Cubs

Joe Maddon sees good things coming for slumping Anthony Rizzo

Joe Maddon sees good things coming for slumping Anthony Rizzo

The Cubs have won four of the six postseason games they've played despite very little production from their three and five hitters.

After an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers Saturday night, Anthony Rizzo is now just 1-for-23 in the playoffs (.043 AVG) with a .197 OPS. 

He drew a four-pitch walk against Clayton Kershaw, but other than that, all of Rizzo's production has come in one game - two walks and a single in the Game 4 comeback victory against the San Francico Giants in the NLDS. He was a key to that ninth inning rally, drawing a walk after Kris Bryant led off the inning with a single. 

Addison Russell hasn't fared any better - only 1-for-22 with a hit-by-pitch - while hitting in the five-hole. 

But while Russell had a fine regular season (21 homers, 95 RBI), he's still only 22 and in just his second big-league campaign. 

Rizzo, meanwhile, posted a .928 OPS during the regular season and is probably Bryant's main competition the NL MVP voting.

Joe Maddon sees good things coming for Rizzo.

"It's always going to be described as pressing, whatever, but I think he's fouling his pitch off. Classic," Maddon said before Sunday's Game 2. "The pitch that he likes is going straight back. It's not contacted going forward. 

"And then beyond that, he might be chasing a little bit outside of the zone. Those are like the classic indicators. I can't tell you there's anything wrong with his mechanics. I just think everybody goes through these particular moments."

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Rizzo nearly homered off Kershaw Sunday night, yanking a pitch just a few feet to the side of the right-field foul pole.

"Yeah, today I felt a lot better," he said. "Just missed pitches that felt like I was there. One pitch, one at-bat kinda locks you in and that's how I felt tonight. Just didn't come up with results."

Rizzo insists he's not pressing or putting more pressure on himself to perform, taking solace in how he's endured through slumps in the past.

"I can't. I don't think it's fair to everyone if I try to get six, seven hits at one time," he said. "I've done that before in my career and it doesn't work. You just go about the process and keep grinding and keep battling."

Regardless of what he's done at the plate, Rizzo has been a steadying presence in the field, making a diving stop early in Game 1 against the Dodgers and then ending the contest by snaring a line drive and doubling up a runner off second base.

At the end of the day, the Cubs got through the NLDS with the Giants completely shutting down Rizzo and head into L.A. with a 1-1 tie in the NLCS.

At some point, Rizzo will get going and the Cubs are operating under that mindset.

"The fact that we're able to fight through him not being normal at the plate right now is good belief for us, but I really anticipate you're going to see that in the near future," Maddon said. "Nothing different. Again, it's just one of those moments."

Seven Cubs in line to advance to next round of MLB All-Star Game voting

Seven Cubs in line to advance to next round of MLB All-Star Game voting

In the second and final update before the first round of voting closes, the Cubs are still all over All-Star Game voting.

It’s basically status quo in the update. Willson Contreras and Javy Baez are still blowing away the field at their positions, with more than twice as many votes as the closest player.

Kris Bryant remains solidly in second at third base. Anthony Rizzo fell to third behind Freddie Freeman of the Braves, but he is still comfortably ahead of Max Muncy of the Dodgers for the top three spot that will advance him to MLB’s new Starters Election.

All three Cubs outfielders are set to advance as well. Albert Almora Jr. moved up from fifth to fourth and Jason Heyward moved up from seventh to fifth. Interestingly, Bryce Harper is the odd man out, for now, sitting 10th among NL outfielders.

That gives the Cubs seven players set to advance to the Starters Election. Voting for this round closes Friday at 3 p.m. CT. The Starters Election features the top three at each individual position and top nine among outfielders.

 

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Cubs Talk Podcast: It's so good to be with the Director of Morale

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USA Today

Cubs Talk Podcast: It's so good to be with the Director of Morale

Luke Stuckmeyer and producer Eric Strobel welcome Frederic, aka the Cubs' unofficial Director of Morale. Fred takes us through the origins and growth of his fandom and social media persona (1:30), before discussing how Jake Arrieta's dominance announced the Cubs as contenders (7:30) and the now-ubiquitous hard hats in the bleachers (16:00). Finally, Fred and the guys talk about this year's team, including the lack of strikeout stuff on the pitching staff (22:30) and the unicorn that is Javy Baez (30:00). 

You can listen to the entire thing right here or in the embedded player below: