Jason Hammel's Fastball and Another Big Cubs Win and Other Bullets

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Jason Hammel’s Fastball and Another Big Cubs Win and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Day games after a night game are a tricky thing, especially when they come at the transition point from the end of one series to the start of another.

No, I don’t mean for the players – though I’m sure it’s not easy – I mean for me! The EBS went up around 11:15pm my time, but before it gets too late into the next morning, we had to get out a look back at the game, the Minor League Daily, I had to shoot/edit/publish a new Series Review video, we had to get out the Series Preview, and then also the lineup came out!

None of that’s complaining, of course – it’s actually just designed to explain why you’re only now seeing the “morning” Bullets …

  • Jason Hammel, and the defense, managed to keep the Reds off the board through six innings last night despite four hits, four walks, and only three strikeouts – those not a horrible trio of stats, it’s just that it rarely leads to a zero in the run column. What was particularly interesting about the game was how fastball-heavy Hammel went: 55 of his 88 pitches were a fastball, or 62.5% – way up from where he was last year, for example, at just 53.4%. On a cold April night at Wrigley, with the wind blowing in, it seems like a pretty good strategy, and it also seemed to work out well, as Hammel got an even split of groundouts and fly outs on the night.
  • But what Sahadev Sharma noticed in a great read at The Athletic is that those fastballs were not evenly distributed – Hammel was far more reliant on his four-seamer than usual, leaning on it heavily in the early-going, rather than his two-seamer/sinker, which only ticked up in usage at the end of his outing. Turns out that may have partly been due a miscommunication between Hammel and Miguel Montero about which fastball was going to be the primary in the outing. That apparently got cleared up at some point (I wonder if Montero was wondering why there wasn’t as much movement on Montero’s “two-seamer” as he was expecting), but it makes you remember that Hammel worked exclusively with Kyle Schwarber in Spring Training, so there may be a slight learning curve in getting that familiarity back with Montero.
  • As the Cubs face the Rockies today at Wrigley, Matt Trueblood notes that the organizations have had a ton of really memorable moments. You undoubtedly remember the huge comeback win and the huge blown 9th-inning lead (but still a win) in 2007 and 2008, but can you remember which was which? You also undoubtedly remember two of the Cubs’ biggest wins in 2015 – Dexter Fowler’s 9th inning homer in Colorado, and Kris Bryant’s walk-off homer when the Cubs needed it most. That latter one was my game of the year for 2015, which was a tough call, because there were so many.
  • The Cubs’ run differential of +43 is tops in baseball … by a freaking mile. The Cardinals, at +24, are second.
  • Dexter Fowler’s .590 OBP is best in baseball, but you might be surprised to learn that a few guys are close: Daniel Murphy is at .581, Brian McCann is at .538, and Christian Yelich is at .531. Thing is, though, that Fowler’s 39 plate appearances are far more than those guys.
  • Bryce Harper hit his 100th homer – he’s 23 – and it was a grand slam, which is almost as good as it gets.
  • The Cardinals goofed pretty seriously on the basepaths against the Brewers, but no one noticed. So I’ll point it out.
  • Harry Caray led the Seventh Inning Stretch last night, which is always a big hit (and, as you’ll notice, the Cubs can even get a sponsor for it without it being obnoxious):

  • Jake Arrieta is now an underwear model for Saxx Underwear, and this says it all:

  • And the video spot:

  • Amazon’s got a new Kindle out – called the Oasis – and it is apparently all fancy and improved. The Wife is the Kindle-user in our household, so I’ll have to ask her opinion on whether she wants to upgrade.
  • And one last look at the Series Review for the Cubs’ sweep of the Reds before we turn to the next series:

Author: Brett Taylor

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