Cubs' Bryant, Heyward leading All-Star Game vote-getters

Cubs' Bryant, Heyward leading All-Star Game vote-getters

Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward are both on track to represent the Cubs as All-Star Game starters next month.

In the latest voting returns, the MLB announced that Bryant and Heyward are the leading vote-getters at their respective positions.

Bryant, the reigning NL MVP, leads the Rockies' Nolan Arenado by more than 280,000 votes. Bryant is batting .268 with 12 homers and 24 RBIs this season.

Heyward is third among outfielders, trailing MVP favorite Bryce Harper and Colorado's Charlie Blackmon. Nipping at Heyward's heels in the voting is his teammate, Ben Zobrist, who is less than 26,000 votes away from Heyward. Heyward has bounced back in his second season with the Cubs, batting .258 with five homers and 23 RBIs in 42 games.

A handful of other Cubs popped up on the positional leaderboards. Anthony Rizzo slipped to No. 2 at first base behind Ryan Zimmerman, though he trails by a mere 13,000 votes. Willson Contreras (catcher) and Javy Baez (second base) are second at their positions, while Addison Russell is third in votes among shortstops.

Kyle Schwarber's grand slam on Saturday did him some good, as he's moved to No. 6 in the outfield.

Voting for the All-Star Game ends June 29.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 49th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 49th homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa's 49th homer of the season came with a runner on 1st and one out, when Oriel Hershiser served up a high fastball that Sammy belted 415 feet into the last few rows in left-center field. 

Sosa would later start the game-winning rally in the bottom of the ninth, scoring the game-tying run on a Henry Rodriguez single through the right side of the infield. Jose Hernandez would step in the next at-bat and walk it off with a base hit that scored Mark Grace, as Sammy and the Cubs bested the Giants 6-5. 

Fun Fact: A 33-year-old Barry Bonds would hit home run No. 25, finishing the season with 37 homers. He would finish the next season with 34 dingers but would string five consecutive seasons with at least 45 home runs, of course hitting a record 73 home runs in 2001. 

Yu Darvish suffering another setback puts his 2018 season in jeopardy

Yu Darvish suffering another setback puts his 2018 season in jeopardy

Yu have to be kidding me (Sorry, couldn't resist). 

The Cubs were expecting Sunday's rehab start to be the beginning to an end of what has been an extremely disappointing 2018 season for their $126 million man Yu Darvish. Darvish was scheduled to start Sunday for the Cubs single-A affiliate in South Bend, IN, but after just one inning Darvish was checked on by the trainers and eventually pulled before the 2nd inning started. 

According to Steve Greenberg, Darvish asked for an MRI on Monday which likely closes the door on him returning to the Cubs in 2018.

The frustrating thing about Darvish's rehab is that in his two rehab starts, the 32-year-old pitcher has had excellent stuff, touching 95 mph in Sunday afternoon's game before being pulled. 

At this point in the season, it seems unlikely Darvish will be able to return to the Cubs rotation for the regular season. And it would be incredibly risky to roll with Darvish in the playoffs, who even when healthy hasn't shown he's deserving of a postseason roster spot. The Cubs do have options at starter in the minors like Duane Underwood or James Norwood, and despite his shortcomings, Tyler Chatwood is an option out of necessity now.  

Drew Smyly, who looked like a possibility as a late-season addition, is still not quite ready to come back and be an effective rotation piece at the moment. And with Mike Montgomery heading to the disabled list earlier this week, the Cubs were hopeful Darvish would be healthy by the time rosters expand in September. 

Luckily, Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, and Kyle Hendricks have all looked stellar recently and hopefully can continue their success on the mound as the Cubs continue to fight past injuries to maintain their grasp on the NL Central. 

But Theo Epstein said himself last week that if Darvish didn't perform well during his rehab stint, that was essentially his 2018 season. Don't expect to see Darvish returning to the mound until 2019, Cubs fans.