Tuesday night and into Wednesday did not go the Cubs way. Not only did Joe Maddon’s team lose to the Tigers, but also slipped in the Wild Card Standings. The Pirates topped the D-Backs 9-8 in 15 innings and the Giants beat the Cardinals 2-0. The Cubs will enter play Wednesday three behind the Pirates in the NL Wild Card race and three ahead of the Giants for the last spot in the NL playoffs.
Jason Hammel had a bad start and he spent time during the rain delay going over tape with Chris Bosio in an attempt to find a solution to his problems. Hammel and the Cubs say he is healthy but he has not been the same since his left hamstring tightened up on him during the start against the Cardinals on July 8. Joe Maddon stressed the importance of getting Hammel straightened out and said they will get him back on track.
Hammel was frustrated with himself and not Joe Maddon for the first time in three starts. Hammel called his performance unacceptable and admitted due to a mechanical issue he is not getting the ball down right now. Hammel said the Tigers hit him Tuesday like they knew what was coming.
Before Tuesday’s game, Hammel’s struggles and the long rain delay, the Cubs announced a change to the rotation. Taking advantage of Monday’s off-day, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta will follow each other in the rotation.
Jake Arrieta was moved up a day and will pitch on regular rest Thursday in the opener against the Braves. The move will allow Arrieta to face both the Giants and Dodgers during the West Coast trip next week.
Kyle Hendricks was pushed back to Friday and will get an extra day of rest. Hendricks has been working on his mechanical issues with Chris Bosio, the extra time should benefit him.
The Cubs will send Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, Dan Haren and Jason Hammel to the hill in the four-game series with the Braves.
According to Bob Nightengale, the Cubs have not placed Starlin Castro on waivers yet this month.
Nightengale is the first to provide an update on Castro and if he had been placed on waivers, much less pass through unclaimed. Castro is having a bad season, but the front office is not going to give him away or let him go for a waiver claim.
Nightengale also reported, Dexter Fowler was placed on waivers and cleared.
Teams send most of their players through waivers in August. Front offices use this time to gage interest in their players. Fowler not being claimed is not alarming in any way. Teams would not claim Fowler because they know the Cubs would just pull him back.
Dexter Fowler has rebounded from a poor first half and has been very good since the break. Fowler is batting .296/.446/.519 over his last 29 games with eight doubles, two triples, four home runs and a .965 OPS. Fowler has walked (29) more times than he’s struck out (26) while working long at bat after long at bat.
Needless to say Fowler has been more like the player the front office thought they were trading for in the second half than in the first. Fowler has also shown steady improvement with his defense in the outfield.
Jesse Rogers talked to Fowler, who is set to become a free at the end of the season, and the Cubs current centerfielder said he would like to stay with the team beyond this year. Fowler said he loves playing with the Cubs.
Fowler is making $9.5 million in the final year of arbitration. And Jesse Rogers made a case that Fowler is a $20 million per year player on a four-year contract … or $70-$80 million for four years should be what Fowler signs for in the off-season according to Rogers.
The Cubs should make Dexter Fowler a qualifying offer. If he accepts it, the Cubs have a good player for one more year that will allow player development to continue in the minors. If he declines it, the Cubs will receive draft pick compensation if he signs with another team.
Buster Olney recently reported the qualifying offer for this year’s free agent class is expected to be between $15.7 and $16 million, last year’s qualifying offer was $15.3 million.
RHP Duane Underwood returned to the mound Tuesday night in Arizona. Underwood made a rehab start for the AZL Cubs. Underwood completed two innings and allowed one hit, no runs, struck out four and did not walk a batter. Underwood faced eight batters.
Underwood had been on the disabled list since the end of June. Underwood left a start early after feeling discomfort in his elbow. Underwood had an MRI that did not reveal any structural damage and was shut down at the time.
Duane Underwood tweeted Tuesday night, “Felt good to be back on the bump again!! Feel healthy and strong!!”
