If you’re going to the game today, gaze out upon the right field bleachers and look for my warming glow.
It should be a fun one today, with a good young Yankees team coming to town, and Starlin Castro making his return to Wrigley Field. Michael has your extensive Series Preview here, the Cubs’ lineup is here.
- Much more on the Castro return here at ESPN, including thoughts from the guy who stood side-by-side with Castro for longer than anyone else in the infield, Anthony Rizzo: “Part of him was part of that team last year that won a World Series. I’m sure he felt that. Just like every other Cub that’s put on this uniform, that championship is for them.” For his part, Castro said he was rooting hard for the Cubs in the World Series, and was nervous throughout. Get on your feet for him today, Cubs fans.
- Kyle Hendricks is gonna have to go deep today for the Cubs, even with the bullpen addition of Felix Pena. Wade Davis has pitched in three straight, so he’s probably down. Koji Uehara pitched back-to-back days, and I’m sure he’s down. Mike Montgomery threw three innings yesterday, so I would think he’s out, too.
- For the Cubs to even be in a position to walk things off yesterday, Miguel Montero had to knock the game-tying homer in the 8th inning, straight into the wind, and just into the outfield basket. If it seems like Montero relishes those clutch moments, that’s because he says he does (ESPN). The funny thing is that his “clutch” type stats so far this year are just about the only time he’s not hitting well (-16 wRC+ in high leverage situations, -46 wRC+ with runners in scoring position). Somehow that just feels wrong, and the sample is tiny, so whatever. His numbers were much better in those situations last year (in a season where his overall numbers were way down), so maybe that’s what’s sticking out for me.
- Montero has really taken to the back-up-plus role (he’s the backup catcher, but he plays more than a typical backup), hitting .385/.405/.641. His 167 wRC+ is the second best in baseball among all catchers with at least 40 PAs. Though he has a quip for what comes next: “Hopefully the next step is I throw somebody out.”
- How about this: former Cubs catcher and current Mental Skills Coordinator John Baker was going back to school to get his college degree while the Cubs were making their run last year, and he’ll graduate this week. That’s fantastic. Congrats to Baker.
- Adam Warren was fantastic with the Yankees for several years, and then terrible with the Cubs for a half season after the Cubs got him in the Starlin Castro trade. Then, he went back to the Yankees at midseason, and was great again. So far this year? Great. What’s the deal? “I got my slider back,” Warren told the Tribune. “I lost it last year. It was too flat. There was a certain confidence to come. Maybe I lost my identity. I was here (with the Yankees) for so long, the catchers knew me, and then I went somewhere else. You try to figure out who you are and describe how to pitch, and I had a hard time figuring out my identity.” Some guys are just going to work better in some places with certain personnel. Why exactly can be hard to pinpoint, but it’s something we’ve seen before. For whatever reason, Warren and his style just didn’t click with what the Cubs were trying to do (and also, it was a mere half-season sample, for what it’s worth). He got back to where he was more comfortable, and he was fine again. It’s yet another reminder of the human side of things.
- Both Dexter Fowler and Stephen Piscotty departed yesterday’s Cardinals loss with injuries (shoulder for Fowler, hamstring for Piscotty), and both will be reevaluated today (instant update: Piscotty to the DL). If they had to miss serious time, it goes without saying that the Cardinals might be totally effed. But it would mean that we get to see more Matt Adams in the outfield, so it wouldn’t be a total loss from a fan perspective. You can debate whether the Cardinals are even the Cubs’ biggest threat in the Central at this point anyway, but, for now, they stand just 2.5 games back.
- I concur with Sahadev on this one, and you should check it out:
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) May 4, 2017
- Michael was on the TV talkin’ Cubs on the Sports Feed. He always looks so polished and fancy. Well done, chap.
- Busy overnight/morning stretch over at TYL, with the Bears signing a defensive lineman, wondering about whether Mike Glennon can become a trade asset, and noting Jay Cutler’s new career path.
- Heads up: today the Fire tablet is under $60 at Amazon. If you’ve considered getting a smaller, inexpensive tablet, this is the way to go.