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Cub Tracks’ Hamels time

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Yu can’t touch this unless it’s in South Bend, Full-metal Joe, and other bullets

yeah, they won that one, too
Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

The Cubs look to be resting their starters before the playoffs, giving them time to heal their various hurts while still remaining competitive. It’s a risky strategy, as it depends on depth, talent, and just plain dumb luck for success...but it’s caused by nagging injuries to those starters and there doesn’t seem to be any better way to deal with it.

But it seems to be working. The Cubs have the kind of depth these days that the likes of Kris Bryant and Yu Darvish can spend extended periods off the field and the team continues to win 6/11ths of their games.

I’m not sure if starting Tyler Chatwood isn’t pushing that envelope, but hey, why not? It isn’t as if the other options are wonderful...the Cubs are still a year or two away from real starting pitching depth. The bullpen is reasonably well-rested after two 1-0 wins, and if Chatwood falters, there’s other good options.

One hopes the bats are well-rested, too, and will make more than a cameo appearance. Teams seldom win when the lumber is slumbering. On the other hand, that 98% playoff odds number sounds awful good.

Way to celebrate Victor Caratini’s birthday in style! As always * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs News and Notes:

This has been a weird season, to say the least. The Cubs have dealt with injuries and inconsistency throughout and now they can’t seem to string together more than a couple wins in a row, all of which has allowed the Brewers to stick around. But the season-long playoff odds projections show the Cubs steadily pulling away. — Evan Altman.

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is getting closer to a return, and he expects to have an impact on this year’s pennant race.

Bryant hopes to be back in the Cubs’ lineup by the end of the month, and he expects to be healthy enough to contribute after three or four rehab games.

“Just looking at the schedule, I think the amount of games we have left is plenty of time to get ready for hopefully a long playoff run, and hopefully I might be a little more rested than some of my teammates because they’ve been out there grinding every day,” Bryant said, via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Hopefully I can provide that nice little push and cause some separation between ourselves and some of the other [teams] out there and all through the playoffs. But I guess it’s yet to be seen.

“I expect the same impact I’ve always had. I’m just going to go out there and be myself, and I know that’s pretty good to me.”

Bryant, who last played on July 23, says he’s pain-free in his shoulder. The Cubs look playoff-bound no matter what, but his return should solidify that for them. — Grey Papke.

  • Paul Sullivan, Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): From Full-metal Joe to Joe the Romantic: The many sides of Maddon. “ day he’ll be gone and we’ll all have a lot less to talk about.”
  • Matt Snyder (CBS Sports*): Cubs have best NL record right now, but fixing their rotation is a must during the stretch run. “The starting rotation has been pretty bad overall, pitching to a 4.17 ERA. That ranks them just 10th in the NL.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs’ Jon Lester satisfied with results over numbers: ‘I don’t even know what WAR is and how it applies to a pitcher’. “All I know is the Cubbies won the game, and that’s all that matters,” Lester said.
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): How Lester found some answers and looked like the Cubs’ ace again. “We brainstormed a little bit. That’s not going to always be the outcome, but tonight was good,” Lester said.
  • David Kaplan (NBC Sports Chicago*): Kyle Hendricks embracing change as he looks to regain top form. “I just got out of sync and it is not easy to fix pitching mechanics overnight but Hick and Borzy (pitching coaches Jim Hickey and Mike Borzello) and I watched a lot of tape...” Hendricks said, in part.
  • Mason Wittner (*): Cubs seal 1-0 win with record-tying 7th DP. Cole Hamels remains unblemished in a Cubs uniform.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs manager Joe Maddon discusses Mike Montgomery’s injury. [VIDEO].
  • Patrick Mooney (Sports Mockery): Montgomery’s injury could force Theo’s hand. “the Cubs rotation is one injury away from being in serious trouble...with two weeks left before the waiver trade deadline, the Cubs should look into adding another starter.”
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Pedro Strop pitching like elite closer in Brandon Morrow’s absence. “Leave the funky rally caps to other teams, Cubs fans only need to turn their hats to the left at the end of the game.”
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): As they work to get healthy, Cubs unsure if Drew Smyly will be an option down the stretch. “It’s hard to put into words — I’m healthy, I’m throwing, it’s just like the recovery standpoint, the bounce-back from the next day/the next couple days is not where I really want it to be,” Smyly said.
  • Doug Glanville (NBC Sports Chicago*): David Bote, the Cubs and the case for slow development. “He has clearly seen a thing or two.”
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): Preparing for impact: Kris Bryant expects to be a game-changer in playoff race. “I expect the same impact I’ve always had,” Bryant said.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Theo Epstein clarifies Cubs’ expectations for Bryant’s health. “He’s not gonna be able to get him back to a situation where right away he’s playing every single day and Joe doesn’t have to give it a second thought.”
  • John Sickels (Minor League Ball): Chicago Cubs Top 20 prospects for 2018: mid-season review. “Continuing with our mid-season organization reviews...”
  • Robert Channick (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs fan cries foul over team’s World Series ivy leaf commemorative, files copyright lawsuit. “I love the Cubs. It really is disappointing,” Dan Fox said Friday. “But it’s so egregiously unjust.”
  • 670 The Score: Dusty Baker: Chicago ‘turned on me big time’. “When asked to clarify whether it was ownership of the fan base that turned on him, Baker went into greater details.”
  • Ken Rosenthal (The Athletic {$}): Baker opens up on the Nats, his career, racism, the state of the game and the ‘smell of collusion’. “What was it you wanted to fly all the way west to talk about?” Baker asked.

Food for thought:

Thanks for reading.