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Chicago Cubs Weekly Recap: A Breakout Maybe Soon, But A Spark Still Needed

When my hope somewhat comes back, the Cubs know precisely how to bring my hopes back down. First, I think this team will start putting more wins in the win column and very soon. There has been an upward trend in batting averages, the starting pitching is still performing very well, and the bullpen still needs some work, but it isn't dreadful. However, no matter how many improvements there are in averages, it doesn't matter if you can't plate the runs. The Cubs have a .216 batting average with RISP and a batting average of .183 with RISP and two outs. There just isn't going to be a lot of winning attached to those stats. The Cubs need an RBI guy and fast. Morel was moved out of the cleanup spot this week for being two inconsistent. Seiya Suzuki took over, and there hasn't been much production to judge in the last two games he's been there. Anyway, let's start out with a roster move and get right into the recap. 

Major Roster Moves

June 19th: The Cubs DFA’d veteran catcher Yan Gomes and signed free agent catcher Tomas Nido. Gomes came to the Cubs in 2022, where he established a veteran presence after the Cubs cleaned house a year prior. Gomes was arguably the Cub's most clutch hitter in the 2023 season, as he had a .302 BA and 20 RBIs with two outs and RISP. Gomes also had a .280 BA and 47 total RBIs with RISP. Sadly, Gomes couldn't carry over his 2023 season to 2024 (.154/.179/.242), and the Cubs decided to move on from the Brazilian native. 

As for Gomes's replacement, Tomas Nido was released by the Mets on June 17th. Before being released, the 30-year-old catcher had a slash line of .229//.261/.361 with three home runs and eight RBIs. Nido also has a career .990 fielding percentage and a 21% caught-stealing percentage. Overall, I don't think this is a terrible move by the Cubs. It was obvious that Gomes was not performing to the standard that a veteran catcher needed to perform to, and it's evident that the Cubs will stick with the development of Miguel Amaya for the remainder of this season. Nido should be a slight upgrade, at least offensively, for the backup catcher role. 

(The new guy has worked out so far)

6/11-6/13 vs. San Fransisco

Game 1: Loss, 7-6

Game 2: Win, 5-2

Game 3: Win, 6-5

In Chicago’s first series last week, it started to look like a repeat of past weeks: blown saves and poor offensive performances. Game one started as a bit of a doozy; 3-2 was the score going into the bottom of the seventh, and Javier Assad went five complete innings, allowing just one earned run and striking out seven. The Cubs would then snag the lead from the Giants in the bottom of the seventh courtesy of an RBI double by Seiya Suzuki and a three-run shot by Ian Happ. The Giants would gain a run back in the eighth from Patrick Bailey, bringing the game within two. And then the bottom of the ninth came, and Hector Neris decided to blow another save. I'm not the type of guy to go after a Major League ball player, but how does this keep happening, and why is this being allowed? The Cubs would drop game one but rebounded in the latter outings.

Game two would feature a nice quality start from ace Justin Steele (6.2IP, 4H, 2ER, 2BB, 8K), as his ERA is now down to 3.16 on the season. Dansby Swanson would do his part by hitting a two-run blast at the bottom of the second, and the Giants would tie the game up in the fifth. The Cubs would retake the lead after a three-run spot in the eighth, with RBIs from Belli, Happ, and Morel. Keegan Thompson would come on and take on the closing role, which he dominated by striking out the side and receiving the save. This was a solid game by the Cubs, something they should be able to do twice in a series: quality starts, hitting with RISP, and good performance from the bullpen.

The series finale would also bring an exciting game and the Cub's first series win since early June. Kyle Hendricks got the call to start after Jordan Wicks hit the IL, and man, oh man, did he look good. The Professor went 5.2IP and ended up striking out eight; this was the exact performance all Cubs fans were looking for! The lineup started doing their damage in the fourth as Happ and Dansby hit back-to-back jacks, and Michael Busch scored on a PCA sacrifice and an error by Matt Chapman. Chicago would continue their scoring efforts at the bottom of the seventh with another Swasonon RBI, and Morel would score on another funky play by the Giants. In what seemed like a reoccurring effort, the Cubs bullpen tried to blow it once more; this time, Mark Leiter Jr. and Tyson Miller would both give a combined four runs in the bottom of the eighth off of a Jorge Soler grand slam. Miller gave up the grand slam. However, Colton Brewer would play Superman and earn his first career big-league save, and the Cubs would take the series. 

