Now that we have over a week of baseball under our belts, the Cubs have begun to fall closer to where they were expected to be—tied for 2nd (with the Pirates?) in this shitty division with a 5-4 record. The Pirates no longer seem like the world’s easiest team to beat, and the Rockies look to have only about 3 men that can definitely be counted on for offense, so any Cubs issues with pitching seemed to just level themselves out in the end as the team went .500 overall this week.

While I’m still not inclined to say the offense is “fixed”—Coors Field is a hitting anomaly, after all—it still seems like the Cubs are getting the runs and offense they need from players across the board. I’m hoping that some of the dicey pitching we saw was also a Coors Field anomaly, though whenever we can get some of our regular guys healthy again, both in the rotation and the pen, would be incredibly helpful. To the bullets!

  • Kyle Hendricks didn’t look too good against the Pirates, allowing 7 hits and 6 runs in 3.2 innings, taking the loss for the team. He threw way less strikes than he did on Opening Day, and his number of swinging strikes between those two outings plummeted from 17 to 6—yikes. Though weak contact is Hendricks’s whole MO, we need all the strikes we can get from him now with the Cubs field being bereft of Gold Glove defensemen. He’ll be on the mound again tomorrow and hopefully give a better performance.
  • Seiya Suzuki’s two solo homers on Tuesday were the sole reason why the Cubs didn’t get swept entirely by the Pirates. If the team hadn’t signed him, this season would be a lot bleaker. But other teams have begun to catch on, especially to the fact that Suzuki absolutely refuses to swing at anything outside of the zone, and when he does swing, he’s dangerous. The Rockies intentionally walked him twice this series in big situations with runners on base, and his next at-bat last night after being intentionally walked gave him his 4th home run of the season. He’s no secret at the plate around the MLB, but that doesn’t seem to stop him from getting on base. Keep ‘em coming.
  • I was ready to throw the book at Patrick Wisdom, but it looks like he’s just going to continue to be his incredibly streaky self. He started out the season with only 1 hit in 23 plate appearances and a .048 batting average, but then racked up 6 hits in the final three games against the Rockies to bring it up to .233. If Wisdom can carry on his more recent streak of hitting well, that would be great, because when he’s not on it’s painful to watch, especially when he’s making mistakes in the field as well, which happens more often than any of us would prefer.
  • Any time Jonathan Villar did anything at shortstop on Thursday I just wished Javy Baez was back—did you ever really appreciate the crazy plays El Mago would make before he left? While Javy is a tough act to follow, sometimes Villar just couldn’t make those plays you took for granted. His one error of the season so far came at short on Thursday—it seems like 2nd base is where he should be playing from now on. He also had 8 hits this weekend while not even playing last night, which makes any smaller defensive fumbles easier to turn a blind eye to for now. And yes, those hits were still at Coors Field, and things could change at the drop of a hat, but for now it’s too early for me to judge him.
  • Kris Bryant had 5 hits this series, all of them beauties. They could’ve been for the Cubs. I miss him. Fuck Ricketts.

Next up this week the Cubs will play three games against the Rays and Pirates, two teams who are either at or just a hair above .500 this season. The Rays lost their weekend series against the White Sox, though their one win last night was a 9-3 crushing. Other than the Sox, the Rays have had what would seem like an easy schedule to start the year with games against the Orioles and Athletics, and yet are still coming out the other side at only .500, so that’s where that team’s at. Since we last saw the Pirates earlier this week, they won 3 of 4 games against the Nationals.

Go Cubs go!


Amazingly, the Cubs were able to string together two wins in a row — something they haven’t done since August 17-18, and July 25-26 before that — and were pretty close to winning a third game in a row, which they haven’t done since June. It was good to finally watch some exciting baseball, despite it all being for naught and against another sub-.500 team. Players like Patrick Wisdom and Ian Happ are producing offensively to mask the fact that our pitching is filled with question marks whose futures as elite MLB starters seem dubious at best. Let’s break the fun down, shall we?

August 23, 2021
Cubs 6, Rockies 4
WP: Rodriguez (2-2) LP: Bard (7-6)
Box Score

Once again, the Cubs proved they can for some reason only win when Kyle Hendricks starts, despite Hendricks not getting the win and not looking too good for this start. The Rockies quite quickly started wracking up the runs, scoring three in the 1st inning alone. Hendricks allowed three singles, a double and a walk in that inning, which certainly wasn’t his best work. However, he was able to steady himself for essentially the rest of his start, allowing “only” five more hits in his next six innings and striking out six batters.

The Cubs looked dead offensively for a large portion of this game, finally scoring a measly run in the 6th inning thanks to Frank Schwindel singling, Ian Happ doubling, Wisdom walking to load the bases, and David Bote scoring Schwindel despite hitting into a GIDP. Because of course he did.

Despite things looking bleak for most of this game, and things not looking better when Hendricks allowed one more Rockies run in the 7th inning to make it 4-1, the Cubs rallied amazingly starting in the 8th inning to take the game back. First, three walks in a row from the top of the order loaded the bases. Then there was a pitching change that ended up not helping the Rockies at all, as the pitcher, Carlos Estevez, immediately gave up a single, another Bote GIDP (we can’t make this up) and a double by Michael Hermosillo to let the Cubs tie the game and light up Wrigley Field for the first time in what seemed like weeks.

