The Rundown: Bote Goes Off, Kimbrel Signing a Bargain, Minor Leaguer Breaks Up No-No With Bunt Single

It was nice of the Cubs’ bullpen to openly demonstrate yesterday evening just how much they need Craig Kimbrel. If it wasn’t for a career game by David Bote, the Rockies would have annihilated the North Siders.

Still, Kimbrel is the buzz throughout baseball and specifically in Chicago. The elite closer signed a three-year deal with an option to hopefully lead the Cubs to the 2019 World Series. He certainly gives the bullpen some thunder and should push Brad Brach into mop-up duty. Brach has been utterly awful this year and is difficult to watch. He has now allowed 22 walks and 24 hits in 24 2/3 innings. It doesn’t get much uglier.

Thanks to a bullpen that struggles to hold leads, last night’s game actually came down to the final pitch. A team this good shouldn’t be testing the limits of our target heart rates on a daily basis, and the general hope is that Kimbrel will help stabilize the back end of the ‘pen. I’d still like the Cubs to pursue another elite reliever in trade, perhaps Sean Doolittle or Ken Giles.

I do fear Joe Maddon will want to burn through his new closer with longer outings in critical games as he’s done with Aroldis Chapman and Wade Davis. With the rest of the bullpen constructed as it is, who could blame him? Maybe Theo Epstein will provide specific instructions on how to best deploy the team’s new weapon. He should never be required to get more than three outs.

The Cubs now have an All-Star at every position. There is no excuse for this team not to run away with the division if everybody stays healthy.

Cubs News & Notes

How About That!

Sports Illustrated baseball writer offer suggestions for improving the minor league draft.

Trevor Bauer has reworked his slider with a subtle thumb adjustment he picked up from watching film of Marcus Stroman. His use of Edgertronic camera has changed pitching analysis league-wide.

The Indians have lost Carlos Carrasco to the injured list due to a blood condition. There is no timetable on his return to baseball.

With Andrew McCutchen lost for the season, here are some trade candidates the Phillies could consider.

Don’t look now, but the Nationals appear to be making a strong move. Last night’s win marks their fourth straight and they’ve won nine of their last 11 games. Washington is just a half-game behind the Mets for third place.

Here come the Mighty Marlins! Miami is streaking, having won four in a row and two straight against the Brewers. They now have seven wins in their last 10 games and are just five games out of third place.

The Padres are not streaking. San Diego is in the midst of a 3-7 streak and is now 31-31 on the year.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. David Bote – Was there any doubt? A 4-for-4 night with a home run and SEVEN RBI is one of the best lines of the season so far in all of MLB.
  2. Chris Sale – The Red Sox ace became just the second pitcher of all-time to throw two immaculate innings (three strikeouts on nine pitches) in one season. Sale struck out 12 while allowing just three hits in blanking the Royals. He threw 102 pitches and lowered his ERA from 4.35 to 3.84.
  3. Jason Vargas – The journeyman starter has been sort of a stopper for the Mets. Last night he shut out the Giants with eight punchouts and just one walk.

On Deck

Other than Sale, the list of pitchers with at least two immaculate innings in their careers:

Extra Innings

No one has ever wanted a free baseball less than this Cubs fan. Bleacher Bums have made an art out of sending opposing home runs back to the field of play for decades. This fan took it a step further. It wasn’t a home run, nor was it hit by a Rockies’ batter. Just a friendly gesture at the end of an inning. Nope.

Walking Off

Minor League player Matt Lipka bunted in the 9th inning to break up a no-hitter during Tuesday’s game between the Trenton Thunder and the Hartford Yard Goats. Benches cleared after the violation of baseball’s “unwritten rules.” What’s your opinion?

They Said It

  • “[Kimbrel] lengthens our bullpen. You’re not worried about matching guys up and ‘what about tomorrow?’ I feel like we can play that game a little bit more now. It’s like getting a gift on Christmas morning and having to wait to open it for a week or so before he’s here.” – Jon Lester
  • “Kimbrel could be with the Chicago Cubs sooner than later. In recent workouts showcasing his stuff for teams, Kimbrel has been electric. His physical is Thursday, sources tell ESPN, and him joining the Cubs before June 20 is a realistic goal.” – Jeff Passan
  • “I’ve been in touch with [Zobrist]. He’s been communicative with us. We have an understanding with him. Our thoughts are with him, his family and his situation.That’s all for now.” – Theo Epstein

Thursday Walk Up Song

Hair by the Cowsills. Can’t wait to see that big red beard of Kimbrel in Cubbie Blue. He looks like Yukon Cornelius! Or Hangover-era Zach Galifianakis.

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