Let me preface what I’m about to write by saying that I’m very sorry that Jose Lobatón was injured on the final play of the Cubs’ 2-1 loss to the Brewers Tuesday evening in Milwaukee.
Lobatón walked off with his right shoulder being supported.
Ross: José Lobatón was in "serious" pain after the final out. He'll undergo X-rays, but the manager did not want to speculate on the nature/severity of the right shoulder injury.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 30, 2021
There is, unfortunately, a very real chance that’ll be the last play of Lobatón’s baseball career. So, for that, I’m definitely sorry.
What I want to say is this: Why was he even in the game at that point? The Cubs had actually put two runners on base against Josh Hader on a single and a walk, with the tying run in scoring position.
I am well aware that the only other bench options at the time, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, were banged up. But I agree with what Boog and JD said on the broadcast: Why not send one of those guys up, see if they can work a walk — both are pretty good at that — and let Patrick Wisdom have a shot at Hader with the bases loaded? (That would have been a fun matchup to watch, too.)
Anyway, it didn’t happen, and the Cubs suffered their fifth consecutive defeat.
Once again, Zach Davies got himself in trouble by running up a large pitch count over four innings of work. 84 pitches and only 47 strikes isn’t going to cut it for that short an outing. We’ve been over this many times, that sort of thing is going to overextend the bullpen.
He allowed just two runs, which ... well, it isn’t great over four innings, but it’s not awful either, and the Cubs did manage to briefly tie the game 1-1 in the fourth on this RBI double by Wisdom [VIDEO].
The Cubs bullpen, after the massive meltdown Monday, resumed its previous excellent work. Brad Wieck, Keegan Thompson, Dan Winkler and newcomer Adam Morgan threw four hitless innings, allowing just one baserunner (a walk issued by Thompson) with four strikeouts. It was enough to keep the Cubs in the game and give them a chance against Hader.
But “a chance” isn’t enough. The Cubs are now five games behind, and ...
David Ross understands the importance of the next two games for his team: “If you get swept, that’s six games back. That’s a big number.”— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) June 29, 2021
Stating the obvious there, of course. A win in the series finale Wednesday afternoon stanches the wound a bit, and would keep the Cubs “just” four games behind. With half the season still remaining, that feels more manageable than six games back.
The Cubs have another issue, and that’s how to get another backup catcher on the active and 40-man rosters. I would assume Tony Wolters will be in Milwaukee for Wednesday’s game. It would seem wrong to DFA Lobatón after such a serious injury, though I suppose no one would claim him and the Cubs could sign him back to a minor-league deal and take care of him through the injury. I suppose the Cubs could put Lobatón on the 60-day injured list; that would clear a 40-man spot.
But if they don’t do that, they really don’t have a lot of other choices. Here are the players on the 40-man roster currently on option to the minor leagues:
I don’t see any obvious DFA candidates there. Here are the 40-man players on the 10-day injured list (in other words, those not already on the 60-day):
Some of those players are fairly close to returning. Nico Hoerner was placed on the IL May 26, which means if he were moved to the 60-day, he couldn’t return until July 24, but Nico is already on a rehab assignment and could return by the weekend. David Bote was placed on the IL May 29 and he’d be out until July 27 if placed on the 60-day. And Trevor Williams went on the IL May 31, so he’d be out until July 29 with a 60-day placement. Williams is also on rehab assignment at Iowa. All three of those players are likely to be ready before late July. Maples, Steele (also on rehab assignment) and Tepera probably aren’t 60-day candidates, either.
Seems like the most logical thing to do would be to put Lobatón on the 60-day and bring Wolters back. As always, we await developments.
Jake Arrieta will attempt to stop the losing streak as the starter for Wednesday’s afternoon contest. The Brewers are essentially going to have a bullpen game. Late Tuesday they announced that lefthander Aaron Ashby, one of their top pitching prospects, would be called up to make his MLB debut and start the game. He’s not expected to go more than a couple of innings. Incidentally, Ashby is the nephew of former MLB pitcher Andy Ashby, who had a 14-year career with the Padres, Phillies, Dodgers, Rockies and Braves from 1991-2004.
If the Cubs can pull off the win in the series finale, that would leave them at 13-15 for June, which, considering the degree of difficulty of the schedule for the month, wouldn’t be too awful.
Game time Wednesday is 1:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. Today’s game preview will post at 11:30 a.m. CT.