The Rundown: Bullpen Wastes Solid Effort by Hendricks, Kilian Gets Tonight’s Start, Braves Keep Winning, Mets Open to Anything

“I hurt myself today to see if I still feel. I focus on the pain. The only thing that’s real.” – Johnny Cash, Hurt

I didn’t get to watch last night’s 12-5 loss to the Padres because I was busy doing other stuff, but I was following along via SMS messages thanks to my MLB app. Things looked good for the Cubs early as they held onto a 5-0 lead with Kyle Hendricks cruising along. I wasn’t sure what went down after that, but a barrage of messages across the next 20-30 minutes suddenly showed the Cubs trailing 11-5.

For the love of Fred Willard, what happened? Or Benny Hill, for that matter, since last night’s parade of relievers looked a little bit like a clown car?

Chris Martin, Scott Effross, and Mychal Givens are what happened if you’re playing at home. Martin is the guy Jed Hoyer and David Ross needed to have on the roster so badly that it cost Clint Frazier his job. He gave up three runs on three hits, including a two-run bomb to Luke Voit, in 0.2 innings of work. Effross gave up another two runs while managing to get just one out and Givens gave up four runs on three walks and a three-run double to Voit without retiring anybody.

Why did Ross remove Hendricks in the top of the 6th inning after he gave up a leadoff double to Jake Cronenworth and the Cubs up 5-0? I have some thoughts that include a lot of curse words, but let’s just say he badly failed last night’s pop quiz on bullpen management. The Professor had tossed 78 pitches, and yes, he hadn’t pitched since June 1 due to arm fatigue, but if the guy is only able to work half a day he should still be convalescing.

“I left that pitch up, maybe that was the one bad pitch for me over the plate,” Hendricks said of the last hit. “Overall, I felt, health-wise great and stamina-wise real good there for a while. My stuff and my mechanics felt really good so gotta back in the routine and get that pitch count back up.”

Naturally, that one pitch to Cronenworth was a clear indication it was time to give the starter the hook.

If anything, why not piggyback Hendricks with another starter or somebody from the minors, like Caleb Kilian for instance? Ross burned through five relievers in four innings last night and only Brandon Hughes had any clue as to how to consistently retire batters. Tell me again why it is sacrilege to blow crap at Hoyer for putting this $147 million shitshow together in the first place?

Joe Maddon is available to step in if needed, and I never thought I’d long for his felonious misuse of Chicago’s bullpen. Ross undoubtedly learned from the master.

Perhaps — and I’m hoping with all my might — Hendricks showed enough to the Padres that they’re interested in trading for him in the next six weeks or so. That way the nine-year veteran can return to his roots and play for a potential postseason berth. San Diego currently holds the lead in the Wild Card race by three games and they have a five-game cushion over the badly slumping Brewers, who would be on the outside looking in if the season ended today.

Kilian is penciled in as tonight’s starter, and we can only hope he’ll have a little bit of a longer leash than Hendricks did.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Hoyer would do a complete 180 in my eyes if he could somehow acquire C.J. Abrams and a lower-level pitcher in a trade for Hendricks and Contreras, but that’s never going to happen. The Dodgers gave up heralded minor leaguers Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz to acquire Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, so I suppose it’s possible.

Climbing the Ladder

“And so its true pride comes before a fall. I’m telling you so that you won’t lose all.” – The Beatles, I’m a Loser

The combination of Hoyer and Ross is now 27 games under .500 (128-155) despite starting out 13-3 in their first season. Hoyer owns most of that, but the third-year skipper hasn’t helped himself either.

Willson Contreras belted two home runs yesterday to further increase his cost. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Cubs may have some difficulty in finding a suitor in trade ($), though it does help that he can DH and play some outfield. Teams are generally antsy when it comes to asking starting pitchers to adapt to a new catcher midseason, especially during a pennant race.

  • Games Played: 61
  • Total Plate Appearances: 2,321
  • Total Strikeouts: 530
  • Strikeout Rate: 22.83%
  • Team Batting Average: .242
  • Runs Scored: 259
  • Runs Allowed: 311

How About That!

The Braves blasted five homers last night and extended their winning streak to 13 games in a 10-4 win over the Nationals.

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is the new favorite for AL MVP, and he’s a pending free agent. Paging Mr. Hoyer.

Mets’ owner Steve Cohen is not ruling anything out as the trade deadline approaches. I love the smell of desperate buyers in the morning.

Rob Manfred would like to bring the pitch clock to the bigs next season.

Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen is fed up with Manfred’s consistent tinkering with MLB rules.

Pro-Bowl wide receiver Golden Tate is switching to baseball, “his first love.” Tate was a star at Notre Dame before fully committing to football when the Seahawks drafted him in 2010.

Former Cubs first-round pick Paul Blackburn has quietly become one of the Athletics’ better trade chips.

Tuesday’s Three Stars

  1. Luke Voit – It’s difficult for me to believe that Voit and Matt Carpenter have crushed the Cubs this week but nothing should surprise me anymore. Voit feasted on Chicago’s relievers by plating five runners in last night’s debacle.
  2. Miles Mikolas – The Cardinals’ starter came within one agonizing strike of pitching a no-hitter last night, and yeah, that’s a shame.
  3. Tyler Mahle – Pitched brilliantly yesterday, shutting out the Diamondbacks with zero walks and 12 strikeouts across nine innings, but left with the score tied 0-0 at the end of regulation. The Reds won it 5-3 in 12 innings.

Extra Innings

I still can’t imagine the Cubs without Contreras, so unless Hoyer can get Abrams, I hope he extends the fiery backstop.

Wednesday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Bears quarterback Justin Fields said Chicago’s offense is nowhere near close to being ready to start the season, but that’s okay, and he continues to receive praise from teammates like Darnell Mooney for his work ethic this offseason.
  2. Mooney said he was blown away by the speed of rookie wide receiver Velus Jones Jr.
  3. Crypto contagion fears are rapidly spreading after Bitcoin dropped 14% on Monday and the Celsius Network put a freeze on all transfers and withdrawals.
  4. The first rule of cryptocurrency is that you don’t write about cryptocurrency.
  5. Is anybody going to see Dead & Company next week at Wrigley Field? I’ll be there on June 24 right at the front of the stage.
  6. Senator Bernie Sanders said he won’t primary Joe Biden and added he will support the president if he decides to run for reelection in 2024.

They Said It

  • “You try to pull from the positives. I thought we played really good baseball going into that last road trip. The road trip wasn’t kind to us, but keep playing the way we’ve been playing – in a lot of games, we’ve played a lot of extra-inning games. We just got to get some hits. Some of the stats that have stood out are us just not getting hits with runners in scoring position, little things like that. And just continue to try to work on the things where we can continue to compete and find ways to win those close games. There’s not a whole lot to be down about other than we want to win more games than we’re winning.” – Ross

Wednesday Walk-Up Song

I get a little emo when Rossy summons Martin from the bullpen.


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