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Cub Tracks stays the course

Underwood not overwhelmed, and other bullets

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Five in a row. Ugh. The Cubs are stagnant right now. But there were signs of life in the mire. Duane Underwood Jr. pitched well enough to win, and the overall score was kept low with good bullpen work and excellent defense against a very good Dodger team.

Kris Bryant reports that he’s maybe spent too much time in the batting cage. This song’s for him.

Maybe the current streak is just a trick of the tail, and better times lie ahead. Am I wrong to believe in a city of gold?

And now for the news — as always * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs News and Notes:

According to a release from Triple-A Iowa, the Cubs have placed Shae Simmons on waivers. If and when he clears, it would open a spot on the 40-man roster. Simmons has a 5.56 ERA in 22 2/3 innings at Iowa this season. — Carrie Muskat.

NBC Sports Chicago: Yu Darvish looks good in rehab start [VIDEO].

“It was poetry in motion” -Duane Underwood Jr. on Matt Kemp’s 14-pitch at-bat. — Marly Rivera.

  • Moshe Wilensky (Cubs Insider): Financial state of the Central, Pt. 5: Cubs have money to sign monster FA and keep roster together…for a while. “I expect 2019 will be the year the Cubs finally blow past the cap and spend to their financial limits.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times* {$}): Value of Cubs ace Jon Lester rises and shines when team struggles. “It’s hard to say how much impact a particular player has on the whole team, but I would say that obviously he’s provided that anchor,” Ben Zobrist said.
  • David Haugh (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs’ Yu Darvish has strong, 5-inning rehab outing but tempers expectations. “Not perfect, but I’m just glad I got through five,’’ Darvish said through an interpreter. “My body condition wasn’t there.’’ Sahadev Sharma {$} adds on.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Duane Underwood Jr. big-league debut a highlight for Cubs in 2-1 loss to Dodgers. “Underwood was lifted for a pinch-hitter after pitching four innings of two-hit ball.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Brandon Morrow could rejoin Cubs bullpen by the end of the week. “It shouldn’t be much longer,” Maddon said. “If he’s good to go, he’s good to go.”
  • Matt Snyder (CBS Sports*): Why the Cubs shouldn’t panic about the bullpen after getting swept by the Reds. “A bad series -- which was preceded by a series win over the Dodgers, by the way -- is nothing more than just a bad series.”
  • John Grochowski (Chicago Sun-Times* {$}): Defensive shifts big component of runs saved. “Shifts will give to players who can go to the opposite field or who can launch the ball over the defense. Overall, however, they’ve taken away more than they’ve given.”
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Willson Contreras, Javier Baez in close All-Star races. “Baez, Contreras, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and third baseman Kris Bryant all are in second place at their respective positions in the latest National League ballot. Addison Russell is third among NL shortstops.”
  • Josh Cole (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): For Contreras, it’s not all about the long ball. “...don’t be fooled: Contreras is the best he’s ever been as a hitter.”
  • Dan Szymborski (ESPN Insider {$}): Who’s indispensable to his team’s postseason chances? 3. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs: 17.9 percent playoff odds boost. Cubs’ playoff odds: 82.1 percent with him, 64.2 percent without him.
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Bryant doesn’t believe his shoulder injury is serious. “He suspects it stems from being in the batting cage more than usual...”
  • Sahadev Sharma (The Athletic {$}): Bryant’s sore shoulder is a minor concern compared to his and Rizzo’s struggles. “Obviously we hit right in the thick of the order so you want to be producing all the time,” Rizzo said.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Manny Machado rumors appear to be slowing as Cubs’ trade needs take shape. “...this front office is going to continue to follow the same script they have since they got to town.”
  • Patrick Mooney (Sports Mockery): With depleted bullpen, Cubs could strike early in trade market. “... the Cubs’ bullpen is finally looking vulnerable for the first time this season.”
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): How agent Scott Boras sees the Albert Almora Jr. situation and Joe Maddon’s influence. “I guess my answer is I’ve never had a player not do well under him,” Boras said.

Food For Thought:

Thanks for playing along.