Guess Who’s Still Really Awesome and Other Bullets
I am an unashamed crazy cat person. I love my cats. But no animal is perfect. One thing that most cats deal with regularly is occasional puking, which is usually gross and inconvenient, but you deal with it. Today, however, one of my cats decided to puke on my laptop. That was a first. I have cleaned it as best I can, but typing on it – right now, these words – is … not fun. At least it’s still working.
- All right, the reasonable headline here is that last night’s loss was the first time the Cubs have dropped a game started by Jake Arrieta since the Cole Hamel’s no-hitter last July. That’s an absolutely bonkers stretch, a combination of tremendous performance and tremendous good fortune. It was a streak that, like all good streaks, was going to come to an end at some point, so pour one out.
- As for Arrieta’s performance, though, it was fantastic. He looked completely in command of his stuff throughout the night (even in the 7th when he walked three batters – more on that in the next Bullet), and lowered his season ERA to 1.56, tying him with that one Dodgers starter the Cubs won’t see in this series.
- Purely out of curiosity and not out of day-after griping, I had to check out those three consecutive walks Jake Arrieta issued in the 7th inning, which effectively ended his night. It looked at the time like the pitches were so darn close and he just didn’t get any calls, so I wanted to see what Brooks had to say. The results: the walk to Howie Kendrick featured one called ball that was clearly in the zone, and two balls that were juuuust outside the zone. Next, against Yasmani Grandal, they were all way out of the zone. And then finally, against Carl Crawford, two of the four balls were definitely in the zone, even if they were close. So, as I said, I was just exploring my own curiosity, and not complaining. Close calls will go both ways; it was just an unfortunate time for them to be bunched up like that.
- As for the offense last night, I don’t have a ton to say. I thought Scott Kazmir looked really good, working the top of the zone with his fastball (which seemed to have some extra zip, too), and then keeping everyone off balance with a great changeup and a diverse array of pitches (he threw six different pitches at least five times, according to Brooks – dudes can rarely effectively command that many pitches on a given night). He got 17 whiffs, too, which isn’t easy to do against this Cubs lineup. You may always have the urge to blame the Cubs offense when they struggle, but sometimes it really is true that the opposing pitcher was just on his game. Kazmir’s had a tough start to this season, but it’s not like he’s a scrub.
- Since he made a brief appearance at shortstop in the 9th inning last night, we can officially say Kris Bryant has played every position except pitcher, catcher, and second base in his young career. Truly, he is extremely versatile. And I hope he gets to check second base off the list at some point this year, even if only in a similar cameo.
- You may feel like a 5-0 shutout is a bad loss, but it could always be worse: did you see the way the Mariners lost one this weekend, with a double TOOTBLAN? Tying run on third and winning run on first with one out … and the game ends without the ball even being put in play. Wow.
- Yesterday, the Dodgers not only put Monday’s starter Alex Wood on the DL with an elbow issue (an unnerving MRI looms), but they also called back up uber-prospect Julio Urias to replace him on the roster. At the same time, the Dodgers acknowledged that Thursday’s scheduled starter Kenta Maeda (line drive off his hand in his last start) might not be able to go, which could mean that the Cubs might face the 19-year-old Urias in the series finale. Urias struggled in his MLB debut last week, but he has so much potential that I’m not sure you’d say you want the Cubs to face him from a that-would-be-a-freebie perspective. Instead, I want to see it happen purely from a that-would-be-cool-to-see perspective. I remember when a young Matt Harvey came to Wrigley Field to pitch against the Cubs, and, although he completely dominated them, it was a sight to behold as a baseball fan.
- Because of his much-discussed ejection over the weekend, Noah Syndergaard was theoretically able to pitch in relief last night on his scheduled throwing day between starts … and so he did, in dominating fashion. For baseball, that’s definitely cool. And, again, I understand the “why” of it, but I definitely question the “should” of it. There’s a world of difference between a side session throwing day and actually pitching in a tight game in relief – and Syndergaard showed it by topping 100mph nine times in the inning. I doubt he’s doing that in his side sessions. The whole thing just struck me as unnecessarily risky.
- It was not Miguel Montero’s best game behind the plate last night, as he made a couple errors, bounced some throws, and generally just seemed off back there. He got deked by Yasmani Grandal on a fake steal attempt, which resulted in this:
Miguel Montero throws the ball … to no one in particular. It happens. pic.twitter.com/4TDVdbtpat
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) June 1, 2016
- OK, baseball and softball families: Easton bats are on a huge sale at Amazon today as one of the “deals of the day”, so if you’ve been looking at bats, you’ll want to check this out.
- I’ll have some more on the Cubs’ bullpen in a bit, but earlier this morning Luke took a look at some of the internal lefty options at AAA in the Minor League Daily.
- In case you missed it yesterday:
- The Cubs’ bullpen was historic on Monday, even if not last night.
- Things look good on Jason Hammel’s hamstring.
- The Cardinals might not get punished any time soon for the hacking scandal.
- Gleyber Torres, so hot right now.
- The Cubs lost Neil Ramirez on waivers to the Brewers.
- Willson Contreras, also so hot right now, and has a bright near-term future.
- Clayton Kershaw had some extension-related advice for Jake Arrieta.
- A Lukewarm Stove, bouncing around the rumor mill.