Cubs

Kris Bryant tracker: The wait is over

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Kris Bryant tracker: The wait is over

Kris Bryant Watch is officially over.

The top prospect in baseball is expected to be called up to The Show on Friday, according to CSN Cubs Insider Patrick Mooney.

Here's a rundown of Bryant's minor league action this season:

Thursday, April 16 - Iowa Cubs @ New Orleans Zephyrs

Bryant's only hit of the day was a three-run homer that could be the last of his minor league career with the I-Cubs. It was his third home run of the season, which occurred in the 6th inning. Bryant played third base and went 1-for-4, scoring a run and fanning once.

The I-Cubs won the game, 10-7, earning their fourth win of the season.

Wednesday, April 15 - Iowa Cubs @ New Orleans Zephyrs

After a rainout Tuesday, Bryant and the I-Cubs picked up play again with an early game Wednesday, in which Bryant went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. He was also hit by a pitch and struck out twice as Iowa lost 3-2 in extra innings.

Bryant is now hitting .333 on the season with a 1.004 OPS, two homers, seven RBI and two stolen bases in six games.

Monday, April 13 - Iowa Cubs @ New Orleans Zephyrs

Bryant didn't homer Monday, but he did collect three hits - all singles - in helping the I-Cubs to a 4-1 victory. Bryant didn't score or drive in a run (the bottom of the order did all the damage) and stole his second base of the season. He also made two throwing errors at third base.

Sunday, April 12 - Iowa Cubs @ Memphis Redbirds

Bryant went deep again Sunday, crushing a two-run homer in the seventh to spark Iowa to a 7-2 victory. He also hit a sacrifice fly in the game and finished 1-for-4 with three RBI. Bryant hit third in the lineup, with Addison Russell collecting three hits - including a homer - and two RBI hitting ahead of Bryant.

Saturday, April 11 - Iowa Cubs @ Memphis Redbirds

Bryant broke out of his mini-slump to start the year, going 3-for-4 with a double, his first home run of the year and 3 RBIs.

He added a single and played error-free baseball at third base as the Cubs won 13-0, picking up their first win of the year.

Friday, April 10 - Iowa Cubs @ Memphis Redbirds

Bryant was the cleanup hitter, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He was error-free in nine innings of work at third base.

Iowa finished the game with five hits, losing 8-1.

Thursday, April 9 - Iowa Cubs @ Memphis Redbirds

Bryant hit fourth and went 1-for-4 with a single, an RBI, a run and a stolen base while playing third. He hit behind fellow uber-prospect Russell, who had two hits, a run and an RBI.

Bryant drove in John Andreoli with a two-out single to right and then promptly stole second before Junior Lake's single brought home both Russell and Bryant.

Still, the I-Cubs wound up on the losing end in a 7-4 ballgame.

Cubs map out next steps for closer Craig Kimbrel

Cubs map out next steps for closer Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel is one step closer to joining the Cubs bullpen.

According to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic, Kimbrel will join Triple-A Iowa and make his first appearance on Tuesday, against the Sacramento River Cats.

While the Cubs officially signed him on June 7, Kimbrel has yet to pitch in actual games. The 31-year-old has been in a condensed spring training program at the Cubs' Arizona complex, throwing live batting practice on both Thursday and Saturday.

The Cubs haven't revealed an official timeline for Kimbrel to join the 25-man roster, as they are basing things off of how he feels. The expectation is he will pitch in about five games with Iowa before joining the Cubs. However, both Theo Epstein and Kimbrel acknowledged how the goal isn't to rush the closer back into MLB action.

"We're not gonna rush it," Epstein said. "It's gonna be tempting to get him here as soon as possible, but we're trying to plan this thing the right way so that he could be in a position to succeed not just immediately but in October. That's gonna be our guiding principle as we go."

"We sat down and put a gameplan together — something to work off of," Kimbrel said. "But at the end of the day, it's based off how I recover, how I get ready. This isn't about getting back on the field as fast as I can. This is about being the best that I can be in October and down the stretch and doing what I came here to do for this team."

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Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

There were some added stakes to Saturday night’s Cubs-Dodgers matchup. Darvish made his first start at Dodger Stadium since his infamous Game 7 loss in the 2017 World Series, looking for a great effort in front of a fan base that had their up-and-downs in terms of their relationship with him. He (maybe) took a small jab at the Dodgers before the game had even started, telling the Los Angeles Times that he wasn't worried about being booed because “the Dodgers don't have many fans here in the first three innings, so maybe it will be on the quieter side.”

Well Dodgers faithful certainly got the message and made sure to let Darvish hear it.

However, Darvish got the last laugh on Saturday night. He pitched a stellar seven innings. Over those seven innings, Darvish gave up 1 ER on 2 hits and also notched 10 strikeouts.

Darvish has been hitting his stride as of late, maintaining a 2.96 ERA over his last four starts.

All of that being said, it would be remiss of me not to mention the contributions of Darvish’s teammates. His great outing helped keep the Cubs in the game, but the gutsy performances of Anthony Rizzo and Pedro Strop are what won the contest.

Dodgers All-Star relief pitcher Kenley Jansen had a 10-game scoreless streak coming into Saturday night, but one swing of Rizzo’s bat was all that was needed to restore balance to the everlasting battle of pitcher versus hitter. After Jansen hit Kris Bryant with a pitch to put him on base, Rizzo activated “clutch mode”, mashing a 400-foot bomb out to right field.

Though small, Saturday night’s homer gives Rizzo a three-game hitting streak, perhaps forecasting that things are trending  upwards for the first baseman as the Cubs look to close out the series against the Dodgers with a win on Sunday night. And not to be left out of the fun, Pedro Strop came in to face the Justin Turner, MVP hopeful Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Matt Beaty to nail down the save.

Never afraid of high-pressure moments, Stop came through big time.

Strop got a ground out from Turner, struck out Bellinger and Beaty in his 15-pitch save effort. This was a much-needed win for the Cubs, who have well-documented struggles on the road. As they look to split the four-game set with the Dodgers on Sunday night, the Cubs can be pleased with their fight this week.

Saturday’s win over the Dodgers was the Cubs first win of the season after trailing through six innings, as they were 0-23 in such situations prior to the victory. Amid a season that has been fraught with injury and general roster construction concerns, it was wonderful to see the Cubs pull out a tough win lead by the much-maligned Darvish and the never-quit attitude of his teammates.