With the Central Division title in hand, the Cubs next team goal is to secure the best record in the National League and home field advantage in the playoffs. The Cubs (94-55) have a six-game lead over the Nationals (88-61) for the top record in the Senior Circuit with 13 games left on the schedule.
Joe Maddon admitted the Cubs want to win 100 games. He’s never reached 100 victories in a season and said “it’s a pretty neat number.”
Over the next two weeks, Maddon plans to post lineups in advance so players know when they will get days off. Maddon reiterated he will avoid using relievers for more than two days in a row. And the Cubs’ skipper also wants to get his reserves plenty of at bats.
Maddon told the beat writers before Sunday’s game the “final two weeks could help determine one to two spots on the playoff roster.” Maddon pointed out that the opponent will also figure into the Cubs’ decisions for those last couple of spots.
“There are still short-term goals that lead to long-term benefits,” Maddon said.
Mike Montgomery has been moved to the bullpen for this turn through the rotation. Thursday’s off day allowed the Cubs to shift back to a five-man rotation. According to multiple reports, Montgomery will likely make one more start this season and it would be on the road trip in either Pittsburgh or Cincinnati.
The Cubs are also looking to prepare Montgomery for a possible role in the bullpen during the postseason.
Comcast SportsNet reported the Cubs have a bullpen day planned for next week in Pittsburgh that Montgomery will be part of.
Despite losing three of four to the Brewers over the weekend, the Cubs have no plans of backing off and just playing out the schedule. The goal remains to secure the best record in the National League, win as many games as possible and prepare the players for another month of baseball.
Jorge Soler had an MRI on his right oblique Saturday in response to tightness in his right side forcing him to leave Friday’s game before the fourth inning. Mark Grote spoke with Soler and the Cubs outfielder said he felt great but had not received the results of the MRI.
Pedro Strop threw his scheduled bullpen before Sunday’s game. The Cubs were very happy with the way Strop looked during the bullpen on Thursday and scheduled him to throw another one by Sunday. Reports last week suggested Strop could be ready to come off the DL by Monday (today). But the Cubs eased off that timeframe publicly while saying Strop will not be rushed back.
The Cubs would like Strop to pitch in games before the season ends.
Cubs-Reds Series and Probable Starters
The Cubs and Reds are going to see a lot of each other over the next two weeks. The Cubs have 13 games remaining on the schedule and six of those are against the Reds. The Cubs welcome Joey Votto, Billy Hamilton and the Reds to Wrigley for the last time on Monday night (7:05pm CDT) for the first of a three-game series. The Cubs last three games of the season are in Cincinnati (Sept. 30-Oct. 2).
The Cubs announced Jason Hammel, Jon Lester and John Lackey would start the next three games. Bryan Price and the Reds have not announced a starter yet for Tuesday. As has been the case quite a bit in the second half, the Cubs will see starting pitchers they have not faced before. The Reds are using two rookie right-handers at Wrigley.
The Cubs are 10-3 versus the Reds this year.
- Monday, Sept. 19 (7:05pm CDT) – RHP Jason Hammel vs. RHP Tim Adleman
- Tuesday, Sept. 20 (7:05pm CDT) – LHP Jon Lester vs. TBA
- Wednesday, Sept. 21 (7:05pm CDT) – RHP John Lackey vs. RHP Robert Stephenson
With the recent changes to the rotation, it appears the Cubs have lined up Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and Jason Hammel for the Cardinals series (Sept. 23-25).
News and Notes
• Joe Maddon talked to the beat writers before Sunday’s game about what he’s seen from Miguel Montero. Maddon said, “Miggy is really resurfacing nicely” and that “his whole game has picked up.” Maddon pointed out to ESPN Chicago that he looks like he did last year. It’s believed, and looking more and more every day that the Cubs will carry three catchers on the NLDS roster.
• According to Bruce Levine, Miguel Montero’s work with psychologist has offered a positive perspective.
• The Tribune reported Kyle Hendricks was sharp again, but the Brewers held the Cubs’ bats at bay. Cubs’ offense sputtered in another loss to the Brewers according to Comcast SportsNet. And ESPN Chicago reported, Cubs’ regulars returned to lineup … along with some strikeouts … in loss to the Brewers.
• Comcast SportsNet reported Kyle Hendricks believes outing against the Brewers illustrates his development into a Cy Young contender.
• Anthony Rizzo has reached base safely in 14 straight games.
• For the fourth time this season, Kris Bryant has a seven-game hitting streak.
• John Perrotto asked who is each contender’s No. 1 starter?
• Hector Rondon was not available Sunday. Joe Maddon was asked after the game where Rondon was and why he was not used in the eighth inning. Maddon said Rondon was not available. Rondon is not hurt and there is nothing wrong with him. Rondon was warmed up Saturday but not used and Maddon is not trying to push him too much right now.
• Brewers’ closer Tyler Thornburg provided a little motivation for Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo next season. Thornburg struck out Bryant and Rizzo with two on to end Sunday’s game and said after, “They’re both guys I’ve had success against. I feel confident pitching against them.”
• According to ESPN Chicago, the Cubs rank 10th in the National League in batting average with runners in scoring position. The Nationals are sixth, Giants are 11th, Dodgers 12th and the Mets are 15th in the league.
• From the pretty, awesomely cool department … Ben Zobrist biked to Wrigley Field on Saturday in his uniform.
And last but not least, Kyle Schwarber was throwing a football around Wrigley Field on Sunday … and Mark Grote took a picture (click here).
This Day in Cubstory
2010 – Tyler Colvin, standing on third base, was punctured in the chest by a piece of Welington Castillo’s broken bat. Colvin scored and was taken to the hospital in Miami. Colvin did not play another game that season.
1981 – Scott Baker, born
1973 – Ron Santo and Billy Williams each homered for their 20th home runs of the season. In the more than 2000 games the two played with one another, Santo hit 325 homers and Williams hit 376.
1962 – Randy Meyers, born
1960 – Phil Stephenson, born
1955 – Ernie Banks set a Major League record with his fifth Grand Slam of the season in a 6-5 loss to the Cardinals in 12 innings.
1947 – Cubs released Billy Jurges
1947 – Cubs released Bill Lee
1935 – Cubs completed a four-game sweep over the Giants for their 16th straight victory, the longest winning streak in the big leagues since the Dodgers won 15 in a row in 1924.
1885 – John Clarkson pitched a two-hitter for his 50th win of the season in a 10-3 victory over Boston at West Side Park.