The Cubs have three games left on the schedule before the All-Star break. And Joe Maddon’s team could use a good weekend in Pittsburgh against the Pirates.
The Cubs are struggling in all phases of the game, no one is denying that. Even with the recent problems, the Cubs enter play Friday night in Pittsburgh with an eight game lead over the Cardinals and 8 ½ games in front of the Pirates (nine games in the loss column) in the division.
Joe Maddon has Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester on the hill for the first two games and John Lackey is scheduled for the finale on Sunday afternoon.
The Pirates will try to make a statement over the next three days. And this series would be the right time for Maddon to flip the switch and start managing with a sense of urgency like he did last year against the Giants in early August.
The Cubs are 8-1 in the nine games against the Pirates this season. A win in the opener on Friday night behind Jake Arrieta would go a long way toward a good finish to the ‘first half’ and putting the last couple of weeks in the rearview mirror for the All-Star break.
The Cubs transferred Clayton Richard from Triple-A Iowa to Double-A Tennessee. Richard was sent on a rehab assignment to Iowa on June 28. According to Carrie Muskat, the Cubs preferred for Richard to continue his rehab at Smokies Park instead of going on the road with the Iowa Cubs. Double-A Tennessee has home games through Wednesday (July 13).
In two starts with Triple-A Iowa, Richard has given up one hit and no runs with two walks and five strikeouts in five innings (0.00 ERA, 0.60 WHIP). Richard’s first rehab start was cut short due to rain after one inning. The Cubs appear to be using this time to stretch Richard out to use as a starter if needed.
The Cubs have not given a timeframe for Richard to come back from the DL.
Duane Underwood Jr.
Duane Underwood Jr. was placed on the DL with an undisclosed injury. The Cubs have not said why Underwood Jr. had to leave his start Tuesday with the trainer in the fourth inning.
Duane Underwood Jr. has struggled this season after beginning the year on the disabled list. Underwood Jr. is 0-5 with a 4.91 ERA and 1.65 WHIP. Underwood Jr. has allowed 34 runs, 32 earned, on 66 hits with 31 walks and 46 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings.
Mark Gonzales reported earlier this week the Cubs and Thomas Hatch agreed to terms and he was set to fly to Arizona, take a physical and sign his contract. Hatch’s signing bonus was unknown at the time.
Jim Callis reported Thursday that the Cubs signed Hatch for the slot value of $573,900.
The Cubs have not announced signing Hatch, the team’s third round pick in last month’s draft.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Comcast SportsNet reported Willson Contreras stood up for Cubs and sparked tensions with Braves.
• The Cubs’ infield could end up as greatest ever for one season according to ESPN.
• Kris Bryant became the 18th position player since 1901 to break 10+ WAR in his first two seasons.
• Dexter Fowler is set to rehab with the South Bend Cubs. Fowler’s return from DL ruled out for weekend series but he could be activated for All-Star Game according to the Sun-Times. The Cubs could activate Fowler from the DL after Sunday’s game with the Pirates and he would still be eligible for the All-Star Game. According to Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs are weighing the risk-reward with Dexter Fowler and the All-Star Game.
• Tom Verducci explained why Jason Heyward’s swing is so flawed.
• Rich Hill had another good start and more teams were on hand to watch him pitch according to Susan Slusser. The Tigers and Dodgers are interested in Hill. The Red Sox, Blue Jays, Royals and Orioles were among the teams that scouted Hill’s latest start.
• A fan was injured after jumping onto the field from the Wrigley Field bleachers.
