Monday, September 11, 2023

A Chicago Team That Didn't Suck Yesterday


[I mean, I kinda thought, with all the smoke you'd all been blowing up Justin Fields' ass this offseason, that the Bears would be worth a damn this year.]

The Cubs only had like 2 years of not being contenders in between regimes, and they didn't even need to change managers. It is generally awesome how well-built this team has become in the past decade. 

The real indicator is that the Cubs now have the kind of excessive depth that they had back in the late 2010s. Marcus Stroman is out with an injury, Wesneski and Smyly are better in the bullpen, there's room enough to slide in Javier Assad from the bullpen. Assad had a 3.18 ERA in the bullpen, but since being thrown into the rotation he's got a 2.58 ERA, a 2-1 record and 30 Ks. Assad had some great moments last season down the stretch, and now the timing's right for him to aid this team while they're good, and he's definitely reaping the benefits. As a bonus, there's also room for the Cubs to bring in Jordan Wicks, who's 3-0 in his first 3 starts with a 2.16 ERA. And then at the same time, Steele and Hendricks are playing really well, and Jameson Taillon just had a really nice start for the first time in a while. Going into a wild card scenario with Steele, Hendricks, Taillon, Assad and Wicks all pitching really well, you can't go wrong. 

Plus, the Cubs have so many cool baseball stories going for them this year. Cody Bellinger having the comeback season of the gods and getting back to what he was doing in LA. Yan Gomes going from backup to starter at 36. Jose Cuas, former position player turned reliever, coming over from KC and having a 1.16 ERA. Tauchman and Madrigal boosting their stock after falling into near-oblivion. Jeimer Candelario finally getting to play for the team that drafted him again. Even Kyle Hendricks returning from what we thought was the waning period of his career with a 3.73 ERA. There's so many really cool aspects of this team, and it's working in a completely different way than the 2016-era battery did.

The Cubs have a pretty good footing on a Wild Card spot, and have series against the Rockies and Pirates mixed in with crucial battles against the Diamondbacks, Brewers and Braves. They've been very hot recently, have somewhat of a leg up on the next-nearest wild card team [ironically the D-Backs], and are winning enough to stay out of the danger zone. I think the Cubs are a safe bet for the postseason unless they completely fall apart, and they could surprise some people depending on who they get to play first. 

Coming Tonight: [long, exhausted sigh]

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