Reminder: the latest episode of BNTV records live tonight, here at the site, at 8pm CT/9pm ET. You can drop questions/comments in advance to bntv at bleachernation dot com. You can watch past episodes here. It’s like a podcast, but you can see my face and hands – frequently my hands – while you hear me talk about the Cubs, the stuff sitting around my office, and life, itself. Even if you can’t make the live recording, the show is designed to still watch well any day thereafter.
- Jesse Rogers writes a long piece on Neil Ramirez’s emergence this year, and frames it in a discussion of the Rookie of the Year award. It’s a very interesting discussion, even as everyone acknowledges Ramirez won’t win the award, thanks to his role and limited innings (if you were looking for a pitcher to win it, for example, the Mets’ Jacob deGrom looks like a good pick). On the year, Ramirez sports a 0.94/2.49/3.26 ERA/FIP/xFIP line, with a 32.7% strikeout rate and a 9.3% walk rate, and a total of 0.8 WAR. He’s thrown just 38.1 innings, which means his total value to the Cubs is depressed (through no fault of his own).
- If he hadn’t missed the cutoff by 4 innings, perhaps we’d be talking about Hector Rondon as the Cubs’ best rookie reliever. For as amazing as Ramirez has been, you could argue that Rondon has been better: 2.60 ERA, 1.93 FIP, 2.62 xFIP, 55.1 innings, 26.0% K rate, 5.7% BB rate, and 1.6 WAR. Rondon gets a lot of meatball hate because of some really, really unlucky blown saves, but if you actually watch the guy comprehensively, you see that he’s been a total stud.
- Oh, and while I’m praising the back end of the Cubs’ bullpen, I should mention that Pedro Strop has been excellent, as well: 2.32 ERA, 2.86 FIP, 2.98 xFIP, 54.1 innings, 28.4% K rate, 11.0% BB rate, and 0.7 WAR. I could also throw off some love to Justin Grimm and Wesley Wright and Carlos Villanueva (as a reliever) and Brian Schlitter.
- Jacob Turner says that, at least with respect to the rocket bomb he gave up to Jose Bautista, it was a pitch he didn’t get where he wanted it (Cubs.com). Obviously that’s not a good thing, in isolation, but you’d rather a guy gets knocked around when he knows he’s not locating his pitches properly, rather than getting knocked around despite his best stuff/location/command/health/etc. Looking at his pitch chart on Brooks, it appears that my eyes deceived me last night: Turner was, indeed, frequently catching the fat part of the zone, and he was paying for it.
- In a seeming follow-up to this weekend’s national discussion about the impact of the low strike on offense in baseball, Jeff Sullivan writes about the rates at which the low strike is popping up. Among other things, Sullivan’s piece notes that the impact of pitch-framing has probably decreased substantially in the last few years (ironically, the time period in which folks actually started trying to quantify its value), in tandem with umpires’ improvement in accuracy.
- At great length, Craig Calcaterra takes on the “baseball is dying” discussion.
- Eno Sarris, with help on the idea from Sam Fuld, articulates a wow-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that defensive shifting idea: in-game corner outfielder swapping. Just hearing the description, you can immediately conjure instances where it would make sense to put your elite corner outfielder in left for most guys, but switch him to right for a few guys. It would take the right personnel to pull it off, and it certainly wouldn’t be easy, but the benefits could be plentiful over the course of a full season.
- Cubs prospects Eloy Jimenez and Wander Cabrera are taking part in some IPL activities in the Dominican Republic, at least according to these Facebook pictures.
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