The Cubs had a bad week, going 1-6 in seven games. Every team struggles over the course of a long season. It’s going to happen and the first rough patch for the Cubs came during the last full week in June. Think about that for a minute. And for as ‘bad’ as the Cubs played the week after hitting their high-water mark on the season, Joe Maddon’s team is a few wins away from making the last seven games a distant memory.
The Cubs are 4-6 in their last 10 games, so are the Cardinals and Pirates. The Cubs will begin play Monday in Cincinnati with a nine-game lead in the NL Central.
Joe Maddon and Jason Hammel said the Cubs are not panicking. Maddon does not sound happy and said they “have to firm things up.” Anthony Rizzo stressed that there are no excuses for the way the Cubs have played and “whoever is on this field is expected to win.”
“We’re making some mistakes on defense, which have to go away,” Maddon said. “That’s stuff we normally don’t do. Beyond that, we have to tighten up our bullpen also, where you can know what to expect when a guy comes out of a bullpen. The hitting has wavered a little bit also. A lot of bumps and bruises. It’s like a fight. You got cut a little bit, and you have to keep going. That’s where we’re at right now.”
“I don’t think we’re panicking,” Jason Hammel said. “It’s a 162-game season. You can’t hit the panic button. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s a learning experience for us.”
Maddon stated, “We’ll come back from this little bump. Get everyone well. But in the meantime, we still have to be able to take care of business.”
Jake Arrieta has the opportunity to set the tone for the week and the remainder of the 11-game road trip. Arrieta takes the hill Monday night (6:05pm CDT) in Cincinnati in the first of three against the Reds.
Joe Maddon wasn’t happy with his bullpen following Sunday’s game. And changes have already been made with more on the way Monday.
Maddon told the beat writers Sunday, “We need to know what to expect when a guy comes out of the bullpen.” And the Cubs “have to get the bullpen right.”
“We need to get it straightened out in order to keep a smaller deficit, which gives us a better mental chance at the end of the game,” Maddon said to ESPN Chicago.
The Cubs optioned LHP Gerardo Concepcion to Triple-A Iowa following Sunday’s game. The Cubs are expected to call up at least one reliever prior to Monday’s game.
The team’s 40-man roster currently stands at 39 players. The Cubs can use that open spot to get a look at a bullpen arm not currently on the Major League reserve roster.
Tommy La Stella
Tommy La Stella is set to begin a rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Iowa. La Stella reported to the I-Cubs and is expected to spend a week in the minors.
La Stella was placed on the 15-day DL on June 10 retroactive to June 8 with a right hamstring strain.
The I-Cubs have a doubleheader on tap for Monday at Oklahoma City and wrap up the series on Tuesday. Wednesday is an off day for the I-Cubs and Marty Pevey’s guys begin a six-game series at Round Rock on Thursday.
Joe Maddon said Sunday both Dexter Fowler and Jorge Soler are making progress but are not ready to start a rehab assignment yet. Fowler is getting close and is further along than Soler. The Cubs are being cautious with Soler and will not rush him back.
According to the Tribune, the Cubs plan for La Stella to be ready for the weekend series in Queens.
A blister on Clayton Richard’s left middle finger popped up that landed the southpaw on the DL last week (June 21). Clayton Richard has struggled this season but showed from July on last year that he can help the Cubs win games.
Richard reported to Triple-A Iowa on Sunday and will begin a rehab assignment Monday.
The Cubs can take their time and make sure Richard is fully recovered from the blister issue that landed him on the DL. Pitchers can be on a rehab assignment for 30 days.
Joe Nathan was assigned to Double-A Tennessee on Thursday to begin a rehab assignment. Nathan made his organizational debut that night and tossed a scoreless inning. Reports from the park were very encouraging for his first outing.
Nathan made another positive step two days later. Nathan completed an inning of work on Saturday night. Nathan gave up one run on one hit (home run) and struck out a batter. Nathan made 15 pitches, nine for strikes.
Miguel Montero is set to start his third game in a row Monday. Montero is scheduled to catch Jake Arrieta.
According to the Tribune, Montero’s playing time “could diminish significantly after Monday night with the Cubs seeking more playing time behind the plate for rookie Willson Contreras.” And with Tommy La Stella expected to be back by the weekend series in New York, Maddon will be looking for playing time for his favorite left-handed pinch hitter.
