The Cubs have played 40 games through Sunday, which is basically one-quarter of the 162-game schedule. We’d have liked a better record than 19-21, I suppose, but there have still been some good things happening for this team, things to build on.
There have also been ... not-so-good things that Jed Hoyer & Co. and manager David Ross will have to address, and quickly, if this team is going to contend for the postseason. Even with the mediocre start, the team stands just four games out of first place in the N.L. Central and just 1½ games out of the last Wild Card position.
Let’s look at who’s hot and not!
Christopher Morel continued his minor league hot hitting in the big leagues
Morel was called up in the middle of the most recent homestand after having demolished Triple-A pitching to the tune of .330/.425/.730 (38-for-115) with nine doubles, two triples and 11 home runs.
He picked up right where he left off, homering against the Cardinals in his first big-league game this year. Then he homered twice against the Twins in Minnesota, the second one going a long, long way [VIDEO].
Five games, .381/.381/.857 (8-for-21) with a double and the three home runs. Yes, and six strikeouts. With those numbers you can live with the K’s. Obviously he’s probably not going to keep hitting that well, but when Nico Hoerner returns they will have to find playing time for Morel.
Seiya Suzuki has begun to break out of a long slump
In 15 games from April 22 through May 7, Suzuki hit just .204/.246/.278 (11-for-54) with 11 strikeouts.
This past week, though, he showed signs of coming out of it. For the week Suzuki batted .300/.423/.600 (6-for-20) with three doubles, a home run and five walks. The Cubs could use that bat, for sure.
Unlike Morel’s third-deck shot in Minnesota, Suzuki’s was a laser beam [VIDEO].
Kyle Hendricks looks like he’s ready to rejoin the rotation
Hendricks had another solid outing Sunday at Triple-A Iowa, throwing five innings, allowing six hits and two runs. He threw 79 pitches (49 strikes) and after his first two rehab starts had poor results, over the last two: 10 innings, eight hits, two runs, two walks, eight strikeouts.
Here are some strikeouts from Kyle vs. Toledo last Tuesday [VIDEO].
Sure looks like the old Professor to me, including hitting 88 miles per hour, which is definitely faster than he had been the last couple of years.
Nothing’s been made official yet, but one sports site (CBS Sports) has Hendricks listed as starting Friday in Philadelphia. Whether that’s true or whether he starts on another upcoming date is not yet certain, but I do believe we’ll see The Professor back in the Cubs rotation soon.
Brad Boxberger looks done
If the Cubs are looking for someone to drop from the 26-man roster to make room for Hendricks, my suggestion would be Boxberger, who had an awful outing Saturday in Minnesota. Over his last nine outings dating to April 22, Boxberger has a 9.82 ERA, 1.909 WHIP, three home runs allowed and a .300/.400/.667 opponents slash line.
Boxberger is making $2 million this year and has an $800,000 buyout for 2023. Just eat the money, Jed and let him go. It was a worthwhile chance that just didn’t work out.
Cody Bellinger needed that day off Sunday
After being a hot hitter for several weeks and having Cubs general manager Carter Hawkins quoted as saying the team would “love to find a way” to keep him around, Bellinger went 2-for-21 (.095) in five games against the Cardinals and Twins before David Ross rested him in Sunday’s blowout loss.
Hopefully that’s just the ordinary ups-and-downs of a season and Bellinger returns to his good hitting starting Monday in Houston.
It’s time to say goodbye to Eric Hosmer
I’m sure Hosmer is a great guy. He’s been held up as a good, professional clubhouse influence, and yes, that matters.
But he doesn’t appear to be able to hit MLB pitching anymore. He played in just three games over the last week and went 1-for-8 with three strikeouts. Since May 3 he is batting .125/.177/.125 (2-for-16), both singles.
Especially with Matt Mervis now on the team and playing first base most days, there really isn’t room for Hosmer. Trey Mancini can play first vs. tough lefties.
Thanks, Eric, for being a good clubhouse guy, but your MLB time is likely over.
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