Bryant's Throw, Happ and Zobrist Playing Time, Artistic Strike Zone, and Other Bullets

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Bryant’s Throw, Happ and Zobrist Playing Time, Artistic Strike Zone, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

My foot is so frequently swollen as it continues to recover from late-January surgery that at times when it’s not, and is just “normal” sized, I don’t recognize it. Like right now, I’ve had it elevated for a long time, and it’s morning, so it’s not swollen at all, and it looks all sickly. Except … it looks like my other foot. Like, how it’s supposed to look. It’s freaking me out …

  • We can’t know for sure if the Brewers would have still won last night in the 9th (or later) if Kris Bryant hadn’t thrown away Hernan Perez’s dribbler, but we can know for sure that he didn’t throw away a hauntingly similar play in the World Series. So thank goodness for that. After the game, Bryant conceded he just should have eaten the ball on that one, but he was trying to make a play (Cubs.com).
  • Joe Maddon sums up the situation with Ian Happ by way of Ben Zobrist:

  • Here’s the tough spot that Maddon and the Cubs are in: they don’t want to suddenly bench Happ (or limit his playing time drastically) *BECAUSE OF* a week’s worth of strikeout woes. He can’t adjust without playing time, and we know the huge talent is there. But on the other hand, Zobrist is a very good player, and if we were to learn quickly that last season’s offensive downturn was primarily health related – and he’s healthy now – it’s not as if it would be bizarre to suddenly be like, “Oh, actually, Zobrist should be starting almost every day.” Because if Ben Zobrist is Ben Zobrist again (even at his age), then you want him in this lineup almost every day. It’s the reverse of what we talked about before the season – as Zobrist’s playing time goes up, there are only a couple guys from whom you could take that playing time, and Happ is one of them.
  • As for Happ … well, it’s been a really rough week. No one’s strikeout rate is all that close to Happ’s 56.0%, no one’s swinging strike rate is all that close to Happ’s 25.3%, and only Paul DeJong’s 53.2% contact rate is close to Happ’s 51.9%. I don’t want to overstate the implications for the future here, because the sample is still tiny. But what we can say about this first week is that, in terms of swinging and missing, Happ has been the worst hitter in baseball by a country mile. That’s part of his game, especially since he started going for more loft and more power over the last year and a half, but this seems rather dramatic. It goes without saying that at this level, he cannot be an even modestly useful big league player. I hope he’s given a little time to adjust, though.
  • Meanwhile, Zobrist is making hard contact nearly 40% of the time, is making soft contact almost never, is walking at a 16.7% clip, and has struck out just 8.3% of the time. Again, the same sample size caveats apply – it’s been a week for crying out loud! – but for this particular week, Ben Zobrist has acted like one of the most disciplined, most barrelling hitters in baseball.
  • Hopefully Anthony Rizzo will be refreshed and healthy after getting a day or two off from his lower back tightness. It seems to happen once or twice a year for him (back issues never really go away – they’re just managed), and it also seems – I’m just spitballing from memory here – he does come back well after getting a little rest. Rizzo’s production so far this year has been uncharacteristically poor, but again, sample.
  • Jason Heyward, still showing up on top of these data sets:

  • And speaking of Ohtani:

  • #AtCubs and #AtBrewers continue to spar:

  • Yes, the strike zone was dodgy last night:

  • And yes, it really stinks that a couple of the brutal calls came just before that Travis Shaw homer, but the terrible calls were not limited to favoring the Brewers. It was just a bad strike zone, and it seemed very susceptible to catcher presentation. And we know that hasn’t been a strength for Willson Contreras.
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
  • The prognosis on Corey Knebel’s injured hamstring is something in the 4 to 8-week range. Not good, but it sounds like he avoided the worst of it, which could have ended his season if it was a bad enough tear.
  • Speaking of Knebel, who was just getting in work so he wouldn’t get rusty, the injury got me thinking about Brandon Morrow, who has thrown two pitches this year. That’s it. The circumstances for a save haven’t presented themselves, and I know the plan is to limit Morrow, but isn’t he at risk for getting rusty at this point?
  • This tweet started so bad, and ended so good:

  • A friend asked me about which cold brewer I use to make my coffee, and, since I am a BUSINESS MAN, I made sure to check Amazon to see if it was a good price I could share with you folks – and, indeed, it is. It’s under twenty bucks. So simple, and, to me, sooooooooo much better tasting than traditionally-brewed coffee.

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Author: Brett Taylor

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