Cubs

Cubs collapse under bullpen implosion against Pirates

Cubs collapse under bullpen implosion against Pirates

It wasn't Jake Arrieta's velocity dip that burned the Cubs Saturday afternoon.

And it's hard to blame the 24 mph winds blowing straight out to centerfield, creating a great hitters' environment at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs bullpen served up five runs in the top of the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied to pull off an 8-7 win over the defending champs.

After Arrieta surrendered three runs in 5.2 innings and departed with the Cubs up 6-3, Brian Duensing and Pedro Strop were lit up in the seventh with the big blow a three-run homer off the bat of Andrew McCutchen on a 2-2 Strop slider.

Strop has now allowed eight baserunners, four runs and two homers in his four innings on the 2017 season, so are the Cubs concerned?

"Honestly, I'm not," Joe Maddon said. "He looks normal to me. He's got great stuff. He deosn't have good stuff. He's gonna be fine. He's gonna work through it. He'll get through it on the other side and that slider's gonna be where it's supposed to be.

"I'm OK, honestly, with the slider being hit for a home run there as opposed to a fastball. That's his pitch in that moment. He just got it in a bad spot and give McCutchen credit. I like the choice of pitch, the execution wasn't there."

The Cubs offense also sputtered late after jumping out to a big lead early on with four runs in the first and two in the third.

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Kris Bryant hit the scoreboard on a two-run shot in the first inning and Addison Russell drove in three with a triple and a double. 

But the Cubs' bats went silent from there until Bryant's shot into the basket in left-center with one out in the ninth inning.

The Pirates started off the game flat with a crucial error, passed ball and misplays in the outfield but they turned things around to win their second straight against the Cubs.

This is the first series of the 2017 season the Cubs have dropped. The finale comes Sunday afternoon with Jon Lester pitted against Jameson Taillon.

Cubs reportedly interested in Troy Tulowitzki

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USA TODAY

Cubs reportedly interested in Troy Tulowitzki

According to MLB Insider Jon Heyman, the Cubs are one of the teams interested in free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The 5-time All-Star will be holding a workout soon, with Chicago being one of the six teams reported to have a scout present at his workout.

Heyman did mention that while the Cubs aren’t necessarily the favorites right now, we will know how good of a chance they will have soon. Tulowitzki and his team are reported to be narrowing down their list to (at least) 6 teams.

Last season Tulowitzki played 66 games for the Blue Jays, batting .249 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI. For his career he is a .290 hitter and is looking for a bounce-back season after dealing with complications from bone spur injuries in both heels over the years.

Toronto has to pay the $38 million left on Tulowitzki's contract, freeing up other teams to sign the veteran to a more reasonable deal. Since the Blue Jays went the route of cutting him, teams can offer Tulowitzki a league minimum salary.

For the Cubs, he represents-however small-a chance to extract great value from a veteran player, which would be a big bonus considering how the Yu Darvish signing backfired in year one.

Tulowitzki is likely to be searching for playing time on a legit title contender, so if he can provide any solid offensive production going forward, he and the Cubs could be a solid match.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Winter Meetings recap

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Winter Meetings recap

When nothing happens in Vegas, it stays in Vegas. Luke, Kap and Tony talk about the Cubs lack of moves during the Winter Meetings.

In this episode of the Cubs Talk Podcast with Luke Stuckmeyer, David Kaplan and Tony Andracki:

00:10 - What happen in Vegas stays in Vegas and this year that means nothing. Luke, Kap & Tony talk Cubs lack of moves at Winter Meetings.

00:50 - Where the heck is all the money? This was supposed to be a wide-open window - we step on the accelerator.

01:25 - Cubs keep throwing money at the problem (Chatwood, Darvish) and it has become a cautionary tale.

02:50 - Are the Cubs playing at the shallow end of the kiddie pool?

03:50 - Tony talks about the volatility of the relief market.

05:15 - Where is the bullpen market? Brewers are making moves, but it's still "crickets" for the Cubs.

06:20 - Tony: Other than bullpen - Cubs have to address backup middle infielder most of all.

06:57 - Daniel Descalso rumors. Kap describes him as a grinder who fits the leadership mold.

07:47 - Luke is a little worried about Steve Cishek. He threw a career-high 70 innings last season.

09:34 - The guys talk about the possibility of a "second deadline" for the Winter Meetings to force clubs to make more moves.

11:06 - Luke: "I wanted to see Machado and Harper walking down the strip and making it rain!"

12:45 - Cubs still have so much to address. Some Cubs fans are starting to get a little itchy. Teams in the division are making moves. What about us?

14:45 - Question: Is Anthony Rizzo the third-best 1st baseman in the Central Division?

15:50 - Prediction time: What's biggest move the Cubs will make before opening day? Kap believes that Ian Happ will not be a Cub before the regular season starts.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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