Cubs vs. Reds: Series Thread (Games 139-141)

The Cubs have taken six in a row from sub-.500 teams and now turn their attention to the Cincinnati Reds. This will be the final matchup of 2021 between the Cubs and the second place Reds. The Cincinnati crew enters the series only half a game out of a wild card spot and eleven games back in the NL Central. See below for the daily matchups.

Game 139, Monday, September 6, 1:20 pm central

CHC: LHP Justin Steele (3-2, 3.48 ERA)

CIN: RHP Sonny Gray (7-6, 3.89 ERA)

Steele made his best start so far and earned his first win as a starter by going five innings, allowing one hit, and working around three walks to the Twins. He probably won’t have the advantage of Adbert Alzolay as his piggy-back partner this time around.

Gray has recorded victories in his last three starts and his most recent loss was back in July. He’s faced the Cubs once so far this year, striking out eight over five innings while holding them to one earned run.

Game 140, Tuesday, September 7, 6:40 pm central

CHC: RHP Adrian Sampson (0-1, 1.59 ERA)

CIN: LHP Wade Miley (11-5, 2.97 ERA)

Sampson pitched 3.1 innings and struck out 4 against Pittsburgh on September 2. He’s been a solid contributor since the Cubs added him a few weeks ago and gets his second chance to start since August 18.

The Cardinals handed Miley a loss in his last start. They took him deep three times to score five earned runs in four innings pitched. He surrendered a season-high 12 hits before exiting.

Game 141, Wednesday, September 8, 6:40 pm central

CHC: RHP Alec Mills (6-6, 4.25 ERA)

CIN: RHP Vladimir Gutierrez (9-6, 4.17 ERA)

Mills accomplished a slightly odd feat in his last start: he allowed three homeruns but only two earned runs. Three unearned runs crossed the plate in that one and yet he escaped without a loss thanks to Michael Hermosillo’s 3-4 day and a late homerun by Frank Schwindel.

Gutierrez has struggled in two starts in a row, both times failing to get out of the fourth inning. He’s been squared up for eleven hits and three homeruns in those 6.1 innings pitched, leading to losses at the hands of the Detroit Tigers and Miami Marlins.


Ian Happ desperately trying to hold his 40 man spot.

he's been on fire the past 3-4 weeks.

How painfully poorly timed

I don't care how it affects our draft spot. There are too many teams tanking HARD for it to matter. Regardless, I just like watching the team win.

cubs win 7 in a row...longest current streak in mlb

if hoyer doesn't know how to lose, he needs to hand the team over to someone more capable of not being capable.

These guys are having too much fun for us to worry about draft spots. Ortega and Schwindel are probably having the times of their lives.

cubs are due for a top-10 pick.  even at their "best" they were most likely battling for a 5-10 pick.  the gems are usually gone by pick 5.  i'm not that concerned about the cubs having the 6th pick vs the 9th pick.

i'll take anything that makes watching the next few weeks fun.

d.ross really does not trust maples... really does not trust maples, too...

m.hermosillo to the 10d IL with a forearm for him given the opportunities available going into this last month of the season for guys like him.  the steady bat didn't show up, but the power he was flashing was interesting.

n.martini up.

I feel like barring total collapses, Schwindel, Wisdom, and Ortega have bought themselves an off-season 40 man spot. Hermosillo, despite the fact he's younger, I am less certain.

i'm all in on schwindel and ortega, but i really wanna see more out of wisdom to finish the year.

his D is good enough for 3rd and we all like the power, but he's on a hell of an extended stretch of stink at the plate aside from the power.

it won't take much finishing out the season to make him more palatable.  i don't think anyone expects him to be a .300 hitter, but he's been putting up .193/.262 avg/ob% since august began.

This is all very fair.

Hermosillo officially out for season, so the team won't get to evaluate him anymore this year. Good thing they gave all those starts to Heyward instead in the time from Hermosillo's call up. Heyward is the gift that keeps giving!

yeah, i wanna see more out of wisdom, but i do agree he's most likely a 40-man lock no matter what.

dude can field his position and hit homers for a small pricetag.

Plus, he's got one option remaining 

Being high on Schwindel and not Wisdom seems like a recency bias thing. I am wary about Schwindel's plate discipline long term. The question for Wisdom seems like can he hit .240-ish and be an above replacement player, or will he hit .220 or less and be sub-replacement.

i can see schwindel penciled in at 1st with a strong bench/1st option backing the gamble up.  i'm not sold on him being "the man" but i feel like he's getting 1st shot to be the man.  at this point though...he's a 29 year old having a good 5-6 weeks.

i like what i'm seeing aside from the actual numbers.  i don't think the dude will settle out anywhere near his current .350 avg with 40 HR pace over a full season, but i do think he can put up a respectable avg/ob% with 20-25 HR.  his hitting will carry his ob%.  i don't think we got a 70+ walk guy on our hands...50+ would be considered good over a full season for a guy like him.

if wisdom couldn't play 3rd well i would be more negative on him.  his swing/miss is frightening, but it doesn't look like random flailing or a stiff "all-or-nothing" swing.  i'm not sure what will come of it.

