I’ve reached the point where writing starts with a hefty sigh. What do I want to say and what do you want to hear? I wasn’t writing here in 2016 when the Cubs were winning seemingly every day and by extension, I certainly wasn’t writing during the first half of the last decade when they were losing seemingly every day. So this is my first time writing at BCB where the decision feels a little predetermined each day.
During the last down stretch I did some frustrated writing, lashing out in turn at David Ross and the front office. During the recent mediocre stretch (or by comparison, the “good” stretch), I did some optimistic writing. But it’s hard not to drift to a more hopeless kind of place. Again, I’m actually not too distraught about the future. I do think, scratch that, I do know that there are better days ahead. I don’t know and can’t know if 2023 will begin an upswing. I suspect it will. But things always have to fall in place. Certainly as Cubs fans, we saw in 2015 that things can fall into place pretty quickly. But, ask the Blue Jays how tricky it can be to open a contention window, particularly if you play in a very strong division.
So the future is really never “written.” You have some opportunity to steer your future and find better results. But in any event, all of that is the extended future. The near term future is pretty bleak. Thousands of characters were written before and after the start of this season. There are varying opinions as to if this team really had a realistic chance at winning. Certainly, I remain in the camp of this team being built with a really thin sliver of possibility of being good. There just wasn’t enough depth anywhere, but particularly on the pitching staff to deal with the grind of a long season. Certainly, had they been fully healthy, things could have been different. But also how often is a team fully healthy.
Regardless, the injuries came. As I’ve talked about in the past, this team is going to get squeezed in a number of directions. First and most obvious is the trade deadline. While this team lacks the kind of star power that might make a significant bump to the talent level, there will be deals. And because there isn’t star power, the return is going to almost certainly be players well down in the system. The other side of the squeeze at some point will be players being shutdown for the season rather than returned to the field. I don’t have any inside knowledge, but at some point for a Wade Miley or a Kyle Hendricks you might decide to just shut them down, get them fully back to healthy ahead of next season.
It’s different with an Adbert Alzolay or a Brailyn Márquez. Those guys are so far removed from competitive baseball that you just want to get them some reps at some point. Of course, those reps might occur on a minor league field nowhere near Chicago. It is also very likely that as the roster depletes, that the players brought up from the system are more like organizational guys than the next wave of hopeful prospects. The Cubs aren’t going to unnecessarily start any clocks on their key players.
With any luck, they’ll at least stumble onto some Rafael Ortega/Patrick Wisdom/Frank Schwindel type players. Guys who have never really gotten any meaningful time to play. Someone like Jackson Frazier could maybe be that type of player if he gets the opportunity. But the Iowa roster isn’t exactly over flowing right now with guys that profile like that. So I just don’t know. I do know that this team is depressing to follow in the short term.
That said, I endeavor to find you three positives (with a focus on player development and guys who I believe will be around beyond 2022). Let’s see what we have from Thursday’s loss.
- Nico Hoerner only got three at bats before getting a little time off in the rout. He made pretty good work of that with two hits.
- Seiya Suzuki chipped in two hits of his own. The Cubs did a little better than Wednesday, going from six hits to eight. But four of them came off of two bats. That’s a whole lot of unproductive at-bats.
- Daniel Norris gets my third nod. I love a perfect inning out of the pen, even in a low leverage spot.
Now let’s turn our attention to the Heroes and Goats from Thursday’s loss.
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Nico Hoerner (.036). 2-3
- Hero: Patrick Wisdom (.026). 0-3, BB, K
- Sidekick: Mark Leiter Jr. (.014). 32⁄3IP (16 batters), 4H, BB, 3R, 5K
- Billy Goat: Keegan Thompson (-.286). 4⅓ IP (25 batters), 8H, 4BB, 5R, K, HBP, WP (L 7-4)
- Goat: Rafael Ortega (-.092). 0-4, K, DP
- Kid: Alfonso Rivas (-.066). 1-4, K
WPA Play of the Game: With the Cubs trailing 1-0 in the second inning, Patrick Mazeika batted with runners on first and second and one out. He doubled and two runs scored. (.152)
*Cubs Play of the Game: With the bases loaded and one out in the second, the Mets leading 4-0, Pete Alonso batted against Thompson. Thompson coaxed an inning-ending double play to avoid further damage. (.065)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Seiya Suzuki (2-4, 2K)
Daniel Norris (IP, 3 batters, K)
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 3/Bottom 3)
The award is named for Anthony Rizzo, who finished first in this category three of the first four years it was in existence and four times overall. He also recorded the highest season total ever at +65.5. The point scale is three points for a Superhero down to negative three points for a Billy Goat.
- Christopher Morel +18
- Scott Effross/Nico Hoerner +15
- Daniel Norris -7.5
- Jason Heyward -16.5
- Yan Gomes -17
Up Next: Game two of the four-game set between these two teams Friday afternoon. Marcus Stroman (2-5, 4.91) will start for the Cubs. Tajuan Walker (7-2, 2.63) is scheduled for the Mets.