“Well I tell you one doggone thing, it makes me feel good to know one thing.” – Otis Redding & Carla Thomas, Tramp
The White Sox entered Wrigley Field hoping to play spoiler and beat the Cubs 5-3. At least the Brewers, Reds, and Marlins lost, too. And by the way, Marcus Stroman is dealing with rib discomfort, so Javier Assad will likely get the start in tonight’s game. That’s all the bad news, and it’s relatively mild. Nobody expected the North Siders to win 12 straight against weaker competition, but I’m still confident they’ll win a big majority of the next 11 tilts.
I’m also not worried about Stroman because I like Assad a great deal. The Cubs will need Stroman for the playoffs, so there’s no reason to rush him back. Assad will probably be part of the 2024 rotation and the Cubs are going to be very good next year, which means getting him experience in high-leverage games is outstanding. I expect the young man to shut down the White Sox tonight.
I’ve been so busy enjoying summer that I failed to realize we are just shy of two weeks before September call-ups. I fully expect Jed Hoyer to promote two of Ben Brown, Matt Mervis, and Pete Crow-Armstrong once Iowa ends its season. Keep your eyes on Nick Burdi, who’s currently on a rehab assignment. All four could help the Cubs down the stretch.
I’d love to see Cade Horton get a promotion, but I don’t think Hoyer will be that aggressive since Horton is not on the 40-man. Rosters can only be increased to 28 players, however, so Mervis and Burdi might have to wait unless the team is dealing with injuries. That’s not a knock on either player. The Cubs have three players who can man first base as it stands and Brown is a better option for the bullpen than Burdi.
In the meantime, don’t sweat last night’s loss. The Cubs are no worse this morning than they were yesterday at this time, except that there’s one game less on their remaining schedule. There’s a big run coming, and I believe it will start with tonight’s game. My gut tells me the Cubs will score double-digit runs and waylay the White Sox.
Cubs News & Notes
- Speaking of prospects, the Cubs have five in the MLB Pipeline top 100, including three with best tools awards.
- Chicago’s farm system is ranked fourth overall, trailing the Orioles, Pirates, and Brewers. The Reds are fifth, which means the NL Central has a very promising, competitive future.
- Just Baseball dropped their mid-season top prospects list, and they also have Crow-Armstrong, Horton, and Owen Caissie in the top 30. Matt Shaw and Kevin Alcántara are also included in their top 100.
- GM Carter Hawkins confirmed that Crow-Armstrong “is in the conversation” of potential September call-ups.
- David Ross had a disagreement with the home plate umpire last night and was tossed from the game.
- Kyle Hendricks said the umpire missed an obvious balk call.
- Hendricks had four strikeouts last night and now has 1,140 in his career, placing him in the top eight in club history just ahead of Hippo Vaughn.
- The Cubs optioned pitcher Caleb Kilian and recalled Michael Rucker to take his place.
- The rotation has been steady without Stroman, but challenges lie ahead.
- This 12-game stretch against the bottom-feeding teams of the AL and NL Central divisions will make or break the Cubs.
- Golfer Justin Rose threw the ceremonial first pitch before yesterday’s game and was happy he did well enough to not go viral on social media.
- Laura Ricketts is part of a group planning to buy the Chicago Red Stars of the National Woman’s Soccer League.
- Former Wisconsin basketball star Frank Kaminsky trolled the Cubs on Twitter after yesterday’s loss to the White Sox.
Odds & Sods
If there is one weekly print magazine I truly miss, it’s Sports Illustrated. The magazine was such a big part of my youth and a favorite whenever I went to my dentist. I believe it’s only printed monthly now.
Happy 69th birthday 🎂 to @SInow
Issue No. 1 hit stands ITD in 1954 pic.twitter.com/rtyXRQ5D34
— Tab Bamford (@The1Tab) August 16, 2023
- Milwaukee (65-55): The Brewers are set to aggressively seek relocation options as soon as this fall if they can’t get funding for stadium upgrades in Milwaukee. Nashville and Charlotte are the top two options, though Green Bay is under consideration, too.
