And then there was one representing the Chicago Cubs next week in Seattle.
Shortstop Dansby Swanson decided Friday to pull out of the All-Star Game as he continues to deal with a bruised left heel. Swanson, one of three Cubs All-Stars, joins Marcus Stroman on the sideline for the Midsummer Classic after the right-hander announced Thursday he won’t pitch in the game and is unsure if he will travel to Seattle for the festivities.
First-time All-Star Justin Steele won’t start during the Cubs’ final pre-break series at Yankee Stadium, setting up the lefty to pitch in Tuesday’s game. The Cubs took the opener of the three-game series 3-0 behind Jameson Taillon’s eight innings of one-hit ball.
Major League Baseball announced Friday night that Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Geraldo Perdomo will replace Swanson on the National League roster.
Swanson sustained the injury when his foot hit first base as he tried to beat out a double-play ball in the fifth inning Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers. He did not finish the game and has not been in the lineup the last two games.
Manager David Ross called Swanson a “game-time decision” for his availability off the bench Friday, adding Swanson’s heel has been getting better each day. However, Ross didn’t rule out a trip to the injured list.
Asked whether there is consideration to put Swanson on the IL, Ross replied, “Sure, sure.”
Without Swanson, the Cubs lose one of the best all-around shortstops in the majors this year. His 2.9 WAR, per FanGraphs, ranks 18th in the majors and ninth in the NL thanks to superb defense and offensive production that includes a .343 on-base percentage and 108 weighted runs created plus (wRC+).
Only Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco and Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim own a higher Def metric, which measures a player’s defensive value relative to the league average, than Swanson’s 11.1.
“He’s been great for us,” Ross said. “Super thankful about how we’re getting that type of player, the way he works, the example he sets, the way he’s wired. He’s the kind of player, leader, organizational staple that’s very important for us, not only this year but moving forward.”
The three-game series in New York — where the Cubs never had beaten the Yankees before Friday — needs to be a momentum builder heading into the All-Star break as the calendar moves closer to the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
Taillon’s performance set the tone. He hadn’t pitched past the sixth inning in any of his 14 starts entering Friday.
The lone hit off Taillon, who spent the last two years with the Yankees, came two batters into the game on Gleybar Torres’ single. Otherwise, Taillon’s fastball-sweeping slider combination and aggressiveness around the strike zone limited the Yankees’ effectiveness.
“I don’t know if Cubs fans truly know exactly what I’m about yet when I’m good or when I’m right,” Taillon said. “But, yeah, I mean, I’ve been putting in the work and it’s nice to see it come to fruition. Hopefully we can just keep knocking them out.
“This isn’t something to, like, jump for joy about. It’s definitely a nice night. But I’ll take my notes and then remember what I did well tonight and carry that over to the second half.
“I just needed an outing like this, period. I have a lot of love for those guys over there. So it’s not like I wanted to stick it to them. This wasn’t like any sort of revenge game or anything like that.”
Already one of the top 10 in the majors, the Cubs rotation can be even better if it can get more starts from Taillon like his outing Friday. A lot of his success relies on the pitch characteristics of his four-seam fastball. Taillon has been working to make his fastball less horizontal and to utilize the “cut-ride” of the pitch.
“That makes me a little more unique,” Taillon said. “Hitters don’t see that profile quite as much, so we’ve just been embracing that. I feel like tonight I had a good feel of my good four-seamer and my bad four-seam. When I threw a bad one, I could adjust and get the good one back.”
A locked-in Cody Bellinger could provide the type of middle-of-the-order power bat versus right-handers the Cubs have lacked too often from the left side of the plate. Bellinger appears to be in a groove. After a 4-for-4 game Thursday in Milwaukee, which included a double and a home run, he went deep in his first at-bat against Yankees lefty Carlos Rodón to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the third.
With his two-hit night in Friday’s win, Bellinger is 21-for-42 with a .500 OBP in his last 11 games.
“We’ve missed that, right?” Ross said before Friday’s game. “Him back finding his timing (Thursday) was a really good indicator. And he’s been a winning player, like he’s finding ways to get on base. He’s finding a way to come through in moments when he hasn’t found his timing there.
“He looked really sexy yesterday with those swings. Nice to see the ball come off the bat really hot. Hopefully that’s something he can build upon right here this last series.”
Source: Berkshire mont