Since the last edition of Three up, three down, the Cubs are 3-2. That’s good, and with a timely hit or two they might be 4-1.
So are things looking up or down? You make the call!
Marcus Stroman is likely headed to the All-Star Game
Stroman was the lead in this feature last week and his Sunday outing in San Diego, where he threw six innings and allowed just one unearned run keeps his good season rolling. Over Stroman’s last four starts: 0.93 ERA, 0.690 WHIP, just one home run allowed in 29 innings. During that span Stroman’s season ERA has dropped by nearly a full run, from 3.24 to 2.39.
I just love the little dance he does after this strikeout of Juan Soto on Sunday [VIDEO].
Here’s what he said about that:
Miguel Amaya could be in the big leagues to stay
Amaya was recalled Friday when Justin Steele was placed on the injured list, and broke out in a big way Sunday, hitting his first MLB home run and going 3-for-3, reaching base in all four plate appearances.
“While I was running the bases, seeing everybody cheering the home run, my mind went to my parents probably jumping at home,” Amaya said. “It’s something that I’m going to remember the rest of my life.”
Amaya’s home run ball was found in the bullpen and returned to him. He plans to send it to his parents in Panama.
It’s only 21 MLB plate appearances for Amaya, but .375/.450/.563 is still pretty impressive. Unless the Cubs really feel like they’re getting value out of Tucker Barnhart’s defense (and I don’t believe they are — the team is 6-17 in games started by Barnhart), they should just release Barnhart and split catching time between Amaya and Yan Gomes.
Julian Merryweather probably deserves some more high-leverage innings
Merryweather had an awful first outing this year, allowing five runs in two-thirds of an inning to the Brewers April 2. As you might recall, I was very critical of him then.
In 23 appearances since that game, Merryweather has a 2.31 ERA and 1.243 WHIP, with 31 strikeouts in 23⅓ innings. His FIP is good, too, at 2.77 in that span.
The walk rate is still a bit high at 3.8 per nine innings for the season, but you can’t argue with the K rate, 11.6 per nine innings. With the bullpen still in a bit of flux, perhaps trying Merryweather in a more prominent setup role could be useful.
Honorable mention to Jameson Taillon, who had a very good start against the Padres Saturday. Hopefully that continues next time out, which should be Thursday in Anaheim.
Time to go, Tucker Barnhart
I mentioned Barnhart above, but he’s just been terrible offensively — a .429 season OPS and since his last hit, he’s gone 0-for-17 with seven strikeouts. The Cubs are 6-17 in games he’s started (thus, 20-15 in games started by other catchers). He’s not throwing out baserunners, just five in 22 attempts. I’m sure he’s a good teammate, but he just can’t play anymore.
Barnhart is under contract through 2024. He’s got a $3.25 million player option which he’d obviously exercise. It’s not that much money, the Cubs should just eat it and release him.
Miles Mastrobuoni is just not working out
Since the last update in this series, Mastrobuoni has started three games and gone 1-for-10 with three strikeouts. His OPS is just slightly higher than Barnhart’s at .467.
Jed Hoyer needs to take him off this roster so David Ross isn’t tempted to play him again just because he bats lefthanded.
Edwin Rios: Same
Some people say: “But Rios has power!”
It should be noted that Rios’ best power seasons were his first two with the Dodgers. In 2019-20 he batted .260/.338/.634 (32-for-123) with eight doubles, a triple and 12 home runs. That’s good!
Since then in the big leagues? .164/.258/.339 (27-for-165) with two doubles and nine home runs. Just one of those home runs has come in 28 at-bats with the Cubs.
Again, David Ross keeps playing him — occasionally — because he stands in the lefthanded batter’s box with a bat. He cannot hit. He’s struck out 16 times in those 28 at-bats. Please, Jed, let Rios go so that Ross can’t put him in the lineup.
Which two of these Iowa Cubs would you rather have on the Cubs’ MLB roster instead of Miles Mastrobuoni and Edwin Rios?
This poll is closed
Nick Madrigal and David Bote
Nick Madrigal and Jake Slaughter
David Bote and Jake Slaughter
Chase Strumpf and David Bote
Chase Strumpf and Nick Madrigal
Chase Strumpf and Jake Slaughter
Some other combination of Iowa Cubs (leave in comments)
Keep Mastrobuoni and Rios