The Cubs get back to work Friday with the first of three at Miller Park. And don’t look now, but the Cubs have the best record in baseball again. The Cubs are 57-37, 20 games above .500 and the .606 winning percentage is tops in baseball. The Cubs have the same amount of victories as the Nationals (57-39) and Giants (57-38).
The Cubs saw their lead in the division shrink during the off-day.
Since the Cubs beat the Mets on Wednesday afternoon and finished a difficult six-game homestand with a 4-2 record, the Cardinals posted three victories against the Padres and completed a four-game sweep of the Friars at Busch Stadium.
The Cubs enter play Friday in Milwaukee just 6 ½ games (seven in the loss column) ahead of the Cardinals and 8 ½ games (nine games in the loss column) in front of the Pirates. The Cubs allowed the Cardinals and Pirates to get back into the race for the division with the 5-16 finish to the first half.
There is a lot of ball left to be played. And the Cubs must keep playing the way they did out of the break. If the Cubs stumble at all, especially over the next two weeks, the series with the Cardinals at Wrigley Field in mid-August could be for the top spot in the NL Central.
Thirteen of the Cubs next 16 games are against teams with records of one-game above .500 or worse. The Cubs have a five-game road trip before an eight-game homestand with the White Sox, Mariners and Marlins.
The Cubs play the Brewers (July 22-24), White Sox (July 25-28), Mariners (July 29-31), Marlins (Aug. 1-3), Athletics (Aug. 5-7) over the next 16 games. After an off-day on Aug. 8, the Cubs have a 10-game stint at Wrigley against the Angels (Aug. 9-10), Cardinals (Aug. 11-14) and Brewers (Aug.16-18).
Joe Maddon must make sure his team embraces the target and tries not to suck against teams the Cubs should beat over the next two-plus weeks.
In his second rehab game, Soler went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and hit into a double play.
Jorge Soler thought he needed only four-five games with the I-Cubs before he would be ready to come off the DL. Multiple reports indicated the Cubs thought he would need weeks and not days. And based on his play in the field and at the plate in the first two games, the Cubs rough timeframe is more accurate than Soler’s.
The I-Cubs hit the road and begin a 12-game trip on Friday in Memphis.
Joe Nathan was expected to be activated before Friday’s opener with the Brewers but that might not be the case. Nathan was still in Iowa on Thursday and did not pitch.
Chris Bosio said Thursday morning during his weekly spot on the Mully and Hanley Show (670 The Score) that they’ve received positive reports on Nathan. The way Bosio understands it is that Nathan is getting stronger but he’s not quite ready and still needs more time.
Jed Hoyer told David Kaplan on Thursday that Nathan “needs at least one more outing.”
The Cubs optioned Spencer Patton to Iowa for Mike Montgomery. Dexter Fowler is expected to be activated from the DL. There could be other moves, but the Cubs will announce at least four roster changes before the first game with the Brewers.
Cubs-Brewers Series and Probable Starters
The Cubs open a three-game series Friday night (7:10pm CDT) in Milwaukee. Joe Maddon should begin the weekend with a different looking bullpen and bench. With Dexter Fowler due back, Mike Montgomery expected in the bullpen and Joe Nathan on his way, it will be interesting to see how Maddon uses his new relievers and how the offense responds.
The Cubs will face three Brewers starters the offense has not fared well against in the past. The Brewers’ rotation is a lot like the Reds. There are several very good arms that have performed well for Milwaukee this season. And they’ve had a lot of success against the Cubs.
Here are the probable starters for the next three days:
- Friday, July 22 (7:10pm CDT) – RHP Jason Hammel vs. RHP Jimmy Nelson
- Saturday, July 23 (6:10pm CDT) – RHP John Lackey vs. RHP Zach Davies
- Sunday, July 24 (1:10pm CDT) – LHP Jon Lester vs. RHP Junior Guerra
Jake Arrieta is lined up to start the opener of the Crosstown Classic on Monday night at the Cell. Kyle Hendricks is scheduled to start Tuesday night. Jason Hammel and John Lackey would start the two games at Wrigley against the White Sox on Wednesday (7:05pm CDT) and Thursday (7:05pm CDT).
According to the Des Moines Register, Ryan Kalish will not play again this season. And Kalish’s career could be in jeopardy.
According to the Des Moines Register, Kalish had a major knee operation and is scheduled to have another one later this year. Kalish is not only out for the remainder of this season, but he could also miss all of next season.
Ryan Kalish told the Des Moines Register, “I’ve got nothing else I want to do. This is it. I love baseball. Of course I can start thinking about the future, start coaching, but I’m going to give it one more try.”
News, Notes and Rumors
• Theo Epstein sent the message, according to Comcast SportsNet, that the Cubs are open for business at the trade deadline.
• The Tribune reported the Cubs are still looking to add to playoff depth entering weak patch in schedule.
• Chris Bosio talked about the acquisition of Mike Montgomery on the Mully and Hanley Show. Bosio said a team has to pounce when it can add a hard-throwing lefty.
• The Cubs added lefty Mike Montgomery to bullpen. The Sun-Times asked is that enough?
• The Marlins were in on Mike Montgomery according to Joe Frisaro. The Marlins are looking for a starting pitcher and a left-handed reliever.
• FanGraphs explored the value of Kyle Schwarber.
• According to FanGraphs, the Padres possess the Andrew Miller backup plan … and the lefty is Ryan Buchter. If the name rings a bell, it’s because Buchter has been in the Cubs’ organization twice, most recently at the end of last season. Buchter pitched for Triple-A Iowa.
• Jim Bowden ranked the trade options at each position.
• Andrew Cashner started for the Padres on Thursday, but he knows he’s going to be traded.
• According to Bob Nightengale, the Brewers are drawing a lot of inquiries on Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress.
• Due to the uncertainty of Hunter Pence, the Giants are examining the market for outfielder according to Buster Olney.
• Rich Hill is not close to pitching again according to John Shea.
This Day in Cubstory
2013 – Cubs traded Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers for C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, Mike Olt and a PTBNL. The Rangers sent Neil Ramirez to the Cubs as the PTBNL to complete the trade on Aug. 23
2012 – Ron Santo was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame. And as a tribute to Santo, as the players took the field in St. Louis that afternoon, they clicked their heels for the Cubs great.
2006 – Cubs traded Scott Williamson to the Padres for Fabian Jimenez Angulo and Joel Santo
1997 – Greg Maddux and the Braves topped the Cubs 4-1. Maddux threw only 78 pitches in the complete game, the lowest pitch count in a complete game since Bob Tewksbury threw 76 in Cardinals win over the Reds on Aug. 29, 1990.
1986 – Cubs fired ballgirl Marla Collins when it was discovered she posed for Playboy. The Cubs won the game that day 6-4 behind Ed Lynch
1975 – Cubs traded Eddie Solomon to the Cardinals for Ken Crosby
1968 – Glenn Beckert hit safely in the 27th consecutive game. Beckert went 2-for-5 in a Cubs 7-2 victory over the Giants in San Francisco
1965 – Ed Bailey his a Grand Slam and drove in eight runs in a Cubs 10-6 victory over the Phillies at Wrigley Field
1956 – Scott Sanderson, born
1956 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Moe Drabowsky
1947 – Cliff Johnson, born
1916 – Cubs purchased Fritz Mollwitz from the Reds