CINCINNATI — The way Cubs manager Joe Maddon has talked recently, he’ll welcome any outside help the Cubs front office can find for his inconsistent lineup in the next few weeks leading up to the trade deadline. And general manager Jed Hoyer said this week on his regular stop on 670 The Score that he’ll “certainly look outside for answers.”
It didn’t take long for some of the wheels to start to turn among the hitting corps, with Carlos Gonzalez looking Friday night like one of the corresponding moves to open a roster spot for extra pitching on Saturday.
Gonzalez, just 7-for-40 (.175) with a .606 OPS since signing with the Cubs four weeks ago, shared hugs and quiet conversations with several teammates in the clubhouse after the game.
But even on Friday, Maddon was less focused on his left-handed hitters (like Gonzalez) than about getting more production against left-handers by right-handed hitters Albert Almora (.219), David Bote (.180) and Addison Russell (.231).
“That’s what really stands out,” Maddon said. “We have guys with good track records against lefties that we really have to get going again.”
In particular, Almora and Bote have dropped off dramatically against lefties this season after previous career marks of .309 in 285 at-bats and .275 in 51, respectively.
The Cubs also haven’t gotten much from lefty hitter Daniel Descalso against right-handers (.189 in 132 at-bats this season).
“I will defend and say all those guys are working so hard, and I have faith and confidence in all those guys,” Maddon said. “So hopefully we get this all straightened out right here and that [talk of outside help] becomes moot.”
This and that
Right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. (upper back, left side) is scheduled for another bullpen session Saturday, after which he could be evaluated for the next big step in his rehab process. He has responded well to a cortisone shot, including a promising bullpen session Wednesday.
— The Reds have won five of seven meetings with the Cubs this season, including three of four in Cincinnati.
— The first-place Cubs’ loss combined with the Pirates victory over the second-place Brewers meant that the five teams in the National League Central are separated by only 5½ games.
— With two games left in June, the Cubs (13-14) are at risk of blowing their longest streak of 12 consecutive months with winning records. The only time the franchise had a longer such streak was from May 1905 to July 1911 — a span of 38 months.