Take Another Series, Wick’s Cold Stretch and Roster Considerations, Alzolay’s Rehab, Miley and Steele and Other Cubs Bullets

Pre-season warnings. It doesn’t prove anything. But the holy fumes made Justin Fields – and the offense built around him – look so good last night. Do that in two weeks, and the Bears could actually win…seven games!

  • That will require a rebounding performance from Adrian Sampson, who had his first real clunker of the year last time out: 3.1 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 0 BB, 0 K, 2 HR. This follows learning of the many changes to his game that he and the Cubs have been working on since last season, which would give you a reason to buy him as a depth starter/swing-man for 2023 *IF * he continues to be successful the rest of the way (and keep him on 40 men all offseason). That’s not to say today is suddenly a big start for him, but it’s just the reality of his unique situation as a late guy who doesn’t blow your mind with his peripherals: his results are taking a closer look. .
  • Rowan Wick imploded last night, continuing his very colllllllld stretch of late. He had a nice long successful run before that, but David Ross suggests there were already concerns:
  • It’s worth noting that hitters are swinging more than ever on Wick’s throws in the zone, and they’re coming into contact with his throws in the zone more than ever. That means a lot fewer strikes (called or swinging) and a lot more balls in play. Obviously that means Wick’s strikeout rate is down this year, but he’s also giving up more hard contacts than before, more circuits than before, etc. The .385 BABIP is probably a little unlucky, but, I mean, even a .350 BABIP is scary, and it’s possible it could win something in that range. Oh, and his walk rate is approaching 10%, so it’s not like it’s good either.
  • In summary: something is wrong with Rowan Wick, has been out for long periods at a time, and I’d say that’s a huge concern for a guy who turns 30 in November and is going to be eligible for the officiating in a team that is loaded with promising up-and-coming talent. Yes, I’m saying his 40-man spot is in question for this offseason. It’s hard to just give up on a guy who has multiple quality pitches like him, but obviously there’s more to being successful in the big leagues than just having “good pitches.”
  • More from Jordan Bastian on Wick’s struggles and what the organization hopes he can still show from here:
  • Adbert Alzolay started for the Iowa Cubs last night, going two innings, but 49 pitches. His night was cut short by a first inning that started off crazy enough that it took him 33 pitches to finish the inning (I guess the goal was to get him three innings and 45-50 pitches). Here’s the thing, though: Alzolay went single, walk, walk… strikeout, strikeout, strikeout, strikeout, strikeout, strikeout. So it was clear he had some nasty stuff working. Oh, and if Gameday is right, both of those marches had plenty of missed strike calls.
  • The question now is how quickly the Cubs bring him back (I actually now think it could be as soon as this week), and what role he plays (multi-inning relief seems most likely, but maybe he “starts” a bullpen game?). I’m just excited for him to be back and see what he’s like – it’s easy to forget how he came back to life late last year after a stint in IL. We never got to see the fruits of that transformation this year.
  • Manny Rodriguez, at a minimum, thinks Alzolay is a beast at this point:
  • Speaking of upcoming weapons, Wade Miley kicked off a bullpen session and he looked and felt great (Sun-Times). He said he would start tomorrow if the Cubs let him, but he also knows there have been setbacks in his shoulder rehabilitation before. I’m sure he would be chomping at the bit to come back before the offseason just to show the teams he can be healthy: “I have no choice; I can’t shut it down,” he said. “If I want to continue playing baseball beyond this year, I have to prove to people that I’m not broke. And I don’t feel like I’m broke by any means. For the Cubs, it’s probably mostly about trying to limit innings for other starters, and also being seen as a good organization that tried to make that happen for Miley.
  • Meanwhile, the Cubs haven’t put Justin Steele on IL (lower back tightness) because no one seems to think his injury is that bad (he was on the show last night talking about it and , really, it looks like nothing ). That said, it’s possible they’ll use Thursday’s day off to skip Steele’s start this round in the rotation (Sun-Times).
  • Speaking of his appearance on the show, I know in-game interviews aren’t for everyone, but Steele’s last night was a good one. It balanced the information well with the lighter fare:
  • Cubs first baseman coach Mike Napoli passed out on the home plate umpire after a truly terrible call on Chris Morel:

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