Hot-hitting Rivas deserves a spot in Cubs' starting lineup
The Cubs are reeling.
Not quite as badly as the White Sox (seven straight defeats), Bulls (on the brink of elimination after 2 embarrassing losses), Blackhawks (3-10-2 last 15) or Bears (are you guys ever going to add a bona fide wide receiver?).
It's not that bad for the North Siders.
But it's close.
The Cubs were 5-3 after beating Tampa Bay April 18 at Wrigley Field, but have dropped five of six since, getting just 15 runs in those 5 setbacks. The lone victory was Saturday's 21-0 blasting of Pittsburgh.
Now comes a daunting stretch that begins Tuesday in Atlanta, with the struggling Marcus Stroman (12 earned runs allowed last 8-plus inning) starting on the mound. After the series against the Braves come three games at Milwaukee (9-3 last 12), two at home against the White Sox, three at home against the Dodgers (11-4) and three at San Diego (10-7).
If the Cubs (7-9) aren't careful they could easily be something like 11-19 on May 11.
The good news for the Cubs is they should be getting left-handed pitcher Wade Miley back in 2-3 weeks. Righty Alec Mills and shortstop Andrelton Simmons are also on the mend.
In the meantime, let's play armchair manager and make a few suggestions to David Ross.
• No. 1 -- start Alfonso Rivas the next 3 or 4 games and see how he does with consistent at-bats. Rivas, whom the Cubs acquired from Oakland Jan. 13, 2020, is absolutely ripping the ball and deserves a longer look.
"Just a guy who's always hit, always been consistent, very consistent personality, great defender and someone I believe in a lot," said Nico Hoerner after Rivas went 3-for-5 with 5 RBI Saturday.
Ross should start believing more too. Pull Rafael Ortega (8-for-39) out of the leadoff spot and give Rivas (6-for-12) a shot.
• With Justin Steele (9 runs the last 10 innings) struggling it's time to put Keegan Thompson in the starting rotation.
Ross doesn't want to do this because of how important a long reliever is in today's game. And, no doubt, Thompson has been sensational in that role as he's allowed zero runs in 13⅔ innings.
But Thompson's stuff is too electric right now to be coming out of the pen. Put him in the rotation, where he can go 5 to 7 innings. This gives you a better chance to win and it builds his confidence to the point where maybe he becomes the ace of your staff.
• The decision to sit Nico Hoerner against Pittsburgh on Sunday was a baffling one. While Ross wants to give everyone a break now and then, you can't sit a guy who has gone 7-for-9 the previous two days.
When somebody's that hot you have to give him the chance to build on that momentum.