The Cubs did what they had to do in Milwaukee and picked up four wins against the Brewers. Joe Maddon’s team stayed in the race for the NL Wild Card and for the next seven days will take on the team they are chancing in the standings (Pirates) and the team they enter play Monday tied with for the second Wild Card spot (Giants).
The Cubs begin a three-game series with the Pirates on Monday night four games behind the Pirates for second place in the division and for the top Wild Card spot in the National League. At 57-47, the Cubs actually have more wins than the Nationals and Mets, but due to the playing in the same division as the Cardinals, the Cubs are 9 ½ games back of the best team in baseball.
The Cubs and Giants are tied for the second NL Wild Card and the Giants make their annual trip to Wrigley this week. The Cubs and Giants open a four-game series Thursday.
The Cubs have played better against teams with winning records this season which could bode well for the upcoming week. The Cubs finished a rough 20-game stretch against sub-.500 teams with an 11-9 record. And since May 11, the Cubs are 21-14 in 35 games against teams above .500 and 21-18 in 39 games against sub- .500 teams.
For the next seven games, the Cubs are not depending on other teams to help improve their place in the standings.
For the first time this season, the Cubs are 10 games over .500 and while that is seen as an accomplishment by those that follow and cover the team, Joe Maddon pointed out Sunday, “It’s great to get to 10-plus over .500. The goal is to get to 15.”
The Cubs will know more Monday about Kris Bryant’s status after he left Sunday’s game in the fifth inning. Brewers’ shortstop Jean Segura tagged Kris Bryant in the head as he slid in headfirst at second base. While the play was under review, trainer P.J. Mainville and Dave Martinez checked on Bryant at second base. Bryant wanted to stay in but was obviously shaken up.
Bryant passed the initial concussion tests and after the game he said he felt better. Maddon said he was removed for precautionary reasons. Bryant will be re-evaluated Monday morning in Pittsburgh.
Javier Baez has picked up where he left off for Triple-A Iowa. While it is easy to look at the numbers, sometimes they do not tell the entire story.
Baez played shortstop and batted third Sunday. Baez was 1-for-4 with a walk, a RBI and two strikeouts. In his six games back with the Iowa Cubs, Baez is 8-for-27 with three doubles, two home runs, three walks and 12 strikeouts (.296/.406/.630).
Joe Maddon addressed Baez’s status Sunday and talked about when he might be called up to help the big league team. And unless there is an injury it sounds like the Cubs plan for him to spend a little more time with the I-Cubs.
Maddon said, “The overall message I’m hearing is that our guys want to make sure he gets it going. Right now we’re okay. Our guys are pretty comfortable with the work that he’s getting and the progress he’s making at Iowa.”
Before Sunday’s game, multiple reports indicated the Cubs would recall OF Matt Szczur from Triple-A Iowa for the three games in Pittsburgh. The Cubs will face three lefties and could use his defense in the outfield.
The possible roster moves were delayed after Clayton Richard’s six-inning performance and Kris Bryant leaving the game in the fifth inning. The Cubs are expected to make at least two roster moves Monday, but unless Bryant is placed on the DL, it is highly unlikely Javier Baez will be one of the players called up.
Miguel Montero was added to Double-A Tennessee’s roster Sunday and played in his first rehab game. Montero was 1-for-3 (flyout to right, groundout to second and single to center) before he was replaced by Tyler Pearson in the seventh inning.
Joe Maddon said Sunday that he doesn’t think Montero will need more than three rehab games. Montero will likely be activated by Thursday in time for the opener of the four-game series with the Giants.
Kyle Schwarber will not be sent down to the minors when Montero returns. Maddon reiterated Sunday that his challenge will be to keep Schwarber’s bat in the lineup “as often as possible.” The Cubs will have three catchers on the active roster. At least this time, Maddon will have a little flexibility because Schwarber can play left field.
The Cubs recalled LHP Clayton Richard from Triple-A Iowa to make the start Sunday in Milwaukee. Multiple reports indicated the Cubs would designate Richard for assignment after the game. The Cubs would in turn use the roster spot to recall a position player, likely Matt Szczur.
Richard went out and not only limited the Brewers to one run over six innings but he also doubled in a run.
