The Wife is back, at long last, from this week’s conference in New York. We were all very happy to see her return … this morning at nearly 4am. Her flight was delayed by some five hours last night, so she ultimately arrived home right around the time The Littlest Girl wanted her first bottle of the day.
Which is to say, she’s wiped out. I’m wiped out. (wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa wiiipeooout *guitar riff*)
- The easy response when a team hits into a bunch of double plays, as the Cubs did last night, is to employ more hit-and-runs. But Joe Maddon correctly points out, this team has a whole lot of swing and miss in its DNA (Cubs.com). Maybe you’d consider it in the 9th with Albert Almora (high contact, lots of groundballs), but the other two were Ian Happ and Almora with Miguel Montero on first base. Neither of those would be a great hit-and-run opportunity. Generally speaking, I don’t love the hit-and-run, because you’re artificially limiting what the batter can do AND/OR you’re hanging the runner out to dry.
- All that said, Albert Almora, you have your charge: gotta elevate more. Almora’s 56.4% groundball rate would be the 7th highest in baseball if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. Worse, most of the guys ahead of him have good speed, where a groundball tendency is slightly less damaging.
- At the conclusion of that last double play, which ended the game, there was an odd moment at second base, as Javy Baez and Dee Gordon got into a … slap fight? Playful, I think, as we’ve seen Baez get into it in a lighthearted way before, but Gordon’s final smack on Baez’s helmet was kinda firm. Maybe Javy can get his revenge today by giving Gordon a wedgie.
- Are the baseballs juiced this year? There are studies suggesting that they are, and Jake Arrieta has a specific thought:
"I'll get a ball hit back that is oblong shaped and that never happened until this year" – Arrieta on the idea of baseballs being juiced
— Bernstein & Goff (@Bernstein_Goff) June 23, 2017
- For a long time, my internal measure of the “standard” HR/FB ratio (i.e. the level to which most pitchers regress over a long enough horizon, which is what xFIP accounts for) was 10.0%. When a guy was far over that, I thought to myself, “Hmm, wonder if he’s been a little unlucky with a couple extra fly balls going out?” (Think the difference between a 350-footer pulled, versus hit to center; or a 380-footer hit in this park instead of that park.) But the league-wide ratio this year is freakin’ 13.9%. So a guy like Arrieta, whose figure is up to 16.5% this year (waaaaay over his career 10.8% mark) probably isn’t getting that unlucky. Most of that jump is probably some external factor – like the ball, for example.
- If you looked at the box scores in Luke’s minor league daily, you probably saw that the Cubs have signed Ross Detwiler to a minor league deal, and he’s pitching with the Iowa Cubs. The former big league lefty made his first appearance last night (largely unsuccessful) for the I-Cubs after being released by the A’s last month. Now 31, Detwiler last saw meaningful big league success back in 2013 with the Nationals, and has since bounced around organizations and between the bullpen and the rotation. If he’s going to make it back, it figures to be as a reliever. He would be considered emergency depth at this point, given the rash of pitching injuries quietly suffered at Iowa (Alec Mills, Ryan Williams, Corey Black, Juan Paniagua, Jose Rosario, and Rob Zastryzny are all on the DL).
- Bad news for the Dodgers and long-time top pitching prospect Julio Urias (who is still only 20 years old):
Julio Urias will have left anterior capsule surgery next week. That is a major operation.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) June 23, 2017
- If that surgery conjures in you vaguely familiar and deeply painful memories, that’s probably because it’s the type of shoulder surgery Mark Prior underwent after things went south for him physically. The history of pitchers coming back from this surgery is not good.
- That said, Urias is still so young, perhaps it’ll be a different and better situation for him (although Andrew Friedman cautioned that the precise version of the surgery he’s having is unlike any other pitcher the Dodgers could find – so who knows how this will go). Let this be your near daily reminder that pitching prospects and young pitchers (and old, established pitchers!) break much more frequently and more dramatically than position players. You still need pitchers, of course, but there isn’t yet a magic bullet for keeping them healthy. For now, looking down the road, I’m grateful the Cubs have started to amass a really nice collection of pitching prospects, because volume is probably going to be key.
- This is a first for the Cardinals:
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) June 23, 2017
- As a *baseball fan*, I’m very into sending out public messages that fans of all types are included in our great sport. Generally speaking, straight white males don’t need any signaling to know that this sport welcomes them with open arms. Other groups may need it.
- If you’re wondering, yes, the Cubs do have a long-running gay pride day – Out At Wrigley – which is on September 3, though it is organized externally.
- Check out the various Cubs books at Amazon if you’re looking for summer reading on sale. Or get a year of Entertainment Weekly for just $10.