Cubs @ Diamondbacks: Series Thread (Games 91-93)

Just before kicking off the post-All Star portion of the season, the Cubs traded their starting left fielder for an advanced A-ball first base prospect. Pederson had not proven himself integral to what middling success the Cubs had managed so far this season, and the team could conceivably improve without him. However, the Cubs were rumored to be sellers going into the All-Star break and this move lends further support. They'll continue on, for now, with remaining core players like Javy, Rizzo, Bryant, and Contreras--but we'll be watching these games knowing any of those players could be making their last appearances in Cubs blue.

The current Cubs will be taking up bat and glove against D-Backs club with the worst record in the majors. Arizona enters the series second to last in the majors wRC+ and dead last in pitching WAR with a shocking 1.0 in fWAR--a team 5.48 ERA in the DH-less league will do that. Still, things won't necessarily be easygoing for the Cubs. See below for my best guess at pitching matchups. [Edit: my guesses were wrong.]

2021 Cubs MLB First-Year Player Draft Ticker Tracker

CUBS 2021 MLB FIRST-YEAR PLAYER DRAFT PICKS 

DAY ONE (7/11)

1st ROUND (21) 
Jordan Wicks, LHP 
L/L, 6'3 220, Age 21 
Kansas State 
COLLEGE JUNIOR 
COMMENT: Polished D-1 college LHSP with a four-pitch mix and plus-command... his CH is rated the best in the draft... FB 92-93 T-95 can cut into RH hitters or away from LH hitters, and two-seamer can ride into LH hitters or tail away from RH hitters... also has above-average SL and an OK CV... went 6-3 with a 3.70 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, with 28/118 BB/K, .249 OppBA, 90 hits and 9 HR allowed, in 92.1 IP (15 GS) for K-State in 2021... named to Big 12 All-Conference First Team and third team All-American in 2021... was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year and was named to Collegiate Baseball Freshman All America team in 2019... was named to Academic All Big 12 team (business major) all three seasons... was an all-state kicker on his HS football team...        
BONUS SLOT VALUE: $3,132,300 

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Cubs vs. Cardinals: Series Thread (Games 89-91)

The Cubs ended their eleven-game skid and found themselves tied for third, 9.5 games back in the division, and probably sellers at the deadline. The All-Star break is yet to come, however, and a route to contention remains merely unlikely rather than impossible. The Cubs could go on a 10-game tear and put the front office in a more difficult position with regard to the buying or selling. They'll have to get that work started in a three-game series agianst the team that enters tied for third place. I wonder which fanbase is more disappointed with their teams' season so far, the Cubs' or the Cardinals'. The Cards made a splash in the offseason, getting Nolan Aarenado away from a frustrating franchise in Colorado. He's lived up to the hype, but the rest of the Cardinals' cast hasn't been able to hold up their end of things. It's strange to see the Cards roll into Wrigley with both teams far from contention. Will that put a damper on the rivalry? It probably depends on the beer sales. See below for the pitching matchups.

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Cubs vs. Phillies: Series Thread (Games 85-88)

The Cubs finished their 10-game road trip by losing nine in a row, including sweeps to two teams that now lead them in the division, the Reds and the Brewers. Despite having the wind thoroughly taken out of their sails, they somehow return to home territory for seven games before the All Star break. They begin with a four-game series against the Phillies, the first time these two teams have matched up in 2021. See below for pitching matchups.

Cubs vs. Reds: Series Thread (Games 82-84)

The Cubs lost six straight, including a sweep to the Brewers, to drop to 42-39, good for second place in the division and 6.5 back of said Milwaukee club. They have three games remaining on the road trip and ten games total before the All-Star Break. Six of those remaining ten games will be against NL Central teams currently trailing the Cubs, starting off with a 3-game set in Cincinnati and concluding with a 3-game home series against the Cards. See below for the pitching matchups over the holiday weekend.

Cub Offense Shines Under the Lights in ACL Opening Night

Ezequiel Pagan blasted a solo HR to key a four-run third, Reggie Preciado immediately followed with a solo HR and then later walked three times (once with the bases loaded) and stole a base, Rafael Morel singled, walked, and scored a run, Owen Caissie singled twice, walked, and stole a base, Felix Stevens smacked a double and an RBI triple and scored two runs, Malcom Quintero doubled, walked, and scored two runs, Ismael Mena laced two RBI singles and drew a walk, and Shendrik Apostel singled and walked, helping the ACL Cubs defeat the ACL Diamondbacks 7-4 in Arizona Complex League (formerly AZL) Opening Night game action Monday evening on Field #1 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.     

Juan Corniel belted an RBI triple and scored in the 3rd and drilled a two-run single in the 7th to provide most of the offense for the D'backs. 

The Cubs scored five runs on nine hits (five singles, two doubles, and two HR) off Arizona Diamondbacks RHP Taylor Widener in 2.2 IP. Widener has been on the D'backs MLB 10-day IL for over a month with a groin strain, and was making what he problably thought was a ho-hum Article XIX-C Minor League Rehab start in Mesa. Or as Augie Ojeda once said about doing a rehab stint in the AZL: "This is a really tough league for big leaguers." 

Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only): 

Cubs @ Brewers: Series Thread (Games 79-81)

The Cubs started off their road-trip with an especially odd no-no but have followed up with three losses. They are now three games back in the division with a three-game set with the first-place Brewers that will put them at the season's midpoint. A sweep in either direction could determine the Cubs' approach to the trade deadline. The Brewers will have an advantage in that they have their top three starting pitchers going--possibly the best top three startes in the majors right now. See below for the pitching matchups.

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