The Rundown: Cubs Coming Around, Arrieta Praises Contreras, Schwarber Breaks Bud Sign Atop Videoboard

As much confidence as I have in the Cubs clearing away the cobwebs and becoming themselves again, there was a not-small part of my brain that was worried about Scott Feldman working them over Wednesday night. In fact, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t have enjoyed the resultant bedlam from such a game. Alas, the Cubs picked up right where they left off Tuesday night, sans all the home runs.

Kyle Schwarber ripped a single through the shift, nearly amputating Joey Votto’s hand in the process. Anthony Rizzo had a similar smash to beat the shift two batters later. And Ben Zobrist, fresh from resting his tender back, picked up a pair of hits on the evening. We’re seeing the cool bats warm up as surely as the weather, coming around to hang crooked numbers and quiet the murmurs that have grown louder over the last couple weeks.

Though it’s not something we can use in any meaningful discussion, look at the way Wednesday’s game ended. After initially being called safe on a close play at first that involved an Addison Russell sliding stop and Anthony Rizzo stretching like Plastic Man to snag the throw, Joey Votto was ruled out. Even after seeing it several times, I’m not sure how they were able to overturn the call. What I am sure of is that this is one of those breaks that goes the way of the better team.

Even though the record isn’t what we had expected it to be at this point, it only takes a few little streaks here and there to get right back on track. The Cubs had been playing some really bad baseball for a stretch there, now I think we’re about to see some really impressive stuff over the rest of this homestand.

Arrieta on Contreras

In between talk of his inconsistent mechanics and whether he’s worried about his contract, Jake Arrieta shared some thoughts on Willson Contreras when he joined Bernstein & Goff Wednesday.

“It’s night and day from where he was last year, and even a month ago. He sits down with (Cubs catching coordinator and secret weapon) Mike Borzello and we go over the scouting reports collectively, they do it on their own. It’s a constant rapport between Willson and the starting pitchers, the relief pitchers, and (Chris) Bosio and Mike Borzello.

“And he retains a ton of information. We’ll have a meeting on a team that we played, say, three weeks ago and they’re coming to town and he’s already locked in to the scouting report…without even having to go over it.”

This is the kind of thing you really love to hear about a young catcher who is clearly still learning how to truly harness his freakish athletic ability. Contreras is one of baseball’s fastest players and he has a bazooka hanging from his right shoulder, so you deal with the youthful mistakes that come along as part of the package.

The framing numbers are solid and we’re seeing Contreras dial back the really exaggerated setups behind the plate, all of which speaks to his ability to learn and grow. I don’t ever want to see him stop playing like a man on fire, but he’s really going to be something else if he can rein in the wild hairs.

War Bear rechristens the Schwarboard

More news and notes

  • Jason Heyward will be in South Bend for a rehab stint that’s expected to be only one or two games
  • Freddie Freeman is having an MRI and CT scan on a wrist the Braves fear is broken
  • Trevor Cahill, who had been having a really good season, has been placed on the DL with a shoulder strain
  • Gregory Polanco has been placed on the DL with a hamstring strain
  • Derrick Goold — who looks a lot like Tom Crean in his byline pic — wrote an in-depth piece on the trade that brought John Lackey to St. Louis
  • Kyle Schwarber’s 462-foot HR Tuesday was the second-longest this season hit off a sub-80 mph pitch and it came off the slowest pitch of the bunch

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