The Cubs get back to work tonight following Thursday’s off day and open a three-game series in Houston. Jon Lester is scheduled to take on rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove in the opener with the Astros.
The Cubs gained ground Thursday on the Cardinals and Nationals in the race for the division title and best record in the NL. The Brewers beat the Cardinals 12-5 in St. Louis and the Nationals lost 4-1 to the Phillies at Nationals Park. The Cubs have a full 16-game lead in the NL Central and have an eight-game advantage in the loss column over the Nationals in the Senior Circuit.
The Cubs are 36-15 (.706) in the second half after posting a 53-35 (.602) record before the break. The Cubs are 4-3 in the last seven and one of the big reasons is Dexter Fowler has gone cold at the plate. Fowler had a good August (.263/.364/.384/.748) and the Cubs were 22-6. Since returning from the stint on the DL, Fowler is hitting only .229/.344/.333 with three doubles, two triples and three home runs for a .678 OPS. Fowler has 27 walks and 43 strikeouts in his last 42 games (153 at bats).
Over his last four games the Cubs are 1-3 and Fowler is 0-for-18 with a walk and six strikeouts. And in the six games his played in this month, Fowler is 3-for-25 with three walks, two runs scored and six strikeouts. That’s an extremely un-Fowler like line of .120/.214/.120 with a .334 OPS.
Dexter Fowler is not concerned and neither are the Cubs. Joe Maddon told the Tribune that he doesn’t think Fowler is dealing with fatigue or any injuries. But he still might be feeling the affect from the hamstring injury that sidelined him for the majority of a month.
“I don’t think it’s an issue of fatigue,” Maddon said. “He’s had the injury. He was out for a long time. He’s got to get that feeling back, on the left side particularly.”
As ESPN Chicago pointed out, Fowler has struggled offensively in September throughout his career.
Last September, Fowler hit .204/.293/.320 with a .613 OPS in 27 games before turning it on in October.
And for his career, Fowler’s numbers are lower in September (.247/.330/.356/.686) than any other month of the season. In fact, his .686 OPS is 56 points lower than May (.742) and 65 points lower than June (.751) the other two months that he has an OPS lower than .800.
Joe Maddon is confident Dexter Fowler will get it going again offensively … and once Fowler starts going again, so will the Cubs offense.
News and Notes
• By passing on Kris Bryant, the Astros handed the Cubs a superstar according to Comcast SportsNet.
• Tom Verducci provided an in-depth look at why the Cubs have all the ingredients to end World Series drought. Verducci believes the Cubs are “not just the best team in baseball this year but one of the best teams in the past few decades.”
• Sports Illustrated reported the Cubs must decide whether Jason Hammel or John Lackey belongs in playoff rotation.
• The Tribune reported Aroldis Chapman and Jorge Soler are eager to see fellow Cuban Yulieski Gurriel.
• ESPN posted a MLB Insiders Roundtable where Jim Bowden, Buster Olney and Keith Law made pennant race predictions, September heroes and stretch-run dark horses.
• Matt Snyder explained why the Cubs are on pace to be the single best defensive team ever.
• FOX Sports posted the Cy Young Award candidates for both leagues … Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester are included in the report.
• And having three Cy Young candidates means Cubs may wind up without the prize according to ESPN Chicago.
• Tom Ricketts threw out the first pitch at Four Winds Field on Thursday night before the South Bend Cubs beat West Michigan 6-2 to force a third and deciding game of the Eastern Division First Round Series. According to Angelo Di Carlo, Ricketts “raved about the South Bend Cubs facilities and what Andrew Berlin has done.”
— Angelo Di Carlo (@angdicarlowndu) September 8, 2016
This Day in Cubstory
2014 – Kris Bryant was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year.
1999 – Sammy Sosa hit home run No. 59.
1989 – Luis Salazar singled in the tying run in the eighth inning and doubled in the game winning run in the 10th inning to give the Cubs a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals. The Cubs took a 1 ½ game lead over St. Louis in the NL East.
1988 – Bruce Sutter recorded the 300th save of his career in his final Major League game. The Braves beat the Padres 5-4 at Jack Murphy Stadium.
1986 – Michael Bowden, born
1983 – Edwin Jackson, born
1971 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Bruce Sutter
1970 – Cubs released Al Spangler
1965 – Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers beat the Cubs 1-0. Koufax threw a perfect game at Dodger Stadium against the Cubs. Koufax struck out 14 in one of the most dominate starts in this history of the game. Cubs’ pitcher Bob Hendley allowed only one hit and an unearned run, a double by Lou Johnson that drove in the only run of the game. The Cubs were not no-hit again until the Phillies’ Cole Hamels broke The Streak on July 25, 2015.
1965 – Todd Zeile, born
1955 – Ernie Banks, Dee Fondy and Eddie Miksis homered in the first inning and Banks, Fondy and Gene Baker hit home runs in the eighth inning in the first game of a doubleheader against the Dodgers. The Cubs took game one 11-4 but lost game two 16-9. There were a total of 13 home runs hit in the doubleheader that day at Wrigley Field.
1952 – Jerry Mumphrey, born
1918 – In game four of the World Series, Babe Ruth knocked in two runs with a triple in the fourth inning and pitched seven innings of scoreless ball. The Cubs tied the game in the eighth inning ending Ruth’s World Series record of 29 2/3 scoreless innings. Cubs lost the game 3-2 after a wild pitch and an errant throw by reliever Phil Douglas. Babe Ruth was the winning pitcher.
1916 – Hippo Vaughn and Jimmy Lavender shutout the Pirates in both ends of a doubleheader
1915 – Albert Spalding passed away in San Diego at the age of 65
1894 – Bill Dahlen extended his second hitting streak to 28 games in a 9-5 loss to Cleveland in Chicago.
1882 – Cap Anson, Mike Kelly, George Gore, Tommy Burns and Franks Flint each collected four hits and Larry Corcoran tossed a three-hitter as the Chicago National League team beat Troy 24-1 in a game that was called after eight innings due to darkness at Lakefront Park.
1876 – Frank Chance, born