Instead of being DFA’d, Richard made the trip Sunday evening to Pittsburgh with his Cubs teammates.
Richard impressed Joe Maddon and the Cubs’ skipper said he had things to discuss with the front office before making a decision about what the team will do with Richard.
Due to the lack of other options and Dan Haren now with the team it is going to be hard for the Cubs to keep Richard. But at least the Cubs are discussing the options because Clayton Richard has been the best of the other pitchers they have used for that spot in the rotation.
Clayton Richard re-signed with the Cubs the last time he was designated for assignment due to an agreement with the team he would be given another chance in the rotation. According to the Sun-Times, Richard might not agree to those terms again.
Dexter Fowler has really turned things around at the plate. Fowler put together a .275/.411/.396 line in 25 games in July with two home runs, 21 walks and 19 strikeouts. And since the break, he has gotten on base almost 50 percent of the time.
In his last 16 game, Fowler is 18-for-59 with three doubles, two home runs, 17 walks and 12 strikeouts … that is a .305/.461/.458 slash line with a .918 OPS.
Tommy La Stella
Tommy La Stella returned to the lineup Sunday. La Stella played third base and batted third for the Smokies. La Stella had not played since Wednesday.
La Stella went 1-for-4 with a double and a RBI. In his latest two rehab games, La Stella is 2-for-6.
Veteran right-hander Dan Haren is scheduled to make his Cubs’ debut on Wednesday in the finale of the three-game series with the Pirates. Haren reported Saturday to his new team and met with the beat writers prior to Sunday’s game.
Dan Haren is happy that he was traded to the Cubs and was careful about what he said about the Marlins. Haren admitted it was “a rough situation.”
Haren is contemplating calling it a career after the season but he wants to make sure he is ready to retire before he makes an announcement so he does not pull a Brett Favre.
News and Notes
• The Cubs returned to Buster Olney’s weekly top 10. The Cubs checked in at No. 8 after a 6-1 stretch in seven games with the Rockies and Brewers. Buster’s Top 10: Cardinals, Pirates, Royals, Astros, Dodgers, Yankees, Blue Jays, Cubs, Giants, Orioles and tied for 11th on his list, Nationals and Mets.
• Jim Bowden gave Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer a ‘B’ for the moves they made prior to the deadline.
• ESPN Chicago reported Anthony Rizzo, rookies and pitching vault the Cubs to 10 over .500.
• Jason Motte was okay Sunday after he was removed from Saturday’s game according to ESPN Chicago.
• According to ESPN Stats and Info, the home run Addison Russell hit Sunday traveled 423 feet, the longest of his seven longballs. In 16 games since the break, Russell is batting .286/.333/.429 with two doubles and two home runs for a .726 OPS. In 56 at bats, Russell has walked four times with nine strikeouts.
• According to Todd Zolecki, Chase Utley will resume his rehab assignment on Tuesday and Wednesday at Trenton with Double-A Reading.
And last, but not least, Anthony Rizzo’s home run streak may have ended Sunday at four, but as Christopher Kamka pointed out, Rizzo has at least one RBI in a career-high five straight games.
This Day In Cubstory
2006 – Matt Murton tied a Major League record with four doubles in the second game of a doubleheader against the Diamondbacks. Cubs topped Arizona 7-3.
2004 – Indians signed amateur free agent Hector Rondon
1982 – Starter Chuck Rainey is one of four pitchers who combined to shutout the Cardinals 4-0. Rainey and the Cubs allowed 12 hits, two short of the record for the most hits allowed in a shutout. Bill Campbell wrapped up the game with a three inning save.
1975 – Roosevelt Brown, born
1972 – Bill Hands pitched a one-hitter in the Cubs 3-0 victory over the Expos in the second game of a doubleheader in Montreal. Expos won game one 2-1 in 13 innings.
1968 – Rod Beck, born
1937 – Cubs increased their lead in the National League to seven games with a 4-1 win over the Phillies. Bill Lee hit a home run and picked up his 10th straight win over Philly that dated back to 1935.
1932 – Cubs released Rogers Hornsby
1929 – Cubs complained Brooklyn pitcher Dazzy Vance was wearing a ragged shirt sleeve to distract the vision of the hitters. The Cubs beat the Dodgers 12-2 at Wrigley behind Hal Carlson.