I can imagine Wisdom having a second act as a fringe starter mostly on non-competitive teams carried by his power and his arm with just enough patience to get by. David Freese like, maybe? No take on Schwindel yet except that stranger things have happened and he has been super fun. That was basically my position on Wisdom back during his hot streak.

On the Bleacher Nation podcast, Brett had an interesting take on why Wisdoms swing/miss might play better than some others... it was just speculation & thinking out loud, but it made sense to me.  Becuase the hole in PW's swing is so pronounced & specific (upper 1/3), it will tempt pitchers to throw there. If PW can maintain his league avg 8% walk rate (or even improve esp w/ pitch recognition in that upper 1/3), then the hole becomes bait. Force the pitcher to hit a spot in the upper 1/3 or take the ball high or crush low.  Then his profile becomes workable (especially with the defensive skill & flexibility as others have noted). 


On the podcast they also talked about the idea of platooning some of these players (Schwindel, Wisdom, Rivas, etc.) based on the profile, preferences, skills of the pitcher. I guess that is what the Giants are doing a bit this year (haven't seen them).  They cited someone like Darvish who had a pronounced preference for working down in the zone as a situation to deploy Wisdom. Or a pitcher with a good FB but trouble locating breaking stuff as a good matchup for Schwindel. 

The way I look at it, Hermosillo would have been added to the 40 man even if he hadn't made it back from the hamstring injury earlier. He didn't do anything in his brief stint to change that evaluation I don't think. 

This begs a question I have in my personal deep freeze device. There is that date in early December when teams can offer "the deal" to players unlikely to make the 40 man roster. Arizona Phil give updates on it periodically.


Right now, I see four players in "the box" where they might get that offer. Cory Abbott, PJ Higgins, Sergio Alcantara, and Michael Hermosillo.


BTW, Phil, you don't have to go long-form on it, but it's usually around 12-3 or 12-4. Mahalo.

TIM: The MLB contract tender date is normally December 2nd, unless 12/2 falls on a Saturday in which case it's December 1st, and it's November 30th if 12/2 falls on a Sunday.

So it's 12/2 this year.   

Players most likely to get non-tendered on 12/2 are pre-arbitration players on the "MLB 40-man roster bubble" who will be out of minor league options in 2022 (like Sergio Alcantara, Michael Hermosillo, Dillon Maples, and Rafael Ortega), "on the bubble" Draft-Excluded Players (Scott Effross, Hermosillo again, Nick Martini, and Adrian Sampson, but not Alfonso Rivas), "on the bubble" guys who are eligible for salary arbitration (Rex Brothers, Jonathan Holder, and Adam Morgan, but with Ian Happ now less-likely to get non-tendered), injured guys who are rehabbing  (Miguel Amaya, P. J. Higgins, and Wieck again), and just generally anybody else on the "40-man roster bubble" a club wants to remove from the 40 who they do not want to risk losing off waivers (Cory Abbott, Trevor Megill, Tommy Nance, and Michael Rucker). 

Generally speaking, a club non-tenders players on 12/2 to open up MLB 40-man roster slots for MLB free-agents the club might sign later in the off-season. Non-tendering players doesn't help to clear 40-man roster slots for players who need to be protected from selection in the Rule 5 Draft, because those players must be added to the 40 no later than 11/19 (normally it's 11/20, but it's 11/19 this year because 11/20 falls on a Saturday in 2021). .  

Of course non-tendering a player on 12/2 and then re-signing him to a minor league contract after the Rule 5 Draft only works if the player accepts the offer, which should eliminate Dillon Maples, because I firmly believe he absolutely wants out. So I expect the Cubs to try very hard to trade Maples for a minor league player who does not need to be added to the 40, maybe just prior to or even on the day rosters are filed with the MLB office (11/19).

In fact, that's essentially how the Cubs got Rowan Wick from the Padres a couple of years ago. San Diego needed Wick's slot on the 40 on 11/20 and knew he would either get claimed off waivers or else elect free-agency if he was outrighted (he has Article XX-D rights because he has been outrighted previously in his career), so they traded him to the Cubs for a minor league player (Jason Vosler) who was not on the 40.          