• Major League Baseball released the participants for the Home Run Derby: Mark Trumbo (Orioles), Corey Seager (Dodgers), Robinson Cano (Mariners), Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins), Adam Duvall (Reds), Wil Myers (Padres), Todd Frazier (White Sox), Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies)
• Dan Haren said he is not available to pitch in Monday’s Home Run Derby (those on Twitter not following the former Cubs’ right-hander is missing some good stuff)
• The Red Sox acquired INF Aaron Hill and cash from the Brewers for RHP Aaron Wilkerson and 2B Wendell Rijo. Peter Gammons really liked the deal for the Sox and compared what he could do at Fenway as to what Mike Lowell produced during his years with the Sox. Dave Dombrowski told the Red Sox’s beat writers he is now focused on adding pitching and those conversations “are picking up.”
• The Red Sox have recently scouted Jeremy Hellickson according to Jon Paul Morosi.
• The Braves are looking for teams to “back up the truck” for Julio Teheran according to Rob Bradford. Reports have indicated the Braves are looking for a better deal than the haul they received from the D-Backs for Shelby Miller.
• Mets’ right-hander Matt Harvey has been diagnosed with “symptoms consistent with thoracic outlet syndrome.” Harvey is considering season-ending surgery according to Anthony DiComo. The Mets are not only dealing with the possibility of losing Harvey for the remainder of the season, it doesn’t sound like Zack Wheeler is close to returning according to John Harper. James Wagner reported that Harvey told Terry Collins after his last start, “My shoulder’s dead, my arm’s dead, there’s no energy there, I couldn’t feel the ball.”
• The Cardinals placed Matt Carpenter on the DL with a strained oblique. Aledmys Diaz is taking Carpenter’s spot on the NL All-Star team. The Cardinals placed Brayan Pena on the DL and called up catcher Michael McKenry from Triple-A Memphis.
• The Indians’ Corey Kluber replaced Marco Estrada (Blue Jays) on the AL All-Star Team.
And last, but not least, here are the Cubs’ seven All-Stars
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 8, 2016
This Day in Cubstory
2013 – Cubs traded Scott Hairston and cash to the Washington Nationals for Ivan Pineyro
2011 – Cubs released Fernando Perez
2008 – Cubs acquired Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin from the A’s for Josh Donaldson, Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton and Eric Patterson
2008 – Ryan Dempster improved to 10-0 at Wrigley Field with a 7-3 win over the Reds. Dempster’s home start to the season is the best for a Cubs’ pitcher since Rick Reuschel in 1977
1987 – Josh Harrison, born
1982 – Renyel Pinto, born
1973 – Astros purchased Juan Pizarro from the Cubs
1969 – At Shea Stadium, Ron Santo roundly criticized teammate Don Young for his two misplays in centerfield that helped the Mets score three runs in the ninth that resulted in a 4-3 walk-off win over the Cubs. The loss reduced the Cubs lead over the Mets to four games. Santo apologized the next day for his remarks, but was booed by fans at Wrigley Field the first game back after the incident.
1965 – Jerome Walton, born
1964 – Ken Patterson, born
1956 – Monte Irvin hit a grand slam in the ninth and gave the Cubs a 10-6 win over the Braves at County Stadium
1952 – Hank Sauer’s two-run homer off Bob Lemon in the fourth inning gave the National League a 3-2 victory over the American League in a rain-shortened All-Star Game at Shibe Park. The Cubs Bob Rush was the winning pitcher
1947 – Wrigley Field hosted its first All-Star Game
1945 – Cubs beat the Phillies 12-6 and 9-2 in a doubleheader and moved into first place in the National League. The Cubs spent the rest of the summer atop the NL and won the pennant.
1942 – Cubs purchased Lon Warneke from the Cardinals for $7,500
1933 – Al Spangler, born
1909 – Frank Chance, the Cubs first baseman and manager, angered at Brooklyn fans for throwing pop bottles at his team, threw them back and cut one fan in the leg. The Cubs won 5-0 behind Mordecai Brown and Chance left the park in an armored vehicle accompanied by three police officers to escape the mob
1880 – The Chicago National League Ball Club beat Providence 5-4 behind Larry Corcoran at Lakefront Park. It was the team’s 21st straight win, the streak ended the next day