The Cubs are on top! It’ll probably last – or at least kick in for a longer stretch as the season goes on – but just in case it doesn’t, enjoy it right now.
- With the win yesterday, the Cubs locked in a much-needed 7-2 homestand, perhaps the best stretch of their season. Sure, they were playing three probably-not-good teams in the Reds, Brewers, and Giants, but even when a good team plays a bad team, it doesn’t necessarily win 7 out of 9. That’s the nature of baseball. Moreover, when you do have the chance to play against those weaker teams, it’s not like it’s a bad thing to win at a disproportionate rate – the wins all count in the end. And as the Cubs now head out to face the Dodgers in LA, those banked wins will look mighty good if the Cubs aren’t able to pull off the tough series win when heading out west.
- Jason Heyward isn’t showing any signs of being worse for the wear after returning from his knuckle injury – he’s done nothing but smack the ball all over the place. He’s got a hit in each of his five games since the return, and he also crushed a couple outs and had a home run blown foul by about two feet. Overall this year, he’s hitting the ball, on average, harder than any other Cub:
Cubs average exit velocity this year, via Statcast. Looks who's on top. pic.twitter.com/X0vpkrYTHy
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) May 26, 2017
- Mike Montgomery threw four quality innings yesterday, once again stretching himself out in such a way that he *could* take a sixth starter start if the Cubs wanted to do it. They may not be comfortable with that yet, though, because Montgomery’s numbers remain kinda mystifying. Although he’s got a 2.27 ERA and a nice 57.6% groundball rate, he also has jaw-dropping (in a bad way) K and BB rates: 16.2% and 15.4%. Which is which, man!? You don’t even have to know in order to know that they’re both really bad. Since we’re on an exit velocity kick, though, it’s worth pointing out that, despite the walks and no strikeouts, Montgomery’s been really hard to square up this year: his 82.0 mph average exit velocity is topped on the Cubs only by Carl Edwards Jr. (80.1 mph).
- I was fascinated to see, as I looked at that particular board, that behind Edwards, Montgomery and then Wade Davis, sitting in fourth place … is yesterday’s starter, Eddie Butler. It seemed like he was getting crushed yesterday, so it was hard to square … until I realized that the data from yesterday’s game is not in the system yet. You can look at the game feed, however, and see that Butler gave up three balls over 100 mph, and seven over 95 mph. I want to believe in Butler, because I know there’s latent talent there, and the Cubs sure could use him beyond 2017. I like that he was in the zone much more this time around, after adjusting from the last start. I suppose the next step is sharpening up the command so that he’s not getting hit so hard.
- The Giants were going to challenge Kris Bryant’s home run yesterday, where the fan reached out, but manager Bruce Bochy said the team’s replay man (former Cub Shawon Dunston) couldn’t get through on the phone to the dugout (Cubs.com): “It was ironic that as soon as that came up, the phones stopped working.” Bochy later admitted that they wouldn’t have won a challenge anyway, but it sure sounds like he’s hinting at shenanigans on the Cubs, not unlike the Brewers hinted at shenanigans for this past weekend’s non-rain rainout. Are the Cubs becoming the Patriots of baseball in the eyes of other teams?
- Cubs doing good:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 25, 2017
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 26, 2017
- The Mets continue to be a mess, with manager Terry Collins now suggesting that he’s not allowed to talk about player injuries.
- Mine mine mine mine MINE MINE MINE MINE:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) May 26, 2017
- A heads up on this, of which I am a fan:
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) May 25, 2017
- Earlier, we looked at the Cubs’ happy spot in first place, Eloy Jimenez’s grand slam, and a big day down on the farm.
- Over at TYL, Luis takes a look at how the injury issues of 2016 mean opportunity for the Bears in 2017.
- Hey, parents: dirt cheap lightning deal on one of those infrared forehead thermometers. Also, lawnmower Deal of the Day at Amazon, if you’re in the market.