The game wasn’t over though: after Codi Heuer was able to hold off the Rockies in the 8th with no hits and a strikeout, Manuel Rodriguez was able to do the same to put the Cubs up in the 9th. Jason Heyward, with one of the worst batting averages and OPS on the team, came up to pinch hit and was able to single on the second pitch he saw. After Matt Duffy, pinch hitting for Rodriguez, struck out predictably, it was Rafael Ortega who was able to hit the two-run walk-off bomb to end the game. Despite the game not really mattering, Wrigley hadn’t been that loud in a long time.

August 25, 2021
Cubs 5, Rockies 2 (F/7)
WP: Heuer (5-2) LP: Gomber (9-8)
Box Score

Even more impressive than winning one game for this team is winning two in a row, but that’s exactly what the Cubs did—granted, it was only a seven-inning game, meaning there were less chances for things to go horribly wrong, but the Cubs were still able to get it done.

Despite a plethora of Cubs hits this game (eight is now a plethora), the runs all came from homers thanks to David Bote, Austin Romine, and Patrick Wisdom, whose three-run blast probably broke someone’s windshield on Waveland. Other than that, hits were pretty much had by all, with only Rafael Ortega, Matt Duffy and Andrew Romine going hitless this game. Yes, even starter Zach Davies poked in a single to start the 3rd.

Speaking of the 3rd inning, that was the last time the Cubs allowed a hit; for the next four innings, the Rockies’ bats were just about dead, getting shut down by a combination of Zach Davies (wha?), the bullpen, and the Cubs’ defense.

Codi Heuer came in at the end of the 5th and made things look easy out there; despite not striking anyone out, it didn’t take him long at all to goad the Rockies into initiating contact for easy outs. Though he has a 4.15 ERA for the year, it’s actually a 1.35 ERA with the Cubs so far, which is pretty impressive considering the literal whos this team has been trotting out behind him for almost a month now.

Adam Morgan got the save, and like Heuer strikeouts also do not seem to be his thing. However, Wisdom fielded the final out in left field to take the Cubs home with their second win in a row! The bar is incredibly low!

August 25, 2021
Cubs 10, Rockies 13 (F/10)
WP: Bowden (3-2) LP: Jewell (0-2)
Box Score

Despite coming back three times in the second half of yesterday’s doubleheader, the Cubs collapsed — likely of pure exhaustion — in the 10th inning after the game had stretched to four hours and a slew of players had played 17 innings of baseball in one day. Jake Jewell, the eighth Cubs pitcher of the day, gave up four runs in the 10th inning on three hits and a walk to finally end our suffering.

Despite being down two runs early thanks to Justin Steele giving up a walk and a homer, the Cubs were able to very quickly make up for that in a 2nd-inning rally that consisted of five singles, a double, and Ortega stealing home that made the game 5-2 Cubs.

Of course, the Cubs can’t always have nice things. Despite Justin Steele leading off with allowing two singles at the top of the 4th, he got two strikeouts in a row before Trevor Megill was trotted out in his place. Megill hit Charlie Blackmon with the ball to load the bases and then allowed Connor Joe With Two First Names to hit a grand slam that put the Rockies back in the lead, which they then extended in the 6th inning thanks to Rex Brothers being not as sharp as he usually is on the mound.

Despite it being 8-5 Rockies in the bottom of the 7th inning, Ian Happ’s three-run homer gave us extra innings of baseball, after Matt Duffy and Frank Schwindel singled. Happ had a pretty good game, despite his horrific bunting attempt with two runners on in the 9th inning being an incredibly questionable move. Although his batting average this season is still sub-.200, he has a .462 batting average and a 1.479 OPS over the past three Cubs series. His bat is sorely needed for the Cubs to even have a chance in the upcoming Sox series, so hopefully his hot streak continues.

Yes, the final White Sox series of the season is upon us as they continue to try and extend their lead in the AL Central as the playoffs draw near. Despite losing their last series against the Rays and allowing the Blue Jays to take two of their first three games in the current four-game series, the team will be tough to beat. I’m sure Sox fans will enjoy the welcome reprieve in their schedule to dunk on us. Hopefully the Cubs will continue the fighting spirit they showed this series to at least make the games competitive and interesting to watch. It’s really all that I ask. Go Cubs go!


13.5 games back, playoff hopes decimated, and now losing two out of three to the Rockies, a team with a technically-worse record than us. This next month or two of Cubs baseball is going to suck, but let’s try to find the silver lining where we can.

The silverest of all the lining is Patrick Wisdom, who was the OPS leader for the Cubs in today’s game at a .907, despite having no hits. However, he had three in yesterday’s win and another in Tuesday’s loss. His hits are regularly the most interesting part of these games as he becomes the new star of this below average team.

Ian Happ, who struggled with the bat all season, is finally making a bit of contact, or at least putting himself on the god damned bases. Rafael Ortega continues his stint in the leadoff spot with hits in seven straight games. Even David Bote is sorta kinda showing a little bit of offensive promise since his return from injury, although if he could stop striking out so much that would be mighty cool.

