The Rundown: Cubs Rolling Despite Key Injuries, Bellinger Upbeat About Rib Injury, Hendricks Hopes to Right Ship During Rehab Stint

“Why not think about times to come? And not about the things that you’ve done?” – Fleetwood Mac, Don’t Stop

The Cubs beat the Astros 4-3 last night and are now 15-9 despite many of their best players missing time to injuries. That list includes Justin Steele, Seiya Suzuki, Julian Merryweather, and Cody Bellinger. Jameson Taillon just returned from the IL and earned his second win of the season yesterday. The Cubs could be one of the league’s tougher teams once the entire roster is healthy. Perhaps it’s time to restart the Quantifying Hope series.

Craig Counsell‘s team certainly qualifies as resilient, something Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins have talked about recently. The Cubs are 9-6 against teams that made the playoffs last year and have yet to lose more than two straight games all season. They’ve done that while key players Kyle Hendricks, Christopher Morel, and Yan Gomes have struggled. In case you were wondering, Chicago finished 30-36 last season against teams that played in the 2022 postseason.

The quick start is well and good, but the Cubs have yet to play any of their NL Central opponents. The Brewers are off to such a hot start that nobody up here dislikes Counsell anymore. Pat Murphy has been a revelation as the team’s new manager and the Brewers might be even more resilient than the Cubs. They’re winning despite the losses of Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff. Additionally, Christian Yelich is injured, and Rhys Hoskins and Jackson Chourio are struggling to hit .200. Still, Milwaukee has a league-leading 3.23 team ERA and they’re top-three in BA/OBP/SLG.

Javier Assad toes the slab this afternoon as the Cubs try to sweep the Astros and Justin Verlander, who is making his second start of the season. Assad has pitched himself into the rotation thanks to a spiffy 2.11 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. His 201 ERA+ is second on the team to Shōta Imanaga (502), which means he’s pitching at an All-Star level. A win would put the Cubs at 16-9 with a chance to overtake the Brewers, who host the Yankees tonight.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Paul Skenes will be the most intimidating division-rival pitcher since Bob Gibson.

Central Intelligence

Climbing the Ladder

“May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung.” – Bob Dylan, Forever Young

Through 19 games with the I-Cubs, Crow-Armstrong slashed .203/.241/.392 with seven RBIs, five stolen bases, and two home runs. Including PCA, the Cubs now have seven players on the 26-man roster who have not exceeded rookie limits: Little, Michael Busch, Alexander Canario, Matt Mervis, Jordan Wicks, and Ben Brown.

  • Games Played: 24
  • Record: 15-9 (.625), 2nd place in NL Central
  • In One-Run Games: 4-4 (.500)
  • Total Plate Appearances: 913
  • Total Strikeouts: 210
  • Strikeout Rate: 23%
  • Team Batting Average: .246
  • With Runners in Scoring Position: 54-for-185 (.292)
  • Runs Scored: 130
  • Runs Allowed: 106
  • Pythagorean Record: 14-10
  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 84.7%, 4.5% chance to win World Series 

How About That!

Former minor league umpire Brandon Cooper is suing Major League Baseball, claiming a female colleague sexually harassed him and used homophobic slurs toward him. Cooper also says he was discriminated against and eventually fired because he is bisexual, adding that MLB has a “gender and racial diversity issue.”

Speaking of umpires, MLB agreed that Yankees manager Aaron Boone was a victim of a bad ejection.

Art Schallock, who pitched for the Yankees and Orioles in the 1950s, turns 100 today. He is baseball’s oldest living ex-player.

Mike Trout is on a pace to hit 65 home runs, and though he probably won’t hit that mark, he could have a historical year if he stays injury-free.

The Astros are just getting Verlander back, but their entire staff has been ravaged by injuries and poor performance.

The White Sox lost again, but it’s so hard to look away from that trainwreck of a team. They’re 3-21 now and are an AL-worst in nearly every offensive category.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Connor Wong – Baseball’s most underrated catcher was 4-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI as the Red Sox thrashed the Guardians 8-0.
  2. Francisco Lindor – The infielder was one of baseball’s brightest stars a few years ago but has struggled since joining the Mets. Last night he flashed glimpses of greatness by going 4-for-5 with two taters of his own, plating four runners in an 8-2 win over the Giants.
  3. Mookie Betts | Will Smith – The Dodgers stars upstaged Shohei Ohtani by going a combined 8-for-10 with four runs scored two doubles, and three RBI. The two paced a 20-hit Los Angeles attack in an 11-2 win over the Nats.

Extra Innings

Dansby Swanson taters will warm any chilly Chicago evening.

Thursday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Happy NFL Draft Day to all who celebrate! We’ve got an in-depth analysis of the top draft-eligible defensive backs and offensive linemen at Bears Insider this morning.
  2. Nearly 15 years after Reggie Bush had to give up his Heisman Trophy, the college football sensation is being reunited with the symbol of athletic excellence.
  3. The cicadas are coming! Those annoying critters have started tunneling from the ground in South Carolina and there’s a good chance your neighborhood will soon look like a biblical plague. This year we’ll get a visit from the 13- and 17-year cicadas, something that hasn’t happened since 1803.
  4. There’s no need to shop for protein when you can just go hunting in your backyard. Here are some all-time favorite cicada recipes. Enjoy!
  5. Megan Thee Stallion was sued for alleged harassment by her photographer, who claims he was forced to watch her have consensual sex with another woman during a photo session while trapped in a vehicle.
  6. Pearl Jam recently dropped a new album called Dark Matter. Here are 25 of their most essential songs going back to the 1990s.

Apropos of Nothing

Eddie Vedder and the boys will be rocking Wrigley Field this summer. You’ll catch me in the GA section if you want to grab a beer with me. Glen Hansard, one of my all-time favorite performers, is opening each show.

They Said It

  • “I don’t really have a timetable for [Bellinger]. The doctors will come up with a plan and, like everything, he’s gotta get symptom-free first and then we’ll go from there.” – Counsell
  • “Pete’s here because of injuries. When these guys get healthy, there’s probably not going to be a spot for him.” – Counsell
  • “From [the everyday playing time] perspective, we’re maybe taking a timeout, but I still think big-league at-bats, big league competition — that’s a development too. It may not be on an everyday basis here, but there are still things to learn. And really the priority is going to be winning games and we’ll put [Crow-Armstrong and Alexander Canario] in spots that hopefully [they]can help us do that.” – Counsell

Thursday Walk-Up Song

I had a tough time choosing between Hansard, Pearl Jam, and Megan Thee Stallion, but I just love this song too much not to share. Yes, it’s a repeat, so sue me.

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