Am I the victim of too much waiting and too much hype? Because I thought the season premier of ‘Game of Thrones’ was one of the weakest episodes of the show’s run thus far.
Virtually everything that happened (or didn’t happen) was merely the reactive echo to everything that happened in the season finale last year (and a pretty boring echo at that). You could argue that there was one meeting of characters that was a new thread, but even that was extremely predictable. The more I think about it, the more disappointed I am. I didn’t think GOT had a clunker in it like that, given how much time, money, and brainpower goes into producing 10 episodes per year. But you could skip nearly the entire episode and not miss a thing. That should never happen on a show with so few episodes available to digest.
- How about Jason Hammel’s outing yesterday? It wasn’t just the zero runs he gave up against a not-all-that-bad lineup, but it was also the mere three hits in six innings, two walks, and seven strikeouts. Hammel, whose had exclusively low-run-output starts this year, despite only so-so performances his first two times out, actually pitched exceedingly well in this one. He was in the strike zone all day, got 10 whiffs, and actually saw his fastball touching 95mph. Clearly, the guy is feeling good about his offseason adjustments (his last start in St. Louis was also excellent), and the outing lowered his ERA/FIP/xFIP line to 0.75/2.51/3.98. He’s going to give up a homer eventually, which is why that xFIP is so high. But all in all, these last two performances have looked really good. After his hamstring injury last year, Hammel’s mechanics got out of whack, and I think it became too easy for folks to forget how good he can be when he’s on. This is how good.
- Poor Addison Russell – the guy is hitting .217/.333/.333 despite a 13.9% walk rate, an 18.1% strikeout rate, and a 25.5% line drive rate. If you’ve been watching at all, you know that he’s really on it right now … and he’s just finding gloves. Don’t change a thing, dude. Don’t change a thing.
- Also, at least Russell crushed this one over the weekend so far that no one could catch it (not even the fans in the second deck, who whiffed on it):
- You know things are going either really well or really poorly when your closer is tasked with finishing out a 9-0 win, as Hector Rondon did yesterday (no walks, no hits, two Ks). In the Cubs’ case, a lot of blowouts this year have led to very few traditional save opportunities – or work at all – for Rondon. So he needed a day to stay sharp, which he very much did.
- David Ross’s offense has been clicking this year, and he credits a change in his approach, per Cubs.com (but he’s still planning to retire).
- Fun with bats over at BIF, including Matt Holliday’s inability to toss his bat without nearly braining the umpire.
- Back when I was talking about coffee in this space, a lot of you said you swore by the “french press” – I just noticed there’s a lightning deal (getting a $35 one for just $15) at Amazon right now. I’m tempted.
- A bizarre moment in the Cardinals/Padres game yesterday, as a Padres employee was looking in at home plate with binoculars and a walkie-talkie. Padres officials say the guy was just a member of the security staff. Suuuuure, it could have been totally innocent … or it could have been something sinister:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) April 25, 2016
- If you missed it this morning, Luke checked in on the farm system’s OPS leaders, and I looked at Anthony Rizzo’s huge power this year.
- If you missed anything from the weekend, catch yourself up here.
- And your Cubs/Reds Series Review – look at Michael gettin’ all fancy outdoors: