The Chicago Cubs have had a rough week and a half of baseball (4-6), following a blistering hot start to the season (25-7). Hopefully, a series win against the Cardinals (in St. Louis), can get that bad taste out of our collective mouth.
But this is the MLBits, and ’round these parts we talk about every team in baseball, not just the big city Cubbies. So let’s check in everywhere and see what’s going on around the league …
- Like David Price, Adam Wainwright, and Sonny Gray before him, usually-ace-level starter Matt Harvey has gotten off to something of a bad start to the 2016 season. Through nine starts (48.1 IP), Harvey has a 5.77 ERA(!) and a strikeout rate under 20%. Both numbers are really, really bad for any ML starter, let alone someone like Matt Harvey. At Fox Sports, Harvey’s agent, Scott Boras, talks to Ken Rosenthal and explains what’s happening, with specific mention to the unknowns of receiving Tommy John Surgery. That said, Boras mentions how another one of his clients, Stephen Strasburg, got off to an equally rough start last season before ultimately turning it around big time. (Recall, determinations about how much to use Harvey last year, his first back from TJS, were reportedly the subject of dispute between the Mets and Harvey’s camp, especially as they approached the playoffs.)
- The Mets, for their part, believe Harvey’s struggles are entirely mental (i.e. not physical). While there was talk of baseball solutions – like a brief “rehab” stint in the minors – as well as … more unorthodox solutions – burning all of Harvey’s stuff from his locker so that he could “rise from the ashes” – Harvey will ultimately remain in the rotation (at his own insistence) and pitch against the Nationals last week. For more on Harvey, including, comments from Manager Terry Collins, check out this Newsday article here.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates are a pretty good baseball team. They’re in second place of the NL Central and are projected to win about 85 games. However, they’ve had to do it with one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball (4.29 ERA – 9th worst in MLB) so far this season. Of course, they could always call up two of their top prospects, starting pitchers Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon, who are performing well in Triple-A. Problem is, GM Neal Huntington has no plans to promote either of them anytime soon. Huntington admits that they are likely to see time in the majors at some point this season, but will continue to spend most of their time gaining experience at Triple-A. As a Cubs fan I say, yep, sounds good! As a Fantasy Baseball player who’s been holding on to Glasnow for a while now, I just shake my head. [Brett: You probably won’t have to wait too long, Michael, since the projected Super Two cutoff will roll around in June, and I suspect that’s when we’ll see Glasnow, and possibly Taillon, too. It’s also worth noting, after Michael completed this piece, Pirates pitcher Ryan Vogelsong took a pitch to the head (hopefully he’ll be OK), which could impact this discussion.]
- Speaking of top starting pitching prospects for NL Contenders, the Cardinals’ Alex Reyes made his first start for Triple-A Memphis on Sunday, after he finished up a 50-game suspension for marijuana. Reyes is the Cardinals’ top prospect according to MLB Pipeline and could be up as soon as this season. In his first game back, he went four shutout innings giving up just two hits and three walks against eight strikeouts. Not a bad start ….
- The San Diego Padres invited something of a national PR crisis when they played a recording of a woman signing the National Anthem over the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus … who were standing on the field, at the microphone and were already singing on “Pride Night.” The chorus requested an investigation to see what had happened and if it happened on purpose or with malicious intent. For now, the San Diego Padres’ investigation discovered that it was a combination of a third party service error and poor oversight. The relationship with third party contractor was ended and the employee who failed to correct the issue received disciplinary action. I’m not sure that this was anything more than an unfortunate mistake. Hopefully the Padres invite them back to sing again, soon.
- Despite playing at possibly the highest level of his entire 20-year career, David Ortiz still plans on retiring at the end of the 2016 season. Like he said back in November, he isn’t retiring for performance-based reasons. Instead, he’s simply ready to move on in life. Understandable. For the season, Ortiz is slashing a ridiculous .329/.408/.684 with 11 home runs. He’s hit 113 home runs since the beginning of the 2013 season and he’s at 514 for his career.
- The Texas Rangers may have Yu Darvish back relatively soon. In fact, according to Jon Morosi on Twitter, Darvish will make his season debut next Saturday, as long as his rehab start tomorrow goes well. Darvish hasn’t pitched since 2014, but from 2012 until then he was really, really good. And the Rangers could really use him back, too. They’re currently in second place in the AL West and although their starting staff’s ERA (3.38) is actually the third lowest in the league, their FIP (4.30) is much, much worse (20th), and foretells of impending regression.
- At Baseball is Fun, Kevin Pillar is making a habit of making insane catches, and Francisco Lindor is making a habit of having a lot of fun out there.
- Lastly, at Baseball Prospectus, Tim Britton did a fascinating Q&A style piece with former Cubs, current A’s starting pitcher Rich Hill … who is having one heck of a season (2.54 ERA, 1.3 fWAR). Hill is well-versed in advanced analytics (he mentions xFIP, FIP and DRA among many other bits) and offers some thoughts on his late resurgence in baseball. Very good stuff there.