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Three up, three down: An update on the Cubs, August 30 edition

There’s been some good pitching... and then, some that isn’t so good.

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Since the last edition of this series, the Cubs have gone 3-5. That’s not good, but there have been some good individual performances during that eight-game span. Let’s look at them.

Three up

Javier Assad looks like a keeper

Assad had posted good numbers between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa this year (2.66 ERA, 1.237 WHIP in 23 appearances (21 starts). He’s Rule 5 eligible this offseason, and the Cubs needed a starter, so they’re essentially giving him an audition to see if he’s worth keeping around.

In two starts, the 25-year-old has not allowed a run in nine total innings. That’s good, but his walk rate is up significantly from his minor-league rate, which was 2.9 per nine innings this year. In his two MLB starts he’s walked six.

Fix that and the Cubs might have a homegrown starter.

This was a slick cutter Assad threw for a strikeout Monday in Toronto [VIDEO].

Nick Madrigal is hot again

Last six games: .304/.385/.348 (7-for-23), no strikeouts. His OPS is over .600 for just the second time since April.

The one caveat I’d have with Madrigal is that he has no power. At all. He has a .288 SLG this year. That’s not the worst SLG for anyone with as many PA (202) as Madrigal has, he ranks 13th. But a lot of those guys are backups or old (Yadier Molina). They’re not expected to be MLB leadoff hitters, as Madrigal is. The only extra-base hits he has are six doubles.

He’ll have to hit for more power than that to stick in this lineup. He’s done that previously — he had a .406 SLG in 324 PA for the White Sox. That’d work.

Drew Smyly just keeps on putting up zeroes

Smyly in two starts since the last update in this series: 13 innings, nine hits, three walks, one run, eight strikeouts. In five August starts he posted a 0.90 ERA and 0.933 WHIP and has a real chance of being named Pitcher of the Month.

It’s worth considering bringing him back for 2023. There’s a mutual option, which of course Smyly could decline, but he turns 34 next year and might not find a better deal elsewhere.

Three down

Oh, no, Rowan Wick

This is Wick’s second straight appearance in “Three down.” Since the last update he’s had two scoreless outings, but in the other one he got torched for four runs in facing seven batters August 27 in Milwaukee. Last seven games: 9.95 ERA, 2.526 WHIP, four home runs in 6⅓ innings, two blown saves.

Wick is first-time arb eligible in 2023 and turns 30 in November. If this performance doesn’t improve soon, I suspect he might be non-tendered.

Sean Newcomb: Ditto

After posting a 3.18 ERA and 1.235 WHIP in 11⅓ innings with 13 strikeouts in his first nine outings in August — decent enough numbers for a middle relief type — Newcomb got absolutely pounded Sunday in Milwaukee, facing 10 batters and allowing eight of them to reach base (six hits, two walks), with two home runs allowed.

Like Wick, Newcomb is arb-eligible this offseason. Unless he shows significant improvement in September, he’s a likely non-tender.

Yikes, Christopher Morel

Even with David Ross giving Morel the occasional day off (he didn’t play Sunday’s game in Milwaukee, for example), the young Cubs infielder/outfielder is in another awful slump, 0-for-17 since his last hit in the first game of the doubleheader against the Cardinals last Tuesday.

Morel has been a streaky hitter all year and his overall numbers are still decent (.746 OPS), but I suspect he’ll need more rest the remainder of this season. I do think he’s an important part of this team going forward.


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