The Rundown: Schwindel Shines Despite Loss, Mills Upset With Hook, Báez Enjoying Gotham, Lester Leading Cards to Possible Wild Card Berth
“I don’t know where I’m goin’ but I sure know where I’ve been. Hanging on to promises in the songs of yesterday, and I made up my mind…I ain’t wasting no more time.” – Whitesnake, Here I Go Again
The Cubs lost 6-5 to the Phillies last night but displayed the resilience that has become the trademark of this team of castoffs and misfits. It’s just a shame that Philadelphia had last bats or our beloved sub-Cubs might have pulled off another remarkable victory. The Phillies kept punching, the Cubs kept countering, and in the end, a passed ball of all things determined the outcome.
The hero of the day was Frank Schwindel, which is obvious because there’s just no stopping Frank the Tank, at least not now. He’s in a Jordan-like zone where even the most surprising of feats seems unsurprising. The big first baseman had another two-hit game, including a two-run blast in the 5th inning that pulled Chicago within a run of tying the score.
Frank ❤️s Philly pic.twitter.com/NkkJ9tprS8
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 16, 2021
Schwindel is slowly making believers of the hardest of hearts, with the general consensus among those still less-than-impressed being:
- He’s not Anthony Rizzo;
- Too small a sample size;
- He’s been waived too many times;
- He looks nothing like a power-hitting first baseman should; or
- He’s too old to get excited about.
I don’t know about you, but I can get excited about a guy who hits doubles and home runs routinely while almost never striking out. Sure, the BABIP is high, but he puts so many balls in play. Schwindel is hitting .362/.409/.684 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI in 40 games since joining the Cubs. Chicago’s replacement hero was named National League Rookie of the Month in August and took home NL Player of the Week honors the first week of this month. If he keeps roping doubles and slamming dingers over the last three weeks of the season, he may find himself in a battle for Rookie of the Year.
I’m not a big fan of the powerless Nick Madrigal–Nico Hoerner middle infield that figures to be in place next season, but can you imagine those two guys hitting in front of Schwindel next season? That’s three tough outs to start every single game. If only Jed Hoyer still had Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber to carry their big sticks to the plate behind them. Heck, Nick Castellanos will do if I’m allowed a little early Christmas shopping.
In the meantime, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m enjoying the replacement squad as much as any Cubs team since 2018. Yes, we can expect regression from Schwindel because he’s hitting at an unsustainable clip. But if he hits .280 over a full season and slams 25 home runs with 80-90 RBI, would that be so bad? Only if you’re pro-Rizzo and anti-Schwindel, I suppose. I’d point out that Rizzo is older and has chronic back problems, and though I believe he deserved to be a Chicago lifer, I’m more than okay with his replacement.
Cubs News & Notes
- Alec Mills was a little miffed when he was pulled from last night’s game, a reaction he said he regrets.
- Schwindel remains the team’s hottest hitter, but Patrick Wisdom is enjoying his moment in the sun, too.
- The rookie first baseman’s attitude is on par with his game according to his coaches and teammates.
- In hindsight, picking up Schwindel on waivers probably made Hoyer a little more comfortable with trading Rizzo.
- Alfonso Rivas has an incredibly calm approach at the plate and the organization is impressed.
- MLB celebrated Roberto Clemente with a day in his honor. Jason Heyward is the team’s nominee for the award that honors Clemente’s extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy, and positive contributions both on and off the field.
Odds & Sods
If you haven’t been watching “Once Upon a Time in Queens,” the latest 30-for-30 documentary from ESPN about the 1986 Mets, you’re missing a whole lot of crazy from Lenny Dykstra and possibly the worst hip-hop song of all time, courtesy of George Foster.
Total rip-off of the Super Bowl Shuffle, by the way. It’s hard to keep a straight face while listening.
