Baseball is Cruel and Silly and Awesome and Other Bullets

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Baseball is Cruel and Silly and Awesome and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

heyward zobrist hug oops doh sadI come to you from a really cool playground we found in North Carolina (the one I showed on Snapchat), where The Wife and I are trying to wear out the kiddos in hopes of some afternoon naps. We’re down here for a wedding this evening, and some well-rested youngsters would be swell.

To that end, I’m going to try and keep the Bullets zippy so I don’t have to be the horrible dad sitting on his computer for too long while his kids play …

  • Kyle Hendricks’ start yesterday was not only incredibly effective, but also incredibly even. His typical 88-89mph sinker held steady throughout, his command didn’t waiver, and he was able to work well with all of his four-seamer, his sinker, his curveball, and, of course, his changeup. The latter netted him 8 whiffs out of 25 pitches. One in three times Hendricks threw his changeup yesterday, a breeze was coming. I love that.
  • I did not love, however, the way he lost his shutout (and potentially a chance at a Maddux). First, you had the lazy pop up to shallow right field from Freddy Galvis to lead off the 9th inning, which fell between Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist when a miscommunication and the sun conspired to muck things up. From there, Hendricks got a groundout (which moved the runner along), and then struck out Ryan Howard. With the ball in the dirt, Howard ran to first, which required Miguel Montero to throw. Because no one was covering third base due to the exaggerated shift put on for Howard (in large part to prevent that run from scoring), Galvis took off from third on the throw and scored on the fielder’s choice (with two outs and the team down four, it was the definition of a meaningless risk, since many more would have to score behind him for the Phillies to come back). So, then, Hendricks lost his shutout because of a pop up, a groundout, and a strikeout. A prime example of the cruel and unpredictable nature of baseball.
  • Also silly: that run goes as an “earned” run for Hendricks. It does not get less earned than that.
  • Hendricks is now tied for the 14th best WAR in baseball among all pitchers. The other three starters with him at 1.6 WAR are a very interesting mix of vague Cubs connections: Jeff Samardzija, Masahiro Tanaka, and David Price.
  • Jason Heyward looked good at the plate yesterday, is starting to feel his timing coming, and his manager noticed (Tribune). Although he’s heated up lately, I think it’s interesting that you can go all the way back to April 20, and his numbers aren’t that bad: .252/.353/.340, which is good for a 93 wRC+. Not good, but not awful. And that’s most of the season right there.
  • Notable update here on Pierce Johnson, who is coming back from a lat injury:

  • Hopefully Johnson won’t require too much time in Arizona before coming back to Iowa. There is so much potential there for him to be, at a minimum, an impact arm in the bullpen for the big league team as soon as the second half of this season, but the injuries – none of them arm injuries! – keep slowing down his progress.
  • So, there’s quite a bit of chippiness still going strong between the Dodgers and Mets. Before yesterday’s game, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Mets had complained to MLB about how the Dodgers were marking their defensive positions in the outfield.
  • Then, far more dramatically, Noah Syndergaard threw a third inning pitch behind Chase Utley last night and was immediately ejected from the game. You may recall that Utley slid high and late into then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in the playoffs last year – it was truly an egregiously bad slide, and probably accelerated MLB’s plans to implement the new slide rules – breaking Tejada’s leg. It seems the Mets finally decided to send a message about that, because there was absolutely no question that Syndergaard’s pitch was on purpose. There were many complainers, including manager Terry Collins, that Syndergaard should not have been ejected without a warning, but those complaints will fall on deaf ears for me. Not only is a warning not required by the rules, the warning serves to tell the teams that the umpire is now operating under the presumption that the next one thrown at a batter will be intentional. If you already know the pitch was intentional, then a warning is unnecessary. Syndergaard’s pitch was both dangerous and intentional, and the ejection was both appropriate and desirable. If you want to send a message like that? I don’t agree with it, but at least stand by your choice and accept the consequences.
  • You may also remember that Syndergaard basically told everyone he was going to buzz Alcides Escobar in the World Series, and then did it on his first pitch of the series.
  • Utley got the last laugh, though, homering twice in the game after Syndergaard was ejected, including a grand slam.
  • If you missed it earlier this morning, a deep farm system check-in from Luke, and a Padres-White Sox rumor that could eventually impact the market for the Cubs.
  • The 2015 Topps complete set is 33% off at Amazon right now – includes a certain Cubs rookie from that season.


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.