After posting back-to-back victories over the weekend, the Cubs have the opportunity to wrap up what is viewed as the first half of the season on high note.
The Cubs most important stretch of the season to date begins Monday night at Wrigley with the first of four games in three days against the Cardinals. And if the week could not be hyped enough, the schedule makers put the Cardinals and White Sox on the same homestand before the All-Star break.
The Cubs enter play Monday eight games over .500 and in third place in the NL Central, 2 1/2 games back of the second place Pirates and 8 1/2 behind the Cardinals. The Cubs have the fifth highest winning percentage in the National League (.550) and would be within two games of first place in either the NL West or NL East. Due to everything going right for the Cardinals this season, the Cubs are third in a very competitive division.
Joe Maddon’s team is leading the second Wild Card spot by 3 1/2 games over the Mets and Giants, five full games ahead of both teams in the loss column.
The Cubs have a chance to gain ground in the division as their season hits the halfway point after Monday night’s game. And many are pointing to this week being huge for the Cardinals with eight games on the road against the Cubs and Pirates. If St. Louis stumbles those that have already crowned the Cardinals as division champs might have to change their stance.
Joe Maddon refused to label the series with the Cardinals “as crucial or big” according to ESPN Chicago. Maddon is sticking with “the daily approach” and is “concerned about winning every night.”
With seven games against the Cardinals and White Sox, the players and coaching staff are not the only ones that will likely need a break by the next Sunday.
Tsuyoshi Wada and Clayton Richard
According to a report from Carrie Muskat, LHP Tsuyoshi Wada will make a rehab start Monday. Wada is scheduled to start for Double-A Tennessee in Birmingham. The Cubs have not said when Wada could return. By sending him on a rehab assignment, Wada would be able to pitch in at least three games for the Smokies with the All-Star break a week away.
Wada left his start on June 22 against the Dodgers with cramping in his left shoulder. Wada was placed on the DL June 28 retroactive to June 23 with inflammation in his left deltoid.
Bruce Miles reported the Cubs will skip LHP Clayton Richard next weekend against the White Sox. The Cubs do not need a fifth starter with Thursday’s off-day prior to the All-Star break. And will not need a fifth starter until July 21 in Cincinnati. Richard said Sunday he did not know what his next step would be with the Cubs.
According to a report from Carrie Muskat, “Richard relished the ovation he received from the 37,898 at Wrigley Field on Saturday night as he came off the field in the seventh inning.” Richard said that was the first time he “ever had something like that.” And Jon Greenberg explained that Saturday was a special moment for Richard.
The Cubs have not said what the immediate plans are for Clayton Richard. Based on Saturday’s start he should get the ball again for the Cubs after the break.
Signs are pointing to the Cubs calling up RHP Dallas Beeler to start the second game of the doubleheader against the Cardinals on Tuesday. RHP Donn Roach was optioned to Iowa following Friday’s game and started Sunday. Roach could have been recalled as the 26th man due to the expansion of the active roster for a doubleheader. With LHP Eric Jokisch on the DL, Beeler is the only starting pitcher on the 40-man roster that could be recalled for Tuesday.
Dallas Beeler had a good outing his last time out on June 30. Beeler allowed four runs, two earned, on five hits with one walk and six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. Beeler started the season on the DL and really struggled while he was on a rehab assignment with Iowa once he was healthy enough to pitch. Beeler is 0-1 in his last six starts with a 2.67 ERA and 1.15 WHIP (30 hits, five walks, 28 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings).
The Cubs have not announced the starters for Tuesday’s doubleheader with the Cardinals. And the I-Cubs have not posted their starting pitchers for Monday’s twin bill with New Orleans or Tuesday’s single game with the Zephyrs.
Jon Lester is starting Monday night and Jason Hammel is scheduled for Wednesday’s finale. Jake Arrieta is supposed to start Tuesday but the Cubs have not said which of the two games he will get the ball.
Buster’s Top 10
The Cubs are back in Buster Olney’s power rankings a week after not making the top 10. The Cubs were 5-1 in the six games against the Mets and Marlins.
Buster Olney’s Top 10: Cardinals, Nationals, Astros, Royals, Pirates, Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs, Orioles and Blue Jays.
All-Star Game Starters
The starters for the upcoming All-Star Game in Cincinnati were announced Sunday night. And there were not any real surprises and the Royals had only four players voted as starters on the AL squad.