The 21-year old Underwood was in the middle of a very good season. In 12 starts for Myrtle Beach, Underwood was 6-3 with a 2.66 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Underwood allowed 23 runs, 19 earned, on 46 hits with 20 walks and 42 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.
A timetable has not been given on when he will return to Myrtle Beach.
RHP Rafael Soriano threw a simulated game Tuesday afternoon. According to multiple reports, Soriano will continue rehabbing with the big league team this week. When the Cubs leave for the West Coast following Monday’s game with the Indians, if everything goes as planned Soriano will report to a minor league affiliate at that time for a rehab assignment.
Soriano appeared in six games before he was placed on the DL. Soriano is 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA, 1.59 WHIP and 6.81 FIP (four runs, eight hits, a walk, four strikeouts, two home runs, 5 2/3 innings).
News and Notes
• Jon Lester spent time working on throws to first base Tuesday afternoon. The Cubs are not worried about his throwing issues and Lester has continued to work on the problem as the season has progressed. Reports from Wrigley indicated that Tuesday went well with Lester throwing to a crouching coach Mike Borzello at first base. Joe Maddon talked to Comcast SportsNet about Lester and the role David Ross has played in helping control the opposition’s running game.
• According to a report from Mark Gonzales, Joe Maddon “didn’t seem heartbroken” when he was told Ruben Amaro Jr. said it is unlikely Chase Utley will be traded. Maddon said “We got stuff inside” referring to Javier Baez and Tommy La Stella.
• Tuesday was the fourth time this season a Cubs’ starter allowed three-plus home runs in a game, two of the four have been in the last two games.
• Kris Bryant advances from question mark to asset on defense according to a report from the Tribune.
• Scott Miller reported the Cubs window is opening right before our eyes.
• One-time Cubs’ target, OF Will Venable was traded from the Padres to the Rangers for C/OF Marcus Green Jr. and a PTBNL.
And last, but not least, from Christopher Kamka … through first 35 career games: Kyle Schwarber has nine home runs and 35 RBI, Jorge Soler hit seven home runs with 29 RBI and Kris Bryant hit five home runs with 29 RBI.
This Day In Cubstory
2013 – Washington Nationals claimed David DeJesus off of waivers from the Cubs
2012 – Cubs claimed Alex Hinshaw off of waivers from the Cubs
2011 – Jim Hendry was dismissed as the General Manager of the Chicago Cubs, Randy Bush replaced Hendry as the Cubs interim GM
2004 – Cubs signed free agent Neifi Perez
2003 – Cubs acquired Tony Womack from the Rockies for Emmanuel Ramirez
1998 – Cubs signed free agent Gary Gaetti
1993 – Cubs acquired Glenallen Hill from the Indians for Candy Maldonado
1989 – Jerome Walton extended his hitting streak to 29 games and set the Cubs modern day record for the longest consecutive hitting streak surpassing Ron Santo’s 28 games in 1966.
1981 – Cubs acquired Pat Tabler from the Yankees for two PTBNL. Cubs sent Bill Caudill (April 1, 1982) and Jay Howell (August 2, 1982) to the Yankees to complete the trade
1979 – Rocky Cherry, born
1970 – Cubs hit seven home runs in a 12-2 win over the Padres at Wrigley Field. Ferguson Jenkins picked up the victory. Jim Hickman and Glenn Beckert both hit two home runs. Joe Pepitone, Johnny Callison, Ferguson Jenkins and Billy Williams each hit one longball. Beckert, Callison and Pepitone went deep in the eighth inning.
1969 – Ken Holtzman threw a no-hitter against the Braves at Wrigley Field. The Cubs won 3-0 behind a first inning three-run homer by Ron Santo.
1958 – Gary Gaetti, born
1955 – Cubs signed free agent George Altman
1930 – Hack Wilson hit home run No. 43 and tied Chuck Klein’s National League record for a single season.
1909 – Cubs purchased King Cole from Bay City
1880 – Larry Corcoran pitched the first no-hitter in franchise history. Corcoran blanked Boston 6-0 at Lakefront Park. Cap Anson recorded 21 putouts at first base.