I’m headed to Chicago later today so that I can be there for part of the Cubs-Cardinals series (Luis and I will be at tomorrow’s game!). I’m excited for a meaningful Cubs-Cardinals series at Wrigley Field, because the atmosphere is always excellent. But I’m also very nervous about how I would handle more losing (1) at home, (2) on the heels of an 0-6 run, (3) against the Cardinals.
I might eat all the ice cream in Lakeview.
- Earlier, we talked about the possibility of demoting struggling young players to AAA, and how Theo Epstein is leaving that possibility on the table, but his interview with The Score also got into the Cubs’ struggles more generally, as he sees most Cubs players as underperforming so far (they are). I found this quote especially thoughtful and somewhat heartening:
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) June 1, 2017
- We like to let ourselves get lost in things like Kyle Schwarber coming back from knee surgery more quickly than expected, and then going on a hitting tear against some of the best pitchers in baseball on the biggest stage as the Cubs win the World Series – HE’S JUST THAT SPECIAL! – but, obviously, sometimes we go too far. It’s hard for me to tell you (or myself) not to let that happen in the future because, man, it’s fun, but I do think it’s at least fair for us to step back later on, reflect, and realize that baseball remains so very difficult, and its failures are far, far more common than it’s magical triumphs.
- Speaking of the young players with struggles, Craig Edwards dives in on Kyle Schwarber’s performance this year, and offers that his overall contact quality is consistent with a much better batting average than Schwarber’s actually seen (i.e., he’s gotten bad BABIP luck). I won’t dispute the data – we’ve made the same argument here – but I will offer that the continued increase in Schwarber’s groundball rate is a real issue that impacts these numbers (now up to 43.5%, which is nearly league average – not at all where you want a pull-heavy, slower-running, easily-shifted, would-be slugger to be). Schwarber’s strikeout rate also spiked horribly over the last week and a half (40.7%) as he simply started swinging through everything that wasn’t middle in. I believe in Schwarber’s bat in the long-term, but there are very real issues he has to work through.
- Jon Heyman reports via Scott Boras that when the Cubs and Kris Bryant had extension talks in the offseason, they were merely general and philosophical, rather than about specific numbers. Whatever they were, the talks didn’t get far.
- Steel your heart, ladies (and fellas), because Anthony Rizzo is off the market:
Luckiest guy in the world! She said YES. Future Mr. & Mrs. Rizzo 💍 pic.twitter.com/93YPymdoJU
— Anthony Rizzo (@ARizzo44) June 2, 2017
The Astros enter June with the best record in baseball.
Last year, the best team in baseball entering June went on to win the World Series. pic.twitter.com/bIB94icCYz
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 1, 2017
- And I’ve got something new to practice with my kids:
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) June 1, 2017
- Corey Kluber’s slider is beyond ridiculous when he really spins it:
The movement on this Corey Kluber pitch is INSANE. pic.twitter.com/d7K2pADbgZ
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) June 1, 2017
- Dave Cameron does the “what’s wrong with the Cubs?” dive at FanGraphs, and although I don’t think he lands on anything you don’t already know, he’s probably more optimistic about a turnaround than many of you are. I think some of the expected positive regression in there undersells actual issues with contact quality (on both the hitting and pitching side), but it’s all a valuable reminder that there is a lot of bad luck AND bad performance going on.
- Among Amazon’s Deals of the Day today, Easton bats on sale!