So the main problem with waiting until 12/2 to non-tender a player is that a club might need a player's 40-man roster slot prior to 12/2 (like on 11/19 this year), which means unfortunately it is sometimes necessary to expose a player to waivers prior to 12/2 to open up a 40-man roster slot for a Rule 5 Draft eligible player the club wants to protect. So I would expect Rex Brothers, P. J. Higgins, Jonathan Holder, Nick Martini, and Kohl Stewart to be virtual locks to get outrighted in October if not even sooner, and presuming they are not claimed off waivers and are outrighted, Brothers, Holder, Martini, and Stewart can (and almost certai9nly will) elect free-agency,

And then five others (Robinson Chirinos, Zach Davies, Matt Duffy, Jose Lobaton, and Austin Romine) will be declared MLB Article XX-B free-agents at 9 AM on the day after the final game of the World Series, so that's ten slots on the 40 that should become open prior to the 11/19 roster filing deadline. However, the Cubs really have 46 players to be concerned about (six players are presently on their MLB 60-day IL), so eliminating ten players only gets the Cubs down to 36 players and therefore opens up four slots on the 40 prior to 11/19 (or more-likely 35 players on the 40 with only five slots available for Rule 5 Draft-eligibles who the Cubs want to protect if -- as I expect -- Maples is traded prior to or on 11/19).

So which Rule 5 Draft eligibles will the Cubs protect on 11/19? Right now I would say RHRP Ethan Roberts, LHRP Brendon Little, OF Nelson Velazquez, and 1B-OF Jared Young, plus one from amongst RHSPs Riley Thompson, Yovanny Cruz, and Jeremiah Estrada.   

Yovanny Cruz is an interesting case because he is a TJS rehabber, and pitchers rehabbing from TJS are eligible to spend up to 60 days instead of the usual maximum 30 days on a minor league rehab assignment. So any club drafting Cruz could place him on their MLB 60-day IL on the first day of Spring Training, then leave him behind at Extended Spring Training for three months to get into shape, then send him out on a 60 day minor league rehab assignment at whatever minor league level would be approrpriate for him in 2022 (probably Hi-A), And then he would only have to spend 90 days on an MLB Active List roster (instead of a full season), with the 90 days extending into the 2023 season. And then he would be eligible for four minor league option years after that!.That's why leaving Yovanny Cruz unprotected is dangerous - IF - the Cubs believe he is a legit MLB prospect.   

Another Cubs minor leaguer eligible for selection in this year's Rule 5 Draft who almost cetainly will not  be added to the Cubs MLB 40-nan roster but who might get selected is AA Tennessee LHRP Brandon Hughes. He was a CF / LHRP in college at Michigan State, and he was the Big Ten stolen base champion one year. He played OF for the Cubs the first couple of years he was in the Cubs system, before he was moved to the mound. He throws a 94-96 FB with a decent CV, and any club selecting him in the Rule 5 Draft could use him as a "two-way player" (LHRP - PR - OF). So he wouldn't necessarily have to be stashed in the back of the bullpen and throw just garbage innings. He could actually be a valuable 26th man as a "two-way player" on an MLB Active List roster in 2022.       

Also, injured players can be outrighted only during a window beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season and extending until the 5th day after the final game of the World Series, which is another reason why I believe the Cubs will outright Higgins, Holder, and Stewart in October rather than waiting to non-tender them on 12/2.    

In addition, if a club wants to outright a Draft-Excluded Player (Scott Effross, Michael Hermosillo,  Nick Martini, Alfonso Rivas, and Adrian Sampson), that player must be outrighted no later than 14 days after the final game of the World Series, otherwise the player cannot be outrighted until 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day. However, a Draft-Excluded Player can be non-tendered on 12/2, or released or traded anytime.    

And an unsigned MLB Rule 9 player who does not have Article XX-D or Article XIX-A rights (that is, a player on the 40 who has less than three years of MLB Service Time and/or has not been outrighted to the minors previously in his career and/or does not qualify as a "Super-Two" for salary arbitration who would have been declared a minor league free-agent on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series if he had been on a minor league reserve list at that time rather than on an MLB 40-man roster) cannot be outrighted after 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series unless and until the player has signed a 2022 contract. But just like Draft-Excluded Players, an unsigned Rule 9 player can be non-tendered on 12/2, or released or traded.

And of course knowing this, an astute agent would advise his Rule 9 clients not to sign a 2022 contract until the player arrives at Spring Training, unless the club is willing to kick the contract $$$ offer up a bit to entice the player to sign earlier and thus be eligible to be outrighted. Projected post-2021 Rule 9 players on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster at present are Adbert Alzolay, Scott Effross, Anderson Espinoza, P. J. Higgins, Alec Mills, Frank Schwindel, and Justin Steele, with Effross also a Draft-Excluded Player.

