Smyly and the Deadline, Scary Moment, Sampson’s Starts, Madrigal at Iowa, and Other Cubs Bullets

I was on Cubs Live! last night before the Cubs game, and if you didn’t catch the appearance on Marquee, you can check me out here. I appreciated the opportunity to talk not only about the Cubs and the Trade Deadline, but about the BN Blogathon and Make-A-Wish. We’re still raising for Make-A-Wish right there, and your support of a great cause is greatly appreciated!

  • Drew Smyly’s final start before the Trade Deadline was not an on-paper success, allowing five earned runs over just 4.0 innings of work. He allowed seven hits (two homers), two walks, and struck out five. It was not how he’d looked in his previous starts coming off the IL for the oblique injury, and if it had any impact on his trade market one way or another, it wasn’t for the positive. The Cubs may have to decide whether they are interested in a modest return for Smyly, or prefer to keep him the rest of the year and try to re-sign him as a back-end starter/swing man in 2023. (Sure, they could re-sign him anyway, but sometimes for non-top-tier free agents, the groundwork you can lay on a deal in August and September makes a big difference in a reasonable re-signing.)
  • We’ll see how flooded the market gets with pitching these final few days. If not too many more options come on the table, I tend to think Smyly, who has been overall quite solid for 12 months now, will be able to net a useful prospect. I think it’s more likely that Smyly is traded, for example, than Wade Miley. In both cases, you don’t have much to go on this year if you’re an acquiring team, and you’re basically just betting on them being healthy and stable for the final two months (and being break-glass-in- case-of-emergency pitchers in the postseason).
  • For his part, Smyly is open to both paths (

“It’s completely out of our control,” Smyly said. “There’s nothing we can say or do. I’ve made it pretty clear that I love showing up to work everyday and being a Cub. It’s a really fun team to be a part of, even though we’re not getting the wins we necessarily want. It’s a really good group of guys, and it’s enjoyable in that clubhouse ….

“It’d be fun competing for another championship,” he said. “It is what it is. I don’t really think this performance would dictate that one way or the other. I thought my stuff was really good tonight. It just didn’t really show up on paper.”

  • Glad Estrada was eventually able to walk off from this one – awful and scary:
  • Unfortunately it sounds like Estrada may have suffered a concussion, and could miss time. You just don’t expect something like that from a guy losing his grip on a changeup, but it’s a reminder that any pitch – even 85 mph – if it catches you just wrong can be very dangerous.
  • Adrian Sampson makes the final pre-Trade Deadline start for the Cubs tonight, and … I still can’t fully buy the success. I don’t know if that makes me too harsh or if I’m simply being pragmatic. But I feel like, after every solid Sampson start, I find myself saying the same thing: “I need to see more.” … And then he just goes out and tosses another solid start.
  • Sampson did it again last time out, not overwhelming the Pirates, but just being really solid for seven innings of work (7.0 innings, allowing just two earned runs on six hits and one walk, with three strikeouts). The 30-year-old righty has now made six starts for the Cubs this year (plus one 4.2-inning relief appearance that was like a start), and all six/seven have fallen roughly in the range of, “Yeah, you know, that was pretty OK.” Which is hardly a negative description when you’re talking about a fill-in, back-of-the-rotation starter!
  • It is increasingly a very clear contact-management profile, which has its limitations and downsides, but Sampson just keeps succeeding. He figures to remain in the rotation after the Deadline, pending other moves, and I’m fine with it. You kind of want to know if this is a guy that you just have to keep on the 40-man roster all offseason at this point. He has minor league options remaining, so if he keeps doing what he’s been doing, then you could do a heckuva lot worse for your 6th/7th starter as depth at Iowa next year. And maybe he actually even locks himself in as a 5th starter. It’s still a bit hard for me to accept, but I remain fascinated by the process.
  • Nick Madrigal has actually started hitting well at Iowa, finally, and I hope the Cubs keep giving him plenty of time to really settle in there. It’s good that he’s hitting (well, hitting very Madrigal-like: .314/.385/.343/104 wRC+, 7.7% BB, 10.3% K, .029 ISO), but I think this is an opportunity to really make sure he’s got himself physically (in terms of body health and his swing) settled before coming back up. He is still so young in his career, and has barely played at Triple-A. This is all fine. There’s no need to rush him back to the big leagues.
  • Friend had some fun with my TV appearance:

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