Happ Makes History Twice, Brewers Hate Cubs, Steele’s Lower Back, ManRod Returns, Alzolay, Estrada, and Other Cubs Bullets

It’s one of THOSE Saturdays, where every kid has some activity(ies), so the head is on a swivel. It’s always tricky this time of year, because there’s also a game, and there are several non-Bullets things I’m hoping to get to today. We’ll see what I can pull off…

  • Putting the best news up top: it doesn’t sound like there’s much concern on Justin Steele’s back after his exit with the athletic trainer last night. It’s not nothing, but it’s also not necessarily something you’d yet characterize as a capital-I “Injury.”

The Cubs aren’t overly worried about Steele’s back injury. They didn’t want to push their young lefty in this game, especially given the fact that the organization is cognizant of his workload down the stretch. His 119 innings this season represents the most he’s ever thrown in a professional season.

“We’ll see how he is tomorrow,” Ross said. “He was throwing the ball really well. I don’t think he’s concerned. I don’t think the trainers are concerned but obviously we’ll look at the big picture and make sure we keep an eye on the present and the future and all the decisions we make.”

Steele said he initially felt the back tighten up on his final warm-up pitch before the 6th inning.

“I kinda adjusted the way I was throwing a little bit just to throw some strikes but the coaches could tell something was going on so they came out and we were talking,” Steele said. “They were like, ‘this is probably your last hitter regardless,’ so it just made sense to go ahead and come out.”

  • The Cubs will have the option of putting Steele on the IL, as they did with Keegan Thompson and his lower-back tightness. That could give him some real rest, which figures to be coming soon in any case. Last night was another great outing for him, though.
  • Justin Steele’s situation is also not so bad when it comes to results, where his 3.18 ERA is 27th best in MLB, and his 2.6 WAR is 23rd.
  • That wound up being a really fun win – again! It is also guaranteed that the Cubs will win the season series this year against the Brewers, which is always fun. If the Brewers were up 10-7 in the season series against the Cubs instead of down 7-10, they would be in a playoff spot right now. They must really hate the Cubs.
  • The Cubs have had a lot of those in the second half, and, as we’ve discussed, this all matters for a lot of reasons going forward. It’s not that I don’t want the Cubs to have a higher draft pick in 2023, but where they are organizationally, I think there’s a corner to be turned this offseason if they have the motivation to turn it. So keep winning fun games.
  • Ian Happ was the star last night, homering late to give the Cubs the lead, and then homering again in extra innings to give the Cubs the win. Those were the only two hits in the game, which led to some history:
  • And a fun fact from Marquee about some MORE history: the second homer, with the free runner on second base, made Happ the first player in Cubs history to lead off an inning with a multi-run homer.
  • Oh wow, Ian Happ is basically a Hall of Famer now:
  • Manny Rodriguez’s return to the big leagues last night seems to have been a success, broadly speaking, even if not necessarily impressive. The pitches looked fine (the swinging strikeout on the slider was naaaasty), the one walk was a competitive one with a base open, and the two hits were hard crushed. Tense situation for your first game back, too! Feet back under him, now I want to see the fastball and slider eat next time out.
  • Adbert Alzolay will pitch for the Iowa Cubs today, per multiple reports, although it has not been stated explicitly yet in what role or for how many innings.
  • Looks like me in the cages at Sluggers trying to act like I used to ball:
  • Just checking in on relief prospect Jeremiah Estrada and …
  • Really the only question at this point with Estrada is about innings/stress management. He’s up to 48.1 innings on the year across 34 appearances, which is not a lot, but this is a guy who has dealt with major arm issues in the recent past (plus the pandemic year in 2020), so I do think there has to be some caution. That’s especially true if you’re asking him to come up to the big leagues at the end of the year, and he’s going to feel like he wants to ball out to prove himself. We know he’s going to be added to the 40-man in November. There’s no question there, and there’s no need to “evaluate” him at the big league level right now. We already know he can be a stud. It’s all about health and development in his situation.
  • Adidas saying peace out to Fernando Tatis Jr. after the PED positive, with some harsh words:

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