Cubs vs. Reds: Series Thread (Games 50-52)

The Cubs completed a sweep in Pittsburgh to raise their record to 27-22 and force a tie for first with the Cardinals. There return home now to take on the 4th-place Cincinnati Reds (22-26) and to build on an eight-and-two stretch. See below for the weekend's matchups.

Game 50, Friday, May 28, 1:20 pm central

CHC: RHP Adbert Alzolay (2-4, 4.30 ERA)

CIN: RHP Vladimir Gutierrez (0-0, -.-- ERA)

Alzolay has been a surprising source of consistency in the Cubs' rotation. He had his best start of the season last time against the Cards when he went 7 innings allowing two earned runs and not issuing a single free pass. This will be his first 2021 start against the Reds.

The 25-year-old Vladimir Gutierrez will be making his major league debut. He brings  4-pitch mix where every pitch rates as average to plus.

Game 51, Saturday, May 29, 1:20 pm central

CHC: RHP Zach Davies (2-2, 4.96 ERA)

CIN: RHP Luis Castillo (1-7, 7.61 ERA)

Davies has gone three straight starts without earning a decision. Last time, he went five scoreless innings in which he allowed four hits and three walks. His strikeout to walk ratio is still dangerous close to 1:1 but his overall results have been much better in May than in the previous month. In his only start against Cincinnati this season he allowed two runs, one earned, in four innings.

Castillo has been tagged for 40 earned runs in just under two months of work this season despite putting up decent peripherals. That's lead to a gap of more than 3 between his ERA and xERA (expected ERA). He's not exactly getting hammered, but he is getting squared up more often in the past, having allowed a line drive percentage of over 24% thus far. Most recently he gave up five earned runs in a loss to the Brewers in which he pitched 5 innings. In one outing against the Cubs this year he took a loss despite allowing only three earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched.

Game 52, Sunday, May 30, 1:20 pm central

CHC: RHP Jake Arrieta (5-4, 4.37 ERA)

CIN: RHP Tyler Mahle (3-2, 3.75 ERA)

Jake Arrieta contributed five innings and seven strikeouts to the sweep in Pittsburgh. He allowed three runs, two earned, and generally kept Pirates hitters off balance. Aside from one bad start in which he was working around a hand injury, he has consistently outperformed expectations.

Mahle took a big step forward in 2020 and has continued to impress in the first two months of 2021. He's had two bad starts on the season; one came two outings ago when he allowed seven earned runs to San Franciso, and the other was on May 2 when allowed six earned runs to the Cubs. Last time out he pitched 5.1 scoreless innings in Washington. Bryant homered twice and Rizzo took Mahle deep once. Bryant also doubled off of him in that game. The Reds eventually won that one, when Castellanos singled in the 10th.


I submit that if Javy was busting it down the line there's no way to hit the brakes & slam into reverse. Having said that, I don't want him to ever be our opponent.

alzolay getting robbed at the worst time.

walked india after 5.2ip with a man on 2nd.  2 of the balls were actually strikes, but called otherwise.

this is alzolay's first game in his MLB career where he's thrown more than 100 pitches (103)...15th start.

playing shitty teams is fun

6 games over .500 and tied for 1st until STL plays later.

anyway...quick question...

why is d.maples still on the active roster?  dude has pitched 1 inning in the past 19 days and that was 10 days ago.  i have 0 idea why and i feel like i'm missing something other people know.

CRUNCH: Obviously Ross doesn't trust Dillon Maples enough to pitch him in a close game, and the Cubs have played a lot of close games recently. Ross generally doesn't pitch Rex Brothers or Brad Wieck in close games, either.

In short, Maples is out of minor league options so he is like a de facto Rule 5 Draft pick in that if the Cubs want to send him to the minors they would have to get him through waivers, and he would absolutely get claimed. He has some of the best electric raw stuff in the organization but he also struggles to command it, so it's not difficult to understand why Ross won't pitch him in a close game, but it's also easy to understand why Hoyer doesn't want to just piss away a "live" arm like that for $50,000. 

