Cubs @ Pirates: Series Thread (Games 47-49)

The Cubs took two out of three from the Cardinals in St. Louis and climbed to 1.5 game out of first place. Meanwhile, the Brewers trail the Cubs by only half a game. The Cubs will have a chance to take on the last place Pirates yet again. The season series stands at five and four in the Cubs' favor heading into the week. The Pirates will be doing their work without Colin Moran, Philip Ervan, and, of course, Ke'Bryan Hayes. The Cubs may miss Willson Contreras, depending on how he recovers from taking a fastball to the wrist from his battery-mate, Kimbrel. Jason Heyward remains on the IL, and team sparkplug Matt Duffy is working around some back pain. See below for the pitching matchups for the series.

Game 47, Tuesday, May 25, 5:35 pm central

CHC: RHP Jake Arrieta (4-4, 4.46 ERA)


Arrieta surrendered 7 hits and four earned runs to the Nationals in his last start. Things didn't look all that bad until Juan Soto took him deep in the fifth. Overall, it was still a solid second start after his return from a brief IL stint.

Pittsburgh has not yet announced their starter for this game. 27-year-old righty Cody Ponce is an option. He's been working in AAA so far this season and last appeared on May 19. He made five MLB appearances with the Pirates in 2020, including 2 starts. He took a loss on August 2 of last year, giving up one unearned run on one hit while recording only one out.

Game 48, Wednesday, May 26, 5:35 pm central

CHC: RHP Trevor Williams (2-2, 5.97 ERA)

PIT: RHP Wil Crowe (0-2, 4.91 ERA)

Williams's inconsistent work in May has earned him a quick hook of late. He was pulled with one out to go in the fifth inning during his last start despite allowing only two earned runs and striking out five. He's totalled only 13.1 innings in 4 May starts so far. His strikeout numbers remain promising, but his WHIP is far too high as a result of both too many walks and plenty of hard contact.

Crowe has made one relief appearance and one start against the Cubs so far this year, allowing 3 earned runs in 6.2 innings pitched. He has struggled with his control at times this season, averaging over 4 walks per nine innings.

Game 49, Thursday, May 27, 11:35 pm central

CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 4.74 ERA)

PIT: LHP Tyler Anderson (3-4, 4.73 ERA)

Hendricks earned the win and went 6.2 innings in his last start against St. Louis. His one blemish so far in May was a start against the Pirates in which they blooped and grounder-ed him to the tune of six runs, four earned, while averaging his lowest exit velocities in any single start of the season.

Anderson has already faced the Cubs twice and has split those two games. In his most recent start he allowed 9 earned runs to Atlanta in five innings pitched.


contreras sits...pj higgins gets a chance to improve his 0-7 start.

he's still d2d, but that may change.

Can't imagine they didn't x-ray. Assuming that's correct, it should just be a matter of how bad the bruising/swelling is.

he took some BP today, at least.  ...and yeah, negative xrays.

Cubs place INF Matt Duffy on 10-day IL with lower back strain that he has been battling for a week or more and select contract of 1B-3B Patrick Wisdom from AAA Iowa. To make room for Wisdom on the MLB 40-man roster, RHRP Jason Adam (on AAA Iowa 7-day IL after undergoing surgery for a broken ankle) has been Designated for Assignment. 

The Cubs could have recalled Adam from his Optional Assignment and placed him on their MLB 60-day IL to clear a slot on the 40 for Wisdom, but if they did that Adam would get paid at the MLB rate (pro-rated $595K) instead of his minor league split rate (pro-rated $250K). If the Cubs release Adam, his termination pay is what's left of his 2021 minor league split salary. 

Injured players cannot be outrighted to the minors during the season, so Adam will certainly be placed on Outright Release Waivers and any club can claim him for $1. However, unlike the Cubs, any other MLB club that claims him would be on the hook for his pro-rated MLB salary, because an injured player cannot be optioned to the minors after being claimed off release waivers. 

So Adam will be released, and the Cubs will pay him what's left of his $250K minor league split salary. It's very possible that the Cubs will then offer Adam a new 2021 minor league contract at the AAA minimum ($16,800) so that he can continue his rehab with the Cubs, but if they do, he does not have to sign it. goes down hard in the infield and he's in bad pain.

be nice if it was a doesn't look like a cramp.  left hamstring...

left hamstring "strain"

ugg...hope his medicals look good.  probably gonna see a lot of sogard in the forseeable future.

That looked more painful than your typical hammy strain. I'm hoping he didn't pop a tendon loose or something.

Phil, do you have any idea if Sergio Alcantara can play in the majors? He played a little for DET last yr. He's hitting for Iowa now. He's young (24). If Nico is out for a while (didn't look good / hamstring strain), with Vargas gone, Sergio reads like the next option. 

We'd have to open up another 40man spot. We're running out of space. Lots of guys already on 60day IL. Probably M. Rodriguez would have to go.


Tommy Birch at Iowa tweets Sergio was pulled from game tonight after Nico's injury

childersb3: Transferring Trevor Megill to the 60-day IL would be the easist way to clear a slot on the 40. He's already been on the IL for almost a month and he can go to Iowa on a 30-day Article XIX-C rehab assignment for the back end of the 60 days. There doesn't seem to be a spot for him in the pen right now anyway.

