The Cubs did not throw a ball or swing a bat Thursday and yet gained ground on the Pirates while the Giants slipped a little further back of the Cubs in the NL Wild Card race. The Pirates lost for the fourth day in a row at Miller Park as the Brewer completed the four-game sweep. And the Giants were blown out at Coors Field by Chris Rusin and the Rockies.
The Cubs will enter play Friday afternoon against a very tough Diamondbacks team at Wrigley Field seven games in front of the Giants and four back of the Pirates.
Kris Bryant Could See More Playing Time in the Outfield
Prior to Wednesday’s finale with the Reds and the error in the ninth that prolonged the inning, Joe Maddon said Kris Bryant could see more time in the outfield.
With Jorge Soler out, Bryant could shift to the outfield on days the Cubs face a lefty starter. Moving Bryant to the outfield, would allow Maddon to play Javier Baez at third base according to a report from the Sun-Times.
Austin Jackson will also figure into the outfield mix against southpaws.
Maddon talked about the options he has with Bryant prior to Kyle Schwarber being scratched from Wednesday’s lineup. If Schwarber misses significant time, Maddon could have to shift gears again. The Cubs will provide an update on Schwarber at some point Friday whether or not he is in the starting lineup.
Bryant has played seven games in the outfield this season, in all three spots … left, right and center field.
Maddon told the Sun-Times he is “really comfortable” with Bryant in the outfield. Maddon thinks Bryant is “a really good outfielder already.” Bryant considers himself a baseball player and is willing to do whatever helps the Cubs win games.
Bryant has shown steady improvement defensively at third base, especially with his throws across the diamond. Bryant still leads all National League third basemen in charged errors (16). And while his error in the ninth inning Wednesday made headlines, the run he saved with a diving stop in the fifth inning wasn’t mentioned.
Maddon defended Bryant on the play in the ninth inning. Maddon said post-game, “That ball was on him so quickly. There’s nothing to point fingers there. He’s been playing really well.” Bryant has seemingly struggled with the more routine plays this season while making the more difficult ones on a regular basis.
Most think that when the Cubs figure out how the pieces fit together defensively that Bryant will eventually end up in a corner spot in the outfield. How Maddon uses Bryant, especially with Soler out, will be interesting to follow for the remainder of the season.
Offensively, Bryant’s numbers are impressive. Kris Bryant was named the NL Rookie of the Month for August on Thursday, his second monthly award this season.
For the season, Bryant is up to .269/.369/.487 with 22 doubles, five triples and 22 home runs for a .855 OPS. Bryant has 85 RBI, which is tops on the team. Bryant is hitting .311/.435/.509 with RISP and .391/.533/.587 with runners in scoring position and two outs.
After a miserable July (.168/.270/.368), Bryant made a slight adjustment and put together his best month in the majors in August. Bryant batted .330/.422/.620 (33-for-100) with six doubles, a triple and seven home runs for a 1.042. Bryant is 4-for-8 in his last two games with a home run.
Kris Bryant has excelled at Wrigley Field this year. In 63 games, Bryant is batting .303/.407/.633 with 11 doubles, four triples and 18 home runs for a 1.040 OPS at the old ballyard. On the road, Bryant is hitting .236/.331/.345 with 11 doubles, a triple, four home runs and a .676 OPS.
Carl Edwards Jr.
The Iowa Cubs activated RHP Carl Edwards Jr. from the 7-day DL prior to Thursday’s game. Edwards Jr. was dealing with a callus on his pitching hand.
Edwards Jr. celebrated his 24th birthday with a 1-2-3 seventh inning. Edwards Jr. struck out a batter and threw nine pitches, six for strikes.
The Cubs are expected to recall Carl Edwards Jr. once Iowa’s season ends.
James Russell and Brian Schlitter
LHP James Russell passed through waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs designated Russell for assignment Tuesday to open a spot on the 40-man roster.
Russell wasted no time and reported to Triple-A Iowa. Russell appeared in the eighth inning of Thursday’s loss to Oklahoma City.
James Russell was charged with two runs on one hit with two walks in two-thirds of an inning.
RHP Brian Schlitter was also outrighted to Triple-A Iowa. Schlitter replaced Russell in the eighth inning for his second appearance since being reassigned and allowed one of the two runners he inherited from Russell to score. Schlitter walked one and allowed a hit in one-third of an inning.
Duane Underwood Jr.
RHP Duane Underwood Jr. made his second start Thursday since returning from the DL. The Pelicans lost 4-2 to the Nationals, but Underwood Jr. turned in a good outing. Underwood Jr. allowed one run on three hits with three walks and three strikeouts in five innings. He threw 80 pitches, 51 for strikes, and recorded five groundball outs with two fly outs.
Over his last two outings, Underwood Jr. has allowed three runs, two earned, on five hits with four walks and six strikeouts in nine innings.
In 14 starts for High-A Myrtle Beach, Duane Underwood Jr. is 6-3 with a 2.58 ERA and 1.04 WHIP (52 hits, 24 walks, 48 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings).
Just because the Cubs did not play a game Thursday, it doesn’t mean that all was quiet around the old ballyard. If you tuned out on the off-day, here are the headlines from Thursday that includes four player of the month awards.
- Cubs Promote SS Gleyber Torres and OF Jeffrey Baez to High-A Myrtle Beach
- Cubs Month in Review – August 2015
- The Daily CCO: Cubs Don’t Lose Ground in the Race, Updates on Soler and Schwarber and Other News
- Cubs Minor Leaguer RHP Carlos Pimentel Named PCL Pitcher of the Year
- Report: Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein Met with Ryne Sandberg
- Cubs Name OF Albert Almora Jr., RHP Oscar De La Cruz Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for August
- Cubs Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant Earn National League Pitcher and Rookie of the Month Honors
- CCO Fantasy Baseball: Week Twenty – CCO Playoffs are Coming
News, Notes and Rumors
• Cubs’ prospect, catcher Willson Contreras leads Double-A Chattanooga’s Max Kepler by .001 for the Southern League batting title. With four games left in the season, Willson Contreras is hitting .328. Max Kepler has a .327 batting average.
• According to Ken Rosenthal, the Mariners plan to interview former Angels’ GM Jerry DiPoto for their opening.
• David Kaplan has left WGN-AM 720 and joined WMVP-AM 1000 (ESPN 1000). Kap & Co. will air weekdays from noon to 2:00pm CDT.
• According to Scott Miller, the Cubs’ hopes rest on a former linebacker, cancer survivor and an ‘out of shape’ shortstop. This is a must read by an excellent national writer.
• Quintin Berry told ESPN Chicago he’s never seen anything like the way the Cubs celebrate a win.
• Mark Gonzales reported OF/2B Ian Happ, the Cubs’ first round pick, is eager for more baseball.
• According to the Sun-Times, Chris Bosio is the unsung hero in Cubs sudden return to relevance.
• Patrick Mooney explained why Theo Epstein thinks these Cubs can withstand the pressure.
And last, but not least from Christopher Kamka: Since the All-Star break Clayton Kershaw is 6-0 with a 1.01 ERA and 0.68 WHIP with 41 hits allowed, 91 strikeouts and seven walks in 71 innings. Jake Arrieta is 7-1 with a 1.03 ERA and 0.85 WHIP with 33 hits allowed, 67 strikeouts and 19 walks in 61 1/3 innings.
This Day In Cubstory
2013 – Cubs claimed Daniel Bard off waivers from the Red Sox
2009 – Cubs claimed Thomas Diamond off waivers from the Rangers
2002 – Cubs traded Bill Mueller to the Giants for Jeff Verplancke
1998 – Sammy Sosa hit home run No. 57 in a 5-2 win over the Pirates and passed Hack Wilson on Cubs All-Time single season home run list.
1972 – Ferguson Jenkins won his 19th game of the season with a 2-0 victory over the Mets
1943 – Cubs traded Ken Raffensberger and Rip Russell to the Phillies for two PTBNL. The Phillies sent Andy Karl and Dick Conger to the Cubs on Sept. 30, 1943 to complete the trade. Andy Karl refused to report to the Cubs on April 1, 1944.
1929 – Cubs collected 10 straight hits in the fourth inning of a 13-6 win over the Braves at Wrigley Field
1919 – Eddie Waitkus, born
1918 – Rain cancelled game one of the World Series between the Cubs and Red Sox.
1902 – Alex Hardy made his big league debut with a 1-0 victory over Brooklyn. Hardy became the first 20th century National League pitcher to toss a shutout in his first game.
1891 – Mocking sports writers suggesting he had gotten too old to play, 40-year old Cap Anson played the entire game wearing a white beard. Anson went 0-for-3 with a walk in a 5-3 win over Boston at West Side Park
1885 – Jim McCormick won his 14th straight game in a 12-4 victory over Buffalo at West Side Park