The Cubs lost five of six over the last week and let me tell you, it was not easy to find players to put in this week’s “Three up” section.
Nevertheless, I did find a handful of positives, so let’s start with them.
Ian Happ seems to like leading off
David Ross put Happ in the leadoff spot for the last two games against the Diamondbacks and he went 5-for-10. Overall on the road trip Happ batted .348/.444/.565 (8-for-23) with two doubles, a home run and four walks.
Maybe the Cubs should just leave him in the leadoff spot the rest of the year. Happ does tend to go on hot streaks from time to time. Perhaps he’s started one.
Marcus Stroman threw well in relief
It was surprising to see Stroman back so quickly after the rib cartilage fracture, and David Ross chose to use him out of the pen.
He threw two strong innings Friday, even though the Cubs lost, and allowed a single unearned run in the 13-inning loss Saturday at Arizona.
Perhaps this can be a role for Stroman the rest of the way.
Brad Boxberger also threw well in relief
Boxberger was out for almost four months with a forearm injury. He hadn’t pitched well in his last few outings before he went on the injured list.
But in three appearances on the road trip, he faced 11 batters and retired 10 of them, allowing just one walk. If Boxberger can be this effective, perhaps the Cubs have someone they can use as a closer — he has significant closing experience — until Adbert Alzolay returns.
Cody Bellinger has gone ice cold
On the road trip, in two good hitters’ parks, Bellinger hit .174/.259/.217 (4-for-23) with five strikeouts. It didn’t help that he just barely lost a home run Saturday at Chase Field (inches foul) or was not given a HBP on review.
The Cubs need Bellinger to hit, period, end of story. It wasn’t just the road trip either, Bellinger went 4-for-16 against the Diamondbacks at Wrigley during the last homestand.
Perhaps playing at Wrigley, where he has a .911 OPS, as opposed to .869 on the road, will help.
Pete Crow-Armstrong seems overmatched at the plate
PCA did make two great catches in Colorado last Tuesday. Here’s the first [VIDEO].
But at the plate he’s 0-for-8 with four strikeouts, and apart from a few innings for defense, he didn’t play much in the Arizona series. Perhaps things will be better for him if he can get some playing time against the Pirates.
Dansby Swanson cooled off after a hot start to his week
Swanson went 5-for-12 with two doubles and a triple in Colorado, but... then went 1-for-14 with four strikeouts against the D-backs, and made... or didn’t make... this play:
thought dansby was just going to catch this baseball and end the game but instead they play on and arizona ends up winning pic.twitter.com/u2DWsNm9tx— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) September 17, 2023
I hope this isn’t the indelible image we’re left with from the 2023 season, both of Swanson and the ballclub. Win that game and the Cubs are still in the second wild-card spot.
There’s still time left to come back, but it grows short.
Where will the Cubs finish the 2023 season?
This poll is closed
First wild card
Second wild card
Third wild card
Miss the postseason