The Cubs plowed through their bullpen and the Reds on Sunday to split the series and notch their 20th win in 34 games. With an off day Monday that coincides with the 2020 season’s trade deadline, the Cubs will have 26 games left (give or take depending on how the pandemic goes for MLB’s not-so-bubble) to secure their playoff spot and integrate their new friends into the fold. There are at least two new friends to hang out with at this time, possibly more to come before the final chime:
The Cubs also signed reliever A.J. Ramos to a minor league deal:
Depending on how things go, we may see Ramos in the fold sooner rather than later, with only two or three trustworthy relievers in the Cubs bullpen and Craig Kimbrel still figuring his stuff out. It does help to have Jose Martinez in the lineup against lefties in the DH spot where he can’t hurt the Cubs on defense, as the usual suspects in the DH spot haven’t really been doing their best and the lineup as a whole has been pretty mediocre against lefty pitching so far.
It was refreshing to have a strong showing from the bats on getaway day before the off day so we can at least bask in the glory a bit rather than lamenting a loss. The starting outfield of Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, and Jason Heyward went nuts:
Meanwhile, the Cubs Twitter account was having some fun after the Reds tried to kill Anthony Rizzo with a high and tight fastball:
But that wasn’t even the most impressive bomb of the day…this baseball got vaporized:
Tyler Chatwood was sort of cruising along (loud outs, but they were still outs) until he felt elbow discomfort and had to leave the game. It was good that Jose Quintana was also back from the injured list, and Q did pretty well which leads me to believe he will take over in the rotation with a shorter leash than usual until he builds up stamina. I also expect them to keep Adbert Alzolay around to take over Chatwood’s roster spot as a piggyback option.
Depending on what happens with the Braves and Phillies on Sunday Night Baseball, the Cubs (as the only team in the NL Central with a record over .500) are just one of five teams in the National League with a winning record. I guess the regional interleague has not always been kind to the NL side, but thank goodness for the wins banked in the first third of the season to allow the Cubs a buffer as they figure out their offense and bullpen. There is still a lot of uncertainty and inconsistency on this team, but the odds remain in the Cubs’ favor. Hopefully, the talent that we know is within this team gets unlocked and they make a strong run to the finish.
UPDATE: 8/31 Trade Deadline: The Cubs got a few trades officially done under the wire as they head into the September stretch:
So, with reinforcements coming back from the injured list and some extra bats off the bench, the Cubs have some depth to supplement the core that we will depend on to stay the course toward the postseason.