The starters are still incredibly unreliable, and the bullpen is a bit unpredictable most of the time, as what feels like an endless stream of guys from the minors are being called up for their shot in the big leagues. It will still take some time to see what exactly we have here, especially since most of our players we traded for are currently injured or not yet big league ready. We shall see.

August 3, 2021
Cubs 6, Rockies 13
WP: Freeland (2-6) LP: Davies (6-8)
Box Score


The game started out on just the foot the Cubs needed, as David Ross very quickly gets himself ejected from the game in the 2nd inning for arguing balls and strikes. Granted, the umpire was making some garbage calls, calling strikes on balls at players’ shins. But whatever.

Despite getting on the board in the 2nd inning shortly after that thanks to a couple of sacrifice plays by Wisdom and Jason Heyward, things very quickly unraveled for starter Zach Davies at the bottom of the 2nd. Why, oh why, does he stay on this team? Trevor Story, who for all intents and purposes shouldn’t even be on the Rockies and yet still is, doubled to start the inning. A single and a walk later and the bases were loaded for the Rockies, just in time for Elias Diaz to hit a grand slam home run to make it 4-1 Rockies. The three outs were made shortly after that, but it was far too late for this club.

Happ hit a solo homer in the 4th as he starts, dare I say it, a little bit of an offensive hot streak? It once again didn’t matter too much, though, as the Rockies hit a three-run homer in the bottom of that inning thanks to Zach Davies once again allowing a double and single to put two runners on base.

We had some DUDES coming out of the bullpen, including Michael Rucker in his second career Cubs game. Rucker pitched 1.2 innings and allowed four hits and four runs for a lovely 12.27 ERA, but Davies had already lost the game at this point so nothing mattered. Trevor Megill made another appearance, and he actually had a solid outing for once, allowing no hits and striking out two in his 1.1 innings pitched, lowering his ERA down to a quaint 13.50. Rex Brothers, in usual fashion, allowed two more runs to end the game.

I guess I should mention the four runs in the last two innings, despite nothing mattering. Rafael Ortega singled, stole second, and Willson Contreras doubled to score him in. David Bote then doubled to score Contreras, but Wisdom struck out to end the inning. Two more runs were scored in the 9th, as Happ walked and scored on a Heyward double, and Heyward scored on a balk.

In other news, Wisdom was moved back to third base this game to make room for Frank Schwindel, also in his second career Cubs game. Schwindel’s only hit of the game was a double in the 1st, but it directly led to the first Cubs run, so it’s okay. At third, Wisdom was…certainly not Kris Bryant by any means, as a hard-hit ground ball in the 6th inning went right past him despite his best efforts trying to dive for the ball.

August 4, 2021
Cubs 3, Rockies 2
WP: Mills (5-4) LP: Gray (7-7)
Box Score

Amazingly, the Cubs had a come from behind win in what was mostly a sleeper game except for the two total innings where any runs were scored. Led by Alec Mills, who gave up two runs for the Rockies in the 1st inning and then not again, the Cubs’ pitching actually looked, dare I say it, kind of good? Mills DID give up four hits in the 1st, but he gave up only four more over the next five innings in which he pitched, which I guess is progress. (The bar is very low around these parts.)

Both teams generated some hits throughout this game, though they were mostly singles and the occasional double that didn’t amount to anything. The Cubs got struck out the side in the 3rd inning on fifteen pitches, which is certainly not a good thing to be doing. But it was the 5th inning where the Cubs were ready to generate just enough offense to take over the game, with Rafael Ortega, Willson Contreras, and Ian Happ at the head — the new normal for this team.

Happ has been getting on base lately through walks, but it seems like whatever he’s doing is working for the Cubs, because he’s certainly been scoring lately. Today was no different; he walked to load the bases as Patrick Wisdom was able to step up to the plate to hit a double that scored all three runners thanks to some good hustling by all involved. It would give the Cubs the 3-2 lead that would stick for the rest of the game.

Our bullpen that consisted of Adam Morgan, Codi Heuer and Manuel Rodriguez, our new closer I guess, gave up only two hits and had two strikeouts and no walks. Rodriguez garnered up his first career save — a genuine congratulations to him. It was enough to win just one over the Rockies.

August 5, 2021
Cubs 5, Rockies 6
WP: Kinley (2-2) LP: Jewell (0-1)
Box Score

Well, the Cubs tried mighty hard to stay in this one, but five runs isn’t enough these days when you have poor ol’ Jake Arrieta on the mound. The Rockies scored once an inning for four straight innings, which included three solo homers given up by Arrieta. The 3rd inning was just three singles that ended up scoring a runner, so again, it was not great here on the pitching front.

However, despite the Cubs being struck out the side again this game and the runs against them piling up and up, a somewhat miraculous 4-run rally in the 5th inning kept them ahead for just a few minutes. It was thanks to a few new guys in Johneshwy Fargas and Andrew Romine who started the singling off, with Ortega and Contreras batting everyone in to the take the lead.

Despite this, Jake Jewell replaced Arrieta for the bottom of this inning and ended up giving up a two-run homer only two batters in that would give the Rockies a lead they wouldn’t surrender. It was only Jewell’s 23rd major league appearance, and at this point nothing matters, so all you can do is shrug and say, “It happens.”