At some point it is possible that Hoyer will decide to trade Maples, but it would probably have to involve the Cubs acquiring a decent prospect back in the deal (probably a reliever with legit upside and MLB ceiling who either isn't on an MLB 40-man roster or who is on a 40 but is not out of minor league options). 

There are a number of non-contending teams (AZ, BAL, COL, DET, KC, LAA, and PIT) who could afford to use Maples in high-leverage situations right now and hope that he can harness his command and evolve into a premier MLB late-inning reliever, because that is his ceiling.

And he's under club control through 2026 and won't be eligible for salary arbitration until post-2022 (he'll probably be a "Super Two"), so he would be an attractive acquisition. The Cubs can't just give him away. 

i'm just shocked he's not traded yet if we're at this level of non-use...even if it's not exactly what jed is looking.

his expectations must be much higher than the market demand to keep holding onto maples.  him not pitching isn't exactly helping his value.

I've been wondering about this too. This is part of the asinine garbage with the 9 man bullpen. Maples has actually been quite solid this year, results wise. Same with Brothers. Can't understand how they are so far outside the circle of trust.

9th: Kimbrel, backup is Tepera

8th: Chafin, Tepera

7th: Winkler, Nance (Steele was here)

6th: Brothers, Thompson

Long/Eater : Maples, Wieck (until Steele returns)

Megill, Mills are hurt. Wick and Holder haven't started throwing, yet.

I'm not sure who'd you want Maples pitching ahead of?

Nance and Thompson have been uniquely steady so far. Winkler might be the one who's the rockies, but his ERA is 0.54 this year. 

And, the SP rotation has been better of late. Going into the 6th and even 7th innings. 

Dillon and Rex will probably get innings during June. We're playing the NL West for 12 games, Mets for 4, Cards and Brew for 6. Clev beat us twice, we get them and our first look at Miami. That's quite the haul right there. 

We'll need all the arms we have.

How about a game where they're up 4 or 5? Or down that amount? Have we really only had one of those over the past 17 days? Cause Maples has thrown that many times in that time frame.

We had some wins where Rex and Dillon could have pitched. But, we did have that run, and are still on it, where we haven't lost by more than 1 run. There really haven't been any wasted innings for them.

Rex gets a chance today, but he was thrown to the wolves a bit by Ross. This wasn't the way to break him back into pitching. High tension moment. Bad call by Ross. But, Rex was way off vs Winker. 

Oh well. 

Very much agreed, that was a tough spot to throw a guy into when you've not pitched in over a week

Did the Cubs sign Dee Strange-Gordan to a minor league deal or not? Curious people want to know!

playing all these terrible teams is making it hard to handicap how good/bad this team actually is.

kinda missing darvish at this point, though.

...and bote's shoulder is messed up on a slide.


i mean, dude is in huge pain.  broken collar bone...torn shoulder...extremely dislocated...something not at all good whatever it is.

Non-contact injury too, not good. Wonder if we see Alcantara now or if this is Dee Gordon's turn

dude wasn't crying, but he was wiping tears from his eyes over the sheer pain.  he had to be walked off the IF with the trainer holding his arm/shoulder.

at this point, a dislocated shoulder with irritation and no tearing would be a positive.  he's totally gonna need some diagnostic imaging to tell what's going on there.

davies pulled after 65 f'n pitches...c'mon dude.

...and tie game.  bullpen magic didn't kick in this time.

maples sighting.

he gets to try to hold down an 8 run lead.  good luck, guy.

Rex and Dillon get to pitch. Cubs win big. Bote gets simply unlucky. Hope he's at least a little bit okay (like no surgery required). 

"separated left shoulder" for bote with a long DL stint expected.

Pirates designate Ildemaro for assignment. Have to think Cubs will place a waiver claim.

My take on the Bote injury is that it appeared to be an anterior shoulder dislocation from watching it live and on replay. He was holding his arm slightly externally rotated and he needed support with the trainer not grabbing his arm but only his trunk to help him get up. All are telltale findings.

An AC joint separation usually has pain directly over the AC joint which means the injured person localizes the pain to s specific site at the top of the shoulder area. A 3rd-degree separation means all the supporting ligaments and the small joint capsule is torn and the end of the clavicle rides upward and if pushed back in place won't stay in place. 

The Sunday Trib article said doctors had to put the shoulder back in place, which is consistent with dislocation. Shoulder dislocations involve the ball and socket joint of the shoulder (glenohumeral joint). Most anterior shoulder dislocations once set or reduced stay in place unless the arm is moved into an unstable position such as overhead with external rotation, which is usually the position of instability.

More specifically, a "separated" shoulder is a different injury and a different joint. The A-C joint ( Acromioclavicular joint) is the connection of the collarbone to the shoulder blade and when it is significantly injured (3rd-degree sprain) has torn ligaments that won't allow reduction without surgical intervention because muscles attached to the collarbone/clavicle pull the collarbone upward and away from the shoulder blade. In a severe (3rd degree)separated shoulder, there is a visible and palpable prominence at the end of the clavicle. Trying to reduce or "set" this is unsuccessful because of the adjacent clavicular muscle attachments.  Usually in Athletes, 3rd-degree separations get surgical treatment. 1st and 2nd-degree separations just get treated with healing time and rehab which can be 6-12 weeks. 

A shoulder dislocation is treated differently with different timeliness to recovery. One issue is that there is not as much ongoing pain (it's really painful but the pain is dramatically better after the joint is reduced), the issue is recurrent dislocation. With a high-performance athlete in his 20's, there is about an 80-90% chance of recurrent dislocation. Traditionally, before shoulder arthroscopic advancements, this wasn't treated with early surgery but the current trend, especially in an athlete, is to be more aggressive and repair the anterior shoulder structures that were torn and stretched, including capsule and labrum. MRI shows enough detail that decisions are often based on the anatomy/damage that the study shows. If he gets early surgery on the injury the timeline to recovery is 3-4 months or longer. Non-surgical treatment might be as little as several weeks (3-6) but if recurrence happens, the surgery would likely happen in the offseason if possible. 

The press keeps saying it's a separated shoulder, so I could be wrong but the specifics will be apparent soon since I suspect he will get an MRI shortly.

hope he retains his line drive power when he returns...and i bet he's -really- happy about that "bargain" 15m contract he signed.

AZ Phil:

How many teams ahead of CHC will want Vargas? I'm assuming you have the best guess. Thanks

Childersb3: The Mets were one team that needed an infielder when Jeff McNeil went down with the hamstring injury, but I don't know how they are thinking about that now. I would say any club that has a utility infielder on their 26-man active list roster who is clearly not MLB-ready would seriously consider claiming Ildemaro Vargas.  

What I do believe is that the Pirates will put Vargas on waivers at first opportiunity (today) so that they can get their $50,000 waiver claim fee back ASAP, but that is presuming Vargas is claimed off waivers. If he is not claimed off waivers, then the Pirates can either outright him to the minors (and he does - NOT - yet have the right to elect free-agency if outrighted) or release him. 

Just as a reminder, here is how the DFA and waiver claim processes works: 

A player who is Designated for Assignment must be assigned (which is defined as either a trade assignment or an outright assignment to the minors) within seven days. If the player is not assigned (traded or outrighted) within seven days, he is automatically placed on Outright Release Waivers on the 8th day. (There is also a very limited window in late November / early December when a player can be Designated for Assignment and then non-tendered on 12/2). 

Outright Assignment Waivers must be secured before a player can be outrighted to the minors.

Generally speaking, every day is an MLB business day during Spring Training and the MLB Regular Season, but Saturday, Sunday, and national holidays (Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day, and Dr. Martin Luther King's Birthday) and weekdays between Christmas Day and New Year's Day are not considered MLB business days during the off-season and possibly over the last weekend of Spring Training (but only if MLB Opening Day falls on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday).

So the MLB waiver list is transmitted at 2 PM (Eastern) Monday through Friday - ONLY - (not including national holidays that fall on a weekday and the weekdays between Christmas Day and New Year's Day) during the off-season and (depending on which day of the week is MLB Opening Day) possibly not over the final weekend of Spring Training. Also, the MLB Commissioner may add additional holidays and non-business days to the MLB off-season (TBA).

