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The Little Things in Last Night’s Loss, Schwarber’s Slump, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

The Little Girl has been asking for a daddy-daughter mid-day date for a while, so today it is. One thing I’ve found about having three kids with a wide range of ages is that it is a challenge to give each dedicated, personal attention at their particular level. Time is the biggest factor, but it’s also a matter of keeping your head in the right place: what does THIS child need from me right now, as totally and separate from thinking about the child within the context of “the family”. Part of the reason I’m even typing this all out in the first place is something of a reminder to myself.

On to the Bullets …

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  • There were so many little things in last night’s game that could have swung it in the other direction, from Josh Harrison’s leadoff homer just barely getting past Kyle Schwarber for a homer, Josh Bell’s (bad but effective) decision to fire home on a grounder instead of tagging first base, Willson Contreras’s dropped catch in a run down that led to a run, etc. Pick one, and if it goes the other way, the Cubs maybe win that game. But you can’t complain about that stuff, because mistakes will be made, and bounces won’t go the Cubs’ way. If they’d notched just ONE more hit with runners on base – instead of going 2 for 12 – then none of this would even matter. Cubs lost. There was weird and flukey stuff in there, but the Cubs lost this one.
  • One thing I didn’t understand in the moment was the decision to pinch hit Albert Almora for Jon Jay with two on and one out in the 9th inning. Even before Almora hit into the double play that ended the game, I wondered why you’d bring in a cold Almora to face lefty Tony Watson when Jon Jay was hot and also is not really a big split guy (i.e., it’s not like he has particular struggles against lefties). Even Watson was split neutral in 2015 and is reverse split so far this year (though he did have a strong, typical split in 2016). Instinctively, it was just an odd decision to me, and I’m not sure we’re going to know why it was made, outside of the fact that presented a traditional lefty-righty matchup, and it’s not like Almora isn’t also swinging the bat well.
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
  • Kyle Schwarber is in a bit of a rut, hitting .182/.308/.227 in the past week, but he tells the Tribune that he just needs to stick with his belief that he’s a good hitter, and that it will turn around eventually. That’s all quite true, especially for a naturally-gifted hitter like Schwarber. Of course you have to make adjustments on an ongoing basis, but you also have to believe in the process and stick with what works, even if the results aren’t there. After a hot start, Schwarber’s hit just .224/.345/.327 in his last 13 games (90 wRC+), bringing his season line down to .224/.359/.395. In that stretch, he’s hitting the ball hard, as usual, but he’s putting the ball on the ground 51.6% of the time, far higher than league average (44.3%) – definitely not something you want to see from an extreme-pull (and thus frequently shifted on) slugger. Pitchers are adjusting, and working that approach a bit more.

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  • It’s all a reminder that, because of his uncommon development schedule, Schwarber still hasn’t really had that period of time where the league adjusts to the book on him, and then he has to adjust back. Perhaps we’ll see that for stretches this season, which is effectively his “sophomore” campaign.
  • Even in a loss, you can recognize the cool moment of Gift Ngoepe making his debut as the first player from Africa to make the big leagues, and then knocking a single in his first at bat. Ngoepe said he was emotional taking the field, trying to stop himself from tearing up at the moment, and telling ESPN: “To accomplish this only for me but for my country and my continent is something so special. There are 1.62 billion people on our continent. To be the first person out of 1.62 billion to do this is amazing.”
  • Hugs are justified:


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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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