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Three up, three down: An update on the Cubs, September 26 edition

The ballclub had a very good road trip with some fine performances.

Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Cubs had a 5-2 road trip to Miami and Pittsburgh over the last week, one of their most successful away from Wrigley Field this year. And they did all that with Nico Hoerner and Willson Contreras injured and Seiya Suzuki still in Japan awaiting the birth of his first child.

The makeshift Cubs lineups, which didn’t even look good enough for “insert other split squad joke here,” produced. Granted, the opposition was fairly weak. Still, you have to produce to win and these Cubs did.

Three up

Esteban Quiroz is making a case to be on the 2023 roster

Quiroz is not young. He’ll turn 31 before Opening Day 2023, and he spent more than a decade playing in the Mexican League and the US-based minor leagues before finally making the majors with the Cubs this month. And he was recalled, most likely, only because the Cubs needed a spare part after Contreras hit the IL.

Hit, incidentally, is what Quiroz has done. During the trip, since he was inserted into the starting lineup, he’s batted .389/.478/.389 (7-for-18) in six games with three walks. The only thing he hasn’t shown in the majors so far is power. He’s played well in the field and had good at-bats.

The thing is, with the Cubs’ coming 40-man roster crunch for Rule 5 purposes, you simply can’t keep a 31-year-old spare part infielder on the 40-man over the winter. Best-case scenario: Quiroz is DFA after the season and signed back to a minor-league deal with a NRI to Spring Training.

Let’s put it this way: It probably would have been better for the team (not to mention cheaper) if they’d just put Quiroz on the Opening Day roster instead of signing Jonathan Villar.

Adrian Sampson is making his case for the 2023 rotation

He doesn’t throw that hard and turns 31 in about two weeks.

But Sampson’s journey through several organizations — remember, the Cubs DFA’d him this past May and lost him on a waiver claim to the Mariners — has paid off in some excellent work for the Cubs this summer. He now has a 3.23 ERA in 19 appearances (17 starts) and has posted four straight quality starts. Over this road trip he threw 12 innings, allowed 12 hits and a walk (1.083 WHIP) and two runs (both earned, ERA 1.50). He’ll make two more starts this year and then has a serious case for making the Opening Day roster next year.

Patrick Wisdom is hitting long balls again

Wisdom went just 3-for-15 (.200) on the road trip but all three hits were home runs for an .800 slugging percentage over the seven games.

Sunday’s homer in Pittsburgh went a long, long way [VIDEO].

Wisdom has his OPS up to .739. If he can get hot over the last nine games and get it back closer to .800, he can probably be part of the “Next Great Cubs Team,” likely as a platoon player. Maybe he’d be better off that way — he’s batting .246/.336/.551 with 10 home runs in 118 at-bats vs. LHP. That can play on just about any team.

Three down

Oh no, Erich Uelmen

Uelmen had a 2.25 ERA and 1.063 WHIP in his first 13 MLB appearances covering 16 innings.

Then, yikes. Last nine games: 8⅓ innings, 13 hits, seven walks, 10 earned runs (10.80 ERA).

Don’t know what’s happening here but obviously it’s not good and they are going to have to work on fixing it. Uelmen does have talent, but he’s 26 and not a lock for next year’s team.

Rowan Wick appears to have gone down the chain of trust

Wick appeared in only two games on the road trip, both in garbage time in blowout losses. He allowed two runs in the game vs. the Marlins and threw a scoreless inning against the Pirates. Wick turns 30 in November and I don’t think there’s a guarantee for him for 2023 either.

Javier Assad needs to get better — and quickly

The assumption was made by many, I think, that Assad was added to the 40-man roster, and the rotation, because he’d have needed to be added for Rule 5 protection anyway and the Cubs needed a starter.

After a couple of good outings, he’s had a rough go in the last two, He’s got a high walk rate (5.6 per nine innings), and that’s after being pretty good with that at Double-A and Triple-A this year (2.6 per nine innings in 108⅓ innings).

He’ll get two more opportunities to start this year. If there isn’t improvement, I suspect he moves down the depth chart.


What should the Cubs do with Esteban Quiroz?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Keep him on the 40-man roster all winter
    (47 votes)
  • 79%
    DFA him, but offer him a minor-league deal and a NRI to Spring Training
    (362 votes)
  • 8%
    DFA him and let him go
    (40 votes)
  • 0%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (4 votes)
453 votes total Vote Now