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Three up, three down: An update on the 2022 Cubs, June 28 edition

Hey, look! This feature is back after a hiatus during ... a time of losing.

Scott Effross doesn’t get a front-page photo very often, so I decided to give him one
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

I started this feature in May to keep you updated on how certain Chicago Cubs were having good, or bad, weeks.

The last edition, before now, was posted June 6. That’s largely because in the intervening weeks, “Three up, three down” would have been pretty much all “three down.” There wasn’t much “up” to talk about.

The Cubs went 3-4 on their road trip to Pittsburgh and St. Louis, and while that isn’t great, it wasn’t awful, either, and the Cubs had a reasonable shot at winning two of the four games they lost.

Hopefully, that portends better things in the future. That said, here are this week’s ups and downs for the 2022 Cubs.

Three up

Keegan Thompson appears to have righted the ship

After getting pounded by the Orioles and Yankees, Thompson put together two really good starts against the Pirates and Cardinals. In those two outings: 12 innings, six hits, three walks, one run, 16 strikeouts, .140 opponents BA. How did that happen?

“I was trying to place balls the last time,” Thompson said, “instead of just going after guys and staying in the zone and letting them put it in play. There was a couple of fastballs that were hit in one of my outings. I think it just took me away from it.”

He’ll start tonight at Wrigley against the Reds. Hopefully he keeps up the good work.

Nico Hoerner is a hot hitter

Nico’s week against the Pirates and Cardinals: .480/.517/.640 (12-for-25), a double, a home run, five runs, only one strikeout. Perhaps he’s finally found a groove — if he can stay healthy, maybe he’ll finally show that No. 1 draft pick talent on a regular basis.

Scott Effross, quietly getting the job done

Effross in 10 appearances in June: 9⅓ innings, 1.93 ERA, 1.179 WHIP, 14 strikeouts. He’s allowed earned runs in only one of those 10 outings.

Presuming David Robertson is traded, I’d like to see Effross get a chance to close. His sidearm/submarine style is a very different look for most hitters. Pitches like this make him successful:

Three down

Christopher Morel is in a slump

It happens to almost every young hitter who comes up from the minor leagues and starts out hot. The league figures him out and adjusts to him, and in 15 games since June 11: .191/.224/.302 (12-for-63) with 29 strikeouts. Yikes, that’s a lot of K’s. He’s homered twice in that span, but obviously he needs to adjust back.

The talent is there. The team’s going nowhere. Might as well let him fight through it at the big-league level.

... and so is Willson Contreras

Despite Contreras’ two key hits Sunday, he’s not been hitting well recently. Last 11 games since June 16: .233/.313/.279 (10-for-43) with 13 strikeouts. He could use a day off — and fortunately, the Cubs just had one on Monday. I find myself puzzled as to why P.J. Higgins is still on the active roster but did not play once in the St. Louis series — not even as a pinch-hitter. Higgins has actually done a decent job since his recall — play him from time to time!

What is this team’s obsession with Andrelton Simmons?

The. Man. Still. Cannot. Hit. (If this sounds familiar, I said this last time, too.) In his last 18 games since May 25: .146/.167/.146 (6-for-43), no extra-base hits.

Yes, his defense is still good. But he’s taking up a roster spot... why, exactly? Morel can back up shortstop if needed. Simmons, like Higgins, didn’t play at all in St. Louis — not even as a defensive replacement.

Just admit the mistake and release him.


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