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Three up, three down: An update on the Cubs, August 21 edition

The Cubs had a good homestand, though it could have been better.

Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Cubs played only five games last week, with off days surrounding their two-game set against the White Sox. They won three of them, and honestly probably should have won four. But the results are what they are, and the Cubs sit in pretty good shape for playoff positioning — if they can take care of business against the Tigers and Pirates this week.

Three up

Kyle Hendricks just keeps being Kyle Hendricks

The Professor made two starts last week and put his team in position to win both times. Against the White Sox he allowed three runs in six innings and departed with the game tied — the loss was a bullpen failure (as well as the failure of the offense). Then Sunday, he allowed just one run and pitched into the seventh inning.

During Sunday’s game he hit 90 miles per hour a couple of times, which is a very good sign. If he can do that from time to time it should make his changeup more effective.

Hendricks is no longer the guy who finished third in Cy Young voting in 2016. But he’s pretty close to where he was in 2018-19. His K rate is down — but so is his walk rate, which is now the best of his career.

Drew Smyly was good out of the bullpen

Smyly made two relief appearances during the homestand, one against the White Sox, one against the Royals. He faced six batters and retired five of them, and the sixth, Elvis Andrus, was thrown out at second by Ian Happ trying to stretch a single into a double [VIDEO].

Including a scoreless inning at Toronto the previous week, Smyly threw three scoreless relief innings after being moved the pen, with three strikeouts. Now he’s returning to the rotation, Tuesday at Detroit. Hopefully the relief success can translate to recovering the form Smyly showed early this year.

Seiya Suzuki looks back on track

Suzuki hit .294/.278/.647 (5-for-17) on the homestand with two home runs. (The OBP being lower than the BA is because he had a sacrifice fly and no walks.)

This month, Suzuki is batting .317/.326/.683 (13-for-41) with a double, a triple, four home runs and nine runs scored. Here’s what Suzuki said about his “reset”:

“There was a span where I wasn’t playing, I wasn’t out there on a regular basis,” Suzuki said through a translator. “During that time, I took some time out and thought to myself, ‘What can I do to make myself an even better player?’ And I think because of that time span, I’m getting those results right now.”

In that Tribune article linked above, David Ross said:

“I think it’s just like a little bit of reset, and it looks like he’s having fun,” Ross said. “I’ve never seen him smile, run around the bases yelling in the dugout, and I think he’s just having really good time.”

Fun? Yelling in the dugout? Just look at the photo at the top of this post!

Three down

Despite his walkoff homer, Christopher Morel had a rough week

The homer will go down in Cubs lore and be remembered forever.

But Morel had just one other hit all week, going 2-for-19 with seven strikeouts. Perhaps he, too, could use a “reset.”

This does give me the opportunity to show you that walkoff homer again, though [VIDEO].

Mike Tauchman’s week could have been better

Tauchman batted just .154/.267/.154 (2-for-13) in the five games, though with two walks and only one strikeout. He continues to put together good at-bats nearly every time.

I put these numbers in Sunday’s game preview, and updated, here they are, an argument for Tauchman to play every day.

Tauchman made his first start for the Cubs May 21 in Philadelphia. Including that game, the Cubs are 44-34 since that date. They are 35-22 in games Tauchman has started and 9-12 in games he has not started.

What’s up, Dansby Swanson?

Not Swanson’s BA, OBP or SLG... he pretty much disappeared from the offense in the five games against the White Sox and Royals, batting .063/.211/.063 (1-for-19).

He does continue to play good defense, as always, and is currently on a 35-game errorless streak.


How many games will the Cubs win on the road trip to Detroit and Pittsburgh?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    (23 votes)
  • 14%
    (74 votes)
  • 46%
    (239 votes)
  • 27%
    (142 votes)
  • 4%
    (25 votes)
  • 0%
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    (3 votes)
511 votes total Vote Now