The Cubs open a seven-game homestand Thursday and begin a stretch of 17 games in 19 days in Chicago. The Cubs only games outside of Wrigley Field will be on the South Side (Aug. 14-16) until a six-day West Coast trip starts Aug. 25 in San Francisco.
Kris Bryant is struggling at the plate and in the field. Bryant is 10-for-68 since the break with four extra basehits (two doubles and two home runs) and nine walks. Bryant’s only multi-hit game came at Wrigley on July 27 and he hit both longballs in his home park.
The Cubs have played just six games since the break at Wrigley. And the upcoming stretch of home games could be exactly what Kris Bryant needs.
In 46 games at Wrigley this year, Bryant is batting .275/.389/.563 with seven doubles, three triples and 11 home runs for a .951 OPS. And despite the Cubs’ road record this season (31-24), Bryant has really struggled offensively outside of the old ballyard.
Kris Bryant has managed a .222/.325/.325 slash line in 51 road games with nine doubles, a triple and three home runs for a .649 OPS.
A little home cooking could be the recipe to get Kris Bryant back on track. And the Cubs entire lineup will benefit if he could get hot at the plate over the next three weeks and carry that success into the final full month of the season.
According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, part of Joe Maddon’s talks with the front office about shuffling the lineup could include Starlin Castro not being the team’s everyday shortstop. Maddon did not answer the question directly Wednesday if that was a possibility and pointed out how well Castro played the night before instead.
Maddon said he will continue his discussion with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer about the lineup once the team returned to Chicago. Maddon wants to make sure to get on the right page with the front office and let players know what is going on before they find out through the media.
Castro is not the only player that could see his playing time change as Maddon looks to push the right buttons over the next two months and get the Cubs into the post-season tournament.
Reports have suggested Jorge Soler could lose time to Chris Coghlan with the Cubs looking for ways to have Kyle Schwarber and Miguel Montero in the same lineup. And Kris Bryant might see more days off with Coghlan playing third base.
Joe Maddon has not tipped his hand yet about his plans. But that could change as soon as Thursday if Miguel Montero is activated from the DL.
Clayton Richard passed through waivers and elected free agency after the Cubs designated him for assignment. According to multiple reports he was mowing his yard when the Cubs called a second time looking for him to re-sign with the team.
According to ESPN Chicago, Richard wanted to stay with the Cubs and is happy he is back with the team.
Joe Maddon plans on using him in various roles, not just a long reliever. Maddon thinks Richard can be used to “go through a batting order one-time” and “get the ball on the ground against a lefty.” And the Cubs view him as insurance for a rotation with few options beyond Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Kyle Hendricks and Dan Haren.
Richard said he is ready for the situation Maddon puts him in.
Miguel Montero and Tommy La Stella
Miguel Montero batted fifth and was behind the plate for the Smokies on Wednesday night. And Tommy La Stella played third and hit third in front of the red-hot Willson Contreras in Double-A Tennessee’s thumping of the Birmingham Barons.
Miguel Montero caught the entire game, which was started by Ryan Williams. Montero was 1-for-5. La Stella also had five at bats, and went 2-for-5 with a RBI, a run scored and a strikeout.
Montero is 2-for-12 in three rehab games. And La Stella is 6-for-13 with two doubles and a walk in four games.
On a side note, Willson Contreras was 4-for-5 with a double and three RBI in the Smokies’ 13-1 win.
The Phillies could activate Chase Utley from the disabled list prior to Thursday’s finale with the Dodgers according to Todd Zolecki. Utley played his third rehab game Wednesday and went 3-for-4 with a double, a walk and a RBI.
Pete Mackanin is going to mix in Utley when he returns and he could even see time at first base.
The Cubs are one of three teams that have been connected to Chase Utley and could put in a claim for him if the Phillies decide to put him on waivers.
News and Notes
• Anthony Rizzo cannot wait to see what Wrigley Field is like this weekend throughout the four-game series with the Giants. Rizzo thinks it has gotten louder with each win this season. And the Cubs need to step up their play at home according to Joe Maddon. The Cubs will find out how they measure up against the Giants according to Comcast SportsNet.
• Dan Haren did not like the way he pitched Wednesday. Haren said he was glad the first start with the Cubs is out of the way and that he has to pitch a lot better than he did in order to help the team win games.
• According to ESPN Chicago, Dan Haren wasn’t the problem Wednesday. The defense cost the Cubs the game. Joe Maddon said, “We just didn’t play well on defense. That’s a classic example when you just don’t make the plays you’re supposed to make.”
• According to a report from the Des Moines Register, Marty Pevey said Javier Baez will see time at second, shortstop and third base while he is with the I-Cubs.
• From Christopher Kamka: Dan Haren was the 29th different starting pitcher used by the Cubs over the last four seasons. Only the Dodgers and Rockies have used more (34) over the same span.
• According to Baseball America, the Astros released RHP Jose Veras and the Angels signed LHP Wesley Wright to a minor league contract.
• Patrick Mooney reported the Cubs “stashed” Rafael Soriano on the disabled list Wednesday. Joe Maddon believes Soriano has something left and can help the Cubs win games. Maddon talked about the importance of getting Soriano right for the September push with the beat writers.
This Day In Cubstory
2007 – Cubs released Wade Miller
2004 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Rafael Dolis
1998 – Jack Brickhouse passed away at the age of 82. Brickhouse was the voice of the Cubs from 1941-1981. Hey! Hey!
1988 – Goose Gossage became the second player in big league history (Rollie Fingers) to record 300 career saves when he faced one batter and recorded the out in the Cubs 7-4 victory over the Phillies at Wrigley Field.
1981 – National League owners agreed to the $20.5 million sale of the Cubs to the Tribune Company. The sale was finalized three weeks later when Bill Wrigley and the stockholders approved the sale of the team.
1978 – Cubs traded Larry Anderson to the Phillies for Davey Johnson
1959 – Billy Williams made his Cubs debut and went 0-for-4 with a RBI in a Cubs 4-2 victory over the Phillies at Wrigley Field
1955 – Ron Davis, born
1934 – Cubs signed free agent Bob O’Farrell
1919 – Cubs lost 2-0 to the Braves after Boston’s pitcher, Ray Keating, hit a fly ball to center that bounced through a hole in the wire fence for a home run. Cubs collected three hits, Grover Cleveland Alexander was hung with the loss.
1894 – Bill Dahlen extended his hitting streak to 42 games with two hits in a 12-9 victory over the Reds at West Side Grounds.
1890 – Cy Young made his major league debut and was credited with the win over the Colts (Cubs) at West Side Grounds
1884 – Cap Anson hit three home runs in a 13-4 victory over Cleveland at Lakefront Park that gave him five home runs in two days. Anson established the franchise record for number of homers in a two day period that was equaled by Billy Williams in 1968 and Dave Kingman in 1979.