The Cubs started the three-game series against the Rangers with one of their best games in quite some time. The Cubs played a complete game with excellent pitching, timely hitting (3-for-11 with runners in scoring position) and outstanding defense. The Cubs looked energized and ready to play.
Joe Maddon was extremely happy with his team’s effort. Maddon raved about Kyle Hendricks and the defense after the 6-0 victory over the Rangers.
Theo Epstein met with the beat writers before the game and talked about his team’s struggles going into the break.
“When we were 25-6, the media was asking questions about, ‘How do we balance getting our players rest with going for the all-time wins record?'” Theo Epstein said to the beat writers. “I attached zero meaning to that. I called bulls— on that question. The same way, if I think people are getting too down on us for not playing well, I’ll call bulls— on that, too. I just think all that matters is how we respond to adversity and how we handle success.”
The Cubs went out and beat the Rangers in the first game back from the break. And looked a lot like the team that took the field in April and May in the process. While the Cubs took care of business, both the Cardinals (7-6 loss to the Marlins) and Pirates (5-1 loss to Nationals) lost on Friday night. The Cubs will begin play Saturday eight games ahead of the Cardinals and 8 ½ games in front of the Pirates.
Cubs Starting Rotation
Joe Maddon announced Friday a change to the Cubs’ rotation. Jon Lester will start the opener against the Mets on Monday night. Jake Arrieta will pitch game two and Kyle Hendricks will stay on schedule and start the finale on Wednesday afternoon.
Here are the pitching matchups for the next five games:
- Saturday, July 16 (1:20pm CDT) – RHP Jason Hammel vs. RHP Yu Darvish
- Sunday, July 17 (1:20pm CDT) – RHP John Lackey vs. LHP Cole Hamels
- Monday, July 18 (6:05pm CDT) – LHP Jon Lester vs. LHP Steven Matz
- Tuesday, July 19 (6:05pm CDT) – RHP Jake Arrieta vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard
- Wednesday, July 20 (1:20pm CDT) – RHP Kyle Hendricks vs. Bartolo Colon
Kyle Hendricks picked up Friday where he left off before the break. Hendricks tossed six innings of shutout ball and earned high-praise from his skipper after the game.
Joe Maddon said Hendricks is the best pitcher in the National League that no one is talking about. Hendricks now has the best ERA among the Cubs’ starting staff after Friday’s outing.
Cubs rotation ERA: Kyle Hendricks (2.41), Jake Arrieta (2.68), Jon Lester (3.01), Jason Hammel (3.46) and John Lackey (3.70)
And Hendricks now has the third lowest ERA in baseball behind only Clayton Kershaw (1.79) and Madison Bumgarner (2.12).
Comcast SportsNet reported the Cubs are 5-0 since June 18 in games Hendricks has started. Maddon called Hendricks a tone-setter, the same way Jake Arrieta was last year.
Kyle Hendricks is 8-6 in 18 games, 17 starts, with a 2.41 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 3.48 FIP. Hendricks has allowed 36 runs, 28 earned, on 78 hits with 29 walks and 89 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings.
Joe Maddon provided an update on Dexter Fowler. And the Cubs are expecting him back at the end of next week. The Cubs have a three game series in Milwaukee (July 22-24) and two on the South Side with the White Sox (July 25-26) before returning to Wrigley for an eight-game homestand on July 27.
Fowler is running well and will stay with the Cubs throughout the weekend. Fowler should begin a second rehab assignment early in the coming week.
Jorge Soler is making progress with his rehab from the left hamstring injury that forced him to the DL on June 7.
The Cubs did not give a timetable on when he will go on a minor league rehab yet. Joe Maddon sounded upbeat Friday about the improvement Soler has made.
Joe Nathan made his first appearance with the Iowa Cubs on Thursday and it went well. Nathan struck out two of the three batters he faced. Nathan is scheduled to pitch again Saturday and is expected to be added to the Cubs’ bullpen early in the coming week.
The Des Moines Register reported Friday there was a slight change in the plan for Nathan.
Nathan is now scheduled to pitch Saturday and Sunday, which would be the first time he’s pitched on back-to-back days.
Cubs-Mariners – July 31
The Cubs announced Friday the Sunday, July 31 game versus the Seattle Mariners at Wrigley Field has been selected by ESPN for the national telecast.
The Cubs-Mariners game is now scheduled to begin at 7:08pm CDT.
The Des Moines Register provided an update Friday on Rob Zastryzny.
Zastryzny left Thursday’s game early with an apparent injury. I-Cubs’ skipper Marty Pevey told the Des Moines Register that “there is nothing particularly wrong” with him and there are no plans to put Zastryzny on the DL.
Pevey explained “it could be fatigue” that forced Zastryzny to leave Thursday’s start early. Zastryzny was not in any pain.
RHP Joel Peralta was designated for assignment on July 6 to make room on the active roster for RHP Adam Warren. The Cubs posted Peralta was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa two days later (July 8).
Peralta did not accept the assignment to Iowa. The Cubs announced Friday that Peralta cleared waivers and elected free agency.
Peralta appeared in five games for the Cubs and was 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA, 1.75 WHIP and 8.68 FIP.
Joel Peralta can sign with another team and is no longer in the organization.
Rays Pitching Rumors
The Rays have several starting pitchers that could be moved before the deadline. Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb and Chris Archer are all viewed to be available in, or course, the right deal.
Marc Topkin reported the Nationals, Pirates and Red Sox had “high-level scouts” at the Trop on Friday night with Chris Archer on the mound. According to Ken Rosenthal the Rays have received offers for Archer but nothing that has been worth consideration.
The Cubs, Rangers, Dodgers, Pirates, Yankees, Astros, Blue Jays, Orioles and Tigers have inquired about Rays starting pitchers according to Chris Cotillo.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Comcast SportsNet reported the Cubs got back to winning ways to kick off second half.
• For the first time in franchise history, the Cubs pitched a shutout on Opening Day and in the first game after the All-Star break.
• According to Christopher Kamka, the Cubs are the first team to ever play an Interleague game in both the first game of a season and the first game after an All-Star break.
• Ken Rosenthal posted the 11 biggest questions for the second half of the MLB season.
• Jon Paul Morosi reported on 12 newsmakers he thinks will likely shape the baseball industry over the next three weeks.
• Five players to watch in the Cubs second half according to Jesse Rogers: Jake Arrieta, Justin Grimm, Carl Edwards Jr., Willson Contreras and Aroldis Chapman.
• Mark Simon explained Addison Russell is showing signs of breaking through.
• Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington said Friday that he regrets trading Neil Walker for Jon Niese. The Pirates are shopping Niese but Huntington’s comments certainly won’t help the Pirates move the lefty. Huntington went on to say he probably would have been off acquiring two fringe prospects for Walker than Niese.
• The Brewers and Rangers have discussed deals that would send Jonathan Lucroy and Will Smith to Texas. The two teams are not close to completing a trade according to Chris Cotillo.
• The Blue Jays have had internal discussions about Carlos Beltran according to Jim Bowden.
• The Dodgers released former Cubs’ farmhand OF Pin-Chieh Chen.
• Arodys Vizcaino left Friday night’s game early with an apparent injury. Vizcaino made his first appearance since July 6 and pointed to his right oblique before he left the game. Vizcaino had been sidelined with an elbow infection according to David O’Brien. Vizcaino injured a “side muscle and will be re-evaluated” on Saturday. Vizcaino is expected to be placed on the DL.
• Rich Hill told Susan Slusser his bullpen went well on Friday and he will start Sunday against the Blue Jays.
This Day in Cubstory
2007 – Cubs acquired Jason Kendall from the A’s for Jerry Blevins and Rob Bowen
2001 – Fred McGriff invoked his no-trade clause and blocked a deal that would eventually send him to the Cubs.
1992 – Greg Maddux announced at a press conference in Pittsburgh that he had broken off negotiations with the Cubs on a contract extension and he would become a free agent at the end of the season. Maddux told the press he had given the Cubs two chances to sign him and he thought it should have been taken care of by then.
1937 – Lee Elia, born
1922 – Hack Miller hit a homer in the fourth inning, his fourth home run in three days, but the Cubs lost 10-7 to the Phillies at Wrigley Field
1905 – Charles W. Murphy purchased an interest and is made Vice President of the Cubs. Murphy would soon be named President of the team and would hold the position until 1913.
1897 – Cap Anson became the first Major Leaguer to collect his 3000th hit. Anson singled off Baltimore’s George Blackburn.
1885 – Bill Kennedy won both ends of a doubleheader, 9-3 and 13-9 over Buffalo. Ed Williamson replaced Kennedy in the sixth inning of the second game. The two victories were the last of Kennedy’s career