Some personal frustration: although I am in the best shape of my life right now (which is a relative thing, because I haven’t ever been in particularly great shape), I am 34 years old. Apparently, that makes me susceptible to stupid injuries when exercising. As I’ve lamented in this space before over the past year, I’ve had injuries to both my shoulders and to my back, despite being in fairly good shape. Today during my morning workout class, I added an ankle injury to the list – it’s currently elevated, compressed, and iced – and I can only hope it’s one of those things that was a really bad roll, but that feels better in a day or two.
The frustration is that I am doing a well-rounded group of exercises – strength, cardio, flexibility – and this shit is still happening. I know an injury can happen to anyone at any time, but it’s incredibly frustrating for these things to happen despite my best efforts, and all while I’m trying to do the very thing that keeps me fit and healthy.
So far I guess I’ve been fortunate that the injuries have been short-ish term, which I guess is the brighter side of this stuff: if I weren’t working to stay in shape, maybe one of these injuries would have sidelined me for a lot longer.
- Jon Lester was fantastic last night, though, in addition to complimenting Lester’s performance, Reds manager Bryan Price pointed to a “fairly large [strike] zone” for Lester as aiding his performance (Cubs.com). Does the tale of the tape agree? Brooks has five pitches outside the typically-called zone that were called as strikes for the Cubs, and only one for the Reds; moreover, Cubs pitchers had no missed strikes clearly and obviously in the zone, whereas the Reds had a whopping six pitches that were clearly in the strike zone but were called balls. It’s only fair to point out, then, that the Reds did not receive a very favorable strike zone last night, especially compared to what the Cubs were getting. And, of course, I see that and I immediately think about familiarity and framing – Jon Lester and David Ross have worked together for years, and Ross is among the better framers in the game (top 10, according to StatCorner, and solidly above average according to BP). Meanwhile, the Reds had Ramon Cabrera working with younger, less experienced pitchers, and Cabrera rates as one of the worst framers in the game. Still think pitch-framing isn’t real or important?
- Also, if you missed it earlier: Lester and Ross teamed up for a particularly fun run last night.
- Lester was drilled in the glove arm by a Joey Votto liner in the game, but finished things out without issue, and didn’t seem to be concerned about it. You can watch the play here. That looks really bad, but Lester’s tough, and Sahadev Sharma’s write-up indicates it didn’t even look bad after the game.
- An interesting read at The Athletic on a few things that change in the postseason – weather, velocity, starting pitcher caliber – that could trip up the Cubs. Although I know it’s a common joke around here, the numbers do actually back it up (and I asked the author a couple follow-ups to see if there was an angle he was missing – he was not): the Cubs struggle a bit more against top starting pitchers, relative to their own performance, than the average team does (relative to its own performance).
- MLB Pipeline ranked the top rookies around baseball in terms of long-term value, and while I think it’s fair to have Willson Contreras in the 10 to 12 range, I’m not sure I’d have Gary Sanchez ahead of him as the top catching rookie (in terms of long-term value). Don’t get me wrong, what Sanchez has done this year with the Yankees has been utterly insane. Seriously – have you checked in on his performance this year? 17 homers in 42 games. That’s a real thing. He’s done that. Setting aside the unsustainability of what he’s doing (39.5% HR/FB ratio, lulz), I’m just not sure I see as many indicators in the minor league performance for Sanchez as I do for Contreras, whose superior athleticism could also help him become an elite overall catcher (not the offense – the defense and receiving skills). Then again, Contreras only really broke out offensively last year, and Sanchez, while not overwhelming, does have a long positive offensive track record. Maybe I’m just being a homer.
- No other Cubs show up in the top 30, which makes sense, since they don’t actually have a ton of rookies, but I could make an argument for, among others, Albert Almora Jr. and Carl Edwards Jr. slipping in somewhere in the back half. I’m still probably being a homer. I’m usually not like that …
- It’s been an up-and-down year for Miguel Montero – currently very up – but he admits that he had some troubled thoughts about his future when things were going particularly poorly at midseason (CBS). But he worked with his psychologist to help get himself in a better state of mind, and he was able to be positive from there, even when the results weren’t coming. That’s a good read, and a good reminder about the importance of the mental side of the game, especially in a long, grinding sport like baseball.
- As noted this morning in the Scoreboard Watching, the Giants won last night to keep pace in the Wild Card race, but it could have been costly – Johnny Cueto left with a groin injury, and Brandon Crawford left with a pinky injury.
- Now excuse me while I’m off to investigate the best ankle wraps and braces on Amazon …