6/14-6/16 vs. New York (NL)

Game 1: Loss, 11-1

Game 2: Win, 8-1

Game 3: Loss, 5-2

There's not much to say when the presence of Grimace destroys the dignity of your favorite ball club in game one. Imanaga got rocked, 10 runs in three innings is disgusting, and Imanaga's ERA jumped to 2.96. If we want to get that ERA down, he'll have his work cut out for him. Offensively, there wasn't much (at least for the Cubs). Just one run on six hits and 13 strikeouts for the lineup; I hate being on the other side of blowouts.

Maybe the Cubs were saving all the runs for game two, as it seems there was a spark in the lineup that hasn't been seen in a while. Chicago would waste no time scoring five runs in the first inning. Suzuki, Happ, Morel, Swanson, and PCA would all be credited with an RBI in the first. Scoring efforts would continue in the third with a Morel dinger, and the Cubs would plate two more runs in the sixth courtesy of Tomas Nido and an error by the Mets where Nido would score. Jameson Taillon looked brilliant, with seven full innings of work, and only gave up six hits and one run, striking a hefty amount of 10! "J-Mo" has looked good in his last three starts (1.42 ERA). Overall, It was a beautiful game; this is the Cub team's potential now, only if they could do it more consistently. 

Sadly, the Cubs couldn't win on Ryne Sandberg day, nor could they take two series in a row. Assad had a rough start, 4.0IP, 7H, 4ER, 1BB, 0K, but there wasn't much offense to back him up as the only Cubs runs came in the seventh from a Morel two-run shot. The Cubs would beat their game one strikeout total; this time, they would strike out a mass amount of 14 times. This game had a little drama attached to it as Mets closer Edwin Diaz would be ejected before he could throw a pitch for sticky substances. The Mets would then call on Drew Smith, but he would exit early with an apparent injury. Finally, Jake Diekaman would close it for the Mets; the Cubs would strike out twice in the final inning. 

Hitter of the Week: Ian Happ

I've loved seeing Ian Happ start to heat up the past couple of weeks, and it looks like he could lift off at any moment. Happ had a slash line of .318/.348/..636, with two home runs and six RBIs in last week's games. As a whole, the Cubs lineup has been having an uptick in batting averages, but still not seeing a lot of RBIs come with those higher BAs. Hopefully, Happ can start an upward trend in RBIs for the Cubbies. 

Pitcher of the Week: Kyle Hendricks

This week could've gone to "J-Mo," but Hendricks has been on point this month, and his start against the Giants was precisely what the doctor ordered for Hendricks and Cub fans alike. As a reminder, "The Professors" line from his start against the Giants was 5.2IP, 2H, 1ER, 1BB, 8K, a magnificent start, but even that doesn't explain the kind of month Hendricks is having. In his last five games, Hendricks has a 3.25 ERA, .164 BA, and a .445 OPS against. The improvements the veteran pitcher has made have been nothing short of spectacular. A healthy and quality Kyle Hendricks will be an excellent piece for the Cubs to start winning more games. 

Other Highlights

Series to come

6/24: Cubs vs. Giants  (J. Steele vs. Undecided)

6/25: Cubs vs. Giants (K. Hendricks vs. Undecided)

6/26: Cubs vs. Giants  (S. Imanaga vs. K. Winn)

6/27: Cubs vs. Giants (J. Taillon vs. J. Hicks)

6/28: Brewers vs. Cubs (C. Rodriguez vs. J. Assad)

6/29: Brewers vs. Cubs (T. Myers vs. J. Steele)

6/30: Brewers vs. Cubs  (F, Peralta vs. K. Hendricks)

(Looks like there will be some changes to the rotation, but if there isn't any, this is what it should look like)



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