The Rundown: Like It or Not Russell Returning Soon, Darvish/Davis Battery, Bryant Tiring of Exit Velocity Talk, Other Random Thoughts
It’s early and I’ve got no ideas, but a lot of thoughts.
I keep waiting for those “spring has sprung” posts, but heading into May it still feels a lot more like hot stove season than baseball season. It’s almost unfathomable that the Cubs only owe one makeup game to baseball so far.
Is Craig Kimbrel ever going to sign? Is Dallas Keuchel still alive?
Do we still wish the Cubs had signed Bryce Harper? The right fielder has just four hits in his last 29 at-bats with two home runs. He does walk a lot, though, and he’s been worth 0.4 WAR so far this season. Jason Heyward has been worth 0.6 WAR in 25 fewer plate appearances. I know, small sample sizes.
Is it me, or does it seem like the Cubs have more days off than any other teams? That can’t bode well for the stretch run of the season.
Am I the only person who thought “potential closer” when Tyler Chatwood struck out John Ryan Murphy after inheriting a two-out, bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the 13th on Sunday? I wouldn’t cling to that thought, but the possibility is still intriguing.
Is it just coincidence, or does anybody else see the significance in the fact that the best game Yu Darvish has pitched this year came with someone other than Willson Contreras behind the plate? I’m sure Jeff Burdick has an opinion, and I’d like to hear it.
Darvish may have an answer to that question, and you probably don’t need a deep dive or any translation.
“I was pretty comfortable,” Darvish said. “[Taylor Davis] turned a couple pitches into strikes with outside pitches that helped me a lot.”
Six of eight Yu Darvish strikeouts from last night's start against the #Dbacks. #Cubs #FlyTheW pic.twitter.com/wY0h5bZZ16
— Michael Augustine (@AugustineMLB) April 28, 2019
Whether you like it or not, Addison Russell is rejoining the Cubs very soon. If you can separate the baseball player from the man, more power to you. I cannot. Further, the Cubs have been on a decent roll since their season-opening road trip. The distractions that will follow Russell could run interference to that.
And, not for nothing, Joe Maddon may not handle the press with the aplomb that the shortstop’s return will require. Experience tells us he will probably say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Bad Grandpa Maddon is not the version of Papa Joe the team will need, particularly if he is serious about wanting to remain as manager beyond this season.
And once Russell is added to the roster, what then? Do you root for the Cubs but hope he fails? What if he comes up to bat in a situation where a hit is needed to tie or win the game? Do you hope he whiffs and costs the team a game? We all know how important one stinking win can mean at the end of the season.
Finally, what if Russell costs the team a victory? Can you imagine the firestorm? The only positive outcome in all of this occurs when and if Russell becomes a better human being, a better husband, and a better father. He will never escape his past and that’s his own fault. I just can’t step away from the feeling that maybe the Cubs are enabling Russell.
One last note: How do you take at-bats away from a guy who has a slash line of .302/.393/.566, 3 HR, and 14 RBI so far this season? What becomes of David Bote once Russell returns?
Cubs News & Notes
- It may just be baby steps at this point, but the Cubs have been following through on their offseason goals.
- The revolving door of relievers will continue throughout the season, but Sunday’s win marked another growth spurt as the bullpen came within one out of posting nine consecutive scoreless innings.
- Reliever Brian Duensing is starting over with the Iowa Cubs.
- Kris Bryant seems to be tiring of talk about exit velocities.
- Cole Hamels gets the start tonight against Félix Hernández in Seattle. Hamels is 7-3 with a 4.64 ERA in 14 career starts against the Mariners, while Hernández is 0-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts against the Cubs.
- Hamels has had a strong start to the season with a 3-0 record and 3.16 ERA while striking out 8.62 batters per nine innings. However, that’s largely at the behest of an impossibly low .220 BABIP that is sure to level off over time.
- Maddon likes to work on his lineups at a local coffee shop.
- Erik Mauro takes a look at the Cubs and the rest of the division in this week’s Central Intelligence column.
- How about a detailed look at the top 10 celebrity first pitches at Wrigley Field from the Cubs YouTube channel?
- Have you seen Evan Altman’s video podcast, Inside Corner yet? It’s must-watch…and I’m not just saying that because he’s my boss. Can someone untie me now?
How About That!
CC Sabathia needs just three strikeouts tonight to reach 3,000 for his career. Do you think he is Hall of Fame worthy? Lemme hear ya!
The Yankees set the single-season home run record last year, with 267. Entering Monday, three teams were on pace to crack 300: the Twins (317), Mariners (308) and Brewers (301).
NL MVP Christian Yelich sat out Monday, a day after the Brewers right fielder left a game with lower back soreness. He is considered day-to-day.
White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson is hitting .448 on balls in play, the highest in the majors.
Believe it or not, the White Sox are playing nearly .500 baseball this season.
The Pirates are in the midst of an eight-game losing streak that has seen Pittsburgh tumble from first place in the NL Central to fourth.
Alex Bregman has his own YouTube video series. In a recent episode, the Astros third baseman crashed a wedding.
Bregman and Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer have quite the rivalry, and it’s fantastic.
It appears the Giants have thrown in the towel on the 2019 season.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Jake Odorizzi – The Twins starter out-dueled Astros veteran Justin Verlander in a 1-0 win. Odorizzi struck out seven while allowing just one walk and four hits.
- Jesus Aguilar – The slugging Brewers first baseman was 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI as the Brewers beat the Rockies 5-1.
- Mike Soroka – The Braves starter held the Padres to one run with eight punch outs in six innings in Atlanta’s 3-1 win.
This debate was inevitable due to an off day following Sunday’s marathon against the Diamondbacks, and people had a lot to say. The game took just over five and a half hours to complete. Where do you stand?
After watching the Cubs play 15 innings tonight do you want any change to extra innings baseball?
— David Kaplan (@thekapman) April 29, 2019
They Said It
- “When [Darvish] gets going, you may see some of his better work between 90 and 110 [pitches]. Moving down the road, when he gets on a roll, I want to stay out of his way.” – Joe Maddon
- “[Exit-velocity readings] are on the scoreboard now. It’s in in every stadium, so you can’t get away from it. I just laugh at it. But if that’s the way we’re using it, they’re going up. Which means I’m hitting it harder. The harder you hit it, they probably won’t catch it as much. That’s a good thing.” – Kris Bryant
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Streets of Your Town by the Go-Betweens. I can’t remember the last time the Cubs played in Seattle. In case you don’t know them, the Go-Betweens were supposed to be the greatest pop band ever but that never happened. For some reason, light and breezy anti-grunge jangle pop never found the audience that labels expected, and a lot of similar bands that were paid high advances failed similarly in the 1990’s.