The Cubs have played five games since the trade deadline passed on Tuesday, Starting with their 20-9 blowout of the Reds which Justin Steele started. Before the deadline the rotation was as follows: Steele, Stroman, Taillon, Hendricks, and Smyly/Assad (and sometimes Wesneski when he was not down in Iowa)!
Leading up to the deadline, I believed that Stroman would get traded and be the only one to go, even if it was for a bag of balls, because of how bad he had been in July because the Cubs sent him Wesneski to Iowa a few weeks ago to stretch him out to be a starter. Before Wednesday’s game against the Reds Stroman was placed on the Injured List (IL) with hip inflammation.
There is a common belief among fans that he was intentionally pitching poorly before going on the IL to lower his trade value and screw the Cubs over. If true that would have been dumber than dumb because the team trading for him would have seen it as giving him a change of scenery according to analysts and reporters and he would have only been driving his asking price come this winter down at the same time.
Some fans have even said on social media and the radio that they think this was a convenient way for the Cubs to send him packing because they wont resign him this winter. Jed Hoyer has not yet made it clear one way or the other if Stroman is in the plans for 2024 and 2025 maybe even beyond. Something tells me he is though based on the moves Jed made at the deadline. That said, if the Cubs were going to come up with a minor injury to send Stroman packing they would have done it before his start on Monday or better, before his start against the White Sox on the 26th of July. Him being on the IL would not have stopped them from trading him if they got an offer they liked. While Stroman is out it appears that Assad and Smyly with both get extra starts because the Cubs are trying to figure out if one or both of them are in the plans the next couple years.
With that, let’s look at the Cubs 15-6 record since the All Star Break. Many fans, including my fellow writer Gaurav Garg, say that this is just a mirage. However, the Cubs still have four more games against the Reds and six against Milwaukee. They are 2.5 games out of first for the division and 1 game out of a Wild Card spot. Five short weeks ago I never would have thought the last Wild Card spot would be coming out of the NL Central division.
Let’s look at the Brewers and Reds records since the All Star break though. The Reds are 9-12, including 1-3 against the Cubs. The Brewers are 11-10. If these three teams keep playing the way they all have been following the trades they made, or didn’t make. The Cubs might just steal one of those playoff spots.
Here is the thing folks. Would I love to see the Cubs get back to the playoffs this year on the spring training predictions out of Vegas that they’d win 80-85 games? You bet I would. That said, should they make the playoffs I do not think they will get past the Wild Card round, and if they do they definitely won’t get past the NL Division Series. They still have holes that they need to fill to be honest contenders on a regular basis again and I can see them filling those holes this winter.
With that… it’s time to play ball at Wrigley and Steele a series from the Braves!
If you cannot play with them, root for them!