Joe Maddon’s philosophy is that if you’re walking, you’re hitting. Anthony Rizzo reached base at a 38 percent clip in April. While his batting average may not be where some of the media and fan base would like, Rizzo is producing at the plate, getting on base and driving in runs.
After 22 games, Rizzo is batting .218/.384/.577 with two doubles, a triple and eight home runs for a .961 OPS. Rizzo has more walks (18) than strikeouts (14) and is tied with Bryce Harper and Robinson Cano for the Major League lead in RBI (24).
Rizzo’s on-base percentage is right in line with the previous two seasons while his slugging percentage and OPS is right around what he finished the first half with a year ago.
Over the last seven games, Anthony Rizzo is 7-for-25 with two doubles and four home runs, a .280/.455/.840 line. Rizzo has walked eight times with only four strikeouts.
With runners on base, Rizzo is 13-for-42 with two doubles, a triple and five home runs (.310/.482/.762) for a 1.244 OPS. And with runners in scoring position, Rizzo is 11-for-33 this season with a double, a triple and four home runs (.333/.532/.788) for a 1.320 OPS.
Anthony Rizzo finished the first month of the season among the leaders in home runs, RBI and walks.
Cubs Starting Rotation
Joe Maddon tweaked his rotation in the wake of Saturday’s rainout. John Lackey will start Sunday’s finale, weather permitting, against the Braves. Kyle Hendricks will be skipped this time through the rotation. Hendricks will start the opener against the Nationals on Thursday at Wrigley. Jason Hammel gets the ball Monday at PNC followed by Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester.
Here’s how the Cubs’ rotation lines up, at least until the weather forces more changes:
- Sunday, May 1 (1:20pm CDT) – John Lackey vs. Braves, Julio Teheran
- Monday, May 2 (6:05pm CDT) – Jason Hammel vs. Pirates, Gerrit Cole
- Tuesday, May 3 (6:05pm CDT) – Jake Arrieta vs. Pirates, Jon Niese
- Wednesday, May 4 (11:35am CDT) – Jon Lester vs. Pirates, Juan Nicasio
- Thursday, May 5 (7:05pm CDT) – Kyle Hendricks vs. Nationals, Joe Ross
“It’s just something we chose to do. He actually, on paper, matches up well against Washington. It’s one of those things,” Maddon said to the beat writers. “The weather permitted us to do these things, so we’re going to do it.”
The Cubs re-signed veteran outfielder Shane Victorino to a minor league contract on March 29 after releasing him earlier that same day. Victorino has spent the last month at the Cubs facility in Mesa working his way back from a hamstring injury that kept him for competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster in Spring Training.
According to Nick Cafardo, Victorino hopes to report to Triple-A Iowa soon.
Joe Maddon passed on good news regarding Kris Bryant on Saturday.
Maddon told the beat writers after the game was postponed that Bryant is “making good progress.” Maddon said if Bryant doesn’t start Sunday he would be available off the bench.
Saturday’s game was called before a lineup was released. It doesn’t sound like Bryant was in it.
Kris Bryant back in the lineup, especially in time for the Pirates series, will help next week against two of the top teams in the National League.
Minimalist Zany Suit Trip
The Cubs first themed trip of the season will be “Minimalist Zany Suit Trip.”
The Cubs leave for three days in Pittsburgh after Sunday’s game with the Braves. And will be right back home following Wednesday’s game with the Pirates for the start of a 10-game homestand on Thursday with the Nationals. The Cubs will also play three against the Padres and three with the Pirates.
The Cubs, coaches and staff “will be required to wear suits and ties” but the suit has to have “some sort of unusual pattern or design.” Maddon said his will feature tulips. Maddon purchased two suits, the other one is leopard. The Cubs are required to wear the themed suits throughout the trip to Pittsburgh.
Maddon said, “If you’re seen at any time without part of your suit, it’s a hundred dollar fine unless you’re working out. Going to the ballpark, in the hotel, going out for Starbucks in the morning.”
According to Carrie Muskat, the money from the fines “will go to the Cubs clubhouse guys.”
The pictures should be priceless.
Cubs-Braves Make-Up Date
The Cubs did not announce a date to make-up Saturday’s rainout with the Braves.
