager three knocks last night, and have just eight hits — seven of them singles — through the first two games of this series. Only six runners have made it as far as second base in 18 innings against the Braves, which makes the Cubs ineffectively boring. A half-inning of Cubs baseball is the cure for every insomniac right now.

Javier Assad will try to right the ship this evening against Charlie Morton. The Cubs return to the Friendly Confines to face the Pirates on Thursday.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

The umpire said Ronel Blanco had “some of the stickiest stuff on his glove” he’s ever seen. I wonder if he also checked Houston’s dugout for trash can lids.

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

“I’ve been trying to find what’s heavy that’s been messing up my mind.” – The Staple Singers, Heavy Makes You Happy

The Cubs just can’t hit. It might be time to start a prayer group. That said, you won’t win many games with Patrick Wisdom batting leadoff, Miles Mastrobuoni playing shortstop, and Nick Madrigal playing second base. Perhaps we should pray for Chicago’s injured and slumping starters instead.

  • Games Played: 43
  • Record: 24-19 (.558), 2nd place in NL Central
  • In One-Run Games: 8-7 (.533)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 1,622
  • Total Strikeouts: 375
  • Strikeout Rate: 23.12%
  • Team Batting Average: .234
  • With Runners in Scoring Position: 82-for-344 (.238)
  • Runs Scored: 195
  • Runs Allowed: 186
  • Pythagorean Record: 22-21
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 84.2%, 3.0% chance to win World Series 

How About That!

Load management is becoming baseball’s “next big thing.”

For better or worse, MLB continues to go all in to make Livvy Dunne, girlfriend of phenom Paul Skenes, the league’s version of Taylor Swift.

Eight teams are rumored to be deadline sellers, including, of course, the Marlins, White Sox, and Cardinals.

The dude in Seattle who caught two foul balls the other night got to throw out two first pitches for his efforts.

Tuesday’s Three Stars

  1. Sale – He held the Cubs to two hits with nine strikeouts and no walks through seven very quick innings.
  2. Aaron Nola – The Phillies ace tossed a complete game shutout at the punchless Mets, allowing just four hits with eight strikeouts of his own. He also did not allow a walk.
  3. Erick Fedde/Andrew Vaughn – The White Sox are starting to play much better and blanked the Nationals 4-0 last night. Fedde pitched seven innings of three-hit ball with six punchouts and, you guessed it, no walks. Vaughn blasted two homers and also plated all of the Sox’ runs.

Extra Innings

Chicago’s media team is among the best at creating short-form content.

Wednesday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Led by D.J. Moore. Keenan Allen, and Rome Odunze, the Bears have the NFL’s top receiver group, believe it or not. They also have the league’s second-best tight end tandem.
  2. Caitlin Clark made her WNBA debut on Tuesday night but struggled a little despite scoring 20 points.
  3. Angel Reese makes her debut for the Chicago Sky tonight and has petitioned Michael Jordan to attend a game this season.
  4. The hit television series The Office is getting a reboot, and it’s going to be set in the Midwest, but nobody knows exactly where. Should we hold a contest? I’m choosing Madison, IN. Your guesses are welcome in the comments section.
  5. The 1980s have become the new 1950s, at least as far as current pop culture nostalgia is concerned.
  6. Speaking of nostalgia, a new Bruce Springsteen tour documentary is coming to Disney+/Hulu, and I can’t help but think it’s going to have an accidental comedic vibe, a little too similar to This is Spinal Tap.

They Said It

  • “Right now, [Miller] is depth, we’re adding numbers here. We did lose Richard Lovelady, but we’re trying to just raise the floor if that makes sense. We’ve got injuries but we’ve also got several players that are coming back. [They] are not coming back this week or probably next week but we need to make sure until we get to the time when we get some guys healthy that we have capable pitchers out there. This is an attempt to just get a little bit better, which is what we’re trying to do every day.”Craig Counsell
  • “Safe to say that we’re looking for any good pitcher and any good reliever right now and we will continue to do that. [Miller’s] profile happened to be one that can get right-handers out and fits well with some of the injuries we’ve had. But we certainly won’t be picky as we’re looking for upgrades and we’ll continue to make sure we’re canvasing every opportunity for that.” – Carter Hawkins
  • “The game has changed. When I look at the standings now, it’s different. There were periods with a lot more teams that were very, very clear sellers. I feel like now that middle group is much thicker than it used to be. And I couldn’t tell you which of those teams are going to compete and which aren’t.” – Jed Hoyer
  • “That kind of battle in that situation, laying off the pitches he laid off of but still trying to be aggressive. I mean, he’s still trying to homer, he’s still trying to hit the ball really hard, but his decision-making has gotten better and better. And what we’re watching, if he can continue to make decisions at this rate, I just think we’re watching a guy that’s emerging as an elite slugger.” – Hoyer

Wednesday Walk-Up Song

One of my favorite oldies of all time, and apropos since I’m working in-office in Dallas all week.

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