GAMETIMES: 7:05 Monday and Tuesday, 1:20 Wednesday
TV: WGN Monday, CSN Tuesday and Wednesday
FISH ARE FRIENDS: Fish Stripes
While I find Cubs off days to question what my existence is about (it’s basically empty), this is one of those times where you may have wanted one. After the exhausting efforts of last night, and the euphoria of such a win (along with a now beleaguered bullpen), you wouldn’t complain about a little time to readjust the sights. The Cubs will get no such luck tonight, as they’ll have to turn right around for three against the now wild card holding Marlins.
It’s been an interesting enough week for the Fish. Recognizing their rotation was pretty much nothing behind Jose Fernandez after Wei-Yin Chen’s injury (whatever he does for you, which shouldn’t be much), they traded for Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea. This is always a good time that Cashner was once traded straight up for Anthony Rizzo, and also in the interest of fairness I should mention at the time I was a tad uneasy about it. She’s a strange one, this baseball. Cashner has never lived up to what he once billed, but that doesn’t mean he’s bad either. He’s had two seasons, of his full three, with FIPs in the mid-3.00s. The problem is he’s attempted a full season seven times, so he gets hurt. Rea showed up with gremlins in his arm and was sent back to San Diego today for one of the prospects they gave up to get him. So yeah, this rotation is still wonky at best when it isn’t Fernandez out there. Sadly for the Cubs, Fernandez will go Tuesday and they weren’t anywhere close to him when they saw him in Miami. He’ll do that. To boot, Conley is on a nice little streak here, capped off with an eight-inning shutout of that admittedly unfortunate Phillies. Still, his last five starts have seen him give up seven runs over 29.0 innings, striking out 27 and walking nine.
The Cubs will get something of a let-up in offense they’re facing, with the Mariners being a still sneaky powerful outfit. There’s still perhaps the best all-around outfield in the game here with Yelich-Ozuna-Stanton. Stanton and Yelich had blazing Julys, with Stanton piling up seven homers in the month and Yelich piling up a .900+ OPS. Martin Prado is also pretty hot coming off July. Thankfully, the nemesis from the last series in Miami Justin Bour (riding through the glen) is on the DL so he can’t send any pitches to Montrose beach like he did down there. The big story will be Ichiro two hits away from 3,000 in MLB, so he’s likely to get it here depending on how much he plays. With the Cubs throwing all righties he should get one start somewhere you would think. Also, Dee Gordon has returned from his drug suspension which he can’t explain (whether he can’t explain what he took or that he got caught, he can’t seem to tell you).
The Marlins still have a pretty domination troika in the pen in Barraclough, Phelps, and Ramos closing things out, though they can get a little wild around the plate as all of them have walk-percentages over 10%. The three of them have guided the Marlins pen to be top five in the NL in ERA, FIP, and K/9.
The Fish sit a game ahead of the Cardinals for the road spot in the coin-flip game. They’re going to have some problems with Jose Fernandez heading toward a 180 innings limit. They’re going to skip him to try and get him September starts, but that means there are just more games he isn’t pitching. It’s just moving the problem, and now they’ve lost Rea to take up some of that slack. It doesn’t feel like Conley-Cashner and the pen is enough to hold off St. Louis or the Mets, but then again the Mets are kind of a mess anyway.
The Cubs can keep the feeling going by taking this because they’ll face five games after it against the wooden spooners of the AL West after it in the A’s and Angels. That should, if everything goes as it should, set them up nicely to put the Cardinals out of their misery, at least in terms of the division, the weekend after that.