"Once Upon a Time in Queens," the much-publicized documentary about the 1986 Mets, debuts tonight on ESPN:https://t.co/FpOIzzowEY
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 14, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“We don’t need to talk about it anymore. Yesterday’s just a memory, can we close the door?” – Damn Yankees, High Enough
- Games Played: 145
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,356
- Total Strikeouts: 1,439
- Strikeout Rate: 26.9%
- Team Batting Average: .232
I sure hope David Ross allows his roster of castoffs to take a lap around Wrigley Field after the team’s last home game this year, and I hope the fans in attendance give these kids the accolades they deserve. They never stop fighting.
How About That!
Has anybody mentioned Julio Urías as a potential Cy Young candidate? After last night’s win, he is 18-3 with a 2.99 ERA, so I’d say he’s worthy of consideration. Urías leads the majors in wins.
The Angels announced that Mike Trout is not expected to play again this season.
The Royals are exploring the idea of building a new stadium in downtown Kansas City.
Javier Báez has enjoyed his time with the Mets and isn’t ruling out the possibility of staying in New York beyond this year.
Is Dodgers manager Dave Roberts the best in the business? He certainly has the numbers to back that claim. With a .618 winning percentage, he is averaging 100 wins per season.
The AL East could send three teams to the playoffs, and here are the tie-breaking scenarios for the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Yankees.
The Cardinals are one of the hottest teams competing for the second NL Wild Card spot and they’re doing it thanks to some ageless arms, including Adam Wainwright, Jon Lester, and J.A. Happ. Lester’s next win will be the 200th of his career and it could come against the Cubs.
Despite reports to the contrary, the Padres have not given up on this season.
Not a baseball note, but congratulations to Milwaukee’s Lisa Byington, who has just been named the voice of the Milwaukee Bucks, becoming the first female to land a full-time gig as a play-by-play announcer for a major men’s professional sports team.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Andrew Benintendi – The Royals outfielder was 5-for-5 with four RBI in a losing effort last night. All five of Benintendi’s hits were singles.
- Bo Bichette – The Blue Jays are the hottest team in baseball right now, and they sport one of the youngest rosters in the game, including Bichette. The 23-year-old shortstop was 2-for-3 last night with a home run and five RBI.
- Jesús Sánchez – The rookie outfielder hit two home runs and plated four baserunners as the Marlins beat up on the Nationals 8-6.
Apropos of Nothing
Big weekend for me coming up. I’ll be at Wrigley Field tomorrow night for Dead & Company, and then Saturday I’ll be in the pit for Guns N’ Roses at Summerfest.
Retired Dodgers ace Orel Hershiser is 63 and don’t we all feel a little ancient this morning?
Happy 63rd to @OrelHershiser! The Bulldog had a season for the ages in 1988 en route to leading the @Dodgers to he WS title. The NL Cy Young winner, he was 23-8 w record 59 straight scoreless IP & 2 more wins in the WS. Check out his @sabr bio https://t.co/eYPh7PuWYA pic.twitter.com/s01GZxxifN
— SABR BioProject (@SABRbioproject) September 16, 2021
They Said It
- “Obviously I wish I could take back how I handled it. I think being competitive, that’s one thing I take a lot of pride in. I also take a lot of pride in getting as far into games as I can. I really wanted to finish that inning before the bullpen came in.” – Mills
- “It’s always fun when Frankie comes in the dugout after a home run. He’s always coming in with a lot of energy and pretty proud of himself when he comes in, and it shows a big smile on his face.” – Ross
- “I’m really proud of how [Wisdom] has worked and kept his cool through the ups and downs and put together a really nice season. [Bryant] is pretty good company for a guy that wasn’t even on the radar to start to the season.” – Ross
- “That’s kinda been my game — be a hitter first rather than just start launching balls. That’s something I take pride in. I really focus on every pitch, strike zone discipline, and all that stuff.” – Rivas
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Kickstart My Heart by Mötley Crüe – You can’t make me stop loving these sub-Cubs!