KANSAS CITY -- Since the All-Star break, the Cubs' starting rotation had a less than stellar 5.58 ERA entering Monday night's game against the Royals, but manager Joe Maddon isn't concerned about the starters."Everybody has to contribute to this," Maddon said of the Cubs' playoff push. "Of course, we're looking
KANSAS CITY -- Since the All-Star break, the Cubs' starting rotation had a less than stellar 5.58 ERA entering Monday night's game against the Royals, but manager Joe Maddon isn't concerned about the starters.
"Everybody has to contribute to this," Maddon said of the Cubs' playoff push. "Of course, we're looking for more length from the starters. Observationally and conversationally, they're all in good shape. I don't think anybody's been over-extended, the attitude is great. All that stuff is in good order.
"Moving it forward, I think our guys are really good and I want to believe we'll find that magic potion at some point," he said. "Other than we haven't performed as well as we can, I still believe there's a solid chance we will. ... It's about everybody, it's about scoring points, not making fundamental mistakes. It's a group situation and we are a team. As a group, we all have to do our jobs."
As a group, the Cubs headed into Monday with a 9-9 record since the break and have maintained their lead in the National League Central.
Jonathan Lester, who was named to the All-Star team after going 12-2 with a 2.58 ERA in the first half, is 0-4 with an 8.53 ERA in four starts since the break. Maddon said Lester's velocity has been consistent.
"Physically, he looked exactly the same for the first couple innings," Maddon said. "Maybe execution of pitches weren't exactly where he wanted, but I saw a couple 92's and 93's. I'm seeing the same guy and not seeing anything different."
Zobrist fond of KC
Monday was a homecoming of sorts for Benjamin Zobrist, who played for the Royals on their 2015 World Series championship team.
"I love this place," Zobrist said, sitting in the dugout before the series opener at Kauffman Stadium. "There are a lot of fond memories and excitement that we experienced here. It's a special place for me and holds a special place in my heart."
Zobrist saw his first Major League game at the Royals' home ballpark. Another reason is that his wife, Julianna, was carrying their third child, daughter Blaise Royal, and delivered her the day after the championship parade.
"She was along for the ride even though she didn't know it," Zobrist said of his daughter. "My wife basically held her in. It was a nerve-wrecking time for everybody. We wanted her to arrive safely and we wanted to win a World Series."
The Zobrist family was expected at Monday's game, including Blaise, who is now 2 years old.
• Brandon Morrow played catch on Monday and will do the same on Wednesday. He's rehabbing from right biceps inflammation.
• Yu Darvish was scheduled to throw a BP session on Wednesday. He's been out since May because of right triceps tendinitis.
• Kristopher Bryant was to take grounders at third base, but he has yet to pick up a bat. He's been out since July 24 with left shoulder inflammation.
"There's no finish lines attached," Maddon said of the trio.
• Kyle Schwarber was the designated hitter on Monday, but Maddon may take advantage of these games and insert someone else there to give them a semi day off.
"If somebody needs that, I may do that," Maddon said. "I'll interact with them and see if somebody needs it."
• The Cubs were not happy with a called third strike against Anthony Rizzo that ended Sunday's game against the Padres, but Maddon is not a proponent of robot umpires.
"One of the things I was convinced by a veteran umpire is that pitches that appear to be balls will be called strikes," Maddon said. "I think it's a continual process from MLB regarding umpire training. It's no different than what we do with our players and practice. I think that's the one part I would prefer technology not be involved in the game."
• The Cubs named Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach infielder Jared Young and right-handed pitcher Erick Leal the Minor League player and pitcher of the month for July, respectively.
Young, 23, split the month between Class A South Bend and Myrtle Beach, batting a combined .350 with four doubles, four homers and 17 RBIs in 27 games. It's the second straight month that Young has earned the honor. A 15th-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, he has a .292 career batting average.
Leal, 23, did not allow an earned run in 22 2/3 innings in July. The right-hander went 1-0 in seven games, including two starts, and allowed two unearned runs, while striking out 25, walking one and surrendering eight hits. He was named Carolina League Pitcher of the Week for July 23-29 after giving up two hits over 8 1/3 scoreless innings.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.