Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

kris bryant cubs watchingI’ve started using the Sleep Cycle app on my phone to track what my sleep is looking like, because I want to make sure I’m getting quality sleep – something I’d never really thought about before. The first night I used the app, I had a terrible night sleep, but the app couldn’t tell me how terrible, because I screwed up the settings. Then last night, I got it working properly, and my cycles didn’t look so hot – only one time in “deep” sleep, and otherwise pretty tossy-turny light sleep. I’ll have to keep studying, and read up on how you can improve the depth of your sleep – might be a way to find some efficiency, since I’d always been a person who needs seven or eight hours every night, or I’m a wreck. (And then I had kids, and have pretty much been a wreck, in terms of tiredness, ever since.)

  • Isn’t it nice not to be beefin’ about the umpiring last night? I know it sucks that the Cubs lost and all, but, boy, it was getting a little frustrating to relatively frequently feel like the erratic calls – both in the field and behind the plate – were having an undue influence on the outcome of the games. I know some fans like to moan about umpiring no matter what, but, to be honest, I prefer not to have to mention it at all.
  • Kris Bryant was all over the story of last night’s game, from his times on base to his runs scored to his late move to center field (complete with a catch). And, in a reminder of how close the Cubs were to being ahead early in last night’s game, there was also this monster shot:

  • Now, then. Vance Worley is not a huge velocity guy, but still: that pitch is up and in off the plate and Bryant still gets his hands in and around quickly enough to yank it. Oh, and also, he hits it 900 feet. If it were just a little bit to the right, that’s a two-run homer, and the game last night probably goes quite a bit differently. I think Bryant has probably hit the ball as hard and as far as a guy can through six games and still not have a homer.
  • On his stint in center, apparently Bryant was asked whether he was more comfortable in center or left field before the Cubs put him in (

  • I like seeing quotes like this from a starting pitcher who threw a good game but didn’t have great results ( “It’s one of those outings that leaves you scratching your head. I thought I threw the ball well when I needed to and just got unlucky with some of the balls falling in.” That’s from Jason Hammel, who did indeed throw a good game. Through three starts, Hammel has a 5.19 ERA, but a 3.82 FIP and a 3.30 xFIP. Batters have a .340 BABIP against him (nearly 40 points higher than his career average) despite a line drive rate right in line with his career norms. His LOB% is just 63.8%, which means teams have been clustering their hits against him in a likely unsustainable way. The kicker: Hammel has a 16.00(!) K/BB right now (21.6% K rate, 1.4% BB rate). Keep doing what you’re doing, Jason. You’re fine.
  • On the bullpen side, I wrote yesterday about my gut feeling that, in high-leverage runners-on situations, you’d rather see a more typical strikeout-type reliever coming into a game rather than a groundball guy (to theoretically try and get the double play). Adam Brown ran the numbers and shared on Twitter (the “I’m enroll today” part was an intentional grammatical joke, by the way – thanks for choosing that as your reply, Adam):

  • So, as you can see, there’s a pretty clear advantage there for non-groundball relievers in those situations. That’s not to say that Joe Maddon has been wrong to use Brian Schlitter, given his other options, but it is definitely to say that, if you do have other options, you’re better off going with the better overall reliever, rather than the groundball guy. (Which, as Adam also found, is what managers typically do in high-leverage situations.)
  • And, right on cue, Joe Maddon says that Edwin Jackson has earned the opportunity to be used in “more difficult moments” (Tribune, CSN). For the most part, the limitations on Jackson seem to have been about his transition to being a reliever – it’s a very different rhythm than being a starter, in terms of getting up and getting warm, and coming into difficult situations rather than starting from scratch. Might as well see what he can do, though, right?

  • Joe Maddon suggests – maybe half jokingly, half seriously? – that Anthony Rizzo start wearing a pad on his arm if he’s going to crowd the plate so much and get hit so often (CSN).
  • At BP, Russell Carleton tries to dig in on the math of pitchers hitting 8th, and seems to conclude that, yes, there’s probably an advantage to it, but it’s miniscule.
  • BN’er Brandon’s wife is fighting breast cancer, and they could use some support.

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