Bears

Randy Wells accepts all the blame for loss to Phillies

748555.png

Randy Wells accepts all the blame for loss to Phillies

PHILADELPHIA Randy Wells snapped his head back in frustration as he watched the ball bounce off the chalk into the right-field corner.

This is a guy who has lived almost his entire professional career on the margins, a 38th-round pick, converted from catcher, the sixth starter in a five-man rotation.

Wells wanted to make a good impression on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park, to give the Cubs something to think about while they make their decisions.

Beneath a steady rain, it all unraveled in the fourth inning of a 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies that didnt help change the perception of Wells.

Wells had a no-hitter going until Hunter Pence led off with a double down the left-field line. He walked two batters to load the bases for Carlos Ruiz, who lined a two-run single past diving shortstop Starlin Castro.

Wells got too fine, lost control of his changeup and kept the inning alive by walking the pitcher, Joe Blanton. Moments later, Jimmy Rollins sliced that two-out, two-run double that nicked the right-field line.

Obviously, the walk to the pitcher is just unacceptable, Wells said, and it makes me want to throw up.

If that ball goes foul, well, who knows what might have happened.

But Wells has to get by on command and he hasnt looked especially sharp in these two spot starts since being called up from Triple-A Iowa. Hes been out of character, walking nine in 8 23 innings.

Its mind-boggling, Wells said. You can watch the game or watch the tape and see its obviously a mechanical thing. Runners get on and the tension gets high and you kind of rush and speed up and just start burying them. Theyre not even close. You got to make pitches when your back is against the wall and I just didnt do it.

Its atrocious and unacceptable and I feel like I let myself and the team down. Its just really piss-poor.

That ended the night for Wells (0-1, 6.23 ERA), who gave up four runs in 3 23 innings and has no clue what the Cubs are going to do next.

Im not going to talk about that, dude, he said. Its out of my control.

Manager Dale Sveum said it looks like everythings on track for Ryan Dempster (strained right quad) to come off the disabled list and start on Thursday in Cincinnati.

Thats when the Cubs hope Kerry Wood (right shoulder fatigue) will be activated and rejoin the bullpen, though it depends on how he responds in Mondays simulated game.

That again leaves Wells up in the air, perhaps looking at a spot as the long man in the bullpen.

Well cross that bridge when we get to it on Thursday and see where were at, Sveum said. Hes definitely in the mix for that spot.

At this point, the Cubs (7-14) arent giving their pitchers any real margin for error. They couldnt generate much offense against Blanton, who allowed two runs in 7 13 innings.

The Phillies (10-11) have struggled to score runs and welcomed the help with franchise players Ryan Howard and Chase Utley on the disabled list.

It had to be deeply disappointing for Wells, who wants to prove the doubters wrong and get his career back on track.

I dont know if we sent him down to work on his command, Sveum said. It was more of just a numbers thing as much as anything. But we got to pitch in the strike zone or youre not going to have much success at this level.

NFC North: What Bears fans should be watching in Week 3

NFC North: What Bears fans should be watching in Week 3

Chicago Bears fans will get to enjoy a stress-free Sunday in Week 3 with the Bears playing Monday night against the Redskins. They'll have an opportunity to do a little advanced scouting of the NFC North, too, with all three division rivals in action Sunday afternoon in games that, unfortunately, may not present the biggest challenge.

The Packers (2-0) face an opponent familiar to the Bears when they welcome the Broncos to Lambeau Field. Green Bay is a heavy favorite (7.5 points) and based on what Denver revealed in Week 2, Aaron Rodgers should be more than capable of scoring enough points to give the Packers' top-tier defense enough of a cushion to beat up on Joe Flacco and the very average Broncos offense. 

The Vikings (1-1) have arguably the easiest game in Week 3 against the Raiders (1-1) at home. Oakland was one of Week 1's surprise winners over the Broncos, but they came back to earth a bit in Week 2's loss to the Chiefs. Expect a rebound performance from Kirk Cousins and the rest of Minnesota's offense. The Vikings are the biggest NFC North favorites of the week; they're projected to win by nine points or more.

The Lions (1-0-1) have the most challenging game of the three as they'll travel to Philadelphia to face the 1-1 Eagles. Detroit was an upset-winner over the Chargers in Week 2 and very easily could be 2-0 had they held onto their lead in Week 1 against the Cardinals, but they simply aren't talented enough to expect much of a fight against Philadelphia, one of the NFC's Super Bowl favorites. The line is pretty close, however. The Eagles are only favored by 4.5 (at home). 

How many yards will Mitch Trubisky throw for vs. Washington?

How many yards will Mitch Trubisky throw for vs. Washington?

The 2019 NFL season is still very young with only two weeks in its rear-view mirror, but the talking points surrounding Chicago Bears QB Mitch Trubisky are starting to get really old. He's been the subject of relentless criticism because of the offense's slow start and while some concerns regarding his development have merit, most of them are the product of impatience.

For example, the lazy suggestion that Trubisky is a bust because his 2017 NFL draft classmates Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson, both of whom he was drafted ahead of, are already league superstars is just wrong. Players evolve and develop at different speeds. Trubisky is the only one of the three on his second head coach and is only just now beginning to develop timing with his receivers, all of whom were added to the team via free agency or the draft last season. Neither Watson nor Mahomes have had nearly as much turbulence and turnover as Trubisky through three seasons. And that matters.

It also matters who a quarterback faces from week to week. Trubisky's 2019 season started against two of the NFL's better defenses in Green Bay and Denver, so his poor stat line is a combination of his below-average play meeting above-average defenses. It's tough for a young quarterback to get out of a slump when he's battling top-tier pass rushers and quality secondaries along the way.

Fortunately, he'll get his first big opportunity to put up quality stats against the Redskins Monday night; Washington is one of the NFL's worst defenses right now, including against the pass.

But Bears fans are still somewhat skeptical about Trubisky's ceiling in Week 3. A matchup like this should make a 300-yard game within his reach. Maybe even a couple of touchdowns. But according to a recent poll I ran on Twitter, Bears fans don't see it coming out that way.

The majority of fans (36%) think Trubisky will end the game with somewhere between 200-249 yards, which by today's NFL standards is very (very!) average. If you factor the 29% who think he won't even reach 200 yards, you end up with 65% of Bears fans thinking Trubisky won't reach 250 yards and, in theory, could struggle to even hit the 200-yard mark.

That's pretty surprising, considering the numbers the Redskins have given up in Weeks 1 and 2. Carson Wentz threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1 against and Dak Prescott sliced them up for 269 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. There's no reason to think Trubisky can't have a game similar to Prescott's, assuming Matt Nagy dials up the right plays to put him in position to succeed.