- Cincinnati (62-59): Jonathan India is not happy with the way the Reds’ medical staff has handled his foot injury.
- Pittsburgh (54-66): The Pirates may pursue pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Michael Lorenzen this winter, as well as first baseman Brandon Belt.
- St. Louis (54-66): The “resurgent” Cardinals hope to sweep Oakland tonight. The Redbirds have won 5 of 6 against the A’s and Royals.
Climbing the Ladder
“I’m in the mood. The rhythm is right.” – Foghat, Slow Ride
Seiya Suzuki and Ian Happ hit bombs last night, and that’s important because they’ve both taken the long path to mediocrity this season. Happ has been “meh” since mid-June and Suzuki seemed to be stuck at the starting block until recently. The Cubs need a big finish from both players. Happ has been clutch when it counts, however, and Suzuki has two home runs and five RBI in five games since Ross gave him a mini-timeout in New York.
- Games Played: 119
- Record: 61-58 (.517)
- Total Plate Appearances: 4,574
- Total Strikeouts: 1,071
- Strikeout Rate: 23.41%
- Team Batting Average: .255
- Runs Scored: 600
- Runs Allowed: 538
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 64.9%, 3.2% to win the World Series
How About That!
The Dodgers beat the Brewers last night for their ninth straight win.
Including Los Angeles, Milwaukee will play first-place teams in their next three series.
The White Sox need to follow the Cubs’ lead and clean house this winter.
The 2023 MLB season is on pace to have the fewest errors in the history of the game.
Laz Díaz is right up there with Ángel Hernandez for being the worst umpire in professional baseball.
The Yankees are 60-60 after last night’s loss to the Braves. The last time they were .500 or worse this late in the season was in 1995.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Corey Seager – The Rangers shortstop blasted two home runs and plated five runners on a 3-for-5 night, leading the Rangers to a 7-3 win over the Angels. Los Angeles is now eight games behind the Blue Jays for the final AL Wild Card spot.
- Bryce Elder – The Braves beat the Yankees 5-0 behind Elder, who pitched seven innings of one-hit baseball with three strikeouts.
- Logan Allen – The Guardians starter hurled six innings of four-hit, shutout baseball in a 3-0 win over the Reds.
I’d love to see a lot more of this through the end of September.
Seiya! Tie ballgame! pic.twitter.com/oaj835Yr2s
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 16, 2023
Wednesday Morning Six-Pack
- Paige Spiranac (gratuitous photo link, sorry, not sorry) wants the PGA to allow men to wear shorts during tournament play. It’s hard to argue against her with the heat we’ve had this summer.
- ESPN and anchor Sage Steele have agreed to mutually part ways, and Steele seems very upbeat about her freedom.
- Pop queen Madonna turns 65 today. Where has the time gone? Like a Prayer is still in heavy rotation in my Spotify account.
- Today is also the first birthday of the historic Inflation Reduction Act. I’m not a fan of any politician, but credit to Biden for a slight reduction in the costs of goods and services over 12 months. At least I can afford eggs again, though I don’t think his bill has anything to do with that.
- The gender gap between men and women dying from alcohol is getting smaller. Research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association last month found that the rate of alcohol-related deaths among US women is growing faster than among men, a pronounced shift that is alarming public health experts.
- As Cubs fans are keenly aware, a streaming bundle costs more than a cable bundle these days, and prices continue to rise.
They Said It
- “The one positive to all this is Assad is throwing the ball really well. That’s kind of how I’m looking at it. We got to keep pitching well. It depends on if [Stroman’s] is out longer or it’s just pushed back a couple of days. Concern? We got to wait and see. I don’t get too worked up about it. It’s just part of it.” – Ross
- “I think that when you look inward, you get better results because it’s so easy to play up to certain competition and down to others. So I think the biggest thing is just to focus on ourselves and be the best team we can be each and every day.” – Dansby Swanson
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
I always love a little Leon Bridges to kickstart my mornings.