After finishing the four-game series in Pittsburgh with a disappointing split, the Cubs will spend the next three days in bleeping Cincinnati with the Reds and its colorful manager. Prior to leaving for the Queen City, Joe Maddon answered questions about his depleted bullpen.
Maddon said he was not planning on making any major changes to the bullpen. He’s going to try to find the right spots for guys. The Cubs are missing two key pieces to the pen, RHP Justin Grimm and RHP Neil Ramirez.
Since Ramirez landed on the disabled list, the pen has gone from the best bullpen in the National League to, well, let’s just say, less than effective. The Cubs relievers have given up 14 earned runs in 23 innings and have allowed half of the 16 inherited runners to score.
Getting the starting rotation to pitch deeper in games will help and keep Maddon from going to his pen in the sixth inning. The Cubs are averaging 5 2/3 innings per start and have only six quality starts in the first 15 games of the season. Not only is the pen missing two key pieces but it is also taxed.
Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta get the ball the first two games against the Reds. And it’s time for Jon Lester to pitch like the top of the rotation arm the front office brought him in to be with the Cubs. Chris Bosio said Lester’s side session Wednesday was the best one he’s had this season.
While Joe Maddon and Chris Bosio are waiting for Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez to return from Arizona, the starters going deeper and deeper each time out will help alleviate some of the current issues with the bullpen.
Javier Baez reported to team’s facility in Mesa on Thursday in order to get back in game shape and play in a few extended Spring Training games before rejoining the Iowa Cubs.
The Cubs have not given a timetable on when he will report to the Iowa Cubs.
Javier Baez spent two weeks with his family and hasn’t played in a game since Spring Training ended.
News, Notes and Rumors
• The pitching injuries just keep piling up throughout the organization. The Iowa Cubs placed LHP Drake Britton on the 7-day DL on Thursday.
• According to Daren Willman, Kris Bryant is averaging an exit velocity of 93.76 mph off the bat and Jorge Soler is averaging 96.25 mph … both hitters are in the top 25 in the game.
• LHP Tsuyoshi Wada is scheduled to make his third rehab start with the Iowa Cubs on Wednesday at Colorado Springs.
• Counting the Cactus League, Kris Bryant is 0-for-the-outfield.
• Phil Coke answered questions on Twitter for ESPN Chicago.
• David Ross and Miguel Montero are like chemistry majors according to Joe Maddon.
• Joe Maddon is unlikely to throw a Bryan Price-like tantrum according to ESPN Chicago. Maddon coached Bryan Price when the two were in the Angels’ organization.
• And Joe Maddon is fine with his imperfect roster according to ESPN Chicago.
• As Mike Stafford pointed out, it has been a tough week for former Cubs’ pitchers … LHP Andrew McKirahan was suspended for testing positive for PEDs, LHP Jerry Blevins broke his arm and LHP Jeff Beliveau is out for the season with a torn labrum. Beliveau was scheduled Thursday to undergo shoulder surgery.
• Ernie Banks and Ryne Sandberg are leading the voting in the Cubs Franchise Four.
• Commissioner Rob Manfred said the Cubs did the right thing with the way the front office handled Kris Bryant.
And last, but not least, the Cubs are missing the mark with the seventh inning stretch tradition according to ESPN Chicago. Julian Green told the Tribune the Cubs are not considering using old video of Harry Caray singing the stretch and will stick with guest conductors. For those that would like to sign an online petition to put Harry Caray on the jumbotron singing the seventh inning stretch, click here.
This Day In Cubstory
2010 – Ted Lilly pitched six scoreless innings in his first start of the year following off-season shoulder surgery. The Cubs beat the Brewers 5-1 in Carlos Zambrano’s first game in the bullpen
1991 – Cubs traded Dean Wilkins to the Astros for Jeff Baldwin
1987 – Welington Castillo, born
1974 – Will Cunnane, born
1962 – Sandy Koufax struck out 18 batters in a 10-2 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Dodgers’ southpaw tied the All-Time mark of 18 strikeouts in a single game set by Bob Feller.
1958 – Lee Walls hit three home runs and drove in eight runs in the Cubs 15-2 victory over the Dodgers at the Coliseum. Cubs’ pitcher Gene Fodge picked up his only big league victory.
1958 – Herman Segelke, born
1957 – Three Cubs pitchers walked nine batters in the fifth inning of a 9-5 loss to the Reds at Crosley Field. Moe Drabowsky started the fifth and walked four, Jackie Collum walked three more and Jim Brosnan issued two more free passes to set a National League record.
1936 – Glen Hobbie, born
1931 – Player/Manager Rogers Hornsby hit three home runs in three consecutive at bats and drove in eight runs in a 10-6 Cubs win over the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
1929 – Cubs signed free agent Johnny Schulte
1896 – Ken Penner, born
1889 – White Stockings released Mark Baldwin, Tom Daly, Bob Pettit and Marty Sullivan