MLBits: Weird Baseball, Cardinals Lose, Bautista Controversy, Pena Surgery, More

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MLBits: Weird Baseball, Cardinals Lose, Bautista Controversy, Pena Surgery, More

Chicago Cubs

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What an excellent start to the season for the Chicago Cubs. After outscoring the Angels 15-1 in the series, the Cubs moved to 2-0 for the first time since 1995 (which, like, seriously?!).

But that’s what happens when the offense is clicking, the starters are firing bullets and the bullpen keeps things quiet in the later innings. Times will not always be so good, Cub fans, so enjoy it entirely when you can.

For now, though, let’s move away from the Cubs and check in on some news from around the league …

  • First up is one of my favorite pieces of the day, and it comes from August Fagerstrom at FanGraphs. The title explains it all: Here’s All the Weird Baseball Things That Happened Already. One of my favorite bits of knowledge comes from the Pirates/Cardinals series, where Francisco Liriano’s final pitching line (6 IP, 3H, 0R, 5BBs, 10Ks) has never happened in the history of baseball. Also unique in history are the Texas Rangers, who became just the 46th club to win a game with just one or fewer hits. There’s plenty more in Fagerstrom’s piece, so be sure to check it out for some future baseball trivia.
  • After forcing the game into extra innings five times against each other last season, the Pirates and Cardinals needed a couple more innings again on Tuesday night. This time, Jordy Mercer walked it off with a single to right field, to tilt the contest 6-5 in the Bucs’ favor. Both bullpens were excellent in this one, though, as they combined to pitch 12 innings, while giving up just one total run.
  • Did you catch the end of the Blue Jays/Rays game last night? With the bases loaded and one out in the ninth, a grounder was hit to third and so began an expected double play. But as Jose Bautista made his way from first to second, he stuck out his hand, grabbing second baseman Logan Forsythe’s back leg on the exchange. Forsythe’s throw was off the mark and the runner was safe at first … except the umpire – acting on the new takeout slide rules – identified the interference and called the double play (effectively ending the game in the Rays favor). You can read more about the play here at our sister site, Baseball is Fun.
  • After the game, however, Blue Jays Manger John Gibbons shared some questionable comments, saying, “Maybe we’ll come out wearing dresses tomorrow. Maybe that’s what everybody’s looking for.” (When reporters followed up today, Gibbons doubled down, refusing to apologize and suggesting that people lighten up.) Now, there’s no reason to start a debate or get upset over his comments, because they are obviously and unquestionably wrong. You already know this, whether that was your immediate reaction or not. This isn’t over sensitivity or annoying political correctness, this is a Major League manager that made sexist, generalizing comments about women in the context that they are weaker and/or more fragile than men. The comments were wrong and offensive, Gibbons was wrong and offensive, and that’s that. [Brett: Well said, Michael. For those who disagree, I’d just like you to walk us through Gibbons’ joke, and explain it to us. In that process, you’re going to discover quite quickly why it was embarrassingly unfunny, both from a comedic sense (OMG no way! Dudes in dresses?!? LOL!), and from respect for women sense. The Wife, who looks great in a dress, is about 50 times tougher than I am.]
  • The Cardinals will have to go without back-up catcher Brayan Pena for some time, as he recovers from the knee surgery he had on Tuesday. The surgery was scheduled to remove a loose piece of cartilage in his left knee, which was causing discomfort throughout the Spring. Luckily, the surgery was relatively minor (and a success), so the Cardinals are hoping Pena will be able to shorten his absence from the expected one month to something closer to two weeks. Although Pena is just a back up, starter Yadier Molina has been declining in recent years, and underwent two thumbs surgeries this offseason, himself. No matter how minor the player, losing someone for an extended period of time can be difficult.
  • And Pena isn’t it, as the Cardinals have also lost some pitching depth in starting pitcher Marco Gonzales, who will miss the beginning of the Minor League season, due to a left elbow injury (the severity of which is not yet known). Gonzales began feeling discomfort at the end of March, and has already seen a Cardinals’ team doctor. However, the diagnosis is being withheld until he gets a second opinion in two days (that’s not usually a good sign). Originally expected to start the year out in AAA and move into the big league rotation shortly thereafter, Gonzales’ timetable is now completely unknown.
  • But if you think the Cardinals have had a rough start to the season, may I turn your attention to the Arizona Diamondbacks. After signing Zack Greinke to a $200+ million deal and trading away a lot of value for Shelby Miller, the Dbacks very clearly planned on contending in 2016. However, their star center fielder A.J. Pollock was injured (and will miss several months of the season) and then Zack Greinke was lit up in his debut (4 IP, 9H, 7ER, 1BB, 2Ks and 3HRs). The next morning, however, Ken Rosenthal tweeted that Greinke was pitching that game despite having the flu, which could have caused the very un-Greinke like performance (but that was never verified). In fact, following that revelation, manager Chip Hale maintained that he had no knowledge of any such sickness, and that Greinke was simply leaving pitches up in the zone. Just a very weird story. For what it’s worth, Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez tweeted Greinke may have been tipping his pitches, and the Colorado hitters caught on quickly. [Brett: Could he, um, keep tipping his pitches for his next start – whichever lucky team that might come against?]
  • I know that you know the Mets have an embarrassment of riches in their starting rotation, but man has it been showing up already. Most recently, Noah Syndergaard tossed an absolute gem against the Royals, finishing 6 innings with just 3 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts and 0 runs. At CBS Sports, R.J. Anderson wonders whether “Thor” will actually be the best among the Mets young crew, and if this season will be the beginning of that development. I find it hard to believe that New York has someone to challenge both Matt Harvey and Jacob DeGrom, but in Syndergaard they may truly have such a pitcher.
  • At FanGraphs, Eno Sarris projects a big season from White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon and believes that the adjustments made at the end of last season (namely, moving towards third base on the rubber) are the catalyst for his improvement. Sarris’ piece is a pretty deep dive, including graphs, charts, heat maps and much more, and it was a very enlightening read, so give it a try.
  • Over at BIF, I took a look at a play in the Yankees/Astros game that led to a protest, and caused home plate umpire Dana DeMuth to say, “Do it. Throw it into the runner’s back.” Man, have we had a interesting and contentious opening week … and I can’t get enough!
  • Oh, and Brett made me include this – in fact, he may actually be typing this very sentence right now and acting like it’s me, Michael, who is posting this tweet of his own volition:

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami