NL Notes: Zobrist, Sierra, Inciarte

The Cubs have, amazingly, lost five consecutive one-run decisions after another gut-wrenching loss to the Cardinals this afternoon. While much of the conversation regarding the end of their season will focus on this incremental collapse, the Cubs final games are also significant in that they may mark the last occasions on which Ben Zobrist will suit up for the team. A star of the club’s curse-breaking 2016 World Series team, Zobrist spoke at length with The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma about what may be his last days in Cubbie blue–and about the struggles his team has faced in 2019 (link).

“I think so much of it has to do with momentum,” Zobrist told Sharma. “I’m a big believer in momentum. If you get it early in the season, you can be 10 games up at the All-Star break. When I look at every year, there’s this ebb and flow. It just seems like no matter how good the team is, if you don’t start out fast like that, and kind of push ahead in the division early on, it’s hard to keep that momentum and get to a point where you clinch on Sept. 15.”

The Cubs began this year 2-7 and were without the help of the 38-year-old Zobrist for a sizable chunk of the season as he tended to family matters. Since returning to action on Sept. 3, the versatile former Ray has hit .320/.404/.460 across 57 plate appearances–production which should, if nothing else, entice rival front offices considering him for a contract next season.

More notes from around the National League…

  • Outfielder Magneuris Sierra had been in the midst of his first extended success in a Marlins uniform, but it appears that a hamstring strain suffered in today’s game will cut his campaign a bit short, according to a tweet from Wells Dusenbury of the Sun-Sentinel (link). The 23-year-old Sierra, who a lifetime ago was a key component of the Marcell Ozuna trade, did some nice things in 14 September games for Miami, with a .324 batting average across a small sample of 38 plate appearances. That came on the heels of an uneven 2019 minor league campaign, in which he amassed a .282/.337/.365 line in 48 Double-A games before Triple-A exposure mellowed him out a bit (.271/.304/.399 line in 81 games). He did log 36 steals across three levels this year, which should aid him in trying to crack Miami’s outfield mix in 2020.
  • Braves outfielder Ender Inciarte was previously said to be expected back this Tuesday, but the veteran may instead return this Friday, per Mark Bowman of MLB.com (link). It’s fair to wonder if the Braves are feeling a little less urgency now that they’ve clinched the NL East, but Inciarte will nonetheless be a welcome component of Atlanta’s postseason roster. Inciarte, who has been downed with a bad hammy since August, has only logged a -1 DRS figure in 63 games on the grass this year–a far cry from the +17 DRS he recorded for the Braves last year. Speedster Billy Hamilton, Inciarte’s replacement as of late, is 8-for-29 at the plate for Atlanta this year.