What You Need to Know
Max Fried and the Braves snapped the Cubs’ six-game winning streak, but the real loss was Javier Baez who will most likely be headed to the 7-day concussion DL after a collision at second base.
There wasn’t a lot to be happy about today. The Cubs trailed before they could take their first at-bat, and though they managed to tie it on an Ian Happ homer in the second, they could never take the lead. The few times the offense hit the ball hard, it was right at the defense. Mike Montgomery pitched well, but he got bit by seeing-eye ground balls and defensive goofs. But those are all minor frustrations that will be forgotten about by the time the Cubs take the field in Pittsburgh tomorrow. The big blow today was an apparent concussion to Javier Baez.
In the second inning, Javier Baez slid head first into second base and collided with the knee of second baseman Ozzie Albies. Baez stayed in the game to play defense for just one more batter before calling the trainer out to take another look. No official move has been announced, but it seems likely that Baez will move to the concussion DL. The best case scenario is that he’s ready to come back after seven days and there are no lingering effects. The worst case scenario is everything is ruined.
With Addison Russell out for another three weeks, the depth at short has gone from a concerning hypothetical to a harsh reality. September call-up Mike Freeman replaced Baez this afternoon, and the early returns regarding his defense were conflicting. Freeman made a nice play to his backhand in the second, but in the third, Freeman broke the opposite direction on a ground ball to 5 and 6 hole that looked fieldable, allowing the third Braves run to score. In the next inning, Freeman bobbled a slow chopper. It’s probably just Cubs debut jitters and rust. No matter who the Cubs put out there, it’s almost sure to be a defensive downgrade, but the Cubs should get competence out of Freeman at the very least.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. Dillon Maples made his major league debut and pitched a fine inning. Maples, who has a career 5.61 BB/9 across all levels of the minors, was wild. He issued a walk to Dansby Swanson, and he missed his spots regularly, but his fastball touched 99 mph and his cutter* had dynamic and lively movement. His outing was essentially the platonic ideal of a Dillon Maples appearance. The stuff was there; the control was not. He walked a batter on five pitches that weren’t close and then struck the next guy out on five pitches that made the hitter look foolish.
*He calls it a cutter, Gameday calls it a slider.
Top WPA Play
Ian Happ’s homer in the second. (+.114)
Bottom WPA Play
Albert Almora Jr. grounding out with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning. (-.106)
Lead photo courtesy Kamil Krzaczynski—USA Today Sports