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Filthy Changeups, The Lester Pick-Off, Let’s Freaking Go, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs Highlights, Chicago Cubs News

How is everyone feeling this morning? Me, I don’t feel terrible. I’m one of those weirdos who feels better today BECAUSE of the grand slam. If that doesn’t happen, and the Cubs lose by a single, unearned run? I wouldn’t have slept. At least with the granny, it was like, “OK, whatever, game over, get ’em tomorrow.”


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Of course, if last night’s game plays out tonight, that would be a different story. I’d have a long weekend of pounding my head into the table on deck.

But we’re gonna stay positive today, my frents:

  • As for the grand slam itself, can you believe that went out? Michael Taylor has sneaky crazy power, and we said it would have to be a tattooed low liner to get out on a cold, rainy, wind howling in day like that … but Taylor actually got it pretty up in the air the opposite way (33 degree launch angle is fairly steep). Even as it came off the bat looking good, I figured there was no way it would go out considering Addison Russell’s blast earlier in the game came up some 20 feet short. But Taylor’s blast did go, and it’s because he simply hit the crap out of it. At 106.2 mph in exit velocity, it was the hardest hit ball in the entire game.
  • Stephen Strasburg got another 22(!!!omg!!!111!!!lol!!!) whiffs in the game yesterday, a huge chunk of them coming on his plus-plus changeup, which his violent action makes look like a low fastball until it evaporates below the strike zone. Moreover, it’s coming in at 89 mph, so it’s not like it’s a slow roller up there, giving you any real time to adjust when you were trying to be prepared for 96 mph gas.

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  • Filthy indeed:

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

  • For the record, I hit at Sluggers earlier this week, and I crushed it. So I’m pretty sure that means I could hit Strasburg’s changeup. He throws underhand, right?
  • In all seriousness, Strasburg was unbelievable yesterday. Throw in the conditions (which probably saved him a couple runs, to be fair), and I have a hard time putting the bulk of the blame on the Cubs’ bats for failing to muster anything against Strasburg. When he’s at his best – as he was yesterday, looking completely healthy – he has three plus-plus pitches (aka, three elite pitches – it’s nice to have one), and he puts them where he wants. No lineup will do much with a guy like that.

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  • As for the Cubs’ starter, Jake Arrieta didn’t have his best command, walking five in his four innings, but it also sounds like being economical was not part of the game plan (Cubs.com): “I was a little erratic. Emotions were high, energy level was at a pretty high level in this situation. I wasn’t going to give in and make mistakes and allow them to do damage, especially with multiple hitters in a row. Walks were up, but when it came down to it, I made pitches when I had to, to preserve the situation.” In other words, there was a little more effort to go for strikeouts at the risk of walks, rather than risking hard contact with runners on base. I can see that thinking knowing that Jon Lester was ready to piggyback, though the counter is that putting extra runners on base on a day when the ball isn’t going to carry is a different kind of risk. It risks the other team scoring a cheap run or two on a dink or a dunk.
  • … I guess my point there, now that I think about it, is that walks are bad. #TheMoreYouKnow
  • One of the bigger, silly bummers from the game? Because of the loss, we can’t properly enjoy another Jon Lester pick-off! Like, another legit one! Somewhere, Tommy Pham is breathing a sigh of relief that he’s not the only one:

  • OK, fine:

  • I still love Miggy:


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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.