A breakdown of the new-look Cubs following the trade deadline

A breakdown of the new-look Cubs following the trade deadline

For weeks, the hypothesis surrounding the Cubs was targeted on what strikes the Cubs would make.

Now that the deadline has handed and gamers like Nicholas Castellanos and Tony Kemp are within the combine, we’ll get an opportunity to see how Joe Maddon and Co. will match all of the items collectively.

The primary glimpse on the new-look Cubs got here Wednesday afternoon with the lineup for the finale in St. Louis popping out:

1. Jason Heyward – CF
2. Nicholas Castellanos – RF
3. Kris Bryant – 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo – 1B
5. Javy Baez – SS
6. Willson Contreras – C
7. Kyle Schwarber – LF
8. Tony Kemp – 2B
9. Jon Lester – P

In order that solutions a number of questions – how the Cubs will work in Kemp, the place Castellanos will play and hit within the order, how issues will line up in opposition to a right-handed pitcher and the way it impacts the remainder of the roster.

Let’s sort out the primary half first. Kemp can play each outfield and second base, however he is made extra begins on the infield (20) this yr than within the outfield (16) after notching only one begin at second base with the Astros a season in the past. The Cubs already had a glut of outfielders earlier than they acquired Castellanos and have a transparent want for manufacturing on the second base place, so anticipate extra of Kemp on the infield.

Castellanos is a former third baseman, however hasn’t performed there in any respect since 2017, so it is no shock he could be checked out as strictly an outfielder on the Cubs.

So far as batting order place, Castellanos spent nearly all of 2019 with the Tigers hitting second and has seen a ton of time there over his profession. If the Cubs insist on retaining the 3-4-5 as Bryant-Rizzo-Baez and never shifting them again as much as the unique 2-3-Four spots they occupied earlier within the season, the 2-hole looks like a superb match for Castellanos.

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He does not stroll a ton, however he offers some pop and extra-base hit energy (he leads baseball with 37 doubles), so he may conceivably be in scoring place shortly forward of the center of the order.

On high of that, this additionally matches the mould Maddon and the Cubs have established the place they get a bat-first participant larger within the order, hope to get a lead after which swap him out for protection later within the sport to ideally maintain that lead (on this case, Albert Almora Jr. would seemingly slot into middle area and transfer Heyward over to proper). We have seen the identical factor earlier than with the likes of Chris Coghlan and even Schwarber (although the Cubs typically change him out defensively late in video games no matter the place he hits within the order).

Past the dearth of endurance, the opposite disadvantage to hitting Castellanos second is the truth that he is only a mediocre hitter vs. right-handed pitchers this yr (.257/.308/.429 slash line, .737 OPS). That is not a one-year fluke, both, as he is slashing simply .266/.314/.443 (.757 OPS) in opposition to righties over 2,611 profession plate appearances.

Nevertheless, possibly a change of surroundings will assist these numbers. Castellanos has been victimized by spacious Comerica Park a ton this season and a transfer to taking part in at Wrigley Subject half the time can actually assist enhance his stats, as evidenced right here:

It is also unclear if the Cubs are going to roll with Castellanos practically daily even in opposition to right-handed pitchers. He is a must-start in opposition to lefties for positive, but when he begins each sport in opposition to righties, then certainly one of Heyward, Schwarber or Ian Happ are on the bench and all three guys do most of their injury in opposition to righties (plus Heyward and Happ are considerably higher defenders).

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Happ has solely 2 hits since being recalled to the big-leagues, however he is drawn 6 walks whereas beginning each sport up till Thursday. Over his profession, he has posted an .839 OPS in opposition to right-handers.

Now, every thing will fully change in opposition to left-handed pitchers. The lefty-hitting Kemp seemingly wouldn’t begin typically in opposition to southpaws when David Bote is out there on the bench to play second base, however Castellanos undoubtedly could be within the lineup.

Here is a potential Cubs lineup in opposition to lefties, which we’d see as early as Saturday if Gio Gonzalez is ready to make his begin for the Brewers (he is coming off shoulder tightness he skilled his final day out):

1. Willson Contreras – C
2. Nicholas Castellanos – RF
3. Kris Bryant – 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo – 1B
5. Javy Baez – SS
6. Ian Happ – LF
7. David Bote – 2B
8. Albert Almora Jr. – CF

There is no assure, in fact, that Almora will even play in opposition to lefties. He has traditionally lit up southpaws, however carries only a .205 common and .523 OPS in opposition to them this season.

The Cubs may conceivably begin Schwarber or Heyward in opposition to a lefty and transfer Happ to middle area (and Castellanos to left when Heyward performs), but it surely’s most likely extra seemingly they’re going to proceed to offer Almora his shot to regain his kind in opposition to southpaws.

Both approach, the Cubs clearly have much more choices and shifting components than that they had earlier than and that is a superb factor. A position-player group that has been touted as so deep the previous couple of years has felt something however for many of 2019.

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This can all change, too, relying on when veterans Daniel Descalso (injured record) and Ben Zobrist (restricted record) return, however that may not occur till Sept. 1 in any case. Similar with Robel Garcia (optioned to the minors to make room for Castellanos on the 25-man roster) and Addison Russell, when – or if – they make their return to the large leagues.

Then there’s the bullpen, that has added righty David Phelps and lefty Derek Holland to the combo over the past week.

Holland is dynamic in opposition to lefties however has struggled mightily vs. righties this yr and Phelps is just a year-and-a-half faraway from Tommy John surgical procedure. Neither man figures to fit in as constant setup guys in entrance of nearer Craig Kimbrel in the meanwhile, however as veterans with tracks data of success and stable splits, additionally they present Maddon and the Cubs with extra choices.

Who is aware of how all of the items will match collectively as soon as Pedro Strop returns from his neck harm, however that is an issue for the Future Cubs, not the Current Cubs.

Nevertheless, they may have an attention-grabbing dilemma after they need to activate Cole Hamels from the injured record over the weekend. Until someone else hits the shelf – like Brad Brach (he is pitched simply 3.2 innings because the All-Star Break) – the Cubs have solely so many gamers with minor-league choices remaining.

The one two pitchers with choices are Rowan Wick and Kyle Ryan…and Ryan is not going wherever. Wick does not look like, both, as he is shortly ascended as a dependable high-leverage man out of the bullpen.

It is potential the Cubs may ship a defender like Bote down and roll with a 14-man pitching workers, however that leaves solely a three-man bench (together with a catcher), which is sub-optimal.

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Richard Daurio

Richard Daurio is a science and space enthusiast who aims to excel in the field, especially in human anatomical studies. He curates quality pieces for Gazette Quest in the Science and Environment genre.