The Cubs scored one more inning in the 6th but it was futile, though it was good to see Bote double and Schwindel bat him in on a single. Since the short-lived attempt of having Wisdom play first base right after Rizzo was traded, Schwindel seems to be The Guy over there. Before this game, Schwindel has had only two hits in his nine plate appearances so far this season, but today he had two hits and an RBI. He’s one to watch, if only because there’s not much else to see.

The Cubs are now slated to very likely get demolished by their cross-town rivals this weekend (sorry, but it’s true). The dichotomy between these two teams can’t get much bigger, as the Sox are legitimate World Series contenders, and we are continuing a freefall down the standings the likes we haven’t seen in a long time. It likely won’t be pretty this weekend, but hey, it’s what happens. At least we’ll get to see old friends Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel back in town, and although time heals all wounds, it’s probably still a bit too soon. I’ll be back after this weekend to cover it all. Go Cubs go.


I guess this is what we Cubs fans have been reduced to this winter. Considering whether or not something that would normally sound like galaxy-brained four-dimensional chess that everyone would  laugh out of the room is actually a thing worth pursuing. Or even based in any kind of reality. But hey, the way things are going with the Cubs, maybe it’s better to just live in a fantasy world.

So here it is: A second report connecting the Cubs to Nolan Arenado. It seems utterly ludicrous, and the kind of thing you wouldn’t get away with in MLB The Show, but here we are. The Cubs won’t pay Kris Bryant but they will pay Arenado the $70M he has the next two years and then the ensuing $199M over the five years after that if he doesn’t opt out in 2021. Say, wouldn’t somewhere around $35M keep Bryant, the better player, around for a while? Well, this is where you have to start moving pieces around in dimensions and methods that don’t exist, so let’s look at the viability of everything suggested here by Brett, Passan, and others.

One, the big flashing light on Arenado. He plays in Coors Field, and if you take him away from that, you’re only getting an above-average offensive player. That has some legs. Arenado’s career slash-lines on the road: .265/.323/.476 for a 109 wRC+ or .336 wOBA. Not exactly Vegas-neon there, is it?

Let’s try and be a little more fair. Last year, Arenado ran a 118 wRC+ away from home. But the year before that it was 104. But in 2017 it was 126. So he’s not incapable away from Coors, it’s just hard to know exactly what you’d be getting, though you’d be sure it would be less than the sum of what you get with half a season amongst the thin air, weed, and every third person in attendance owning a brewery. I would also point out that when not at Coors, Arenado plays most of his road games in San Francisco, San Diego, or LA which are bad hitter’s parks. But that’s a bit of a stretch. Also, as Brett alludes to here, there is a school of thought that bouncing between altitude and not-altitude affects players negatively. Which is true.

Still, Arenado hits the ball really hard, with a 42% hard-contact rate and we’ve talked at length how the only Cub to manage that last year was Schwarber and Castellanos. You’d like to think that would play anywhere, but you can’t be sure. And Arenado doesn’t strike out much and makes much more contact than most of the hitters in the lineup, which the Cubs could certainly use.

Ok, now here is where it starts to get really nuts. The idea is that the Rockies would somehow be slaked by receiving Willson Contreras and Jason Heyward in return, which would free the Cubs up to trade Bryant for ready or near-ready pitching and players from another team. This seems a little backward, as most likely part of the bounty gained from trading Bryant would have to go to prying Arenado loose. Because simply getting Contreras back and Heyward’s contract doesn’t seem near enough for a team’s best player, especially for a team that would be signaling a complete tear-down by moving Arenado. They’d want young players, prospects and such.

Yes, the Rockies would get to save some $28M in real dollars between Arenado’s and Heyward’s salary the next two seasoins, but you’d have to subtract whatever Contreras gets in arbitration and also consider the fact that Contreras is just a year younger than Arenado. Also, the Rockies would be losing the production of, y’know, NOLAN ARENADO, and replacing some of it with the scarecrow production of Jason Heyward. And that’s assuming you get Heyward to agree to this, which is no gimme.

Then, and you’re going to have to stick with me here, the Cubs would take the money saved by not paying Bryant his arbitration award to sign Castellanos, which arguably would be about the same thing. So they’d lose something like $45M in luxury tax dollars but bring back $35M in Arenado, and then basically swallow that up and more by re-signing Castellanos. Which would still leave them over the luxury tax. Everyone got that?

Even if we ignore all that, would the Cubs be better? It’s not clear. Arenado is certainly an upgrade defensively, and the Cubs would have one of the best left sides of the infield of all-time between him and Baez. They’d lose a little in offense, which they would gain back by having Castellanos in right. Though that outfield defense might give all that advantage back. And we still have no idea what Victor Caratini is over a full season offensively and it almost certainly isn’t anywhere near what Willson gives you.

Basically this feels like a lot of running all the way out to come all the way back and pretty much end up where you were in the first place.

The whole thing would hinge on what the return is for Bryant, and how much that helps you starting in March and how far away the rest of it would be. Which we have no idea about, and the packages that have been whispered from DC or Atlanta get a big “FUCK OFF” from me.