The Braves begin a three-game series on the South Side on July 8. And the Cubs final series before the break is in Pittsburgh with a 6:05pm CDT scheduled first pitch.
The only issue there could be with making up the game on July 7 is that would mean the Joe Maddon’s team plays 24 straight without a day off. The players will have to approve the July 7 make-up date. By rule, teams cannot play more than 20 games in a row without an off-day.
News and Notes
• According to Elias, Matt Szczur’s Grand Slam on Friday afternoon was the 300t regular season Grand Slam at Wrigley Field, second most slams at any other big league park to Fenway (339).
• The Cubs posted a reminder on Twitter just how good Dexter Fowler was in April. Fowler finished the month leading the majors in on-base percentage (.474), seventh in the majors in hitting (.347), fourth in OPS (1.087) and tied for fifth in runs scored (19). Fowler should receive votes for NL Player of the Month.
• Matt Snyder reported Dexter Fowler turned a rough off-season into an amazing April.
• According to Comcast SportsNet, Adam Warren is emerging as essential piece on Cubs pitching staff.
• According to the Tribune, the Cubs’ patience at plate is key to success. Included in the report, Javier Baez is seeing a team-best 4.19 pitches per plate appearance. Dexter Fowler (4.1) and Ben Zobrist (3.92) are seeing the most pitches per plate appearance among the starters. Entering play Saturday, the Cubs were fourth in baseball with an average of 3.99 pitches per plate appearance.
• Former Cubs’ utility man Emilio Bonifacio could be back at Wrigley on Sunday. The Braves are expected to add a position player to its bench. According to David O’Brien, Bonifacio is the “likely candidate.” Updated 8:39am CDT – The Braves have called up Emilio Bonifacio.
• Cardinals’ RHP Carlos Martinez was given permission Friday to leave the team to address a personal issue in Florida. GM John Mozeliak talked to the beat writers about the situation Saturday. The Cardinals just found out about a problem with Martinez that could force MLB to get involved. The Cardinals are looking into a lawsuit that was filed against Martinez by a woman that Martinez has had an on-again, off-again relationship with since 2012. Martinez is being sued for “battery, negligent transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and fraud.” The Score reported Martinez’s lawyer said the allegations are “100 percent false.” Martinez is not supposed to miss his start Sunday against the Nationals.
• Jeff Samardzija talked to John Shea about baseball’s two hottest teams … the Cubs and White Sox.
• Jim Bowden examined hot topics for the GM’s lens.
And last, but certainly not least, congratulations to South Bend Cubs’ skipper Jimmy Gonzalez on his 100th career win as a manager. South Bend beat Cedar Rapids 5-1 on Saturday night.
This Day in Cubstory
1973 – Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Jose Cardenal homered in the fourth inning in a 9-5 victory over the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium behind Burt Hooton.
1964 – Cubs scored 10 runs in the first inning of an 11-3 victory over the Colt .45’s in Houston. Billy Williams drove in franchise record five runs in the first inning on a Grand Slam and a single. And Williams added to his RBI total for the day with a run scoring double in the eighth inning.
1957 – Cubs traded Gene Baker and Dee Fondy to the Pirates for Dale Long and Lee Walls.
1951 – Rudy Meoli, born
1948 – Von Joshua, born
1927 – Chuck Tolson became the first player in franchise history to hit a pinch-hit Grand Slam. Tolson took Remy Kremer of the Pirates deep in the seventh inning at Forbes Field. The Cubs lost the game 7-6 after Charlie Root walked the bases loaded and Paul Waner singled in the winning runs.
1914 – Cubs completed a triple play in the second inning of a 2-0 loss to the Cardinals … centerfielder Jim Johnson to third baseman Tommy Leach to shortstop Heinie Zimmerman to catcher Roger Bresnahan.
1894 – Paul Carter, born
1889 – White Stockings purchased Charlie Bastian from the Quakers for $500 or $1500
1879 – Cap Anson made his debut as manager of the Chicago National League Ball Club. Anson helped his team to a 4-3 victory over Syracuse with two singles and a RBI in the season opener at Lakefront Park in Chicago.