The Cubs’ strikeout totals keep making headlines and the swings and misses figures to increase before it gets better. The Cubs added two inexperienced hitters getting their first look at big league pitching to a roster that did more than its fair share of striking out prior to Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez becoming part of the everyday lineup.
The Cubs have struck out 53 times in the last four games with only two walks.
Rick Renteria said after Monday’s game that his players are “chasing balls out of the zone a little bit” but they are “facing guys with good stuff.”
With the teams remaining on the Cubs schedule, it will not get any easier for the offense. Over the course of the next six-plus weeks, the offense will have to deal with the Mets, Giants, Orioles, Reds, Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates, Blue Jays and Dodgers pitching staffs.
Jake Arrieta put together another quality start Monday night and completed at least seven innings for the sixth time in his last 10 games. Arrieta has pitching into the eighth inning of three of his last eight outings while posting 11 quality starts in his last 12 games.
Since June 1 when the Cubs removed his pitch count limit, Arrieta has average 6.5 innings per start with 18 walks and 87 strikeouts.
Arrieta was asked about being the number one pitcher on the Cubs’ staff, a role he once had with the Orioles. Arrieta told the beat writers, “It’s a position I’ve kind of been in the past. I relish the opportunity. It’s important for our ballclub and every ballclub.”
Arrieta admitted he has to continue to “work hard and do everything possible to make strides.”
Jake Arrieta has shown a lot of improvement and consistency this season, minus the one start at Coors Field. Arrieta has been a different pitcher since he landed in the Cubs’ organization and started working with Chris Bosio at the big league level.
Right now Arrieta is the number one on the Cubs’ staff that would look very good slotted behind a starter like Jon Lester moving forward.
Rick Renteria spoke with the beat writers prior to Monday’s game against the Brewers about the Cubs remaining schedule. As was pointed out in the game preview, all but four of the games left on the schedule are against teams either leading their division or above .500.
The schedule will help the young players currently on the roster as well as the players that will be called up when rosters expand. Games in September between teams playing out the string have a tendency to look like Spring Training exhibitions and it is hard to evaluate performances.
That will not be the case this year even with the rosters expanding on Sept. 1.
The Cubs have three games left with the Brewers this week then after the four-game wrap around series in New York against the Mets, the Giants (3), Orioles (3), Reds (3) and Cardinals (3) take the Cubs up to Sept. 1. The Brewers (3), Pirates (3), Blue Jays (3), Pirates (3), Reds (3), Dodgers (4), Cardinals (3) and Brewers (3) are on the Cubs schedule in September.
Regardless of the record the Cubs post over the last six-plus weeks, the experience the players will receive at the big league level should be a plus moving forward and into the off-season.
Chris Valaika is learning how to be a backstop. Valaika likes what he sees the Cubs are building and would like to be a part of the big league team beyond this season. According to a report from Carrie Muskat, the veteran utility infielder who started playing outfield with Iowa this year, was asked if he had ever caught a game when he was called up.
Valaika told the Cubs he hadn’t but was willing to learn. Valaika started working on learning how to catch with Mike Borzello in the bullpen prior to Monday’s game. And Valaika was able to add his catcher’s gear to the wagon that Travis Wood gave him to carry around all of his gloves.
News and Notes
Brian Schlitter will report to Mesa to begin his rehab according to a report from Carrie Muskat. The Cubs placed Schlitter on the 15-day DL prior to Sunday’s game to make room on the active roster for either Neil Ramirez or Jacob Turner. Schlitter was placed on the shelf with right shoulder inflammation on the same day LHP Chris Rusin was optioned to Iowa.
The Cubs see Kyle Hendricks taking his game to the next level according to a report from Comcast SportsNet. Preparation has been the key to Hendricks’ success so far and he’s using the extra information at his disposal to his advantage.
Entering play Monday, Javier Baez was averaging 4.24 pitches per plate appearance … more than Luis Valbuena (4.17) and less than NL leader Matt Carpenter (4.36).
Arismendy Alcantara’s education continues with the Cubs according to a report from Tony Andracki. Rick Renteria feels Arismendy Alcantara has the skillset to adjust to big league pitching. Alcantara and Baez are expected to be in the lineup every day in order to continue their development.
The Dodgers recalled Darwin Barney from Triple-A prior to Sunday’s game when Hanley Ramirez was placed on the DL. After the Cubs designated Barney for assignment, he and his family moved back to Oregon and he was very happy when he found out he had been traded to a first place team on the West Coast. Barney said he has no ill will towards the Cubs front office. The Dodgers plan on using Barney as a back-up at second base, shortstop and third base.
According to a report from Ed Sherman, the Cubs ratings dive has put WGN-9 in a tough spot.
This Day In Cubstory
1994 – Major League Baseball players went on strike and for the first time in 90 years there would not be a World Series.
1974 – Matt Clement, born
1934 – The Cubs swept the Deans in St. Louis. The Cubs beat Paul in game one of a doubleheader 7-2 and Dizzy in game two, 6-4.
1876 – Cal McVey pitched and caught Al Spalding in Chicago’s 5-0 victory over Cincinnati