What I will say to all of this on the positive side is it’s odd to me that Castellanos remains on the free agent market. Most every other big ticket item has signed, which if you wanted to convince yourself of it could mean he’s waiting for something. He’s not short on suitors, we know that. We know he loved it here, we know the Cubs loved having him here, but the hoops to jump through still seem far too small and far too numerous (other than Ricketts remembering he comes from one of the richest families in the world and not really sweating luxury tax and revenue sharing fees).

I will say that if by some acid-induced vision the Cubs pulled this off, and the return for Bryant was huge and its impact at least close to immediate (say no player ready later than 2021), then shuffling these chairs to remain stationary actually sets you up better for the future. Right now, other than Hoerner and Alzolay if you squint, what the Cubs will be in ’21 and ’22 (assuming they sign ANYONE) is on the field now (if you want to mention Amaya or Davis or Marquez here, fine, but I bet they would be part of anything for Arenado too). Which…is not ideal. You could swallow it, is what I’m saying.

But the amount of moving parts here, and the amount of things that could go wrong is just kind of mind-boggling. I’m going to go ahead and say this isn’t anything.


Game 1 Box Score: Rockies 6, Cubs 5

Game 2 Box Score: Rockies 10, Cubs 3

Game 3 Box Score: Cubs 10, Rockies 1

Maybe I just forget every season, or I truly didn’t realize how torturous series in Denver are. Or maybe it was not wanting to lose the buzz from that homestand so quickly, and maybe losing just two of three doesn’t do that. I leave that to you. But good god, you’re never comfortable, sure something will go wrong, and the more you watch them you’re sure the Rockies are some gimmick team that are helpless outside their own environs. It feels cheap in a way.

Anyway, each team got a blowout and the Rockies got the coin-flip. While the massive bullpen meltdowns are no more damaging, though harder to watch, it’s the slow leaks that feel worse. Sure, Montgomery just hung one pitch that got hit to goddamn Telluride, and then Cishek was the victim of some fiendish BABIP Kung Fu Treachery with Murphy’s ball hitting the motherfucking bag. Maybe Rizzo doesn’t get there anyway, but I’m willing to bet he would have. Even McMahon’s game-winning hit was a product of Coors. You can say all that.

But that’s the problem. Even when the pen isn’t actively lighting itself on fire it still leaks a run here or there, and in close games that’s all it takes when the other team has a decent pen. Montgomery might not be as dependable as he was, and his 5.17 ERA and 1.7 WHIP suggest he’s not. Perhaps the yo-yoing of his role has finally taken its toll.

The Cubs still have a few weeks to survive until Craig Kimbrel arrives, and even then the pen won’t be sorted unless Carl Edwards Jr. finally finds the fountain of control, Cishek proves he’s not still dragging from last year, and either Maples finds that same fountain or they acquire someone or Brandon Morrow actually comes up for air. It’s the only thing holding this team back.


The Two Obs

-Schwarber now tickling a .900 OPS out of the leadoff spot. Everyone can kiss my ass and call it a love story.

-It’s funny how we feel differently about Yu Darvish‘s start than we do about Jon Lester‘s on Sunday, even though they were both four runs over six innings. Obviously, one held the opponent down to give his team a chance to come back while the other coughed up a lead. But that’s mitigated by this being Coors Field. Darvish didn’t walk anyone, which is a big step. Of late, Yu is losing his slider less, and his straight fastball more, which is probably a little easier to control. It’s getting there, and while he might be the highest-paid starter which makes his #5 status feel wrong, it’s still a hell of a fifth starter to have if that’s how things are right now.

Cole Hamels got half-whiffs on any change-up the Rockies swung at today, which is probably the only way to get out of that dungeon alive. Your curve is going to be affected, but your change won’t. Hamels has been nails his last three starts, which makes it unfortunate he’s the only one the Cubs won’t get to use against the Gashouse Gorillas this weekend.

-Boy, Victor Caratini is putting to rest those overcooked fears from Spring Training that Willson would get too tired come the end of the year, huh? Caratini has also been a plus-framer so far this year, whereas Contreras has been just about even.

-Heyward is a good weekend from getting up over an .800 OPS again, which would be more than acceptable.

-Quintana has shied away from using his change the past two starts, both against the Rockies. Both starts saw him give up three runs but one was in over seven innings where he didn’t get out of the fifth last night. When he doesn’t use that change, he becomes a two-pitch pitcher which is a real problem when he can’t locate the fastball.

-Boy the Rockies get red-assed, huh? To be fair the whole thing was dumb. They weren’t trying to hit Kris Bryant twice in a game, and I don’t know how hitting Arenado makes Bryant un-hit or will prevent anyone from hitting Bryant again. We really think a pitcher on another team is even going to know about this, much less think, “I’m not going to throw inside to one of the best hitters in the game because they might plunk my guy?” Awfully complicated. Baez putting one 450 feet away is how you do it. Do it more often.




