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Lackey’s Contact Trouble, Bryant’s Bad Zone, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

What a terrible, tragic, disgusting thing yesterday in Manchester. There aren’t words to properly express the sadness and the anger even those of us at a distance are feeling. I can only do my physical best to continue being kind today. That’s always the start.


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On to the much less important distractions …

  • What a frustrating outing that was from John Lackey last night, facing a team that hasn’t done diddlypoo offensively this year. Another first inning home run, a second home run later on, and far more firm contact in the air than you’d want to see. But what makes it especially frustrating is that there was objectively good stuff, too. Lackey got six groundouts and six strikeouts through five innings. He got 15(!) whiffs. If you told me only those three numbers, I’d have bet that he had a really good game (though I’d wonder why he went only five innings).
  • But the one thing you really can’t see in those numbers is when a guy leaves a few too many up in the zone, and is simply too easy to hit at times. Lackey gave up only one ball hit over 100 mph, but he netted just one batted ball under 86.6 mph. Everything was in that zone where you expect to see a BABIP in the .350 to .400 range, and what do you know – I swear I typed all that before I checked – his BABIP for the game was .385. In terms of the batted balls, things played out last night as they should have, and it wasn’t good for Lackey.
  • (Don’t check that Statcast game feed unless you want to be annoyed, by the way. Overall, the Cubs had much better contact last night than the Giants. But they just didn’t get the same results.)

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  • For his part, Lackey felt like he threw the ball well (which, given the 15 whiffs, I can certainly understand), and Joe Maddon felt like it was just a matter of too many balls in the air (CSN). Overall, Maddon felt like the Cubs worked good at bats, played good defense, and had a good game. I know that sounds crazy in the face of a 6-4 loss to these Giants, but I can understand where he’s coming from. It certainly was a good defensive game, and, as I noted, the Cubs did hit the ball hard consistently throughout the game.
  • It’s too bad the Cubs couldn’t come back in that one last night. It would have been especially fun given the incredible Game 4 NLDS comeback the Cubs pulled off the last time these two teams faced each other.
  • A look at Brooks this morning reveals what I was feeling during the game: the strike zone really was not bad last night. One of the better ones I’ve seen this year, actually. A little wide on the inside against righties – Blach was loving that – but it was consistent all night. There was just that one inexplicable strike three on Kris Bryant, whom you never see give any kind of reaction at all to a call, so when he pauses and very nearly says something untoward, you can bet it was a bad call (via Brooks):

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  • As you can see, neither strike one nor strike three were actually in the zone, but that strike one location (pitch four) had been called consistently all night. Strike three, however (pitch six), is not only not a strike, but is never, ever called a strike. Inside at the top of the zone? You just never see that called for a strike, and it should have been ball four. I don’t think it would have swung the game or anything, but Bryant was right to be perturbed on that one.
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
  • An inside look at the importance of the Cubs’ circular clubhouse:

  • Possible/hopeful good news on Dylan Cease’s ankle injury:


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Brett Taylor

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