The Rundown: Smyly Pitches Well in Defeat, Hendricks Shut Down for Season, Cubs System Ranked No. 10 by MLB Pipeline

“Take that look of worry, mine’s an ordinary life. Working when it’s daylight and sleeping when it’s night. I’ve got no far horizons, I don’t wish upon a star. They don’t think that I listen, but I know who they are.” – Phil Collins, Take Me Home

The Cubs lost 1-0 to the Cardinals yesterday with the lone score coming on a home run by the red-hot Albert Pujols. The 42-year-old slugger has six homers in his last seven games and 693 in his career. Pujols hit his tater off of Drew Smyly, the 449th different pitcher he’s gone yard against, tying a major league record previously held by Barry Bonds.

Pujols has a real shot at 700 home runs, which would put him in rarified air with Bonds and Hank Aaron. I’d like to root for Pujols, but he’s a Cardinal and that makes it a little too tough. He now has 58 career home runs against the Cubs in 193 games, and I can’t help but think that had he stayed in the National League he might have already passed Bonds. He may regret signing with the Angels in 2012.

I’m not here to talk about the Cardinals, however. Smyly pitched well, wants to stay in Chicago, and there are a lot of folks who believe he would be a perfect No. 5 or No. 6 starter on next year’s team. Count me out unless he comes at a very steep discount. Smyly has started 151 career games and is a league-average pitcher. If he’s a placeholder for a couple of months, fine, and only if it’s financially feasible. That said, I’d choose Adrian Sampson over Smyly unless a better option existed.

Justin Steele is starting to look like a bona fide ace. Caleb Kilian, Ben Brown, and Hayden Wesneski should be up next season. The Cubs still have Marcus Stroman and Kyle Hendricks, barring any offseason trades. Jed Hoyer doesn’t need a fifth starter, he needs a guy who can push Steele to No. 2. It’s not going to be Justin Verlander, whose $25 million player option for next season kicked in when he reached 130 innings. I expect the Astros to extend him for Max Scherzer-like money. Jacob deGrom will earn $30.5 million if he stays with the Mets, though he can opt out and will probably choose free agency. Carlos Rodón is my guy, hands down.

That makes Hendricks, Brown, or Kilian your No. 5, and I like those options much better than I do Smyly. And, since Hoyer and Tom Ricketts have promised to spend next season, let them pony up for Carlos Correa — if he’ll move to third base. Dansby Swanson, Trea Turner, and Xander Bogaerts are all expected to get qualifying offers. Nolan Arenado, too. Two players who won’t be qualified that pique my interest include Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto. In fact, I’d take Rodón and Conforto, and keep Hoerner and Nick Madrigal in the middle of the infield. Last but certainly not least, I’d bring Anthony Rizzo back home on a two-year deal.

Apropos of Nothing

I chose the lead song as an ode to free agents, particularly Rizzo. In fact, Collins was inspired to write its lyrics by the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Oh, God, no.

Climbing the Ladder

“Now you know my covers they feel like lead and my pillow feels like stone.” – Ray Charles, Lonely Avenue

The Cubs had one hit against Jordan Montgomery last night. Thank you Christopher Morel for preventing the no-no. I still find it laughable that David Robertson, now with the Phillies, has Chicago’s lone plate appearance by a pitcher.

  • Games Played: 121
  • Total Plate Appearances: 4,579
  • Total Strikeouts: 1,076
  • Strikeout Rate: 23.49%
  • Team Batting Average: .242
  • Runs Scored: 503
  • Runs Allowed: 574

How About That!

Former Cub Kenny Lofton has been accused of sexual misconduct for exposing a female employee to explicit pictures of his body that he sent via Instagram private message.

The Orioles are considering the promotion of top prospect Gunnar Henderson for their playoff push. The 21-year-old shortstop has spent most of the season in Triple-A, where he’s batted .289/.388/.520 with 11 home runs in 58 games.

The Brewers may do the same with outfield prospect Sal Frelick.

I read through the comments section in yesterday’s Rundown, and the 2022-23 free agent class is a lot more loaded than some of you may believe.

The Mets designated overnight success story Nate Fisher for assignment yesterday. They also cut former Cub Rob Zastryzny.

Speaking of former Cubs, Scott Effross is hurt. The Yankees placed the side-arming reliever on the IL with a bum shoulder.

The Astros are having another great season, and the future could be even better. Houston was listed by Bleacher Report as having baseball’s best young core of players. Their core four includes Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Jeremy Peña, and Cristian Javier.

Monday’s Three Stars

  1. Montgomery – He absolutely stymied the Cubs last night, allowing just the one hit while striking out seven batters. Montgomery needed just 99 pitches to earn the complete game win.
  2. Eric Lauer – The Milwaukee starter had a decent but pedestrian outing, throwing five shutout innings with two strikeouts and two walks, but it was significant because the Brewers beat the Dodgers 4-0, the first time Los Angeles has been shut out at home this season.
  3. Smyly – He hung in there with Montgomery, the homer by Pujols being the only blemish on his start.

Extra Innings

Ladies and gentlemen, your Tuesday evening starter.

Tuesday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Justin Fields looked good and showed growing chemistry with tight end Cole Kmet. The Bears have switched from “training camp mode” to preparing for their season-opening tilt against the 49ers on September 11. We’ve got you covered in our final edition of Camp Notes.
  2. Ukraine’s Premier League will start up again today, almost exactly six months since Russia invaded Ukraine. Two teams, FC Desna Chernihiv and FC Mariupol, were replaced in the league after their stadiums were demolished, and no fans will be allowed into games because of the threat of missile strikes. It does represent a moral victory of sorts and a big middle finger to Vladimir Putin.
  3. Need a fifth booster against coronavirus? Pfizer and German partner BioNTech have submitted their new COVID-19 booster – that targets the omicron subvariant BA.5 – to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization, the companies announced Monday.
  4. Dr. Anthony Fauci is leaving his posts as President Biden’s chief medical advisor and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in December, ending his 50+ year run in government service.
  5. Today marks the 50th anniversary of the term “Stockholm Syndrome.”
  6. Ford is cutting 3,000 jobs because we are not in a recession.

They Said It

  • “You just want to pitch, that’s it. I just want to pitch all year, to be there for my guys every fifth day, to be that consistent competitor. But things get in the way, things happen, so I just have to approach the rehab the same way. That competitiveness, man, it’s just kind of festering in there.” – Hendricks
  • “[Kilian] is in a great place physically and mentally. You know, there’s the pressure that comes with being a kind of highly touted pitching prospect and getting to the big leagues and maybe things not going as exactly as planned. But I think, even like the All-Star break gave him the chance just to catch his breath coming back. And it’s just getting back to kind of his identity. We tried to simplify things for him, and said kind of, ‘Caleb, when you’re at your best, who are you?’ And the answer was like, ‘I’m a guy who pounds the strike zone with a really heavy sinker.'” – Breslow

Tuesday Walk-Up Song

Gotta be excited about the Cubs’ prospects.

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