RECORDS: Cubs 37-27   Rockies 33-31

GAMETIMES: Monday and Tuesday 7:40, Wednesday 2:10

TV: NBCSN Monday and Wednesday, WGN Tuesday



Yu Darvish vs. German Marquez

Jose Quintana vs. Peter Lambert

Cole Hamels vs. Antonio Senzatela 


Kyle Schwarber – LF

Kris Bryant – 3B

Anthony Rizzo – 1B

Javier Baez – SS

Victor Caratini – C

Addison Russell – 2B

Carlos Gonzalez – RF

Jason Heyward – CF


Charlie Blackmon – RF

Trevor Story – SS

David Dahl – CF

Nolan Arenado – 3B

Daniel Murphy – 1B

Raimel Tapia – LF

Ryan McMahon – 2B

Tony Wolters – C


After a successful homestand that seemed to wash away the struggles of the previous week, the Cubs head out on a not particularly pleasant road trip. The first stop is the baseball funhouse that is Coors Field, where the hope is to get out alive as much as winning the series. Something stupid always happens during the course of these, and it feels like there’s almost always at least one 13-11 loss where the lead changes with every half inning starting in the 6th. The Cubs will do their best to avoid that, as the Brewers aren’t going anywhere.

The Rocky Tops spent the interim between these series with a weekend in Queens (what a fate), losing two of three to the mystery box Mets. But hey, sometimes you just get Thor’d and Matz’d, even if the latter’s elbow is made of wishes and dreams at this point. That’s the annoying thing about the Mets. The Cubs will worry about that next week, though.

The Cubs will get another look at Peter Lambert, whom they didn’t have an answer for at Wrigley and helped the Rockies avoid a sweep. The difference this time around is they’ll also see Antonio Senzatela, who’s had a small home run problem, which is actually a big problem. They got past German Marquez last week, and will have to do so again tonight which is generally not what you’d choose.

The Rockies are in something of a tough spot. The Dodgers are already over the hills and far away, and barring something completely inexplicable they won’t be caught. The deficit is 11 games. Which leaves them wondering just how hard to push for a coin-flip spot, which would be their third in a row. It got them…well, a quick exit last year, and they assuredly had higher hopes this time around. But are you giving up assets for half a playoff spot? You wouldn’t think so, and there’s plenty of competition with whichever of the Cubs or Brewers don’t get there, the Braves, if the Nats can ever get their head out of their ass, and the Diamondbacks are ahead of them as we speak.

As strange as it might sound, the Rockies could probably use another bat or two. The numbers make it look better than it is thanks to altitude, but they have holes in center, left, and the right side of the infield because Daniel Murphy is very crisp at the moment. Getting David Dahl more playing time would help, and they’re going to try and stick him in center and hold their nose and hope nothing explodes. He did play there in the minors, and maybe the improvement in his bat is enough to keep Ian Desmond on the bench, as one of the more boneheaded signings in recent memory.

The Rockies should be putting up boxcar numbers every night. Right now they only put up good ones. If Gray can avoid blister problems they probably have enough in the rotation and pen to make a run at the coin flip spot, but that is just about the height of their expectations right now.

For the Cubs, they’ll just try and not have a shredded pitching staff to roll into Los Angeles with, which is the last place you’d want to do that. Joe Maddon will give Carlos Gonzalez at least one start you’d think in his old stomping ground, which…fine. Just not going to waste the breath. There will also be a game where he deploys the hands team in the outfield for the whole thing because he might have to. Yu Darvish looks for an actual decision this time, maybe even a win.

These are always silly. Try and enjoy the ride.




If you’re a cold-eyed analyst, and probably to be the best you can at being an analyst, you wouldn’t have handed Charlie Blackmon another five years on his deal last year as his contact was winding down (or four with a club option. Details, details…). He was entering his 30s, wasn’t very productive away from the altitude, and the question of how much longer he could play center was already popping up. That last one has already been answered, as Blackmon has spent this season playing right field.

And again, on a sheet of paper, Blackmon playing right field doesn’t give you all that much. He doesn’t hit for quite enough power, even in Coors, that you would expect from a right fielder, doesn’t have the arm for it, and these days he’s not even covering enough ground for right in Denver. Basically the Rockies need to field three center fielders to make it work out there, and center fielders who can all hit, it’s a real trick. Even with heightened slugging, Blackmon has been worth just 0.6 fWAR so far this season, putting him on pace for little more than a 2.0-fWAR season.

The signing wouldn’t make much sense for any team other than the Rockies. The thing is though, it does for the Rockies. Because while it would matter to the other 29 teams that Blackmon has only been an average hitter on the road in his career, the Rockies do get the 81 games at home that Blackmon would play. The question is would any palooka you put out there give you an above-average season there offensively, and could they do it with a better glove and at a cheaper rate? And possibly younger. David Dahl comes to mind, although he doesn’t really come equipped with the glove. Like, at all.

Still, the Rockies have rarely had homegrown talent their fans can get attached to since Helton and Holliday. Tulowitzki was traded (and then all the king’s horses and all the king’s men…), and Arenado and Blackmon give the Rockies that. There is value in that, if only to the fanbase. After all, if you take the emotion out of being a baseball fan, what’s the point?

And Blackmon might make it work for a season or two. He’s slugging higher than he has in his career aside from his bonkers 2017 when he was a nearly 7-WAR player. It might have to do with hitting more fly balls than he ever has, and there’s a lot of space for them to land comfortably in grass in Coors. He’s also hitting them as hard as he did in that 2017, so maybe the right field thing will work better than we think. Saving the legs a bit?

