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All of the sudden, the Chicago Cubs are winning a few games again. The up and down season continues. Eddie Butler pitched well, and Mike Montgomery’s gem the other night certainly gives reason to hope. Lester and Jake both did their thing to a reasonable extent, and Lackey has shown us he doesn’t ALWAYS have to implode, and that there is still an element of competitive usefulness in his right arm. So all is well again, right?
I love Miggy, and his transition from #WeAreGood to #WeAreBack is classic leadership, but the hangover is real, and so is the lack of pitching. Yes, I know we need to hit. In fact, if another person reminds me of that, I’ll probably lose my freaking mind. The Cubs WILL hit. I mean, what are you going to do? Sit Bryant? Bench Willson? Make Javy not be ridiculously good at everything? It’s absurd. Sending Schwarber to Iowa is a start, but let’s also remember some of the greatest hitters in our game, and even on our own team, didn’t survive the Majors initially. Names like Trout and Rizzo both went back down. He’ll be fine.
I hate to say it, but what Schwarber might NOT survive is the trade deadline. I think Kyle can continue to get better in the outfield, but his catching days seem to be gone, and while his bat WILL BE ABSOLUTELY FINE, that defense can be a bit scary out there. I’m more than accepting of him playing left for us again when Zobrist, Heyward, and whoever ends up hurt return, but the fact of the matter is, just as I mentioned a day or two ago, pitching is all I’m concerned about.
I think Mike Montgomery has given us reason to believe he can do this job, and while Butler has some talent and is still young (just turned 26 in March), I’m not convinced he’s the guy I want in the back of the rotation against the Nationals or Dodgers this fall. In Mike Montgomery’s last 24 innings pitched, he’s given up only 4 earned runs for a 1.50 ERA. He’s been fantastic. Let the man pitch. Butler has shown the talent that he was praised for coming up in the minor leagues, but he has yet to demonstrate full reliability (Not entirely his fault. Time will tell) for me to trust in him down the road.
Maybe that will change. Maybe between now and July, he’ll have a few more starts that suggest he can be that guy, but I don’t know of anybody who believes that without question. What I do believe in is Montgomery, and I have for some time. Going back to Schwarber now, let’s say he starts mashing again (called up or not) and July nears. It’s not ideal, but when Heyward and Zobrist return, we still have KB, Almora, Happ, and Jay who can play the outfield. Heck, even Willson can play out there if we need it. Javy will play anywhere, and if this team is willing to be flexible, which they shown they are, Schwarber’s bat might be very appealing to any number of American League teams who have a starter they’d like to move, and if they have a reliever as well, it’ll be hard to ignore in the front office.
To clarify, this isn’t a post saying I want Schwaber traded. It’s actually more of a post to say I think Mike Montgomery is a great answer to half of a problem, but to fix the other have, something big will need to go, and if the Cubs can with without Schwarber there, questions will start to arise.
Maybe it won’t be Kyle. Maybe it’s Eloy and/or whoever, but it will hurt no matter what. I’ve long said how painful sending Torres to the Yankees was for a rental in Chapman, so imagine the cost of a younger, controllable arm. Just be prepared.
All of that in mind, if Lackey can be survivable and Hendricks returns to form, who knows what will happen. I hate the cliche, but it is true…a lot of baseball remains to be played. I still see little chance the Cubs don’t hammer home a big deal for some type of power arm in that rotation, but Theo and Jed have shown me year in and year out that they can be creative in solving our issues. Torres was the only time I’ve literally gasped in denial at a deal, and even with his recent injury, I HATED seeing him leave…but I wouldn’t trade that World Series for anything. Would you? ‘Cause while he didn’t close the game out, you don’t get it without Chapman. You don’t. Not happening…or wouldn’t have happened…whatever. You get the point.
Just keep that in mind when the deadline nears, because I can hear it coming like a train in the distance. Far away, but it’ll get louder and louder. Then it’ll rumble. Then it’ll shake the house.
Let the fun begin