If you tune in to watch a Chicago Cubs game over the next six weeks, you might find yourself asking, “Who are these guys?” This lineup was once easy to predict, and it featured the same popular names for the past 5-6 years.
That is no longer the case, and it sometimes feels like some of the names in the Cubs lineup are made up. New names appear seemingly every day, and it’s hard to keep track of how these players even ended up playing with the Cubs.
Michael Hermosillo is one of the latest names to be penciled into the lineup by David Ross, and that name might stick for a while longer. Hermosillo blasted a mammoth home run on Wednesday afternoon in Cincinnati, and that was his first start with the Chicago Cubs.
Frank Schwindel is another name that Cubs fans should get used to seeing over the next six weeks as he has shown some real promise at first base. Schwindel has plenty of power in his bat, and he has already come up with some clutch hits with the Cubs.
The bullpen is another area that has several new faces, and it’s even harder to keep track of who David Ross has available to him. Jed Hoyer just continues to get rid of veteran players in favor of taking a look at some younger arms.
If you are someone that likes to keep track of the active and 40-man roster, then I suggest using a pencil. More changes are coming, and a new wave of players will be here in September.
If you have been following the Cubs over the last few seasons, then you know that developing pitching has been a major issue for this franchise. The Cubs have been able to go out and spend some money on free-agent pitchers, but help from the Minor League system hasn’t really been there.
Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson are two guys that began the season in the bullpen for the Cubs, but the team has now stretched them back out into starting pitchers. Thompson has yet to return to the big leagues, but Steele has now made a pair of starts.
Manager David Ross continues to talk highly of Steele after his outings and continues to explain that this is a learning process. Unfortunately, those words are typically only used when a pitcher has struggled, and that is what Steele has done.
The stuff is there for Steele, but he has not been as dominant as expected. If the Cubs are going to somehow avoid another 4th place finish in 2022, then they are going to need Steele to get up to speed in a hurry.
Happ Turning a Corner
Ian Happ is one of the few leftovers from the previous core of players, but that was largely due to the fact that he was not wanted by other teams. Happ has really struggled at the plate in 2021, and he didn’t see regular action when the team was actually attempting to win games.
It has been brutal to watch Happ struggle this season, but these final six weeks will give him a chance to build momentum for next season. It seems as if Happ is ready to turn the corner a bit as the power returned this week in Cincinnati.
The main focus for the Cubs is now taking a close look at some of the prospects that have been called up, but getting Happ figured out is important. If the Cubs can get a solid end to the year from the centerfielder, then that could take away concern for the offseason.