The Chicago Cubs finished up the opening month of their reign as champions at just 13-11, worse than each month last year except for the ugly July. The Cubs went 17-5 in April last year. (And then won another eight more with just one loss, for a ridiculous 25-6 start.)
- Are we bothered or troubled? Well, certainly there are legitimate issues on the table, some of which will improve organically (we see it every year: hitting with runners in scoring position evens out, especially from the extreme lows the Cubs are at right now), and some of which will require individual player performance improvement (the starting pitchers are not doing the offense many favors right now, and the defense feels like it’s not where it should be). But, stepping outside of that right now, is it not at least a little comforting to know that the Cubs did not play very well this month overall, and are still a game ahead in the NL Central?
- Kyle Hendricks, who didn’t allow a run last night after giving up a first inning homer, put it this way (Cubs.com): “We came out of the gates so hot last year. That was a special phenomenon. Usually this is more what you expect [in April], guys finding their ways into their roles. To be able to still win ballgames is a good sign. We’re not clicking on all cylinders. Once that starts happening, getting in the middle of the year, everybody will start rolling.” Last year certainly was very unique in that regard, though you still would want to have seen this Cubs team bank more than just 13 wins this month, especially given that their overall competition was only about average. Much more to discuss on this front soon.
- As for Hendricks, he felt like his fastball command was good, and was better able to work the changeup off of that (Tribune), which is key for his success. He still netted only seven whiffs on the night, and you’d like to see above ten, but he did notch six strikeouts (thanks in part to a … fluid zone). Lots of groundballs, too. All in all, it was another good “building block” type outing.
- This is why you don’t do a scoreboard proposal unless you are 100% certain that she wants it:
The scoreboard proposal at Fenway may have just gone awry. There was no hug, the camera cut away and the crowd groaned.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) May 1, 2017
- If you are like me, and wondering why you haven’t heard much about Eloy Jimenez after he finally got into extended Spring Training action a couple weeks ago, that’s because, according to Arizona Phil, Jimenez hasn’t played in any games since he played four innings in the outfield ten days ago. Jimenez’s season has been delayed by a bone bruise in his throwing shoulder, and it looks like it’s still delayed. That stinks, as he remains one of the most exciting prospects in all of baseball.
- From one top Cubs prospect to another: you may have heard the rumors about the 2015 draft, and Alex Speier is here to add more detail to the story. According to Speier (and the many rumors at the time), the Cubs were set to take Andrew Benintendi in the first round at pick nine before the Red Sox plucked him two picks earlier. The Cubs then opted for Ian Happ, who has proved to be a very nice consolation prize, even as Benintendi is an early favorite to win AL Rookie of the Year honors.
- A Twitter question about exit velocity – increasingly becoming part of our discussions in the baseball world – reminded me to re-share a series at FanGraphs about the importance of exit velocity off the bat, and its imperfect relationship to production. The data is from the 2015 season, so it’s not the absolute newest, but since we’re looking only at correlations in a broad, league-wide sense, 2015 data should be just fine to lay out the trends. If you just want a visual to consider, try this:
— Daren Willman (@darenw) October 24, 2015
- I hope that’s about what you expected: hitting the ball over 95mph is when you really start to see a dramatically increased chance of getting a hit. And then each 5mph bucket after that REALLY ramps things up. You can safely feel like, when a Cubs batter hits one at over 100mph and it is caught, that was a bummer.
- Example? Those two notable plays on Jason Heyward balls last night came on 98.6mph and 101.3mph exit velocities. I swear he gets robbed more than anyone in baseball.
- The Mets’ situation continues to be an unmitigated mess. After having his start pushed back due to what was then described as dead arm, Noah Syndergaard refused to take an MRI, believe it unnecessary. Then he came out yesterday pumping gas … until something happened, and he had to leave the game in the second inning. He’s now going to get that MRI after all, and I think Terry Collins’ reaction to the development says everything (“What do you THINK?!”):
An agitated Terry Collins discusses Syndergaard's injury. Sandy Alderson says an MRI is scheduled for 7 a.m. Monday. pic.twitter.com/rtI3v0Fe4Y
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) April 30, 2017
- The game, itself, was also a disaster of epic proportions:
Just gonna check in on the ole scorebo…. WUT THE WUT!?!? pic.twitter.com/qitPOaSmMj
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) April 30, 2017
- Earlier, Luke checked in on the nearly-statistically-significant start to the minor league season, and I caught you up on everything you may have missed this weekend.
- Oh, man, I am extremely in for this becoming a thing:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) April 30, 2017
- Today’s bizarre finds at Amazon include a throwback instant camera, a hot dog (sandwich) toaster, and a mini blanket that you carry in your pocket at 3″x2″x1″ (I’m telling you, the “interesting finds” page is always just so strangely interesting to scroll through).
- META: Change is coming. I’ve been working behind the scenes for a good long while now on a site overhaul – from the look to the functionality to (most importantly, and fingers crossed-ly) the speed and reliability. The biggest visible change will be for desktop users, so you may have to get used to a very different home page layout (simpler), and going to the bottom of the page for the various links and extra stuff (there will be no side bar to the right anymore). On mobile, you won’t notice quite as much of a visual change, but hopefully you’ll notice the performance boost. I’ve been phasing in the changes at The Ten-Yard Line this weekend, so if you want a preview, you can poke around there (and then holler at me about stuff you notice that is broken – though I am *pretty* sure it’s just about right at this point). The goal is clean, simple, faster, with more focus on the content/reading and commenting experience.