One year ago today, Kris Bryant made his debut with the Chicago Cubs. It wasn’t an especially auspicious debut, as Bryant struggled against a particularly nasty James Shields that day, but it was the start of a special year that wound up netting Bryant a runaway Rookie of the Year award. He could have some more awards in his future …
- One of the biggest concerns for the Cardinals heading into the 2016 season was a rotation that had lost John Lackey to free agency and Lance Lynn to Tommy John surgery, featured young righties that dealt with a huge innings jump and shoulder issues (Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez), leaned on a great pitcher who is never healthy (Jaime Garcia), and was to be anchored by a 34-year-old coming back from a major Achilles injury.
- That pitcher, Adam Wainwright, has really struggled this year, getting blown up yesterday by the Reds in the latest example. Through three starts, Wainwright has pitched just 16.1 innings to the tune of a 8.27 ERA, a 4.91 FIP, and a 6.17 xFIP. And he’s feeling the heat from fans and pundits, and he’s frustrated about it, telling Cardinals.com: “I don’t care what all those Twitter people out there calling for my retirement and all that, and I don’t know how many times I have to tell people to relax, because you pitch a few games like this you don’t deserve to tell them to relax.” I’m not even entirely sure what that means, but the frustration is evident. The Cardinals can still have a great deal of success this year without Wainwright dominating, but even if he gets over the hump and becomes a solid starter this year, the rotation will still be dealing with questions.
- Get ready for more Cardinals talk, as the Cubs will head to St. Louis for a three-game set after today’s series against the Rockies concludes.
- Speaking of the Cardinals, there’s a book out from an author whose work I really respect, so don’t immediately go gettin’ all harsh on him because the title of the book is “The Cardinal Way.” My guess is that it’s actually really informative, even if it makes you cringe from time to time. Like it or lump it, the Cardinals’ organization has been very good and consistent for a very long time.
- Although he took his at bat in the bottom of the 8th inning (with runners on, but a six-run lead), Jake Arrieta was pulled yesterday after 100 dominant pitches, rather than being allowed to try and complete the shutout in the 9th. Shutouts are cool and rare and a nice feather in the cap, but I was pretty pleased to see Joe Maddon and Arrieta making good on the preseason promise to do a better job this year saving bullets for later in the season. Yes, 100 pitches is a decent sized number, too, but they weren’t exactly stressful pitches yesterday.
- Matt Szczur has made himself a very useful part of this team, in spite of its depth, and in a variety of roles. As things stand now, even after the return of Javy Baez, Szczur has a job on this team for the foreseeable future. You can read more on Szczur here at CSN, including thoughts from Joe Maddon, who mentions that the ball jumps for Szczur even though he’s “not the biggest guy in the world.” Maybe not in overall size – guys like Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Anthony Rizzo, for a few examples, are obviously bigger – but Szczur might be pound-for-pound the most stacked guy on the team.
- If you missed it earlier, Luke got into the Cubs’ minor league records and performances thus far.
- Javy Baez gets another start today, and I thought it was fun to share that the elevated pitch that Baez hit for a double was probably not one he should be swinging at, but I did like very much that the swing looked very controlled and smooth (for him):
Catcher: "Get it way upstairs."
Pitcher: "No prob. On it."
Javy Baez: "Thanks." pic.twitter.com/i9Bd47Vaxd
— Baseball Is Fun (@flippingbats) April 17, 2016