Joe Maddon’s team is on the road again and has nine games in 10 days against the Rockies, Padres and Dodgers. The Cubs extremely challenging nine-game, three-city trip begins Friday night with the first of three at Coors Field.
The Cubs are a combined 5-5 in 10 games against the Rockies (1-2), Padres (1-2) and Dodgers (3-1) this season. And outside of Wrigley, the Cubs are 32-24 (.571).
The Cubs spent the flight out west with a 77-43 record after the best 21-game stretch (18-3) since July 1-19, 1945. The Cubs are 14-2 in August and 24-8 in the second half. The Cubs are 34 games over .500 for the first time since Lou’s crew was 97-63 toward the end of the 2008 season (Sept. 27, 2008). And the Cubs have won 77 of the team’s first 120 for the first time since 1929.
The Cubs are not taking anything for granted, even with a 13-game lead in the NL Central. Joe Maddon, Chris Bosio and several of the players reiterated Thursday the Cubs are focused and realize there is a lot of baseball left to be played and the team has not won or accomplished anything.
Roster Moves, John Lackey and Rob Zastryzny
The Cubs could be on the verge of making several roster moves.
Rumors surfaced Thursday that the Cubs were selecting two contracts from Triple-A Iowa to add those players to the 40-man roster. The Cubs currently have 39 players on the 40-man, which means at least one spot would have to be cleared to add two players. And the Cubs would have to open two spots on the 25-man roster to call those players up.
Not long after the unconfirmed reports made the way around the Internets, the Iowa Cubs scratched LHP Rob Zastryzny from his scheduled start in Sacramento. From all indications it was a healthy scratch. Josh Collmenter started instead of Zastryzny. Collmenter reported to the I-Cubs on Thursday not prepared to start the game.
Collmenter completed two innings. Joe Thatcher made his organizational debut and pitched a scoreless inning. Corey Black and Jose Rosario also pitched in Iowa’s 4-3 win.
According to Randy Wehofer, Zastryzny is part of the discussions the Cubs are having as an option in case John Lackey has to be placed on the DL.
The Cubs are expected to know by Saturday, at the latest, if John Lackey will be able to make his scheduled start Tuesday in San Diego. Lackey is scheduled to throw a side session either Friday or Saturday according to The Sun-Times.
If Lackey is placed on the DL, the Cubs will have to replace him on the active roster.
Rob Zastryzny is 7-3 with a 4.33 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 15 games, 14 starts, for Triple-A Iowa. In 81 innings, the lefty allowed 42 runs, 39 earned, on 67 hits with 31 walks and 77 strikeouts.
Zastryzny would have to be added to the 40-man roster, which was expected to happen in the off-season anyway. The Cubs would just be moving the timeframe up a little.
As for a second player, the Cubs would presumably add a pitcher. With the bullpen beat up and three games at Coors Field, the Cubs would likely add a fresh bullpen arm for the nine-game road trip. Reliable reports have yet to surface on who else could be joining Zastryzny on the flight from Sacramento to Denver.
Updated 11:08am CDT – According to Mark Gonzales, the Cubs will call-up Rob Zastryzny and Felix Pena.
Joe Maddon has absolutely no plans to bench Jason Heyward even with the Cubs receiving next to nothing from him offensively. Maddon values what Heyward provides defensively and “the little things” he does so well.
Maddon believes in Heyward and feels “there’s going to be a tremendous reward at the end of all of this” both for the Cubs and Heyward.
“It’s difficult, but our record is pretty good and he’s been on the field for most of those games,” Maddon said. “He’s a winner, an absolute winner.”
Willson Contreras – Miguel Montero
Willson Contreras has made a lot of progress behind the plate this season as a receiver and game caller.
Contreras has developed a very good rapport with Kyle Hendricks and Jason Hammel while making progress catching John Lackey. Contreras was behind the plate Thursday to catch Jake Arrieta for the first time in a game.
Miguel Montero has caught a majority of Arrieta’s starts the last two seasons. Montero works very well with Arrieta and the two always seem to be on the same page. Montero is having a down season offensively and defensive due to wear and tear and two bulging discs in his back.
The Cubs would like to get Arrieta and Contreras time together during the regular season in case the two end up being paired in the post-season. And based on what happened Thursday, the Cubs were right not to wait.
Arrieta started the game by retiring the first eight batters he faced and he set down 11 of the first 12, the only baserunner was a walk to Brewers’ pitcher Zach Davies. Arrieta lost his command and started walking one batter after another. Arrieta issued a career-high seven walks in 5 2/3 innings.
Arrieta took responsibility for his bad outing. But it appeared after he did not get several close pitches called his way that he tried to be too perfect. Arrieta’s mechanics and release point were inconsistent and he could not get back to where he was in the first three innings. As for Contreras, he appeared to have trouble handling Arrieta’s stuff, which is understandable with all of the movement Arrieta gets.
Joe Maddon pointed out before the game the importance of getting Contreras time with Arrieta. The Cubs are not sure if Contreras, Montero or David Ross will catch Arrieta for the remainder of the season. All three catchers must be able to work with the entire pitching staff.
Maddon talked to Montero about his role with the team moving forward. And multiple reports suggested Montero will catch Mike Montgomery and Trevor Cahill on Saturday at Coors Field. Maddon would not commit to catching Montero on a specific day. Maddon said that Montero is “in the right frame of mind” and he praised his veteran catcher for his attitude and work ethic.
Tommy La Stella
La Stella finally reported to the minors to get at bats to prepare for a September call-up. After getting a hit in his first at-bat, La Stella was hit in the foot the next time up. La Stella has a bruised foot and did not play Thursday.
Tommy La Stella is day-to-day. The Cubs have not said if he will be in the lineup Friday or not.
According to Randy Wehofer, the Cubs released LHP C.J. Riefenhauser.
Riefenhauser appeared in 28 games for the I-Cubs this season, all in relief. Riefenhauser was 2-1 with a 4.55 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. The lefty allowed 15 runs, 14 earned, on 17 hits with 18 walks and 26 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings.
The Cubs claimed Riefenhauser off waivers from the Orioles in February.
News and Notes
• Comcast SportsNet reported Kris Bryant delivers another MVP performance for red-hot Cubs. ESPN explained how the Cubs won Thursday and that Kris Bryant commanded the inside part of the plate. The Sun-Times reported Bryant launched 29th, 30th homers and more MVP talk. According to the Tribune, Bryant’s bat overshadowed Arrieta’s wildness as Cubs completed sweep of Brewers. Bruce Levine reported Bryant’s big day helped Cubs overcome Arrieta’s control issues.
• Jake Arrieta had a rough start Thursday and became the first Cubs’ starting pitcher to walk seven batters in a single start since Carlos Zambrano (June 10, 2011). And Thursday was the first time in over a year (May 29, 2015) that Arrieta has given up multiple home runs in the same game at Wrigley. Christopher Kamka pointed out that in Arrieta’s previous 19 starts at Wrigley he allowed 19 earned runs with 38 walks and two home runs in 128 innings … on Thursday, Arrieta gave up five earned runs with seven walks and two home runs in 5 2/3 innings.
• According to the Tribune, rest could be next for Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
• FanGraphs imagined an All-World Defensive Team that includes Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward. August Fagerstrom pointed out in his report how good the Cubs defense has been this season. And the best team in baseball and the best defense in the game.
• According to ESPN Chicago, with patience Jorge Soler might be coming into his own.
• Tim Wilken will be inducted into the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Game in Fort Myers on Friday.
And last, but not least, the Cubs will wear ‘onesies’ for the second time on a flight back from Los Angeles to Chicago. The Cubs’ nine-game road trip ends Sunday, Aug. 28 with the last of three at Dodger Stadium. As was the case a year ago, the Cubs will wear onesies on the flight home. Last year, Arrieta pitched the first no-hitter of his career on that Sunday in Los Angeles to wrap up a long trip to the coast.
This Day in Cubstory
2013 – Washington Nationals claimed David DeJesus off of waivers from the Cubs
2012 – Cubs claimed Alex Hinshaw off of waivers from the Cubs
2011 – Jim Hendry was dismissed as the General Manager of the Chicago Cubs, Randy Bush replaced Hendry as the Cubs interim GM
2004 – Cubs signed free agent Neifi Perez
2003 – Cubs acquired Tony Womack from the Rockies for Emmanuel Ramirez
1998 – Cubs signed free agent Gary Gaetti
1993 – Cubs acquired Glenallen Hill from the Indians for Candy Maldonado
1989 – Jerome Walton extended his hitting streak to 29 games and set the Cubs modern day record for the longest consecutive hitting streak surpassing Ron Santo’s 28 games in 1966.
1981 – Cubs acquired Pat Tabler from the Yankees for two PTBNL. Cubs sent Bill Caudill (April 1, 1982) and Jay Howell (August 2, 1982) to the Yankees to complete the trade
1979 – Rocky Cherry, born
1970 – Cubs hit seven home runs in a 12-2 win over the Padres at Wrigley Field. Ferguson Jenkins picked up the victory. Jim Hickman and Glenn Beckert both hit two home runs. Joe Pepitone, Johnny Callison, Ferguson Jenkins and Billy Williams each hit one longball. Beckert, Callison and Pepitone went deep in the eighth inning.
1969 – Ken Holtzman threw a no-hitter against the Braves at Wrigley Field. The Cubs won 3-0 behind a first inning three-run homer by Ron Santo.
1958 – Gary Gaetti, born
1955 – Cubs signed free agent George Altman
1930 – Hack Wilson hit home run No. 43 and tied Chuck Klein’s National League record for a single season.
1909 – Cubs purchased King Cole from Bay City
1880 – Larry Corcoran pitched the first no-hitter in franchise history. Corcoran blanked Boston 6-0 at Lakefront Park. Cap Anson recorded 21 putouts at first base.