Based on how hard he hits boxes and the wall with his plastic bat in an imaginary battle against the “bad bears,” I expect that The Little Boy is going to have surprising pop at the plate, despite his size limitations.
- We saw the good results last night for Kyle Hendricks on a night with the wind howling out, but the under-the-hood stuff looks good, too. His velocity was back to being more where you’d expect (sitting 87 mph with his sinker and his four-seam, topping out near 89 mph), the Reds could do nothing with his changeup, and he got 15 whiffs on the night. Even his two walks featured pitches that were close enough to go either way. Perhaps best of all, Hendricks got nine groundouts, which is obviously exactly what you want to see on a night like last night.
- After three rough starts to begin the season, Kyle Hendricks has posted a 1.82/3.44/3.87 ERA/FIP/xFIP line in the five starts that followed. The walk rate has still been high for him (9.2%), but the strikeout rate is just about league average (21.0%) and the groundball rate is solid (50.0%). Expecting a repeat of last year was always crazy, but expecting a very good pitcher? Not at all crazy – it’s easy to forget that Hendricks was very good in 2015, even before he was dominant in 2016.
- Hendricks also pulled off a two-strike safety squeeze to score a run – an excellent call when the pitcher-batter probably isn’t going to do much anyway – and the Cubs’ Twitter account had a little fun with Hendricks’ typically placid demeanor:
.@kylehendricks28 bunts home a run to make it 6-2 in the 3rd!
He is very excited, as you can see. pic.twitter.com/iVqug37zZL
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 18, 2017
- A great read at The Athletic on Eddie Butler’s arrival with the Cubs, and, among other things, how they’ve encouraged him to pound the strike zone with all of his pitches and simply let batters try to do what they can. There’s a lot of risk in an approach like that, especially for a guy who doesn’t miss a lot of bats anyway, but with so much movement on his pitches, and five different pitches he can throw for strikes, perhaps Butler can keep batters off balance just enough to keep inducing weak contact.
- If you missed it earlier, Jason Heyward is set to start a rehab assignment today, and the Cubs will soon have a roster decision to make (and, thereafter, if Ian Happ were to stick around, they’d have difficult lineup decisions to make almost every day).
- It’s good to see the Reds:
#Cubs have scored at least 5 runs in 24 of their last 26 games against the Reds.
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 18, 2017
- One bit of horrible news from Tuesday night’s game: a fan fell over a railing after the Cubs/Reds game, and then died yesterday (Cubs.com). You never imagine something like that is going to happen when you go to a baseball game. Thoughts go out to his family and friends.
- Keith Law regularly endeavors to rank the top 25 players in baseball under the age of 25, and, in recent years, we’ve been used to seeing several Cubs on the list. The latest installment, however, has just one Cub: Addison Russell at number 10. Javy Baez was an honorable mention. Who else could have/should have been on the list? Well, Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora qualified for the list, but given their ongoing development, I can understand them not being on just yet. Willson Contreras just turned 25 last week, so he was not eligible.
- Kyle Schwarber broke part of the Budweiser sign atop the right field video board yesterday, and he apologized with a smile (Tribune). He said it would be better if it were in a game. Plenty of opportunities going forward, Kyle.
- Speaking of Schwarber, he’s kicking off a new initiative called “Neighborhood Heroes,” honoring first responders (Cubs.com).
- A piece of Kris Bryant’s bat got stuck in the protective netting for a couple innings last night, and after unsuccessful attempts to shake and knock it loose, the Cubs had to go to extreme measures:
— Chicago Sport Social (@ChiSportSocial) May 18, 2017
- Why they didn’t leave it there forever like the Schwarber ball on the video board, I’ll never know. What, broken Kris Bryant bat in a random May game isn’t historic enough?
- Earlier, we took a closer look at the replay that won the game for the Cubs last night.
- Starlin Castro continues to crush it this year with the Yankees, and, well, good for him.
- He looks so young! Sounds mostly the same, though:
— Jim Mattson (@hoijim) May 17, 2017
- Javy Baez is working with Toyota, and he’s debuting some acting skills:
— Javier Báez (@javy23baez) May 11, 2017
- Heads up: a big sale on a Greg Maddux autographed baseball if you want one for the collection.
- I don’t know this particular one myself, but this Amazon Deal of the Day seems like a great deal (76% off) on a well-reviewed portable bluetooth speaker.