As for Sergio Alcantara, here is what I wrote about him when the Cubs claimed him off waivers in February...

AZ Phil saw a - LOT - of Sergio Alcantara back when he was a hot-shot D-backs prospect. 

Here are some of the highlights...

Alcantara is unusual in that he was a BA Top 30 prospect for NINE YEARS in a row. This is amazing, because after nine years in the minors either a player graduates to MLB, or he becomes an itinerant 4-A guy, or he gets released, but Alcantara has somehow managed to continue to roll along as a legit prospect for nine years, without having reached AAA! 

BTW, Alcantara was one of the pieces that went from AZ to DET in the J. D. Martinez trade a few years ago. It's just too bad that he ran out of minor league options before reaching AAA. 

I was thinking Megill to the 60 day IL makes the most sense too. Or DFA Shelby Miller, but they don't seem quite ready to write him off yet.

Thanks AZP

phew.  i like good kimbrel.

STL down by 4, but it's still early.  if STL loses the cubs will only be 0.5 games out of 1st.

Hard for me to root for the WSox but they certainly have helped bring the Cardinals back to the pack.

Billy McKinney goes to the Mets after a dfa by Brewers. Cam Maybin says ruh roh.

It's looking like the Cubs acquiring $1 is the better end of that deal, which is a shame cause I have always liked Maybin.

i dunno...i'm a big fan of $1, myself.

Cubs sign the player formerly known as Dee Gordon to play in Iowa.

Tommy Birch (Iowa beat writer) now reporting OF Rafael Ortega is getting called up, not Sergio Alcantara. Maybe this means Nico injury isn't as bad as it looked, so they don't want to call up Alcantara and his no options because they don't want to risk losing him.

 If it is Ortega, guess we better prepare for a healthy anti-vax dose of Eric Sogard.

I don't understand why the Cubs signed Strange-Gordon to play at Iowa when they need a 2B and not another LH-hitting back-up corner OF to replace Hoerner on the MLB 26-man active list roster.   

Strange-Gordon was playing every day (mostly at 2B and occasionally at SS or LF) at AAA Nashville as recently as last Friday and was hitting 333/378/500, so it's not like he needs to go to AAA to get into playing shape. 

Even if Sogard plays 2B pretty much every day, Strange-Gordon would seem to have more value on the Cubs MLB 26-man roster right now than a back-up OF. He can play 2B-LF, be the emergency back-up SS, and even PR late in games if you need to try and steal a run.  

Why is he going to AAA??? 

Completely agree

He's not better than or at least as good as Ortega, Martini or Alcantara? He's a former two time all star than plays middle infield defense. 

This seems like a no brainer.

Maybe they know Duffy will be back (no pun) sooner, but they are expecting Heyward/Marisnick back later. If that is the case, then they could use another OF on the bench. Pederson, Happ, Martini, Bryant is a bit thin for depth. I was also thinking that maybe they are further evaluating Hoerner before making a decision on Strange-Gordon. 

Ortega brought up, S. Miller DFA. Ortega in lineup, Rizzo's back is bugging him again, KB1B.

pederson's lame arm is in RF and ortega's plus arm is in LF.

interesting...i guess.

Possibly a PNC decision. Left field is deep, plus the Pirates have a few guys who might slap the ball to left and then try to sneak the extra base.

Yeah, I always forget about the wonky LF @ PNC.  At least there isn't a hill & a flag pole in play... was that Houston?

no words for that awesome/stupid play by PIT allowing contreras to score.

some teams deserve last place.

That is a play I will never forget.

i blame the whole PIT team.

it isn't 1 dumbass when there's a couple dozen others who should have been screaming at him to just go back to the bag at 1st or toss it to someone covering for his dumbass at 1st.

I was mislead by a highlight title that suggested Baez did something awesome rather than the truth, which is a bunch of Pirates played like they were deeply disappointed in themselves.

Some more observations on that play: 

1. Contreras read the play perfectly. On some other angles you see that he hustles to 3rd, makes the turn, & waits.  If shenanigans are happening behind you  & JB is going to be safe at 1B, you don’t want a TOOBLAN between 3B & home for out #3. Willy reads what JB is doing & goes for it.

2. Javy’s suicide drill direction change at home was a pretty impressive physical feat.  He doesn’t get tagged & doesn’t interfere, and there were a lot of people in that real estate

3. After JB slides in to 1B & gets up to run to 2B, he touches 1B again with his left hand as he is standing up just to be sure. His presence of mind is uncanny... or he is Quicksilver from the X-men movies. 

The Javy video was the lead in story and shown repeatedly at least 5 times on MSNBC/Morning Joe  this AM at 5am and then 7AM rebroadcast. Ah, little league baseball is fun.

at least it's not another yankees/redsox discussion.  they're fond of those.

The Orb of Little League that surrounds Javy sometimes envelops others.  At some point I fully expect him to hit the ball over the head of an outfielder who is either looking at bugs in the grass or trying to decide if that cloud looks more like a beagle than a bunny.

if they decide to lock him into a long-term contract, once his skills have declined enough that he needs to play the OF they need to get rid of him ASAP.  he'll spend his entire time in the OF looking for 4-leaf clovers in the grass or throwing his own glove up in the air to catch it.

Yes, he does things no one else does and he gets the other team to buy into his alternate reality. That's the part that amazes me.