- 1B Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
- 2B Jose Altuve (Astros)
- 3B Josh Donaldson (Blue Jays)
- SS Alcides Escobar (Royals)
- C Salvador Perez (Royals)
- OF Lorenzo Cain (Royals)
- OF Alex Gordon (Royals)
- OF Mike Trout (Angels)
- DH Nelson Cruz (Mariners)
- 1B Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks)
- 2B Dee Gordon (Marlins)
- 3B Todd Frazier (Reds)
- SS Jhonny Peralta (Cardinals)
- C Buster Posey (Giants)
- OF Bryce Harper (Nationals)
- OF Matt Holliday (Cardinals)
- OF Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins)
Replacements will be named for Miguel Cabrera and Giancarlo Stanton. Both players are on the DL and will not be able to participate. Matt Holliday could return from the DL before the Mid-Summer Classic and has not ruled out playing in Cincinnati.
All-Star reserves, pitchers and Final Vote candidates will be announced Monday (6:00pm CDT) on ESPN. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel are candidates to represent the Cubs in the 86th Annual All-Star Game.
News, Notes and Rumors
• How important is Dexter Fowler to the Cubs’ success? According to Chris De Luca, the Cubs are 27-12 when Fowler scores at least one run and 10-1 when he scores at least two runs. Maddon explained to the beat writers how important Fowler is to the Cubs. Fowler entered play Sunday hitting .208/.286/.357 since May 1 with 39 runs in 58 games according to Comcast SportsNet.
• Joe Maddon addressed the reasons for Anthony Rizzo getting the day off Sunday. One of his reasons according to Bruce Miles is “the ball-peening he’s endured in the first half.” Rizzo has been hit by a pitch 17 times.
• OF Eloy Jimenez is dealing with a hamstring injury according to a report from Steve Mims. Emeralds’ manager Gary Van Tol told him Sunday that Jimenez will likely miss a few more games but the injury is not viewed as being serious enough to place him on the DL or send him back to Arizona. Jimenez is batting .302/.362/.413 in 16 games with a double and two home runs for a .775 OPS.
And last, but not least, John Sickels made an unsubstantiated prediction regarding Cubs’ pitching prospect LHP Ryan Kellogg.
This Day In Cubstory
2012 – Cubs released Hung-Chih Kuo
2009 – Royals purchased Ryan Freel from the Cubs
2001 – Playing in the 101st different park in franchise history (1876), the Cubs beat the Tigers 15-8 at Comerica Park. It was the Cubs first win in Detroit in 56 years, dating back to game three of the 1945 World Series when Claude Passeau tossed a 3-0 shutout in Briggs Stadium. Cubs DH Roosevelt Brown collected five hits that included a double and a home run.
1998 – Cubs selected Glenallen Hill off waivers from the Mariners
1995 – Cubs released Steve Buechele
1980 – The Cubs played the longest game at the time in franchise history (topped last summer by the John Baker Game), five hours and 31 minutes but lost 5-4 in 20 innings to the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium. The Cubs’ pen pitched 12 1/3 inning of hitless ball from the eighth to the 20th inning. Dave Kingman went 0-for-9.
1973 – Ferguson Jenkins beat the Padres 8-5 for his 13th straight win over San Diego. Jenkins streak against the Friars began on May 12, 1969.
1972 – Cubs signed free agent Tommy Davis
1970 – Cubs released Hank Aguirre
1970 – Ron Santo drove in 10 runs in a doubleheader sweep over the Expos (3-2, 14-2) at Wrigley. Santo hit a two-run homer in game one and both a two-run homer and a Grand Slam in game two.
1967 – Cubs released Joey Amalfitano and Felix Mantilla
1963 – Lance Johnson, born
1932 – Shortstop Billy Jurges was shot in the left side and left hand by a 21-year old dancer Violet Popovich Valli, who shot herself. Jurges returned to the field several weeks later after recovering from the superficial wounds and Violet later appeared on a local stage under the name, Violet ‘I Did It For Love’ Popovich.
1930 – Bill Veeck Sr.’s Ladies Day promotion at Wrigley Field reached a new height when 30,000 female fans attended a doubleheader against the Reds. An over-capacity crowd packed Wrigley with thousands of other fans, including late-arriving paying patrons, were unable to get into the park.
1929 – Cubs selected Zack Taylor off waivers from the Braves
1925 – Rabbit Maranville replaced Bill Killefer as Cubs manager and led the team to a 10-5 victory over the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. Maranville celebrated after the game and was arrested for getting into a fight with a taxi cab driver.
1914 – Cubs purchased Casey Hageman from the Cardinals