Blackmon doesn’t appear to be selling out on fastballs to do that either, as some other players his age have done. He’s absolutely murdering curveballs and change-ups this year as well as maintaining his excellent work on fastballs. So it’s probably sustainable as there isn’t an obvious avenue pitchers can go. Blackmon has chose to swing at more pitches and take the slightly more whiffs along with it to get the more contact, and it’s working.

Still, Chuck Nasty is will turn 33 in a few weeks, and he’s signed until he’s 37. What’s that going to look like in two years when he can’t get around right field anymore either? The Rockies don’t have a center field prospect coming through, and Ian Desmond is not a solution out there anyone should be satisfied with. Raimel Tapia seems to have all the instincts for the game as a sloth. It’s going to be a tough picture for the Rockies to solve pretty soon.

Still, Blackmon has been the heartbeat for this team for a while, if Arenado is the star. Sometimes you just can’t let a player walk because it makes the most sense analytically. We can try and sell that, but it’ll never work. The Rockies will just have to suck it up, and their fans won’t mind because Blackmon will retire as a Rockie most likely. Maybe that’s not so bad.


Game 1 Box Score: Cubs 6, Rockies 3

Game 2 Box Score: Cubs 9, Rockies 8

Game 3 Box Score: Rockies 3, Cubs 1

It was a series somewhat overshadowed by the Cubs making a signing during Game 2, which is usually only reserved for trades. Such is the way of the game these days. Anyway, the Cubs got two of three, three of four on the homestand so far, which is a nice recovery from what had gone on the past two weeks. Win the series against Mos Eisley, and you’ll have a 5-2 homestand which is just what the doctor ordered. At least the offense is back…until it wasn’t. The rotation definitely is though.

-Tuesday night featured another Kyle Hendricks gem, and he was really accentuating the upper part of the zone. Have a look:

Hendricks’s new wrinkles this year is to go up the ladder and to throw more curves, 16 of which he chucked on Tuesday night, a season-high. When you have as free-swinging an outfit as the Rockies are, you get a pretty easy night at the office.

-You can tell Maddon is jumpy about his pen, as Hendricks was allowed to throw 111 pitches and then Quintana today went one batter into the eighth.

-You can’t blame Maddon after last night’s tour-de-stupid. Brad Brach is a nothing, and it’s time the Cubs realized that. So is Kyle Ryan. I keep stressing that Montgomery and Chatwood, who are stretched out, should be thrown multiple innings whenever possible to limit everyone else’s exposure. Perhaps the biggest disappointment with Maddon’s management, on the field that is, is his lack of imagination with his pen usage. He wants his closer, his 8th inning guy, and his 7th inning guy. He seems tempted to use Chatwood that way at times, but not consistently, and Montgomery as a one-inning guy just doesn’t make any sense.

-That’s enough of Daniel Descalso, thank you.

-The Cubs might have gotten a couple lightning strikes out of Carlos Gonzalez, but don’t fool yourself. He’s finished. He’s only had one season where he was anything but an average hitter away from Coors, and that was four seasons ago. Albert Almora seemed to have secured regular playing time, and then it vanished for this. Which just isn’t fair, unless you’re going to sit Heyward, and sitting Heyward for Gonzalez is the definition of running in place. The only benefit is the hands team the Cubs can put in the outfield late in games now.

-However, he was at the turning point of last night’s game, when German Marquez decided to pitch around CarGo and then hit Contreras, before Bote cleared the bases. I don’t know if it was from memory or a favor to an old friend, but it defied explanation. Even despite the Cubs’ pen’s best efforts, they couldn’t seal a game that had already been blown open.

-Next time, maybe just let Yu try and work himself out of his own trouble instead of protecting his psyche, because letting the pen come in and start various bonfires isn’t going to help it either.

-It does feel like the Cubs always huff paint when facing a pitcher making his major league debut, but I’m sure if I looked, or knew where to look, the numbers wouldn’t bare that out. It’s still annoying as fuck, though.




RECORDS: Rockies 31-27   Cubs 32-26

GAMETIMES: Tuesday and Wednesday 7:05, Thursday 1:20

TV: NBCSN Tuesday and Thursday, WGN Wednesday



Jeff Hoffman vs. Kyle Hendricks

Geman Marquez vs. Yu Darvish

Jon Gray vs. Jose Quintana


Raimel Tapia – LF

Trevor Story – SS

David Dahl – RF

Nolan Arenado – 3B

Daniel Murphy – 1B

Ryan McMahon – 2B

Ian Desmond – CF

Tony Wolters – C


Kyle Schwarber – LF

Kris Bryant – 3B

Anthony Rizzo – 1B

Javier Baez – SS

Carlos Gonzalez – RF

Victor Caratini – C

Jason Heyward – CF

Addison Russell – 2B


And so the return. The last time the Purple were in Wrigley, the Cubs were watching a second team in as many nights celebrate on their field, having managed two runs over some 22 innings. It was quite the piece of performance art. The Rockies come in this time around the hottest team in baseball, having won nine of their last 10 and eight in a row. While you first think of them having got off to a horrendous start and languishing somewhere in the desert of the pointless, they’re only one game worse off than the Cubs. They’re just in the wrong division. But if we’re doing wild card chases already, and I guess we are, they’re right in the thick of it.

