The Rundown: Cubs Move Closer to NL Central Lead, Wicks Could Be Option to Replace Stroman, Angels Promote 2023 Draft Pick

“I can’t eat, I can’t sleep anymore.” – Angie Stone, Wish I Didn’t Miss You

The Cubs enjoyed their third day off in a week, and Milwaukee lost, so it was a productive PTO day nonetheless. The Royals are in town after being smacked around by the Mariners, while the Brewers head to Texas to take on the Rangers. Bold prediction time: This weekend will mark Chicago’s big move to take control of the NL Central. Let’s hope they don’t give it back.

I would have liked to see the Cubs play immediately after Wednesday night’s dramatic win. I’ve never missed baseball as much as I did yesterday. I re-watched the game twice and it’s just as good as a rerun as it was live.

It’s a good time to reflect on the season, however, and dispel the social media notion that the Cubs play down to their competition. They’re 29-16 (.644) this season against the Cardinals, Pirates, White Sox, Nationals, A’s, Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox. I stopped being the always-doomed fan waiting for the other shoe to drop back in 2015. If you still believe in curses and boogeymen, follow the exit signs to 35th & Shields, please and thank you.

The funny thing is that Brewers fans here in Milwaukee are terrified of Chicago’s North Side Baseballers right now, and being swept by the Dodgers will do that to you. I was out to dinner at Capital Grille with a few friends last night and we met a guy who does real estate deals for the Los Angeles ownership group, and he also thinks this team is for real. He said the Cubs have the feel of one of those teams that come out of nowhere to go on an extended playoff run. Of course, he was at Wrigley Field Wednesday night, and he’s a good friend of Cody Bellinger.

Chicago plays the Royals, Pirates, Tigers, and Brewers before their next day off on August 31. The September schedule doesn’t look too daunting, either, now that the Diamondbacks have slumped. If I’m David Ross, I’m going full throttle until the end of the season. The Cubs play their final six games on the road at Atlanta and Milwaukee. The season may come down to that final week, but that’s a helluva way to tune up for the postseason.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Obvious GIFs.

Central Intelligence

  • Milwaukee (65-57): Add Salt Lake City as a municipality that would love to welcome the Brewers if they leave Milwaukee. That may create a need for realignment, however. It’s my opinion that the team is going to leave and eventually settle in Nashville. Gov. Tony Evers remains adamant that the State of Wisconsin will not pay for stadium upgrades.
  • Cincinnati (63-59): The Reds designated starter Luke Weaver for assignment on Wednesday, and Buck Farmer might be the next to go.
  • Pittsburgh (54-67): Top draft pick Paul Skenes said the Pirates offered him the chance to be a two-way player, but he prefers to focus on pitching only.
  • St. Louis (54-68): The Cardinals placed Lars Nootbaar on the IL with an abdomen contusion and called up top prospect Masyn Winn to take his place.

Climbing the Ladder

“Everyone I see just wants to walk with gritted teeth, but I just stand by and I wait my time.” – Jake Bugg, Lightning Bolt

Morel dominated the headlines Wednesday night but let’s put a little more emphasis on Michael Fulmer this morning. He’s becoming the go-to guy in Rossy’s circle of trust, and rightfully so. The 30-year-old has a 1.73 ERA since June 3, but more importantly, he’s throwing a lot more strikes. He’s got 36 strikeouts in his last 31 innings pitched.

I certainly hope today’s game doesn’t come down to the bottom of the 9th inning, but if we’re choosing heroes give me Mike Tauchman or Bellinger.

Incidentally, Milwaukee’s chances of making the playoffs are only 53.5% over at Baseball-Reference.

  • Games Played: 120
  • Record: 62-58 (.517)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 4,606
  • Total Strikeouts: 1,079
  • Strikeout Rate: 23.43%
  • Team Batting Average: .254
  • Runs Scored: 604
  • Runs Allowed: 541
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 71.6%, 2.9% to win the World Series

How About That!

The Angels are promoting first baseman Nolan Schanuel less than six weeks after selecting him with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2023 draft.

The Mets and Yankees are the biggest disasters of the 2023 MLB season.

Adam Wainwright, José Abreu, and Tim Anderson are among the game’s biggest disappointments this season.

Thursday’s Three Stars

  1. Julio Rodríguez– Seattle’s superstar outfielder went 5-for-5 with a home run and five RBI in the Mariners’ 6-4 win over the Royals. Rodríguezhad 12 hits in the four-game set, setting a franchise record for any series, and joined some elite company in several ways: He’s the fourth Mariners player with at least four hits in back-to-back games, the fifth player in club history with a five-hit, five-RBI game, and the first Seattle player with at least 20 homers in each of his first two seasons.
  2. Joey Meneses – The Nationals’ first baseman has a name straight out of a gangster movie, and he waxed the Red Sox with two doubles and five RBI in a 10-7 win.
  3. Austin Barnes – The Dodgers catcher homered for the first time since last September, and it was all Los Angeles needed to drop the Brewers 1-0. The Dodgers improved to 15-1 in August and have won 10 in a row at home. Milwaukee was 24-10 in one-run games before last night’s loss.

Extra Innings

Give the Cubs’ marketing department a big hand for another fantastic hype video.

Friday Morning Six-Pack

Let’s wipe the dust off these classics, and while you’re listening, check out my latest piece over at Bears Insider.

  1. Tilt Ya Head Back by Nelly featuring Christina Aguilera. Love the old-school R&B vibe.
  2. Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology) by Marvin Gaye. The ultimate R&B song.
  3. Livin’ for the City by Stevie Wonder. You may not agree with me, but I think this is Wonder at his finest.
  4. The Fire by The Roots featuring John Legend. This song has such a post-apocalyptic feel, but it’s usually more associated with big sports moments.
  5. Yellow Moon by The Neville Brothers. I heard a live version of this at a 93XRT Christmas fundraiser back in the 1990s and it was amazing. The world needs more fans of the Nevilles.
  6. Lonesome Blues by Phil Guy. Yes, Phil is Buddy’s brother, and he’s also a heck of a blues guitarist. Wait for the bridge, it’s quite the groove. Phil passed away a few years back, but my friends and I used to frequent a bar near Homewood where he played regularly. Great guy, and a great musician.

They Said It

  • “We’ve been creative when we feel like [calling up prospects] is the right thing to do for the organization, but we’re not in that position right now. Certainly, when you have a chance to go to the playoffs and you have a chance to win, you’re a lot more aggressive with those kinds of decisions. When you’re not in the race or when you’re building, it’s a lot easier to be clinical in those kinds of decisions.” – Hoyer

Friday Walk-Up Song

A lot of Stones fans don’t like this song because it’s a little too disco, but I love it. A perfect summer song.

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