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Contreras Plays Hero, Future Role Flexibility, Steele is Nasty, Madrigal Hits, and Other Cubs Bullets

Contreras Plays Hero, Future Role Flexibility, Steele is Nasty, Madrigal Hits, and Other Cubs Bullets

Not sure how I’ve avoided it all summer so far – I don’t think I did anything better or smarter – but last night I was finally bitten by mosquitoes. The itch is certainly satisfying when you scratch, but I don’t feel like doing it all day and several days.

  • Willson Contreras played a hero yesterday with the game-winning homer in his “return” to Wrigley Field, which was scripted just perfectly. You could see how happy he was to be back:
  • I said it earlier this week, but let me put it more explicitly: if the Cubs really love everything about Contreras and what he brings *EXCEPT* his catching ability (and the idea of ​​committing to a catcher for the long haul as he is in his thirties), then there is still a sensible arrangement to bring him back. Basically, you get the two catchers you want – the guys you’ve decided are the best at the reception, the play, the adjustments, whatever (the things that seem to worry about the competition about Contreras behind the plate ), and they are your main catchers. Contreras becomes that old imagined version of what we thought Kyle Schwarber could be for a minute: a guy who catches about once a week (which has extra value!), and otherwise splits his time between first base, DH, and maybe left field on a very rare occasion.
  • The Cubs don’t have first base as it is, and with Patrick Wisdom playing there this week, it’s clear the Cubs are thinking ahead about internal options. In turn, I just think out loud.
  • A few more bits of Willson love:
  • Obviously the efficiency wasn’t quite there, but Justin Steele was just filthy yesterday. Tied his career with 10 strikeouts, this time in just 4.2 innings:

  • Not sure what drove it, but Steele threw his throws (1) much faster than usual and (2) with a lot more spin than usual. The two are correlated, so it’s possible he figured something out with his mechanics to get a velo boost (which helped boost spin), or it’s possible it was just one of those days when he his body really felt. But it’s cool when you can see a performance like that, see how badly the batters did, and then check the data and a 1.7 (!) mph bump on the slider and a 200+ RPM bump on the spin rate to see. That was just an annoying, annoying, annoying slider yesterday.
  • It wasn’t a safe situation when he came into the game, so we’re still not sure if he’s the man who will get the call, but Rowan Wick threw the 9th to close out the game. He was my bet on the man the Cubs would most like to take on as the closer for the rest of the season, and I think we’ll see when everyone calms down. He’s obviously had his rough times, but I have a feeling the Cubs believe the *best* version of Wick is their best man for the 9th inning. Whether he can consistently be that best version of himself enough to hold onto the role, say until next season, is a very open question. (Any chance the Cubs are trying to get hold of free agent Craig Kimbrel again…?)
  • Meanwhile, Brandon Hughes really turns it on. If you remember, he looked great from the gate, but then actually struggled a bit through his first 18.0 big league innings (4.50 ERA). Over his last 13.0 innings, since early July, his ERA was only 0.69.
  • Nick Madrigal had a few hits yesterday and concluded his best ten-game period of the season. Some big “however” there: (1) the ten-game piece goes back to May 31, because he missed so much time, and (2) even in this “good” piece, he only hit .294/.333/ . .294/79 wRC+. I’m fine with him getting a decent amount of playtime the rest of the way so the Cubs can have more information for the off-season. But there hasn’t been a realistic last two months that make the Cubs feel like they’ve locked second base through Madrigal.
  • The Rocket City Trash Pandas, like any minor league team, can’t take out Cubs outfield prospect Yonathan Perlaza. But unlike the others, the Pandas, well, it’s in their name, and did this:
  • The Rockies claimed Dinelson Lamet from the Brewers waivers, and since the Cubs would take precedence over the Rockies, that means the Cubs passed.