Miguel Montero homered Saturday and made several very good plays on balls in the dirt Sunday. The Cubs have not addressed the team’s plans for Montero in recent days. If the Cubs are able to use Montero to catch Arrieta, David Ross for Jon Lester and Contreras on the other three days, Montero might be able to get past the injuries that are obviously bothering him. Montero’s better days in the big leagues might be behind him, but Miggy showed in the spring what he is capable of at this point in his career when he’s relatively healthy.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Buster Olney’s top 10: Cubs, Rangers, Giants, Indians, Orioles, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Nationals, Mets and Marlins.
• According to the Sun-Times, hit ‘em where they ain’t … it’s not working for Jason Heyward so far.
• The Sun-Times reported Jake Arrieta is returning to scene of no-no for the slumping Cubs.
• The Marlins’ arms caught the Cubs’ attention according to the Tribune.
• The Tribune reported the Cubs know it’s time to clean up their mistakes after 6-1 loss to the Marlins.
• Buster Olney thinks Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks are among the players that should be considered for the All-Star Game but will probably be left off their respective league’s roster.
• Jake Arrieta lost a bet with Tommy La Stella and now has to get a Coastal Carolina tattoo according to a report from ESPN Chicago. La Stella went to Coastal Carolina and Arrieta attended TCU. Well, Coastal Carolina eliminated TCU from the College World Series so Arrieta gets a new tat.
• According to a report from The Score citing Buster Olney as its source, the Marlins have had internal discussions about Aroldis Chapman and Fernando Rodney.
• The Cubs are one of the teams that could make a run at acquiring OF Josh Reddick from the A’s if Billy Beane makes him available. Ken Rosenthal reported Sunday the Athletics “plan to revisit talks with Reddick before Aug. 1.” The talks with Reddick and the A’s stalled over the length of the extension. Reddick is looking for four years and the A’s would prefer three. Rosenthal added if Reddick is not signed to an extension a trade “becomes more realistic” but Beane is “comfortable with keeping him and giving him a qualifying offer.”
• The Dodgers are looking for an outfielder. The Reds’ Jay Bruce is one option for the Dodgers according to Ken Rosenthal. Bruce cannot block a trade to Los Angeles. Josh Reddick and Kole Calhoun are two other possibilities for the Dodgers.
• The Mets and Giants have expressed interest in Angels’ infielder Yunel Escobar according to the Los Angeles Times. Escobar looks like he will avoid the DL after an MRI showed a bone bruise on his left knee.
And last, but not least, Willson Contreras tweeted Sunday night, “Ready for the new series against Cincinnati Reds! Let’s Go Cubbies.” Miguel Montero tweeted a public service announcement to all Cubs fans, “Let’s keep you chin up #wearegood.”
This Day in Cubstory
2012 – Cubs released Shane Lindsay
2011 – Cubs released Bobby Scales
1996 – Cubs traded Ismael Villegas to the Braves for Tyler Houston
1994 – Cubs beat the Pirates 2-1 as Randy Meyers recorded the 200th save of his career. Myers was only the third lefthander to reach the mark.
1992 – Cubs acquired Kal Daniels from the Dodgers for a PTBNL. Cubs sent Mike Sodders to the Dodgers on July 28 to complete the trade
1975 – Daryle Ward, born
1970 – Jim Edmonds, born
1968 – Cubs purchased Gene Oliver from the Red Sox
1967 – Cubs traded Arnold Earley to the Astros for Marv Breeding
1951 – Cubs farmhand Boyd Tepler filed a $450,000 suit against baseball, the Chicago Cubs and William Wrigley citing an arm injury he suffered in 1944. His suit contended that negligent coaching allowed him to continue with flaws in his pitching motion that resulted in damage to his arm and the end of his promising pitching career.
1930 – The largest crowd in Wrigley Field history (51,556) saw the Cubs beat the Dodgers, 7-5, on Kiki Cuyler’s 10th inning home run. There are 30,476 Ladies Day guests and 1,332 pass holders. The paid attendance was 19,748.
1887 – Rookie pitcher George Van Haltren walked 16 batters, hit two batters and threw a wild pitch as Boston beat the Chicago National League Ballclub 17-11 at West Side Park. King Kelly, playing for Boston, walked five times.
1884 – Larry Corcoran pitched his third no-hitter as the Chicago National League Ballclub beat Providence 6-0 at Lakefront Park.
This Day In Baseball History
1940 – To honor the lyricist of Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Jack Norworth Day was celebrated at Ebbets Field. Norworth and his partner Albert Von Tilzer, who wrote the music, had never seen a game when they wrote the song in 1908.