Great to see the Cubs finally finish off a series in impressive fashion, defeating the Nationals 6-3 yesterday and ultimately taking 3 out of 4.
It’s a step in the right direction, as the Cubs haven’t been their best over the past couple weeks. But they also haven’t had any prolonged losing streaks.
The Cubs are five games over .500 and only a half-game out of a Wild Card spot.
Sunday’s win was truly a team effort. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant were on base seven times and scored four runs collectively.
Every position player had at least one hit, except for Miguel Montero — but he drew two walks.
Kyle Hendricks was pretty good — three runs (two earned), six hits, four strikeouts — although he only lasted five innings. The bullpen picked up the slack and finished things off, not giving up a run.
Motte used in 9th
Joe Maddon’s use of the bullpen yesterday was interesting. Jason Motte — not Hector Rondon (who pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning) — closed things out and picked up the save.
Rondon has been shaky of late, and doesn’t appear to have the confidence he did last season. On Saturday, Joe Maddon brought him in for a save opportunity but then quickly pulled the plug after Rondon walked the only batter he faced.
Maddon went with Pedro Strop on Saturday, but wasn’t ready after that game to say Rondon has lost his job as closer, although he did admit Rondon might be used in different situations, writes Jesse Rogers.
So it appears the Cubs’ closer situation is fluid at the moment. I don’t have a huge problem with that, but I also would feel more comfortable with a lock-down option at the end of the game.
Then again, in Sunday’s win, Rondon was used in the 8th but faced better hitters. Motte closed out the game against the bottom of the Nationals’ order.
Mark Gonzales tweets that Maddon will assess the situation before deciding on a closer in the next opportunity.
Baez injures hand
Javier Baez, who has been crushing baseballs lately, injured his left hand yesterday while sliding into second base on a steal.
Baez exited the game with a jammed ring finger and received X-rays. The results? Not very good:
Baez with a fracture in left ring finger. Will be re evaluated but initial thought was 4-8 weeks.
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) June 7, 2015
What a tough year it has been for Baez, with not making the Cubs out of Spring Training, then dealing with the death of his sister, and now this injury.
I was really rooting for Baez to have a lot of success with the Cubs this year, but that will have to be put on hold for a month or two. Bummer.
Schwarber at DH?
While it wasn’t a guarantee that Javier Baez was going to be called up to be used while the Cubs can deploy a designated hitter in American ballparks next week, his finger injury makes it look less likely.
So what about Kyle Schwarber?
As Patrick Mooney writes, Joe Maddon said on Sunday that Schwarber would definitely be in the conversation.
“He could be,” Maddon said. “I would think (so). Based on what he’s done, it would make sense that he would be. But, again, I don’t know what we’re willing to do. I just try to do my job, and if the guys think that’s the right thing to do, then I would be on board with it.”
My gut tells me that Schwarber remains in the minors for now, as he hasn’t even been moved up to Triple-A yet.
But the fact that Maddon hasn’t flat-out rejected the idea of calling him up is interesting.
The Cubs have the day off today, but on Tuesday will be in Detroit, where they will be using a DH.
Denorfia returns from DL
Before yesterday’s game, the Cubs called up OF Chris Denorfia, who was on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
The roster casualty was the familiar Matt Szczur.
Denorfia has hit well in limited playing time this season. The success continued yesterday, as he got a start against right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. Denorfia went 3-for-5 with a run scored.
Overall, he is 12-for-26 on the year.
* The MLB draft begins tonight! The Cubs will be selecting ninth overall, and nobody seems really sure who they will take. Will they finally go with a pitcher in the first round this year? It would be the first time under Theo Epstein. The draft begins at 6 p.m. Central, and you can watch it on MLB Network or MLB.com. We’ll also have plenty of coverage and analysis here at Cubs Insider. Stay tuned.
* Could the Cubs go outside the box in the draft and take a look at last year’s first-overall pick LHP Brady Aiken? Gordon Wittenmyer writes that the Cubs haven’t ruled him out, depending on a health-risk assessment. Aiken was never signed by the Astros after being drafted last year, and then eventually suffered an injury and had Tommy John surgery. According to Wittenmyer, some of the Cubs’ decision-makers view Aiken as too big of a risk. But a healthy Aiken could present a top-pick talent from the ninth spot in the draft. Would it be worth it? I doubt the Cubs take this chance — I think they’ll go with more of a sure thing, with this hopefully being the last time in a while that they have a top-10 pick.