Also, days that are not considered MLB "business days" during off season are skipped over as far as the player's 47 hour "Waiver Claiming Period" is concerned. So a player could be placed on waivers the day before Christmas and because the weekdays between Christmas Day and New Year's Day are not considered as MLB "business days," the player's waiver ride could actually last as long as eleven days.  

Otherwise, evety day is considered a "business day" during the MLB regular season and for most of Spring Taining (except for the last weekend of Spring Training if MLB Opening Day falls on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday). 

The Waiver Claiming Period extends from 2 PM (Eastern) on the day the player is placed on waivers until 1 PM (Eastern) two business days later, so during the MLB regular season a player is "on waivers" for a total of 47 hours. Once the 47-hour Waiver Claiming Period expires, the MLB office determines if there were any waiver claims. 

If a player is claimed by only one club, that club is awarded the claim. If more than one club makes a claim, the club with the lowest winning percentage (regardless of league) either from the previous season (beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season through the 30th day of the MLB regular season) or on the day the player's Waiver Claiming Period expires (beginning on the 31st day of the MLB regular season through the last day of the MLB regular season) is awarded the claim. If two clubs with the same winning percentage make a claim, the club in the player's own league is awarded the claim. If two clubs from the same league make a claim and they are tied in the standings, the club with the lowest winning percentage from the previous season is awarded the claim. If the clubs are still tied, standings from two years back (or three years back, four years back, etc) are used to break the tie.

Again, during the off-season and up through the first 30 days of the MLB regular season, the previous season's MLB standings are used to determine waiver claim priority. Then beginning on the 31st day of the MLB regular season through the conclusion of the MLB regular season, the MLB standings as of 9 AM (Eastern) on the day the player clears waivers are used to determine waiver claim priority, with the previous season's MLB standings only used to break ties.

A club is not permitted to make a waiver claim and then trade the player to another club if the purpose or effect of the claim was to prevent a third club from being awarded the waiver claim. (A waiver claim that is judged by the MLB Commissioner to have been made for this purpose will be revoked).

So if the Pirates want to place Vargas on Outright Assignment Waivers, they only have until  2 PM (Eastern) next Friday (the 5th day of his DFA period) to place him on waivers, so that he will clear his waiver ride no later than 1 PM (Eastern) next Sunday (within his seven-day DFA period). So when a player is Designated for Assignment, a club really only has five days (not seven) to decide whether to trade the player or place him Outright Assignment Waivers, because a player cannot be traded while he is on waivers. 

The only circumstance under which a club might trade a player on the 6th or 7th day of the DFA period is if the club does not place the player on Outright Assignment Waivers by the 5th day, but once the other 29 MLB clubs note that the Designated Player has not been placed on Outright Assignment Waivers by the 5th day, they will know that the club can only trade or release the player, and knowing that, clubs will just wait for the player to be placed on $1 Outright Release Waivers on the 8th day rather than make a trade offer. 

Alcantara selected, T Miller designated.

Starter the week with 2 Millers, now we're all out

Based upon the arbitrator's ruling regarding whether or not the 2020 season is considered a "qualified season" toward eligibility for a 4th minor league option year for certain players, Sergio Alcantara should qualify for a 4th minor league option year in 2021 (but only in 2021). 

Alcantara has definitely used up three minor league option years (2018-20), and he got credit for a "qualified season" in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019, but not in 2016, with 2020 still TBD when the Cubs claimed him off waivers in February and then subsequently outrighted him. 

So Alcantara was out of options in February when the Cubs claimed him off waivers and then outrighted him a few days later, but based upon the arbitrator's ruling in March regarding how MLB and minor league service time would be calculated in 2020, Alcantara (like Adbert Alzolay) did  - NOT - accrue a "full season" in 2020, and so he should get a 4th minor league option year in 2021 (as far as I can tell). But he has to use the 4th option in 2021, otherwise it goes away in 2022.   

Alcantara was not on the list of players who get a 4th minor league option year in 2021, but that's because he was outrighted prior to the arbitrator's ruling. 

cubs are straight up getting bad calls all series...and going back to the PIT series.

some of these in the CIN series are rally killers.

cubs lose, cards lose...

cubs get SD next @CHC...good luck cubs.