Two days without any traditional Bullets thanks to the emergence of Kris Bryant. So this is going to be a super-sized version of the Bullets, led off by, well, you guessed it …
- Kris Bryant Day 2 was quite a success at the plate, with Bryant immediately adjusting to the fact that these big league pitchers don’t want to mess with him. Not going to throw him a strike? Okey-dokey, says Bryant, who walked in three of his first four plate appearances yesterday. It was an adjustment, it was visible, and it happened in the span of 24 hours. That’s impressive stuff for a 23-year-old rookie. The three-walk, two-hit day increased his OBP from bupkis to .500. His 30% strikeout rate is now matched by his 30% walk rate. That’s the fun of two games.
- About the defense, though. After a very good day defensively on Friday, Bryant booted the first ball he saw on Saturday. To that, I say: it happens. My concern defensively is with his throws. Consistently, and much more than I’ve seen any other player do it in recent memory in the span of a couple games, Bryant’s throws are pulling Anthony Rizzo across first base into the path of the runner. It led to one close call yesterday, and it’s a potentially dangerous issue on any close plays – I don’t just mean in terms of errors, I mean in terms of getting Rizzo’s right wrist broken. I doubt the Cubs want to mess with Bryant’s mechanics too much just yet, but it’s been such a consistent thing that it’s gotta be addressed before Bryant throws one away or worse.
- Joe Maddon believes it’s big that the Cubs are showing – to themselves, and to the rest of baseball – that they don’t quit and can win late (CSN). It’s a small sample still, but it is nice to be seeing a team that overcomes their own struggles late, and is pesky as hell. The Cubs’ approach at the plate in these late wins has been phenomenal.
- Speaking of which, at .708, the Cubs are now up to the 5th best team OPS in the NL. When you think about the struggles of the offense the past few years, and the relative youth of the current team, it makes you smile.
- Also, speaking of Maddon, some more praise for the subtle things he does: yesterday, with Anthony Rizzo at second and one out, Bryant at the dish, Welington Castillo was on deck to pinch hit. Then Bryant reached on the chopper, so it was first and third with one out. Maddon pulls Castillo back, and instead sends up David Ross. Like many of you, I was really scratching my head – Castillo has been nails in the pinch hitting role, and, moreover, he’s simply the better hitter. Coming in cold against Kimbrel, do you really want Ross up there? The answer was yes, and this is why Maddon is much smarter than I am – he knew that Kimbrel would be pitching around the next batter to try and get him to chase, and hit a ground ball (or strikeout). In that situation, Ross was a better fit to lay off the crap than Castillo might have been. Ross did just that, the bases were loaded for Starlin Castro, and the rest is history. Joe Maddon, FTW.
- Also great from Maddon: the most succinct way to discuss plate discipline, from ESPN, “I think the fans, the folks who watch the game closely, they understand the importance of accepting your walks. You don’t look for your walk; you accept your walk.” Exactly. You can’t try and get walks. Walks are the byproduct of a good approach at the plate. That’s exactly what Bryant’s walks were yesterday, and what all of Anthony Rizzo’s walks have become. They are a thing that happens because you’re not going to give in on pitchers’ pitches, and because you’re extending counts, looking for the pitch you can really drive.
- Through 10 games and a taxed bullpen, Edwin Jackson has appeared just once – April 10, more than a week ago. If today’s game goes off, and if Jon Lester doesn’t go deep, I’m not sure how Joe Maddon will be able to avoid using Jackson, given how heavily-worked guys like Pedro Strop and Brian Schlitter have been. Hector Rondon is going to be unavailable after pitching back-to-back days and throw 30+ pitches yesterday. Zac Rosscup might be unavailable, too. If Jackson can’t be trusted in anything but blowouts, the Cubs are probably going to need bullpen reinforcements this week.
- Love for Kyle Hendricks’ awesome day:
— Jake Arrieta (@JArrieta34) April 18, 2015
- A fan caught a foul ball in her beer cup yesterday, and then chugged the beer like a boss:
- Bench coach Dave Martinez found an ancient, ivy-engulfed baseball at Wrigley. Can I, um, have it?
- It’s a small sample yet, but BA writes about how pace-of-play changes have shortened up minor league games.
- Luke will mention this on Monday, no doubt, but Albert Almora went 5-5 yesterday, raising his average some 100 points in the process to now over .300. He has three walks and three strikeouts on the season. There’s a potential .300 hitter in the big leagues in there, and, with excellent defense in center, that’s a great player. Sure, it might be a slightly “empty” .300, but because the average could be so high, the OBP will almost automatically be slightly above league average. And, when you look at him, it’s not hard to see the power potential in there.
- Both Matt Holliday (minor) and Randal Grichuk (major enough to warrant a DL stint) are dealing with back issues.
- Roy was the winner of the signed Anthony Rizzo bat from our DraftKings contest a couple weeks ago, and with the bat shipped and received, he wanted to send a picture of his joy. Please don’t take it as taunting you who didn’t win, and just enjoy the smile:
— Roy Bohlin (@BohlinRoy) April 17, 2015