Cubs @ Tigers: Series Thread (Games 37-39)

The beleagured Cubs dropped both of their games in Cleveland by a single run each, nearly matching their opponents in feats of pitching and embarrassments of non-hitting. Kris Bryant joined the ranks of the unavailable due to illness in the middle of the first game. Javy texted his way out of a day off for the second game, but continues to battle lower back stiffness. The Cubs continue their road trip with a three-game series in Motor City. The 4th-place Tigers (13-24) could be more their speed. Detroit is last in the  majors in fWAR, 29th in wRC+, and last in FIP (albeit with the Cubs only a few spots ahead of them). Cubs batters will be lined up to face the Tigers' two best starters in this series, however. With the Cubs' record at 17-19, they would have to sweep to yo-yo back past the .500 mark. See below for the weekend's pitching matchups.

Game 37, Friday, May 14, 6:10 pm central

CHC: RHP Jake Arrieta (3-3, 4.31 ERA)

DET: LHP Tarik Skubal (0-5, 5.67 ERA)

As of my writing this, Arrieta is scheduled to return from an IL-stint due to a cut on his pitching hand. He last pitched on April 30, when he was battling that wound and pitching his way to his worst performance of the season so far. He went 3.1 innings and allowed 7 earned runs, getting pounded for 3 homeruns. Prior to that he'd been the Cubs steadiest starter.

Skubal debuted in 2020 and struggled with homeruns, allowing an upsetting 2.53 per nine innings pitched. Things have only gotten worse for him in his sophomore season. He's already been rocked for 10 homeruns in 27 innings. His previously solid strikeout to walk rate has also taken a turn for the worse this year, although one could hardly blame him if he's been scared out of the strike zone. His last start was mostly a success, even though he took the loss. He went five innings allowing two solo homeruns as the total scoring. He also struck out eight Twins while walking two and allowing four hits.

Game 38, Saturday, May 15, 3:10 pm central

CHC: RHP Trevor Williams (2-2, 5.81 ERA)

DET: RHP José Ureña (1-4, 3.60 ERA)

Williams rebounded from a terrible start by pitching 4 innings and allowing two earned runs against his former team. He struck out six in that start and walked two. In the prior start, he had been absolutely hammered by Cincinnati, but he managed to escape without a loss. Outside of that stinker, he's maintained an ERA in the mid-4s, roughly in line with his career averages.

Ureña has been a very pleasant surprise in his first season with the Tigers. He's significantly outpitching his peripherals, but a groundball rate over 50% tends to help with that. Aside from a bad first start in which he allowed 5 earned runs, he's been very steady. In the six starts since then, he's five times allowed two earned runs and once allowed only one earned run. He also had a string of four starts with seven innings pitched, which ended last time when he exited after 4.1. Cubs hitters saw him a few times during his tenure with the Marlins. Lefties Rizzo, Heyward, and Pederson are collectively 12 for 29 with two homeruns and five walks off of Ureña.

Game 39, Sunday, May 16, 12:10 pm central

CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (2-4, 6.23 ERA)

DET: LHP Matthew Boyd (2-3, 1.94 ERA)

Hendricks's journey to re-becoming Kyle Hendricks hit a yield sign last time out. He allowed six runs, four earned, in five innings pitched in Pittsburgh. Most of the nine hits he allowed, however, resulted from unfortunately placed soft conctact. It would make sense for Hendricks to chalk that one up to luck and walk into his eighth start with the confidence that he is once again Maddux-lite.

The 30-year-old Boyd is off to probably the best start of any season in his career. There are, however, some signs pointing toward significant regression. His strikeout rate is way down compared to the high-water mark he set in 2019, and he's maintaining an incredibly low homerun rate compared to his career average with no corresponding improvement in ground ball percentage. He is inducing a bit more weak contact, and he is using his changeup more than in any prior season. Only Matt Duffy and Ildemaro Vargas have faced him before, and neither has much to show for it.


wrigley going 60% capactity may 28th.  hopefully we'll be 100% by july/august.

we're getting closer to "normal."  i hope we can get things stable for those that can't get a vax, and those that are still refusing or on the fence will cross over and join the rest of functioning society.

as someone who was on strong chemo with a wide open immune system a decade ago, i'm thinking about them and others in similar health conditions.

it's really cool how playing vs DET in 2021 counts toward the MLB win/loss totals of a team.  it's like using a cheat code.

i.vargas DFA'd...happ returns.

Can't send down a reliever, gonna need all 35 of them.

The last time the Cubs outrighted Ildemaro Vargas in April, he had been added to the 26-man roster (and the 40-man roster) as as temporary CoViD-19 replacement player for Matt Duffy and so he wasn't subject to waivers when the Cubs sent him back to the minors, but this time that won't be the case, and with the number of position players who have gone on the IL across MLB the past few days, I would be very surprised if Vargas is not claimed off waivers sometime in the next few days before the seven-day DFA period expires.

IMO best bet would be the Mets, but only if a club with a worse record doesn't also put in a claim as well. 

As such, it might be possible for the Cubs to trade Vargas before putting him on waivers, and maybe get a second-tier prospect and/or $$$ in excess of the $50,000 waiver price back for him. 