The schedule certainly did the Rockies a favor over this last stretch. One they were at home, and two they were playing some of the more punchable teams around. Lineup the Orioles, Diamondbacks, and Blue Jays in front of anyone able to remain upright for a good hour and you’re probably going to get that team some wins. But hey, can only play who is in front of you and all that.

As you might imagine, the offense got pretty healthy over that stretch, piling up 22 runs in three games against the Jays, 26 over four against Arizona, and 22 against the Os over three. Nolan Arenado and Trevor Storey are particularly hot, with the former batting near .500 over the past two weeks and the latter the latest player of the week in the NL. Coming in behind them is David Dahl, subbing for the injured Chuck Nasty, at .420 the past 14 days. Basically everyone with a bat is feeling pretty good about themselves, though overall catcher, first, and second have been dark spots for them. And Dahl should be playing every day somewhere, but the need to cram Ian Desmond into the lineup due to his paycheck and Blackmon’s inability to cover center anymore is another complication.

The Cubs will sadly see the two best starters the Rockies have in Gray and Marquez. They won’t get to see Freeland this time around, who’s been a grade-school chemistry experiment all season. Gray has had some home run problems, but then so does every Rockies pitcher (except for Marquez it seems). Starting it all off will be some dude named Jeff Hoffman, who has an ERA over 7.00 but can’t get a slice of luck or anyone to catch anything for him anywhere.

Much like last year, the Rockies’ pen has been the real key for them, even though they strike out less than anyone. They rank fourth and fifth in the NL in ERA and FIP (somehow right behind the Cubs if you can believe it). Wade Davis isn’t around at the moment, but Bryan Shaw, Scott Oberg, and Chad Bettis are holding down the fort just fine.

For the Cubs, they’ll welcome back Pedro Strop, who might be carried in like a Roman emperor given the state of everything right now. They got a healthy turn through the rotation and are back to Hendricks who kicked it off in Houston last Wednesday, and that’s really the key for the Cubs. When they get good starts, they’re good, and everything else settles in behind it. This is not the easiest stretch by any means, as a home date with the Cards is sandwiched with all the Rockies games of the season, and that’s followed by four in Chavez Ravine to play those aliens. Better kick it up a gear now or it could be a problem.



Perhaps being named “The Best Rockies Starter” of all-time is something of a misnomer, or a comedy title no one would ever want. After all, no pitcher in his right mind with any quality isn’t getting the hell out of there as soon as possible. Why put yourself through it? It’s something of a pyrrhic victory. And yet, here we are. In only his third full season as a starter, German Marquez is like a season and a half from gathering the most amount of WAR in Rockies history as a starter.

Going even farther than that, Marquez is working on his second consecutive season of a sub-4.00 FIP. He’d be the third Rockies starter to do it after Ubaldo Jimenez and teammate Jon Gray, if you can believe it.  To give you some idea of how bad pitching in Coors has been for the masses, Jason Hammel has the 10th-most WAR for a Rockies pitcher, ever. Tyler Chatwood is 14th. You just marinate on that one for a second.

Marquez is the great hope now, at age-24, that the Rockies will finally have a consistent ace to turn to. They thought it would be Gray, who was never really that bad last year after his breakout ’17 but got sent down anyway. He’s back now, and more than fine, but the idea of him joining the Scherzers and Kershaws of the world has long faded.  He’s just an effective starter.

There has been every theory tossed at the wall to figure out what it takes to have an effective staff in Coors Field. Some have thought you need a bevy of ground-ball pitchers, and that has some merit. However, the way the ground dries out at altitude makes for a pretty hard infield, so grounders scoot through a little more often than they do everywhere else. And some of that is roster construction, as only in the past couple of seasons have the Rockies put together an infield that’s good at sucking up grounders. They’ve ranked in the top-10 in ground-ball efficiency the past two years, after always being in the back half of the pack the five years before.

And Marquez does that, increasing his grounders rate every year and to be over half this year. We can all agree that keeping the ball out of the air in Coors is preferable to taking your chances on the altitude and ranch-like spaces in the outfield. Both Jimenez and Aaron Cook, the names on top of the Rockies pitching list (I know, it’s so funny) got over 55% grounders when they were in purple.

Another thought was that your staff had better throw pretty hard. As the thin air can flatten out breaking pitches and movement, it’s not going to do much about velocity. That will always play in the conditions. Marquez certainly does that, averaging 95.2 MPH on his fastball, top-15 in the league. Jimenez also threw pretty damn hard, especially for the time period, but Cook did not. It’s not mandatory, but appears to be a really good idea.

Marquez’s strikeouts are down this year, but so are his walks, and unlike pretty much every other Rockies pitcher in history, he hasn’t seen a spike in the homers he gives up per fly ball. It helps to give up less flies every year as Marquez is doing, but unlike Gray or others he’s never seen a season where he’s got some 20% mark simply because the gods laugh at you at every turn.

Marquez has become exceedingly slider-happy this year, throwing it over a quarter of the time. It’s his curve that seems to be the real weapon though, as hitters are managing all of a .098 average against it this year, while whiffing at nearly half the swings they take. His slider is around there too. Which is kind of amazing, because it was thought that it was harder to have effective breaking pitches in Denver. Marquez doesn’t seem to care.

Either way, the Rockies might finally have their ace. It only took 26 years. Sometimes these things take time.