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A Weird Win, Bullpen Dominance, Schwarber DH, Thames Talk, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News, MLB News and Rumors

Isn’t there supposed to be a thing where if you put a banana in a bag, it ripens quickly? I bought a bunch of bananas at Costco earlier this week, but they were all extremely un-ripe. The issue there is that they then all ripen at the same time, and you’re left with the choice of eating 10 bananas in a two-day span, or eating extremely sub-par bananas a few days later. So I figured I’d ripen them up in a staggered order. My bag plan is not working, though, as I sit here looking at a still-green banana that I bagged up yesterday.

Shrug. On to the Bullets …

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  • With (wildly different types of) wins in the first two games of the series, the Cubs really do now have the chance to return the sweep-at-your-place favor tonight against the Pirates, and, as much as I can feel a sense of urgency about an April game in the season after the Cubs won the World Series, I am feeling it. The Cubs don’t *need* the win in any particular, standings-related way. But I just really, really want to see them sweep the Pirates as a bit of beautiful symmetry.
  • More on Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks’ night last night coming later, so I’ll instead focus here on the other starter in the game, Pirates righty Gerrit Cole, who pumped 22 first-pitch strikes out of the 24 batters he faced (my God). When a guy is doing that, and pitching with as much velocity, movement, and location as he was last night, there’s basically nothing you can do but hack. It didn’t work out for the Cubs’ bats last night, and there aren’t many other teams out there that would have done anything against Cole. Was it a sign of the year ahead for the 26-year-old? Consider that it was tied for the best start of his career by game score, and Joe Maddon said he’s never seen Cole that good (Pirates.com). Until some elbow issues last year sat him down a bit, it looked like Cole was primed to be among the dominant, elite tier of starters back in 2015. Maybe that happens now, and when you consider the rest of that Pirates rotation – they could be really, really good for several years. The Pirates have Cole for two more years after this one via arbitration.
  • On the Cubs’ pitching side of the ledger, how about the job Koji Uehara did pitching around a leadoff double in the 7th? At the moment of that John Jaso double, the Cubs’ win expectancy in the game sank from 65.3% to just 51.7%. Three outs later, it was up to 75.7%.

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  • It all counts, and it’s not as if walks are any better, but Wade Davis had an interesting 9th inning to close things out last night: 361 foot, 97.4 mph line out; 386 foot, 97.8 mph fly out; 291 foot, 101 mph line out. They’re all outs, but man, that is some seriously hard, deep contact to be giving up in the 9th inning of a 1-0 game. Davis, himself, seemed to be not thrilled with the way the 9th played out, in terms of the contact. But, again, it’s better than walking a bunch of guys – sometimes well-struck balls become outs. Davis has yet to allow an earned run with the Cubs.
  • (But, like I said last night in the EBS: that just wasn’t a game you’d expect to win, given the performance. Enjoy it.)
  • (Oh, and the last time the Cubs won a game without the benefit of an RBI was back in July of 2011, per ESPN Stats and Info. Looking back at the EBS from that game, I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t even note the scoring oddity, and instead focused on the Cubs’ pitching trio of Ryan Dempster, Sean Marshall, and Carlos Marmol.)
  • After last night’s three scoreless innings, the Cubs’ bullpen is now tied for the second best bullpen ERA in the National League at 3.07.
  • Joe Maddon is leaning toward having Kyle Schwarber be the DH in Boston this weekend (Cubs.com), which makes a ton of sense for several reasons – a little extra rest, getting someone else some work, and the unique contours of playing left field at Fenway.
  • Jason Heyward was asked whether he would prefer to stay in right field more often, and whether he cares that moving to center so frequently could impact his chances of winning another Gold Glove in right field (Cubs.com). A reasonable question for which Heyward had the perfect, expected answer (“I’ll take rings over Gold Gloves.”). But it got me thinking about how stupid it is that Heyward could get dinged in the Gold Glove race for shuttling back and forth between right field and center field … something he does precisely because he’s so good defensively. I’m reminded of the Gold Glove Javy Baez didn’t win last year after moving around so much (again, because he was so good), and the one Addison Russell didn’t win in 2015 (splitting time between second base and shortstop, where he was just about the best of the best at each position during the time he played there). This isn’t a new gripe, but, man … the Heyward question simply reminded me how ridiculous it is.

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  • As we discussed yesterday, Anthony Rizzo’s recent “random” drug test came just hours after he’d commented on the system needing more drug tests (he otherwise hadn’t been randomly tested yet this year). Now, there’s Brewers sensation Eric Thames, homering again yesterday, and getting “randomly” drug tested again, for the second time this month. He had a fantastic line (Brewers.com): “So, yeah, if people keep thinking I’m on stuff, I’ll be here every day. I have lots of blood and urine.” You have my approval to root for this guy, except when he plays the Cubs.
  • Miguel Montero had a similar response for Thames:

  • And whatever assumptions you want to make, I don’t think PEDs would help him do this:


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor of Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.

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