It’s been more than two weeks and a trading deadline’s worth of time since the last entry in the “Three up, three down” series, so... just how have the Cubs done since that July 27 article, and who’s hot and who’s not?
The Cubs are 7-9 since that article was posted July 27, which is... not terrible! I still think this team can play .500ish ball the rest of the year; if they do so, they’ll wind up with about 70 or 71 wins, which is essentially the same as last year, only with a bit more optimism.
Onward to today’s three up and three down.
Nick Madrigal just might be the guy the Cubs had hoped for
Madrigal is hitting .429./520/.476 (9-for-21) over his last seven games. The best thing there is the OBP being nearly 100 points higher than the BA. That’s because of three walks in that span, including the very first two-walk game of his MLB career.
Madrigal has always been known as a guy who puts the ball in play and rarely walks or strikes out. If he could take even a few more walks he’d make an ideal leadoff hitter.
Cincinnati helps Ian Happ heat up
Happ always, ALWAYS hits well at GABP. He went 5-for-13 in the weekend series at Cincinnati, including this home run on a pitch way out of the strike zone [VIDEO].
It’s not just playing in Cincinnati, either; Happ’s lifetime .301/.409/.675 slash line against the Reds (80 games, 298 PA) is his best against any team he’s faced more than three times.
And the Cubs have nine more games to play against the Reds this year, including the last three of the season at GABP.
Rowan Wick seems to have figured things out
After a really rough patch in late June and early July, Wick has now not allowed a run in his last 11 appearances (12⅓ innings, 10 hits, three walks, 15 strikeouts). He recorded the save in the Field of Dreams game with this nasty curveball [VIDEO].
Wick appears to have settled in to the closer role which he inherited mostly by default after David Robertson was traded. If he continues to do well there, I’d have no problem with Wick being the anointed closer for the 2023 season — that would save the Cubs from having to go out and spending money on a closer.
Seiya Suzuki is “off balance”
Since the last update in this series, Suzuki is hitting .133/.185/.217 (8-for-60) with 17 strikeouts.
During the broadcast Sunday, Rick Sutcliffe mentioned that Suzuki appeared to be “off balance” in the batter’s box. Sutcliffe isn’t always the best for in-game analysis but I think he’s on to something here. Suzuki was on a hot streak for a while after he returned from the injured list, but something’s not right with him now, especially with all the strikeouts.
This strikeout August 7 at Wrigley against the Marlins is a good example [VIDEO].
That was just a terrible swing on a slider that fooled Suzuki badly. Hopefully he’s watching lots of video and can finish the year strong.
Anderson Espinoza needs to throw more strikes
I admit to an irrational like for Espinoza, who clearly has talent, even after two Tommy John surgeries.
But he just walks way too many guys, 13 in 15⅓ innings. He’s also struck out 15, so he can bring on the K’s when needed. A 7.6 per nine innings walk rate isn’t going to cut it at this level, though.
Two of Keegan Thompson’s last three starts have been awful
Thompson did have a fine start against the Nats August 8 at Wrigley Field (one run in six innings), but got pounded in the other two he’s made this month and he has an unsightly 7.30 ERA and 1.783 WHIP so far in August, with four home runs allowed in 12⅓ innings.
Thompson’s innings are going to be managed the rest of the year, I suspect, and he might even be shut down at some point. In the meantime, his next start should be Friday at Wrigley Field against the Brewers. Thompson has a 2.40 ERA in 14 appearances (10 starts) at Wrigley compared to 5.84 in 10 appearances (eight starts) on the road, so perhaps that’ll be a good sign for this week, at least.
Give the Cubs a grade for the 2022 season to date.
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