There are no two ways about it, the Cubs had a rough week with only two wins in seven days (2-5).
The Cubs did more than their fair share of swinging and missing and became the first team to strikeout 300 times this season. The Cubs have struck out 304 times in 30 games, as Bruce Miles pointed out that projects to 1,642 strikeouts, which would break last year’s franchise record of 1,477. But even with all the strikeouts, the Cubs had leads in four games on the trip they ended up losing … two in St. Louis and two in Milwaukee.
According to multiple reports, the Cubs are not planning to make changes in the backend of the rotation but are discussing options for the rotation and bullpen. The Cubs’ staff has a collective 5.36 ERA in May.
The Cubs have received only 14 quality starts from the rotation in 30 games and during the recently completed road trip, starters had five outings of 5 1/3 innings or less.
The pen allowed three more runs Sunday and has given up a total of 24 earned runs in May. The Rockies’ bullpen is the only group that has allowed more according to Buster Olney. The Sun-Times reported the bullpen was 5-2 with a 2.76 ERA in 58 2/3 innings through 19 games. Over the last 11 games, in which the Cubs are 3-8, the pen is 0-3 with a 7.50 ERA in 36 innings and have not converted three of four save opportunities.
At this point of the season, the front office has limited options. Not many trades are made in early May and the relievers currently on the 40-man roster haven’t exactly gotten the job done, at any level in the system.
ESPN Chicago mentioned Blake Cooper as a possible option for the bullpen. Cooper was acquired from the Diamondbacks for OF Brett Jackson last summer. Cooper is not on the 40-man roster, which currently stands at 39 players. In 10 appearances out of Iowa’s bullpen, the 27-year old right hander is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. Cooper has one save and 14 strikeouts with five walks and eight hits allowed in 14 2/3 innings.
Another pitcher to keep an eye on, not on the 40-man roster, is RHP Donn Roach. Roach is 4-0 in six starts for Iowa with a 2.17 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. Roach has allowed nine runs on 32 hits with eight walks and 15 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings.
LHP Tsuyoshi Wada has put together two solid outings for Iowa and his rehab assignment is about to expire. LHP Eric Jokisch has pitched better of late and RHP Dallas Beeler is also rehabbing with Iowa. Wada, Jokisch and Beeler are on the 40-man roster.
According to ESPN Chicago, RHP Neil Ramirez is throwing off a mound in Mesa. The Cubs have not given a timeframe on when he could start a rehab assignment.
Miguel Montero told Comcast SportsNet he is confident the team will bounce back from the recently completed road trip. But as a staff, the Cubs have to make better pitches.
While the offense hasn’t made as much contact as they should as a group, the Cubs have to get the pitching staff under control or the losses will continue to pileup.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Addison Russell’s hitting streak came to an end Sunday. Addison Russell was 0-for-3 with a walk. Russell was the first player with a 12-game hitting streak out of the nine-spot in a lineup since Pirates pitcher Wilbur Cooper hit safely in 16 straight games in 1924. Jerome Walton (1989) is the last Cubs’ rookie with a hitting streak of more than 12 games. Walton hit safely in 30 straight games.
• Joe Maddon is sticking with Addison Russell batting in the ninth spot of his lineup. Maddon told the beat writers his lineup is circular “it keeps coming around and around and around” it is not a Columbus batting order “that falls off the face of the earth.”
• And according to a report from Comcast SportsNet, Kris Bryant has blended into the Cubs clubhouse.
• Junior Lake went 2-for-4 with a walk Sunday. Lake is now batting .283/.371/.321/.692 in 16 games for Iowa with two doubles, eight walks and 14 strikeouts. Lake is focused on the present, not the past according to a report from the Des Moines Register.
• Javier Baez was 2-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout on Sunday. Baez is hitting .238/.319/.357/.676 in 11 games for Iowa (10-for-42) with two doubles, a home run, three walks and 13 strikeouts.
• According to a report from the Sun-Times, Joe Maddon feels for his old friend Ron Roenicke. Maddon does not think Roenicke saw his dismissal coming and said he is one of the best coaches he’s ever worked with. Maddon and Roenicke were on the Angels’ coaching staff that won the World Series in 2002.
• Cubs were surprised by the interference call in the 10th inning of Sunday’s game.
• After a rough road trip, the Cubs brought home a long to-do list according to the Sun-Times.
And last, but not least, according to ESPN Chicago, Joe Maddon’s moves draw some scrutiny.
This Day In Cubstory
2004 – Padres returned Jason Szuminski to the Cubs
2004 – Cubs signed free agents David Manning and Shawn Sedlacek
1998 – Kerry Wood struck out 13 Diamondbacks and set a Major League record for strikeouts in consecutive games/starts (33). Wood struck out a total of 33 batters in two starts, breaking the previous record held by Luis Tiant (1968), Nolan Ryan (1974), Dwight Gooden (1984) and Randy Johnson (1997).
1979 – Cubs released Gene Clines
1966 – Cubs released Wes Covington
1965 – Cubs selected Dave Dowling off waivers from the Cardinals
1964 – Trent Hubbard, born
1955 – Ernie Banks hit the first Grand Slam of his career in the first inning of a 10-8 victory over the Dodgers at Wrigley Field. Banks hit five Grand Slams during the 1955 season. Dee Fondy smacked a three-run homer in the fifth as the Cubs ended the Dodgers 11-game winning streak.
1949 – Jerry Martin, born
1939 – Milt Pappas, born
1928 – Mel Wright, born
1921 – Cubs purchased John Sullivan from the Boston Braves
1921 – Brooklyn Robins selected Sweetbread Bailey off waivers from the Cubs
1918 – Dewey Adkins, born
1891 – Colts released Elmer Foster
1863 – Jim Connor, born