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Chicago Cubs weekly recap: Hendricks’ hot streak continues

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The Cubs then traveled to New York to take on the Mets for a four-game series. The Cubs are in the midst of 20 games in 20 days, so as of this post the Cubs will have one more to play against the Mets. Travis Wood pitched much better than he has been, but once again was bit by walks and a high pitch count. He took the loss, and is now 0-5 in his last 11 starts. The offense continued its struggles as well, striking out 14 more times against the Mets. Starter Zack Wheeler struck out 10 of the 14. In the last eight games, the Cubs have struck out 81 times.

Dan Straily made his Cubs debut this week, even though it was only a spot start. Straily was sent down immediately following the game, as outfielder Matt Sczur was called up. Straily pitched well until his control eluded him in the sixth. Straily allowed seven runs, five earned over his 5 1/3 innings. The offensive woes continued with 10 more strikeouts. Welington Castillo and Justin Ruggiano both homered for the Cubs in the 7-3 loss.

Sunday would normally finish off a series for the Cubs, but the long stretch of games has the calendar a bit off for a few weeks. So the Cubs entered the third game of the series sending Jake Arrieta to the hill for the second time this week. Arrieta went seven, allowing only two hits while striking out nine, but would factor in the decision. Pedro Strop allowed a run in the eight, but a clutch opposite field home run in the ninth by Starlin Castro got him off the hook. Strop even qualified for the win after Hector Rondon pitched a quick ninth to end the Cubs three-game skid.

Cubs Players of the Week

Starlin Castro – Castro continues to be aggressive at the plate, and the payoff continues with it. He saw his 14-game hit streak come to an end, but hit the deciding home run today to lift the Cubs over the Mets. Plenty of chatter continues to swirl that he could be trade bait in the winter. But even though the Cubs have a lot of depth at the shortstop position in the system, Castro is a proven All-Star, no one else is.

Jake Arrieta – After the rough outing in Colorado, Arrieta bounced back for two superb starts, but didn’t get a victory in either. Arrieta allowed two runs in 14 1/3 innings this week, but lack of run support doomed him in one contest, his bullpen in the other. But he continues to get better and better, and is establishing himself as a top of the rotation guy.

The Cubs front-office continues to make moves, picking up Turner via trade, optioning a struggling Junior Lake to Iowa, and calling up Matt Sczur. I thought it would be Jorge Soler, but that was only theory. The move for Lake will be a positive, as he can work out some of his issues at the plate, just like Mike Olt has, and possibly make a return with September call-ups.

The Cubs also traded Brett Jackson, their former first-round pick of 2009. This is a cautionary tale that goes to show not every highly touted prospect will make it. With all the talk of how many shortstops the Cubs have in the system, Castro is the only one proven. Baez is up, but has work to do, and Adddison Russel isn’t a sure thing. The Cubs are playing safety in numbers, and it’s working out well.

The sore spot for me continues to be the other Jackson. Edwin. Talk has surfaced that he could lose his starting spot, but for now it seems nothing will change. But Straily, and well as Turner may be banging on the door shortly for that spot, and the Cubs would be foolish not to give one of them the chance.

Jackson has 31 losses over the last two seasons. He clearly doesn’t get it. There’s no more “grinding it out” or “finding his way”. Need to make a change with him.

The Javy Baez record now stands at 6-7 since his call up. He’s not changing the world, but he’s looked smooth at second base, and has shown that power. He, like Arismendy Alcantara in center, are works in progress. Both are playing out of their natural positions while trying to succeed in the Majors. It will take some time for both, but early results are good.

The Cubs play seven more days without an off-day, so don’t be surprised to see some more small moves with the pitching staff over the next week.

Also, go ahead and let out that deep breath, as Kris Bryant’s MRI came back as only a bone bruise, and he’s day-to day with no set return date. Bullet dodged Cub fans.

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