Kansas City Royals

Cubs trade for speedy outfielder Terrance Gore

Cubs trade for speedy outfielder Terrance Gore

The Cubs made a move Wednesday morning with the Royals to acquire elite base-stealer OF Terrance Gore for cash considerations, adding a potential speed threat for the postseason. 

The 27-year-old Gore wasn't on the Royals 40-man roster and will report to Triple-A Iowa, but could end up carving a role with the Cubs once the rosters expand in September. Gore is a four-year veteran who has yet to register a hit but has managed to swipe 21 out of 25 potential stolen bases during his four years in Kansas City. 

Our own Tony Andracki compared the Gore deal to the Red Sox acquiring Dave Roberts, who played a similar role for Boston on their 2004 Championship team. For what it's worth, Gore has played in 8 total postseason games, stealing 4 bases and only being caught once. 

And the trade for Gore has the Cubs receiving plenty of nods in approval from the baseball community, including The Athletics' Jim Bowden. 

Gore will have to show he can provide more than just speed on the basepaths to be added to the postseason roster, but with the Cubs ranking in the bottom portion of team stolen bases, adding Gore does provide game-changing speed - a valuable asset late in a playoff game. 

The Cubs offense continues to falter in clutch moments

The Cubs offense continues to falter in clutch moments

The Cubs offense has lacked any true consistency all season, but with the division race beginning to tighten up and the team's track record in the second, the thought was the Cubs would start to pull away at this point. However, with Wednesday night's 9-0 stinker, the Cubs' NL Central lead will fall back to just 1.5 games over the Brewers. 

Through the Cubs last four series, the team has only managed to score 47 runs, an average of 3.91 runs per game compared to the 4.95 runs per game they've been averaging on the season thus far.

Outside of Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, and recently David Bote, the Cubs offense has plenty of cold bats in their lineup. And when you factor in their best player in Kris Bryant hasn't swung a bat since before heading to the disabled list on July 26th, the Cubs need to get back on track before it's too late. 

But the strangest thing about the Cubs offense is they still lead the league in on-base percentage, are a top-five team in runs scored and RBI (lead the NL in both categories), are 2nd in the league batting average as well as walks, and lead the league in fWAR at 23.5. On paper, this Cubs offense should be one of the best in baseball and are currently the best in the National League but they still continue to have nights where nobody can do anything at the plate. 

Fangraph's "Clutch" stat, which measures how a team performs in high-leverage situations, for example hitting with runners in scoring position with two outs. And despite the Cubs being above average in offensive win probability, the Cubs are one of the worst teams in the clutch at 3.27 points below the league average. And while there are issues with determining and quantifying what clutch exactly means, it does help provide context to the Cubs issues. 

The Cubs have raised their batting average with runners in scoring position to .248 on the season, but it's still not much better than their season-low of .292. Simply, the Cubs offense will get better. The group is currently been in a funk over these last 12 games, but these Cubs are battle-tested and know what it takes to compete for a division title - winning the last two NL Central crowns.

And with the Cubs offense still among the league leaders in most statistical categories, it's safe to assume this group is only a game away from breaking out of this slump. The issue is whether they can get back on track to position themselves well-enough for a deep postseason run. 

The North Siders need to take advantage of this homestand against the Nationals and Brewers, meaning the offense needs to show up, and prove it's the group that's leading the league in fWAR. 

 

Cubs cautiously optimistic Ben Zobrist won't have to miss much time with hip injury amid resurgent season

Cubs cautiously optimistic Ben Zobrist won't have to miss much time with hip injury amid resurgent season

The Cubs got the win against the Royals as Mike Montgomery threw six-scoreless innings and Cubs blank the Royals 5-0. But the team lost arguably their most valuable hitter not named Javier Baez in Ben Zobrist, as he left Tuesday night's game with reportedly left hip tightness. 

Joe Maddon downplayed the situation, but if Zobrist has to miss any serious time the Cubs may be in some real trouble. Zobrist and his resurgent 2018 season have been one of the biggest reasons the Cubs have been able to overcome a slow start to Anthony Rizzo and multiple DL stints for Kris Bryant. 

Zobrist was off to another productive night going 1-2 with an RBI sac fly, a walk, and a run scored while batting third for the Cubs Tuesday night before being pulled. He raised his batting average to .313, which leads the club, further proving just how essential Zobrist is to this Cubs offense that can't seem to find consistency this season. 

Especially when you factor in the rough stretch Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Albert Almora are currently going through, batting a combined .177 since the All-Star break. Zobrist was helping pick up the slack from a missing Bryant as well as the struggling bats on the roster, not to mention he's also one of the Cubs most patient hitters, as evident in Tuesday nights game. 

Prior to Tuesday's game, Zobrist was slashing .311/.395/.462 while walking in 12.3% of his at-bats, and the Cubs don't have any clear candidates to replace his production. Luckily, the hot-hitting David Bote came through Tuesday with a 3-RBI night, and while he has played 30 games it's hard he'll continue to stay this hot for the rest of the season. 

The other issue is hip injuries tend to linger, and even if Zobrist is able to play through the injury the 37-year-old showed last year that playing hurt isn't something the Cubs want to see. For now, the Cubs will just have to hope Zobrist will be fine because without him the Cubs are in real trouble of outlasting the Brewers for the National League Central crown.