Cubs receive more good news on injury front with Darvish, Edwards

Cubs receive more good news on injury front with Darvish, Edwards

ST. LOUIS — It was a day of good news and bad news for the Cubs on the health status of their injured pitchers.

First, the bad news: Top prospect Adbert Alzolay has been ruled out for the remainder of the season due to a lat injury.

Now, the good news: Both Carl Edwards Jr. and Yu Darvish threw again Friday with good results and could be back with the club before the All-Star Break.

Darvish threw another bullpen Friday in St. Louis after tossing a bullpen in front of Cubs personnel Tuesday in Milwaukee

"It went well," Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said Friday. "You don't want to put too much import on every single bullpen session. But I think he continues to feel good and we continue to move in the right direction."

Darvish (triceps) last pitched May 20 when he allowed only 1 run on 2 hits and 3 walks in 6 innings in Cincinnati to pick up his first win in a Cubs uniform.

He also missed nearly two weeks earlier in May with the flu.

The Cubs will continue to let Darvish ramp it up in bullpens for now, increasing the number of pitches. He will eventually go on a rehab assignment and could join the rotation sometime in the next month if all goes well.

Edwards (shoulder) — who last pitched May 26 — threw off flat ground Friday, the third time he's done so. He has yet to throw off a mound and he admitted he'll need some time to get back up to full strength.

He is pain-free and feels fine right now, but is OK with the Cubs' plan to be cautious so the shoulder injury doesn't get "bigger than what it is."

Edwards is also shooting for a return to Chicago before the All-Star Break.

"The important thing with both these guys is that we get 'em healthy and we get 'em right because we're hoping to play for seven months and we want to make sure there are no setbacks," Hoyer said. "In both cases, we're trying to be as cautious as possible and use the time to make sure we get these guys really to 100 percent."

The Cubs are taking the long view with both pitchers, hoping they'll be rested and healthy without much mileage on their arms for the stretch run in September and what they hope is another deep run into October.

For right now, there's not a major need for either guy as the Cubs bullpen has been fantastic even without their top setup man (Edwards) while Mike Montgomery has emerged as the Cubs' best starter over the last three weeks.

Javy Baez should be the frontrunner for NL MVP heading into the All-Star Break

Javy Baez should be the frontrunner for NL MVP heading into the All-Star Break

If the season ended today, Javy Baez may be your National League MVP.

Of course, the season isn't ending today, only the first half of the 2018 campaign is.

He flashed his skills again over the weekend — scoring the game-winning run Friday, posting a 5-RBI game Saturday and then drove in the Cubs' first run in their 7-4 victory Sunday to close out a sweep of the Padres.

Entering the All-Star Break, Baez should be the frontrunner for Most Valuable Player.

For starters, he's the best player on the best team in the league.

Thanks to a recent hot surge by the Cubs and an ugly weekend for the Brewers (who have lost 6 straight), Baez and Co. will go into the break with the best record in the NL. 

Baez, meanwhile, leads the Cubs in WAR and nearly every offensive category — OPS, slugging percentage, homers, RBI, runs scored, doubles, triples, total bases, stolen bases and hits.

And that's not even saying anything about his glovework at any position on the infield or dynamic baserunning.

He's on pace to become the first Cubs player to drive in 125 runs since Sammy Sosa in 2001.

Baez also is on track for a 30-30 season — something only Sosa accomplished in a Cubs uniform in 1993 and 1995. 

El Mago will enjoy his week in the Home Run Derby and as the NL's starting second baseman in the All-Star Game, but those shouldn't be the end of his accolades this year if he can find a way to keep this pace up in the second half.

What other NL candidate would be a better choice for the MVP right now?

Baez is tied for the league lead in RBI. Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar is just behind Baez with 70 RBI, but he also has 70 fewer at-bats than the Cubs star due to a platoon to begin the year. 

Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett are also having great years, but the Reds are nowhere close to a playoff spot. 

Nolan Arenado, Freddie Freeman and Paul Goldschmidt are also having very good seasons on teams that are currently in the playoff hunt, but how do you deny the best player on the league's best team?

After all, where would the Cubs be without Baez this season? 

Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have battled through injuries and bouts of ineffectiveness, the pitching staff has had all kinds of consistency/health woes and Willson Contreras has yet to find his power stroke at the plate.

At the very least, "El Mago" has been the most important player on the North Side of Chicago during the first 3.5 months of 2018.

Nico Hoerner makes great catch in first game with South Bend

Nico Hoerner makes great catch in first game with South Bend

Cubs first-round pick Nico Hoerner made his debut with the Class-A South Bend Cubs, and he did not disappoint.

The 23-year old shortstop showed off impressive hops during an acrobatic grab in the topf of the second inning in his first game with the South Bend Cubs. Hoerner will surely be an exciting defensive prospect with ability like this.

As far as offense goes, through four at-bats at South Bend, Hoerner is batting .500, and this comes after he hit .318 with a home run and two RBI through seven games with the Eugene Emeralds, the Cubs Class A short-season affiliate.

Here is to hoping we continue to see big-time plays from Hoerner.