The Cubs reduced the number required to punch their ticket to the post-season tournament Monday to four with the 9-5 win over the Brewers. The Nationals were rained out, the game with the Orioles will be made up Thursday, and the Giants had the day off. The Pirates and Cardinals both won, so the Cubs did not gain any ground in the division.
With 12 games remaining on the schedule, the Cubs will enter play Tuesday two games behind the Pirates in the standings and 9 ½ games ahead of the Giants and Nationals for the second NL Wild Card.
Theo Epstein met with the beat writers prior to Monday’s game. Among the topics that were discussed was what the Cubs playoff roster may look like. The Cubs have not really talked about it yet, or started writing down possible playoff rosters
“Maybe in the back of your mind you start to develop a feel for what some of the decisions might be,” Epstein said. “But as far as having a real meeting, sitting down and planning it out, you have to get there first. This game will humble you in a hurry if you get too far ahead of yourself. We have some real work to do before we get it. We need to go win some ballgames and finish strong.”
Jason Hammel made it through five innings Monday night. Hammel allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits and struggled with his command. Hammel made 104 pitches, 65 for strikes. Hammel has not been the same since leaving the game on July 8 after just one inning with a left hamstring injury. Questions have popped up in the media if his injury was actually worse than reported at the time.
Hammel was 5-4 in his first 17 starts with a 2.86 ERA and 0.95 WHIP (80 hits, 18 walks, 105 strikeouts in 103 2/3 innings). Over his last 12 starts, Hammel is 4-2 with a 5.43 ERA and 1.52 WHIP (55 hits, 22 walks, 60 strikeouts in 58 innings). And it appears to be more than just second half struggles for Hammel.
Hammel is disappointed with the way he’s pitched and said he needs to “exercise some demons for that first inning.”
According to the Sun-Times, Joe Maddon and Chris Bosio “have ideas to sharpen Hammel over his final two starts of the regular season.”
Following Monday’s game, Maddon pointed out that Hammel’s velocity is good and the break is good. Hammel is having command issues, not his stuff, according to Maddon. “It’s all about location from what I’m seeing. It’s not necessarily stuff. It’s just where the ball is going out of his hand.”
The Cubs and Hammel say he is healthy. And Hammel is confident he will be the Cubs No. 3 starter in October.
When asked about a possible playoff rotation, Maddon said the rotation after Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester is “very fluid.” Maddon explained, “There’s a lot of discussion involved in that part of the rotation. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s not. We’ll see how it plays out.”
- Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Report from the Sun-Times
- Report from ESPN Chicago
- Report from the Tribune
News and Notes
• Bruce Levine reported The Cubs Way is making its presence felt. The Cubs Way is no longer an invitation to a punchline according to Paul Sullivan. And Comcast SportsNet reported the time is right for the Cubs to stand up to the Cardinals.
• Cubs’ swagger is back after blazing hot August and September according to Jon Greenberg.
• Click here for a video that explains where #WeAreGood came from and how the players have embraced the Twitter hashtag.
• The Cubs bullpen is picking up the load in September according to the Tribune.
• Joe Maddon talked to ESPN Chicago about lineup construction and moving Addison Russell up in the batting order. Neil Ramirez is slowly gaining Maddon’s confidence and Quintin Berry was really bothered by getting thrown out on Sunday.
• The Cubs moved up three spots to No. 3 on ESPN’s weekly power rankings. Sports Illustrated also bumped up the Cubs three spots in its weekly rankings, from eight to No. 5. And the Cubs jumped up to No. 3 on MLB.com’s power rankings.
• The Hardball Times examined the physics of wind at the remodeled Wrigley Field.
• According to Carrie Muskat, the advanced group of players in fall instructs that will play other organizations includes Gleyber Torres, Victor Caratini, Cael Brockmeyer, Charcer Burks, Rashad Crawford, Shawon Dunston Jr., Paul Blackburn, Tyler Skulina and Duane Underwood Jr.
• Kyle Schwarber looks like Cubs’ assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske, and hits even better according to Ken Rosenthal.
• According to Rick Morrissey, the Cubs can be anything from one and done to World Series champs.
• In case you missed it, the Cubs named C Willson Contreras and RHP Ryan Williams the Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year.
This Day In Cubstory
2008 – Jason Marquis hit a grand slam in a 9-5 victory over the Mets as the Cubs secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
2002 – Fred McGriff became the first player to hit at least 30 home runs in a season for five different teams (Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Devil Rays, Cubs) with a first inning longball at PNC Park. McGriff’s homer at PNC also set a record. McGriff hit home runs in 42 different big league parks.
1990 – Andre Dawson stole the 300th base of his career. Dawson joined Willie Mays as just the second player in Major League history with 300 home runs, 300 steals and 2,000 hits.
1987 – Cubs sent Dickie Noles to the Tigers for a player to be named later. Noles was returned to the Cubs a month later as the PTBNL.
1965 – Mark Guthrie, born
1955 – Cubs traded players to be named later and cash to Sacramento (PCL) for John Briggs and Richie Myers. Cubs sent Bubba Church and Joe Stanka in 1956 to complete the trade.
1947 – Cubs released Claude Passeau
1942 – Red Sox purchased Roy Partee from the Cubs
1938 – Bill Lee pitched his fourth consecutive shutout and tied Mordecai Brown and Ed Reulbach for the Cubs record in a 4-0 victory over the Phillies at Shibe Park.