From this group only Higgins would appear right now to be likely to be dropped from the 40 via outright assignment (Effross could get dropped from the 40, too, but if he is removed he is more-likely to get non-tendered on 12/2 than outrighted prior to the 5th day after the final game of the World Series). And as i said, I expect Higgins to be outrighted (presuing he is not claimed off waivers) in October prior to the post-World Series deadline to outright an unsigned Rule 9 player.          

Nicely played.


A team willing to offer a non-zero prospect for Maples is an interesting one. With his inability to get sent to the minors would seem a huge kink in the plan, but even getting a 35 prospect (on Fangraphs), a 35 being unlisted, but among the 8 or 10 best unlisted ones, ought to be acceptable. I wish they were permitted to trade him for a 14th round pick, but not yet 

walkoff heyward!  woo.

nice to hear wrigley go electric for heyward again.

bryant article on upcoming trip back to wrigley

a.morgan bereavement list, t.nance up

k.bryant returns to wrigley video...he's got emotions n stuff.

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  • crunch 9 hours 5 min ago (view)

    * except for playing 1st base


  • crunch 2 days 5 hours ago (view)

    a lot of people were all-in on it being a 2022 thing, but given how MLB has held the DH over the player's heads like it's some kind of extremely valuable chip worth more than the players seem to think it's worth...who knows...


  • Cubster 2 days 6 hours ago (view)

    any estimates on the chances of the DH in the NL anytime soon?


  • crunch 2 days 7 hours ago (view)

    k.schwarber is hella good at post-season baseball.


  • Cubster 2 days 8 hours ago (view)

    Carter Hawkins introduced to the press...


  • crunch 2 days 9 hours ago (view)

    e.castillo and t.payne off the 40man in 100% totally expected moves.

    both are/were catcher organizational depth.


  • crunch 2 days 10 hours ago (view)

    for those keeping track of the heating-up Mets head of baseball operations search, theo has already ruled himself out.

    mets want(ed) some heavy hitters (including b.beane and d.stearns), but none of them are on board...well, MIL took stearns off the board before he could chime in because he has a year left on his contract.


  • Arizona Phil 2 days 14 hours ago (view)

    Something to keep in mind about clearing MLB 40-man roster slots for players eligible for selection in this year's Rule 5 Draft is that you can't non-tender players to create 40-man roster space for Rule 5 Draft eligibles. That's because players can only be non-tendered on 12/2, and the pre-Rule 5 Draft roster filing deadline is 11/19 (almost two weeks - PRIOR TO -the contract tender date). NOTE: Normally the roster filing deadline is 11/20, but it's moved up to 11/19 this year because 11/20 falls on a Saturday in 2021


  • Arizona Phil 2 days 15 hours ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: Just one game, some BP, infield practice, and baserunning drills. So not much to glean from that so far. 


  • crunch 3 days 6 hours ago (view)

    minor league baseball has to provide housing for minor leaguers starting 2022 (paid for by MLB parent clubs).  this is HUGE news and will make it possible for guys to stick around longer without having to quit the game just to earn a basic living.  for minor league players working in expensive housing markets this is a life saver.

    activist players from the OAK and LAA minor league teams as well as minor league player labor advocacy organizations were a huge part of making this happen.  good work.


  • bradsbeard 3 days 10 hours ago (view)

    Did you have any occasion to observe Pedro Ramirez? Not sure if he got into any games or not (now that I think of it, you wrote up at least one game he played in). 


  • Arizona Phil 3 days 15 hours ago (view)

    azbobbop: Certainly LHSPs Drew Gray and Luke Little have emerged as legit significant high-end SP prospects. RHSP Luis Devers has probably displaced Koen Moreno as the top "pitchability" SP prospect in the lower levels of the Cubs system. Tyler Schlaffer (another "pitchability" guy) also had an impressive Instructs, although Devers is a better SP prospect because he has a solid three-pitch mix and knows how to use it, while Schlaffer has just the 92-94 FB & CV (although both are solid offerngs) and isn't as polished as Devers is.


  • Hagsag 3 days 21 hours ago (view)

    This is the first time I have heard about the four month program in November. 


  • azbobbop 4 days 4 hours ago (view)

    Phil, now that instructional scare finished, which players impressed you the most and who are disappointments.


  • tim815 4 days 8 hours ago (view)

    Cool. Should help his trade value if the bat plays.


  • Arizona Phil 4 days 10 hours ago (view)

    TIM: Peter Matt looks very comfortable at 3B. He is a classic "four-corner" guy (1B-3B-LF-RF).