The Cubs will be looking to turn around their fortunes on the road in Detroit, after dropping a pair of one-run games to the Cleveland Indians in the first series of their road trip. On Friday night, the Cubs led early on, but their bullpen imploded in the seventh and eighth innings. A big part of the problem was the Cubs’ lack of offense. The team was shutout by Josh Tomlin and Andrew Miller, scoring their only run in the top of the first inning and never getting another hit. The Cubs had runners on base in the top of the seventh and eighth innings, but they failed to produce as the Indians won 3-1.
After a 5-1 home win, the Cubs lost to the Indians in Cleveland on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Cubs’ record is now 15-17 for the season and they are 4.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. Louis in the NL Central.
I never know whether to start with a good or bad conclusion, especially after a quick two-game sweep. In the spirit of the weekend leading up to the Cubs’ upcoming series against the Tigers, let’s forget all the negativity until Friday.
In two games in Cleveland, the Cubs have gone a miserable 2-27 with runners in scoring position. That’s pretty remarkable – even if it’s not in a good way – but it has unfortunately become a trend for the Cubs over the first month and a half of the season. In 2021, the Cubs hit .215 with RISP, which ranks 26th out of 30 teams. In a series where the pitchers held opponents to a total of five runs, the Cubs needed at least one win.
Kris Bryant left Tuesday’s game early because of breathing problems caused by sinus issues. He was not in the starting lineup on Wednesday after a bad night’s sleep, according to manager David Ross. Bryant wanted to be in the lineup, but with Thursday off, Ross decided he’d rather take some extra time to get in shape.
As if that wasn’t enough, Bryant got into the game with runners on his back in the seventh inning, but suffered a bruised left wrist after being hit by a fastball.
Ross said Kris Bryant had a bruise on his left wrist. At that point, Bryant (who was out of shape) had to come out of the game to be a pocket runner.
More information for Friday’s game in Detroit. Give Bryant time to rest and get the treatment he needs.
– Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 12, 2021
The overall health of the Cubs team was less than ideal as the 2021 season entered. Most, if not all, of the Cubs’ position players have missed at least one game due to injury. Cubs are having problems with the lineup: Ian Happ, Nico Hoerner and Jake Marisnick are on the 10-day injury list, while backup catcher Austin Romine is on the 60-day injury list. The Cubs are severely undermanned right now, especially in the outfield. They need players like Eric Sogard, Ildemaro Vargas, Nick Martini and maybe Tony Walters right now.
Even if the final score doesn’t reflect it, there were plenty of positives in this two game setback in Cleveland, starting with Joc Pederson.
Since returning from injury, Pederson has gone 12-27 with three hits, including three games with three hits each. He has thrown a few strikeouts against left-handed pitchers, which is important because he can take over in the outfield and provide productivity before Happ, Marisnick and Herner return to the lineup.
The Cubs pitching staff did well in Cleveland. They allowed just 12 hits in two games and gave up just five batters, all on Wednesday.
Adbert Alzolay threw a solid game on Tuesday with six innings, six strikeouts and no walks, but the long ball hurt him as he allowed three runs with two home runs. Alzolay shows great confidence in his slider and general equipment on the track, improving with each start.
The Bullpen Cubs went 6.1 innings in total and allowed just three walks and one run, which came during the extra-inning rule. Justin Steele and Brad Vick were the standouts, with both players making numerous crucial outs in crucial games. Vick was only called up from the temporary training facility on Tuesday and Steele has yet to make his mark but has already shown he can be a backup.
Wilson Contreras has six strikeouts in two games against the Indians and appears to be on his way to resuming the 1-17 run he began on Feb. 2. May began to leave behind her. This rebound by Cleveland has raised his batting average from .208 to .250. The Cubs desperately need Contreras’ consistency at the top of the lineup, allowing Matt Duffy to take a spot lower in the lineup and help the Cubs’ best hitters turn the map around. All these elements have contributed to the success of the recent home series.
Unless Jake Arrieta is in trouble, the big right-hander will open Friday’s series, reports Jordan Bastion on MLB.com. Trevor Williams and Kyle Hendricks are expected to start in games 2 and 3 respectively against the Tigers.
The Cubs plan to use Arrieta (Friday), Williams (Saturday) and Hendricks (Sunday) in next weekend’s series in Detroit.
– Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 12, 2021
The Tigers have yet to announce their starting pitchers against the Cubs, but as a team they have the second worst ERA in baseball at 5.11. Detroit also has the worst bullpen ERA at 6.79, so they are very vulnerable despite their recent three-game winning streak.
To be successful in Detroit this weekend, the Cubs will need to improve their play against RISP and hit the ball out of the park again. If pitchers can limit their opponents in the game like they did in Cleveland, the Cubs can take advantage of the Tigers’ lack of a bullpen.