The Chicago Cubs enter the second half of the season with a three-game win streak. However, one major piece of their roster will miss some time.
Finally, Chicago Cubs baseball returns after a seemingly endless three-day break. Granted, we were able to watch Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber tee-off in the Home Run Derby while Willson Contreras provided run support during the All-Star Game.
Hats off to Schwarber for reaching the finals and nearly beating hometown favorite, Bryce Harper. So, it’s time to get back to work and the Cubs are jumping right into the thick of things.
First up, the St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis finds themselves without a permanent skipper. The club dismissed Mike Matheny and several members of the staff last weekend.
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The decision to part ways with several coaches came after the public criticism of outfielder Dexter Fowler. Of course, that’s not the whole story. St. Louis is in real danger of missing the postseason for the third consecutive season.
This is a key series for the Cubs regardless of who is leading St. Louis into the series. Chicago carries a 2 1/2 game llead in the Central and would like to keep momentum on their side for the remainder of the year.
This club has reached the National League Championship Series three years in a row, of course, winning it all in 2016.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs placed Brandon Morrow on the 10-day disabled list ahead of Thursday’s series opener. Morrow injured himself earlier this year after removing his pants and is now dealing with right biceps inflammation.
Reliever Anthony Bass was activated in a corresponding move.
Joe Maddon‘s 30-year-old closer has been key to Chicago’s first-half success, recording 22 of 24 save opportunities. In addition, he carries an impressive 1.47 ERA, 31/9 K/BB ratio, .214 average and 1.08 WHIP through 30 2/3 innings of work.
His absence will surely be felt but this club has a couple of veterans who are more than capable of filling in for the time being.
Closing the door
When looking over the depth chart, both Justin Wilson and Pedro Strop appear to be obvious choices for Maddon. Wilson, the former closer, came over from the Detroit Tigers in 2017 and converted 13 of 16 save opportunities.
Over Chicago’s previous seven games, he has worked five scoreless innings while giving up only two hits and striking out 10. On the other hand, you have Strop.
The right-hander has been used in save opportunities before but has converted only 11 out of 39 in his career. Eight of those 11 are with the Cubs. Like Wilson, Strop has performed well on the mound in Chicago’s previous seven games.
One small difference between the two is that the latter has worked 1 2/3 innings more than Justin. Still, he’s 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA, one earned run and 7-to-1 K/BB ratio. Remember, he used to set the table for Hector Rondon before Aroldis Chapman was around.
As long as he’s not inheriting any runners on base, Pedro will be alright moving forward. We all know he hasn’t pitched well when entering the game having runners already on base.
At the end of the day, this decision rests in the hands of Maddon. He could either use the two or find a mix that works well enough until Morrow’s ready to return. Either way, this Cubs team will remain confident.