Look, we’re going to get some weirdness this season. It’s baseball. Sometimes a really good team gets cold, and another team is just good enough to catch them before they can get things sorted out and steal a game or three.
That’s how the Chicago Cubs won three games from the Los Angeles Dodgers, by catching a truckload of breaks. Winning three straight from the Dodgers still don’t have the Cubs at .500 in this season that’s approaching the 20% mark. But after the debacle of the last couple series, and with a lot of Injured List activities, they’re in surprisingly good shape.
Let’s get to this:
Rain on Monday. When the series opener got postponed until Tuesday afternoon, it looked like the baseball gods were having mercy on the Cubs by shortening the asskickings they were about to receive by shortening the first two games to 7 innings each. Then a funny thing happened…
Kyle Hendricks happened. He channeled his ice-cold efficient self, and completely shut the Dodgers down while the Cubs had their way with Clayton Kershaw. It wasn’t for the pennant this time around, but it was a huge relief to not only see the Cubs beat Kershaw but for Hendricks to seemingly right himself.
Keegan Thompson. For his first big league start, all he had to do was face the reigning World Champions who were sending the reigning Cy Young Award winner to the mound. He responded with 3 2/3 scoreless innings, matching Drone Boy goose-egg for goose-egg.
Adbert Alzolay. Another solid start, going 5 innings, striking out 7 and allowing 2 runs. Let it be known that the Cubs, who can’t develop pitchers, swept the Dodgers with two of the three starting pitchers being home grown.
Justin Steele. Another Cubs draft pick who is pitching well. He got the win in Tuesday’s nightcap after pitching a very ballsy 9th inning. He’s got 12 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings with a 1.09 WHIP. That’ll play at this level. I hope he can keep it up, he’s looking like a guy who can be a part of the Cubs’ pitching staff for a while.
Resiliency. After losing Nico Hoerner, Jake Arrieta and Dan Winkler to the Injured List, they came out and won three, two of which went extra innings and were of the come-from-behind variety. Suddenly, you can find yourself feeling like this team can find ways to win.
Jake Marisnick and Matt Duffy. Neither of these signings registered much on the radar as they happened, but both have been real finds by Jed Hoyer and the Cubs’ scouts. Both have been pretty good in other stops, and they’re both doing a solid job filling in where needed. And speaking of filling in…
It sure makes a manager a lot smarter when he’s got a guy he can plug into any outfield spot or the corner infield spots while being one of the top 10 in fWAR this year. What Kris Bryant is doing is nothing short of Herculean. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much a given that the Garbage Family That Own The Cubs (thanks Andy Dolan) won’t pony up to keep him here for the rest of his career.
In the middle game of this series, the Cubs tried their damnedest to give the game to the Dodgers, going 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position before Javier Baez hit a home run in the eight inning of what was supposed to be a seven inning game. They were able to cobble together enough runs to win two games in extra innings, but there was a definite lack of situational hitting.
I guess it would be easy to complain about Eric Sogard, but he’s being Eric Sogard. his wRC+ is at a robust 84, which is actually above his career mark of 81. At this point his job security is basically rooted in the fact that the Cubs don’t really have any other options. When Hoerner is healthy, Ildemaro Vargas will go back to Iowa. I’d like to think that at some point they’d want to bring Trent Giambrone up. I mean, he can’t be worse, right?
Now the Pittsburgh Pirates come in for three games. If the Cubs take two of three, they’re a .500 team.