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Nationals 2, Cubs 1: Changes need to be made

The Cubs’ offense is missing in action.

Cody Bellinger, though, is not one of the changes
Photo by Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images

To begin this recap, I want to remind you of the old baseball saying that no team is as good as it looks when it’s on a long winning streak, and no team is as bad as it looks while on a long losing streak.

This is to say that while the Cubs look pretty bad right now, losing five of the first six on a road trip to Miami and Washington, they’re a better team than this. Hopefully they’ll start showing that soon, because it didn’t show much in another frustrating loss Wednesday, 2-1 to the Nationals.

I’ll get to the changes I think the Cubs should make at the end of this post, but first let’s talk about some of the good things that happened, and look at the scoring plays from this game.

Marcus Stroman again put together a solid outing: six innings, five hits, one run, five strikeouts. A few too many walks (three), but otherwise you should probably win 90 percent of your starts when you put up those numbers. Here’s a breakdown of Stroman’s start [VIDEO].

For the second time in this series, the Cubs took the lead in the first inning. Jake Irvin’s very first MLB pitch hit Nico Hoerner square in the middle of his back (fortunately, Nico’s okay). One out later, Ian Happ walked and after Cody Bellinger popped up, Seiya Suzuki singled Nico in [VIDEO].

Essentially, that was it for the Cubs offense. They had five other hits, all singles, and four other walks, but again had trouble hitting with runners on base. Going 1-for-8 with RISP isn’t going to get things done. That made them 7-for-49 (.143) with RISP on this road trip. No wonder they’ve lost five of six.

The Nats tied the game 1-1 in the second inning and that’s where things stood when Adbert Alzolay relieved Stroman to begin the seventh. Lane Thomas tripled past Happ in left field and was singled in by CJ Abrams. That’s the end of the Nats scoring plays.

Seems like the Cubs could have overcome that, no? Uh... no. Happ singled with two out in the eighth and was stranded, and in the ninth the first two batters singled, putting the tying run in scoring position.

Eric Hosmer tried to move the runners up with a bunt. That resulted in a force play at second base with Hosmer beating the relay to first. This is why the bunt attempt was probably a bad decision:

On the other hand:

Sure, that would have made a lot more sense, another curious decision (or non-decision, in this case) by David Ross.

Even after that, the Cubs have runners on first and third, the tying run 90 feet away and Patrick Wisdom at bat. Surely Wisdom could at least loft a fly ball deep enough to the outfield to score a run.

Nope. Wisdom offered at Kyle Finnegan’s first pitch and hit into a game-ending double play [VIDEO].

Even with the reminder that “no team is as bad as it looks when it’s on a long losing streak,” it’s clear to me that changes need to be made to the Cubs’ 26-man roster.

It is time to end management’s infatuation with Edwin Rios and get Christopher Morel up from Iowa. Morel continues to demolish Triple-A pitching (.358/.460/.821, 34-for-95, 11 home runs through Wednesday) and Rios... barely plays. Surely the Cubs can find enough playing time for Morel, and they could use his enthusiastic attitude in the clubhouse, too. Meanwhile, Rios is 2-for-20 and has started seven games, all at DH. That’s a complete waste of a roster spot, if you ask me. Rios does have options, so if the Cubs really want to keep him, just send him to Iowa.

The other move I’m going to suggest is a bit more complicated. I am aware of Eric Hosmer’s usefulness to the team as a good clubhouse influence. But he appears done as a major league hitter (he currently has a .657 OPS, which would be a career-worst). Again, the Cubs have someone crushing Triple-A pitching who could replace him, Matt Mervis (.286/.402/.560, 26-for-91, six home runs through Wednesday). It’s time to get these two on the MLB roster and move on from guys who just... can’t... hit.

The Cubs will try to earn a series split in Washington when they face the Nats in the series finale Thursday afternoon. The Cubs announced after the game Wednesday night that Jameson Taillon would be activated from the IL and start Thursday. Lefthander Patrick Corbin will go for the Nats. Game time is 12:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.

Today’s game preview will post at 10:30 a.m. CT.


What roster changes should the Cubs make to help the offense?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Recall Christopher Morel, option Edwin Rios
    (170 votes)
  • 5%
    Call up Matt Mervis, DFA Eric Hosmer
    (44 votes)
  • 70%
    Both of the above
    (593 votes)
  • 2%
    Don’t make any moves, things will fix themselves
    (23 votes)
  • 1%
    I have a different idea for changes (leave in comments)
    (11 votes)
841 votes total Vote Now