I know what you’re thinking. If you’ve been around these parts for any length of time, you’re probably either ready to label me with or for me to project that I’ve motherfucked the Cubs into brilliance with my declaration that they weren’t going anywhere after that beer fart in St. Louis. And it’s close, but the Cubs have to take it on the road before we can officially declare that. We know they’re good at home. They were brilliant this time around, going 5-1 against a division competitor and a playoff contender from the American League. They could have their biggest lead in the division all season when it’s all said and done. Now if they could actually get things moving on this 10-game road trip, with nary an impressive opponent on it, we might be on to something.
-I guess I’ll start with Ian Happ. I’ve never been a huge believer in Colonel Happ, but he always seduces you with that swing and his discipline. At this point, the Cubs don’t have much to lose by playing him at second most. We know Kemp and Bote just aren’t going to hit, and you can mitigate some of Happ’s defense with shifting. Five hits in the series, and even more hard contact. Even when Happ was struggling he still worked an AB, and the Cubs need more of that. If it works over the next month then you don’t have to hinge anything on Ben Zobrist, which we probably shouldn’t be anyway.
-Monday was an adventure, but with this state of the pen I don’t know what else it’s going to be. The Cubs are going to need the rotation to pick it up for a week or two, even more than they have, and get to the 7th inning consistently. From there you can just throw the masses out to get six to eight outs, as messy as it’s going to be.
-Speaking of which, Duane Underwood is going to get himself a couple more looks before Kimbrel comes back. He’s the only one with options so he probably has to go down when that happens. It was a great debut, but some salt grains required. He’s been good as a reliever in Iowa, and he’s another guy who at least throws hard, which the Cubs haven’t had enough of. That doesn’t mean he should be in high-leverage situations tomorrow, but again, what do the Cubs have to lose here? I don’t need more David Phelps in my life, and anything that gets Cishek rest at this point should be welcome.
-As for Jon Lester, there’s not much reason to panic as long as the other four starters keep doing this. As we’ve said, his margin for error is so thin, and now it’s a wonder if he can get inside on righties at all. But as a fifth starter, fine. We’ll deep dive on this at a later date.
-Castellanos is a danger to himself in the field, but he seems to do everything right with a helmet on. And there is something he’s brought to the club with his energy and bounce, which is very welcome in August.
-Anyone bitching about Quintana now?
-Is this Hendricks’s best stretch in his career? Seven starts, 10 earned runs, 37 Ks, 11 walks. He’s almost automatic right now.
-I’ll say I was there the night the Cubs had three catchers on the field, and none of them were Willson Contreras.