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Chicago Cubs

Vintage Kyle Hendricks returns, but the Cubs lose

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Jul 9, 2018; San Francisco, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks (28) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs lost to the San Francisco Giants late on Monday night, 2-1 in 11 innings. But the good news is that Kyle Hendricks pitched really well, harkening us back to the days of 2016 with his 89-mph fastball and slick changeup combination.

In tonight’s game, Jose Quintana will try to right the ship a little bit. I welcomed Sean Sears to the podcast to chat a little about Quintana’s biggest problem so far this season.

In the second segment, we discussed Hendricks and his game before looking ahead to the return of Kris Bryant and the weird way that the Cubs have been dishonest about his injury.

In the final segment, we looked around the NL Central and updated the standings.

Ryan is a husband, father, graduate of Penn State University, and a full-time sports writer. He has seen his work published or linked by the Chicago Tribune, Sports on Earth, MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, and several others. Ryan currently writes for FanRagSports, The Sporting News, and The Cheat Sheet. You can follow him on twitter at @RyanQDavis.

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Chicago Cubs

The Cubs open the second half with a win

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Jul 19, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Pedro Strop (46) pumps his fist against the St. Louis Cardinals after the ninth inning at Wrigley Field. The Chicago Cubs won 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports


The Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of their five-game series on Thursday night, rallying from an early deficit to win 9-6. In the first segment, I looked back on that game for a brief moment and previewed the pitching matchup in Friday’s game. In the second segment, Evan Altman of Cubs Insider joined me to talk more in depth about Thurdsay’s victory, the Cardinals, Jason Heyward, and several other pertinent topics.

In the final segment, we fielded a question from a listener — that we pretty loosely answered — and talked about a new addition to the bullpen. Welcome to Chicago, former Texas Rangers reliever Jesse Chavez!

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Chicago Cubs

Will the Cubs run out of gas by the playoffs?

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Feb 27, 2018; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman David Bote (76) hits an RBI triple in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

As the Cubs head out of the All-Star break, their fortunes for the 2018 season seem to be in good shape.

A late spurt just before the mid-season classic coupled with a sudden cold spell by their chief rivals have given the Cubs the best record in the National League by 2.5 games in the standings.

The Cubs also have one of the most favorable schedules down the stretch, with only 37 games remaining against opponents that currently have winning records. That’s tied for third-best among all NL teams with a winning record.

But there are concerns, and it starts with the schedule. Out of all the contending teams, the Cubs will have the most blistering pace in the last half of the season, having to play 69 games in only 74 days.

That starts tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals, in a span where they will play 21 games in 20 days.

With only six scheduled days off until the end of the season, the Cubs are tied with the Atlanta Braves for the least amount among the 10 teams with winning records. By comparison, the Milwaukee Brewers will play only 64 games for the remainder of the season and will have 11 scheduled off days.

Of all the teams contending for the playoffs in the NL, the Philadelphia Phillies may have the easiest route with 67 games remaining, 33 against teams with winning records, and eight days off scheduled.

And although the Cardinals are experiencing troubles, they have the second-softest road with 68 games, 36 against winning opponents, and seven off days.

That kind of schedule will push many players on the Cubs roster up to or past their previous limits. Albert Almora, Javier Baéz, Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, and Kyle Schwarber are all on pace to set career-highs in at-bats, while pitchers Tyler Chatwood, Mike Montgomery, and Brandon Morrow will all be close to or surpass career-highs in either appearances or innings pitched.

At this point, no one can be sure just how their production will be affected as the season wears on.

During this string of three straight postseason appearances, the Cubs have used there deep minor league system to either bring relief to the major league roster, create a spark of energy, or provide extra help as part of a trade.

From 2015 through 2017, the Cubs have used on an average of 47 players a season, with an average of 31 making a significant contribution (defined as 25 or more games for a position player, and 15 or more appearances for a pitcher).

Up to this point, the Cubs have used 39 players, 25 with significant contributions.

The Cubs could be hoping that players such as David Bote, Victor Caratini, and James Norwood are ready to step up and provide that spark, but there seems to be no one behind them ready to contribute if those players do not.

There are some that may hold out hope that veteran Chris Coghlan can lend a hand, but a 33-year-old batting only .146 in Triple-A might not be able to flip the switch if given a chance to return to the majors.

Over the past three seasons, the Cubs have used a flurry of trades involving their minor league players to bolster their major league roster. Unfortunately, they received practically no additional developmental talent in return.

That, combined with a loss of draft picks in 2016 and international signing restrictions, has combined to deplete the Cubs’ minor league resources. While they have talented players such as catcher Miguel Amaya and pitchers Cory Abbott and Keegan Thompson that may pique some interest, don’t expect teams to line up in order to deal the Cubs a potential difference maker for those players’ distant promise.

So as the trade deadline nears, keen interest should be had as to how the Cubs address this situation. Does the front office have the courage to deal a fairly significant major league player in order to supply reinforcements?

Will they try to scrape together something from their ramshackle minor league system and make the best of it?

Or will they stand pat and hope that injured players like Kris Bryant and Yu Darvish come back rejuvenated while their replacements hopefully continue to contribute at a high level?

If they aren’t careful, the Cubs could come out of the gate in the playoffs gasping rather than swinging.

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Chicago Cubs

Wait, could the Cubs trade for Jacob deGrom after all?

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports


The Cubs are back in action today, taking on the St. Louis Cardinals and their new manager, Mike Shildt. Sean Sears and I previewed the game, which Sean will be attending as credentialed media for the first time. The game will feature Kyle Hendricks against Carlos Martinez. In the second segment, we looked at a piece Jesse Rogers wrote for ESPN that tried to pinpoint what a Cubs trade for Jacob deGrom might look like. Is it more favorable than we originally thought?

Given this new information, we came to the conclusion that the Cubs are definitely, 100% trading for deGrom. No question, done deal. In the final segment, we briefly discussed the results of a poll from the @LockedOnCubs Twitter account and I made puns relating to Brad Hand‘s name.

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