Attention on the Cubs dropped to about zero yesterday, thanks in part to the losing streak and the early lead the Pirates took. But I think it was mostly because the Bears opened their season. They did so with a loss to the Bills, which sucks. It also sucks that without a few avoidable turnovers, the Bears probably win that one. Is there a Cubes equivalent for Bears? Beers?
- Nobody is committing to anything right now, but Rick Renteria points out that Arismendy Alcantara, historically, has the speed and on-base skills you’d look for in a leadoff hitter (Cubs.com). Depending on what the Cubs do in the offseason, I could see Alcantara getting a shot at the leadoff role, though you’d obviously want to see his actual OBP climb significantly if he is to stay there. I’d add that Alcantara is currently seeing 3.85 pitches per plate appearance – the more a hitter can see, the better it is for his teammates (and himself) later in the game – which is above average. Luis Valbuena leads the Cubs, and is 13th in baseball, at 4.13.
- Aside: Interestingly, although we know that high P/PA has incidental value, you’ll notice that, if you look at some of the worst P/PA this year, you’ll see some of the best hitters in baseball. Indeed, the worst qualifier of all, Jose Altuve (3.14 P/PA) leads all of baseball in batting average at .340. Before you go too far on this, keep in mind: most of the top P/PA guys in baseball are also great hitters. So it’s not like there’s a purely negative correlation here. I think it’s more that there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and, all things equal, if you’re going to be a great hitter anyway, it would be nice if you also saw a ton of pitches.
- I’ll have more on Travis Wood, who was rocked yesterday, later, but a little bit on the lefty who took over for Wood, Eric Jokisch. In his big league debut, Jokisch threw 4.1 innings, allowing six hits (all singles, save for one double), one earned run, zero walks, and striking out four. I’ve said it before on Jokisch: he’s going to be a legitimate part of the back-end competition next year in Spring Training. Like many of the Cubs’ other options, he doesn’t have a super high ceiling, without traditional elite stuff. But he’s got excellent command, multiple big-league caliber pitches, and just enough swing-and-miss to succeed as a 4/5. That doesn’t mean he’ll be a 4/5 for the Cubs next year, but he can be in the mix. If he doesn’t make the cut in the Spring, I can think of worse things than having a guy like him at AAA in the waiting for starts that will invariably pop up at some point during the season.
- Mark Gonzales says there’s a chance that Wood could be skipped in his next turn through the rotation, which means Jokisch could get a start (or maybe Dan Straily).
- We often talk about how a decent starting pitcher is typically more valuable than an all-world reliever. FanGraphs has a piece on, among other things, the middle ground: could we get some of these all-world relievers to increase their innings from 60 to 90? Would they still be as effective?
- A fan gets a chance to take in a game at Wrigley Field long after many thought she would never be able to do that again (Cubs.com).
- Don’t show sexy hamburger commercials during Cardinals games.
- Reminder: the latest episode of BNTV records live tomorrow night at 8pm CT / 9pm CT (in theory, it’ll be an every-week-at-that-time kind of thing). If you’ve got questions, you can email them in to BNTV at bleachernation dot com, or you can save them for the live interaction in the comments or on Twitter. Missed last week’s episode? Catch it here, and that post offers another way to get a question in to the show.