The Rundown: Cubs Best Brewers, Team Will Travel With Trepidation, Reds and Marlins Dealing With COVID-19 Scares

Based on baseball’s common core math for a 60-game series, the Cubs will move on to Cincinnati to play the Reds with a record of 5.4 – 2.7. Per Jayson Stark, the only number that matters this season is 2.7 (subscription to The Athletic required), as in any win or loss is mathematically worth that number during this sprint of a season.

The Cubs showed us this weekend that they are nearly unbeatable when their starting pitching is on point. They also showed that the bullpen still needs more than a little tinkering.

Kyle Hendricks pitched the opener on Friday like he’s on the verge of a fistful of Cy Young awards. Yu Darvish struggled with command in Saturday’s 8-3 loss to the Brewers and new manager David Ross witnessed firsthand the incendiary makeup of his relief corps. Somebody pass the Rolaids, please and thank you.

Tyler Chatwood closed out the series with a sparkling effort of his own, and if he can continue to pitch like we all envisioned when he was signed nearly three years ago, he leaves the front office with a lot of options.

  1. Keep him in the rotation and hope he helps guide the team to a deep playoff run;
  2. Extend him as part of a long-term rotation led by Hendricks and Darvish;
  3. Trade him to help the Cubs get under the luxury tax threshold; or
  4. Ride out his contract and let him walk in free agency

The season is going to move pretty quickly, so the Cubs are going to have to put any losses behind them almost immediately. Ross showed this weekend that he is perfectly capable of helping his team do just that. The offense looks like it can compete with anybody, and hopefully Jon Lester and Alec Mills can match the efforts of Hendricks and Chatwood. It would be much more comforting, and boost Chicago’s playoff chances substantially, if the bullpen can sort itself out.

Lester takes the bump against the Reds tonight and don’t kid yourselves, this is a huge series. The Cubs were miserable on the road and in intradivision games last season, including an 8-11 record vs. Cincinnati. Additionally, the North Siders will get their first look at Nick Castellanos as the enemy. It should be a wildly entertaining series, a sweep of which would be worth 8.1 theoretical wins if the Cubs can pull it off. Hendricks will get the start on Wednesday against Sonny Gray and I believe the pitching matchups favor Chicago in this set.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Sign of the times.

Apropos of Nothing

Ross finally has a managerial page at Baseball Reference. By taking two of three from the Brewers, the new skipper passed John Vukovich, Joe Altobelli, Rene Lachemann, Vedie Himsl, and Roy Johnson in career victories by a Cubs manager.

How About That!

The Marlins have a coronavirus crisis of their own, and that should worry the league. The team delayed its flight home from Philadelphia based on the fear of a team-wide outbreak and their home opener against the Orioles has been canceled.

Angels outfielder Mike Trout is still struggling with his decision to play the season while COVID-19 continues to spike across the country. The three-time AL MVP and his wife are expecting their first child in less than two weeks.

Shohei Ohtani failed to record an out in his return to the mound. He allowed three singles, walked three consecutive batters and left with a 4-0 deficit and two men on. His fastball, which can typically reach triple digits, did not break 95 mph.

Rockies reliever Daniel Bard pitched 1.1 scoreless innings on Saturday, earning his first win since May 29, 2012, when he was a starter for the Red Sox.’

Indians starter Mike Clevinger is not a fan of the new extra-inning rule.

Reports broke late Sunday afternoon that Astros ace Justin Verlander, the reigning American League Cy Young winner, will miss the rest of the season because of an elbow/forearm injury.

During a conference call Saturday, J.T. Realmuto told reporters the contract extension that Mookie Betts signed to stay with the Dodgers is “definitely positive” for the upcoming free agent class. Realmuto added that the expense showed owners have money to spend on top players, and despite what figures to be a down season economically, they’re still willing to lay out that kind of cash.

Fox broadcaster Eric Karros brought it up during Saturday’s game and then quickly retracted his statement, but statistics show that Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich is more valuable than Trout. Numbers don’t always tell the truth.

The virtual crowds being used by Fox Sports and some other television outlets are absolutely brutal. I came up with a better idea over the weekend.

World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg was scratched from what was supposed to be his first start of the season for the Nationals last night because of a nerve issue with his right hand. Strasburg described the problem as a nerve impingement in his wrist and said it initially arose early this month when teams reconvened for a ramp-up to the regular season.

Dr. Anthony Fauci received his own baseball card after throwing out the first pitch in the Nationals season opener on Friday night. Topps honored the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases with the limited edition card.

Extra Innings

How do you not love the Stone Pony and his ability to stoke the baseball fires of desire?

I used to miss Steve Stone on Cubs broadcasts, but he has become somewhat annoying the last few seasons in a Bob Costas kind of way.

Sliding Into Home

I spent the weekend burning songs from iTunes account on to CDs, something I haven’t done in over a decade. When I logged in, I felt like I was sifting through the cobwebs of my memories, wondering why I purchased a song from a band I have no recollection of liking, for instance. The Apple sales algorithm was nice enough to remind me of the last song I purchased, which was on November 3, 2016. Try to guess before clicking the link.

Sunday’s Three Stars

  1. Carlos Carrasco – The veteran right-hander made his first start for the Indians since his leukemia diagnosis with leukemia, and notched a win over the Royals. Carrasco struck out 10 Kansas City batters in six innings.
  2. José Ramírez – The Cleveland DH was 3-for-5 with four runs scored and four RBI. He also belted two home runs.
  3. Dansby Swanson – The Braves shortstop tied a career-high by plating five runners in a three-hit effort as Atlanta shellacked the Mets 14-1.

They Said It

  • “We were just talking about it, some of the guys. It’s definitely something to be concerned about; if a clubhouse guy went over to their locker room, things like that, and making sure that room’ [has been] deep cleaned.” – Anthony Rizzo
  • “I know the risks involved. I’m here to play baseball. If I get sick, I get sick. I’ve accepted the fact that it might happen.”Trevor Bauer
  • “I don’t see today as a situation where I feel like I need to kneel. I say that because this is what progress looks like. You have acknowledgment. You have unity. You have people of multiple races, people from different cultures, different struggles, staying together, acknowledging the Black struggle in this country. [It’s] also being held up on a pedestal [where it hasn’t been] before in baseball and also in sports and in this world.” – Jason Heyward

Sunday Walk Up Song

Honky Tonk Women by The Rolling Stones featuring Sheryl Crow – Mick Jagger turned 77 yeterday, so I had to go Stones, and Crow is magnificent in this live performance. Here are my top 5 Rolling Stones songs, in order:

  1. You Can’t Always Get What You Want
  2. Gimme Shelter
  3. Sympathy for the Devil
  4. Tumbling Dice
  5. Rocks Off
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