Pirates just claimed him

Somethng to keep in in about waiver claims that doesn't happen very often (but it has happened), is that a club cannot make a waiver claim and then trade the player to another club with a lower (worse) waiver claim priority if at least one club between those two clubs in the aggregate MLB standings also made a waiver claim on the same player. 

This is completely different than what clubs can do in the Rule 5 Draft, where a club with a high (good) Rule 5 Draft pick claims a player and then trades the selected player to a club with a low (bad) Rule 5 Draft pick. 

In the case of a waiver claim, if a club is awarded a waiver claim and then trades the player to a club with a lower (worse) waiver claim priority such that at least one other club between the two clubs involved in the trade also made a claim on the same player but was not awarded the claim because the club with a higher (better) waiver claim priority was awarded the claim, the trade will be voided, the original waiver claim award will be voided, and the club between the two clubs involved in the "claim & trade" gets the player for the $50,000 waiver price, and the club that was awarded the original waiver claim and then traded the player loses the player and $50,000. 

The problem is, clubs are not advised by the MLB office at the time a player is claimed off waivers how many clubs actually put in a claim, so a club would be risking $50,000 if that club claims the player and is awarded the claim and then trades the player to another club with a lower (worse) waiver claim priority, because the two clubs involved in the trade wouldn't know if another club in between the two clubs that made the trade also might have made a claim. 

That's why you don't see a club claim a player off waivers, and then after being awarded the waiver claim,  trade the player to another club with a lower (worse) waiver claim priority, unlike what you often see in the Rule 5 Draft.  

The reason a selection in the Rule 5 Draft is treated differently than a waiver claim is that the Rule 5 Draft is public and conducted in sequential order, so it cannot be proven that another MLB club would have selected a particuilar player if they had had the chance to do so. But for waiver claims, the process is a secret auction as far as the 30 MLB clubs is concerned, such that only the MLB office knows how many teams (and which teams) put in a claim.   

OK, so now let's say the Pirates flip Vargas to the Mets and - IF - one or more MLB club(s) between the Pirates and Mets in the aggregate MLB standings also put in a claim, the club between the Pirates and Mets with the lowest winning percentage among the clubs that put in a claim but didn't get Vargas because the Pirates had a worse record would get Vargas for $50,000, and the Pirates would be out both Vargas and $50,000. 

The Pirates could take a chance and flip Vargas to the Mets (or some other club) and hope that no club between the Pirates and the Mets (or whatever club) in the standings also put in a claim, but I doubt that the Pirates would be willing to risk $50,000 for that possibility. 

The other question which is not addressed in the MLB waiver rules is how long a club has to wait to trade a player it claimed off waivers to avoid the possibility of the trade and original waiver claim award being voided and the claiming club losing $50,000. It's up to the MLB Commissioner to decide if the rule was violated, but I don't know what the Commissioner would consider a "reasonable period of time" to wait before a club can trade a player claimed off waivers to avoid penalties, since a "reasonable period of time" is not specified in the rules. It might require that the club that was not awarded the waiver claim file a grievance with the Commissioner, which might not even happen if the other club doesn't care that it wasn't originally awarded the waiver claim. 

BTW, the Pirates can put Ildemaro Vargas back onto waivers if they wish, but they have to wait at least 48 hours or until he has spent at least one day on the club's MLB active list roster before they can do so. (They would have to wait seven days to put him back onto waivers if the waiver claim was awarded anytime beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season up until the first official day of MLB Spring Training). 

Also, the Cubs could not have traded Ildemaro Vargas while he was on waivers, and since he cleared waivers today, we know for sure that the Cubs placed him on waivers at 2 PM (Eastern) on Saturday, a day before the Mets lost Conforto and McNeil.

So there is no way the Cubs could have traded Vargas to the Mets yesterday or today. That's why it's usually a good idea not to place a Designated Player on waivers until absolutely necessary, just in case a trade might come up. 

As far as the DFA period is concerned, if a club wants to outright a Designated Player to the minors, the player must be outrighted no later than seven days (seven business days during the off-season) after the DFA, so since Vargas was Designated for Assignment on Saturday, the Cubs could have waited until 2 PM (Eastern) on Thursday before placing him on Outright Assignment Waivers (if the Cubs thought there was a possibility to trade him for a prospect and/or $$$ in excess of the $50,000 waiver price prior to Thursday afternoon). 

neither team deserved to win that 2nd game...figures that the cubs would blow it, though.

"The team that wins deserves to win" -- Emil Faber

nice.  knowledge is good.

Mills to the IL, Tommy Nance a (surprise) call up!

Surprise because he's already 30 and of the 30 and up minor league crew I thought Robert Stock would be the first man up.

Makes me wonder... with an older rookie like this, how many good years can you realistically hope for? 3-5? Anyway, congrats to Tommy!

undrafted, to signed out of indie ball, to 30 year old AAA' the bigs.

That is awesome, good for him

yeah, it pays off for life.

as a future member of the MLB Players Alumni Association he'll get 50% off as well as other discounts at participating retailers.

that's money in the bank, yall.

cubs take 2 of game under .500

This is also true.

This year in Triple-A.

6 ip 1 h 1 bb 1 r 1 er 10 K

Should have pitched the ninth.