Friday the 13th. I suppose I’d feel more ominously about it if I hadn’t met The Little Girl four years ago today. Instead, it feels like this Friday the 13th is full of good fortune.
- Chicago Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio says that Jake Arrieta is about six weeks ahead of where he was at this point last year, in terms of preparation (CBS). Recall, it was this time last year that the Cubs were adding Jason Hammel and James McDonald on big league deals (the latter of which was fairly surprising), and, relatedly, on this date last year, the Cubs announced that Arrieta was dealing with shoulder tightness. We didn’t quite know what to think of it at the time, though all indications were that it was relatively minor and would simply delay the start of Arrieta’s season (which proved to be the case). Here’s what I said in conclusion after the tightness was announced:
Regardless of the severity, even the hiccup is a bummer, particularly with respect to Arrieta. As a guy with a huge ceiling – but who just hadn’t been able to harness and maximize the stuff in Baltimore – Arrieta has been someone to dream on for 2014. If he finally breaks out, the Cubs will have just discovered a key rotation piece for the next four or five years. That was never the most likely scenario, but it was a reasonable possibility. Hopefully this shoulder issue is truly minor, and that scenario stays on the table.
- I find it very interesting to look back at where our minds were at this time last year on Arrieta, and then to think about what actually happened. It was the absolute dream scenario. It was, at best, a “reasonable possibility” at the time, but I don’t think anyone thought the kind of breakout he had was “realistic,” especially after he was dealing with a shoulder issue. How much can change in a year, eh? How many things are we thinking about Cubs players today that are going to be upended in the coming months?
- I don’t think the Cubs have a guy quite like Arrieta on the roster right now – clearly established upside based on stuff, but a failure to harness it effectively over the years – but, if you had to tab someone as close, it would probably be Jacob Turner. Although Arrieta always had Number One upside, Turner’s stuff looks to be a tick below that. Still, quality mid-rotation piece is definitely possible when you consider that Turner could have three effective pitches, is just 23 years old, and was absolutely rushed to the Major Leagues in a way that probably didn’t maximize his development.
- Setting aside the injury questions, there are regression questions at the top of the Cardinals’ rotation, with each of Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, and Michael Wacha posting an ERA substantially lower than his xFIP last year, among other potential regression indicators discussed in this FanGraphs piece. As we’ve discussed, it doesn’t look like the Cardinals are going to struggle offensively, absent injuries, but there are questions about the rotation. That’s where they’re going to struggle, *if* they’re going to struggle.
- Speaking of the Cardinals, Stan McNeal wonders if Cubs manager Joe Maddon will wind up being another stoke to the flames of the rivalry. (Earlier this week, we discussed Matt Adams’ comments about the Cubs, and I am loving this stuff.)
- Just a fantastic read on pitch framing here from Ben Lindbergh at Grantland, and the emerging new evaluative metric CSAA (Called Strikes Above Average), which was revealed and explained in this BP piece. If you like to learn about advanced concepts via anecdotal stories and descriptions, this is right up your alley.
- Frank Jackson at The Hardball Times has a write-up on the Cubs’ first curse.
- Carrie Muskat on the new Chicago Cubs.
- Matt Szczur got engaged, and he did it up right (Cubs.com).