It’s official, with Clayton Kershaw no longer eligible based on innings pitched: your MLB LEADER IN ERA IS KYLE HENDRICKS.
- How about Mike Montgomery’s Cubs starting debut? He was limited to 4.1 innings because of a pitch count that wasn’t going to go much above 60 (he’s not stretched out for more than that), but that was 4.1 quality innings for a team that really needed it. He missed his spots occasionally, as everyone does, but he mostly got away with it because he works with so many pitches and has easily velocity. Montgomery’s four-seamer was hitting 94mph up in the zone, he also throws a two-seamer just a tick slower, then he works a cutter that bites in on righties almost like a hard slider, he’ll throw a changeup, and then he’s got a big, bending curveball. He can comfortably throw all of them for strikes. It’s not at all hard to see how this is a guy who could be a successful starting pitcher, and you see why he was a top pitching prospect for so long. Maybe the Cubs are just getting him at the right time (27) when he’s really figuring out how to use his long body to the best of his ability, while simultaneously improving the command of his pitches. Montgomery will get one more start next week while John Lackey is on the disabled list, and then we’ll see what’s what from there. I still like Montgomery as being available to the Cubs out of the bullpen down the stretch and into the playoffs, but you’ve definitely caught me dreaming big about 2017 and beyond.
- Trevor Cahill deserves just as much credit as Montgomery for that win, though, having thrown the final 4.2 innings of the game (69 pitches on just three days rest), and really having some of his best stuff in a long time. He gave up some hits and worked around some trouble, but I thought he actually looked better than he did against the Brewers in his start on Tuesday when he held them scoreless.
- Mostly an aside, but it’s fun to think about: a few years ago, the Rockies finally tried something pundits had been chatting about wanting to see for a long time. They went to a four-man rotation, piggybacking each starter with a dedicated reliever, and thus limiting each pitcher to just a couple times through the order in each outing. With this setup, you theoretically enhance the ability of all eight pitchers in the “rotation” both by limiting exposure and by changing looks on the opponent in a single night, and you can still have room for four or five other pitchers in the bullpen. It also keeps everyone more fresh, and doesn’t limit the innings of the top guys that much because they’re making 15-20% more starts than they would in a traditional five-man rotation. What the Cubs did last night – on three days rest for both pitchers, mind you – was pretty much the dream of what the Rockies tried to be. I think the biggest hurdles to implementing this kind of thing for an entire pitching staff, though, is that you’d have to get all your pitchers in the entire organization on board for a couple years to be in a place where it’s systematized and institutionalized, and you’d also have to train pitchers to not give a crap about the stupid pitching win statistic.
- John Lackey doesn’t seem to think it’ll take him long to ramp back up into the rotation once he feels comfortable again after his shoulder strain (Tribune), but it turns out that the reason he got the MRI on Thursday that revealed the strain was because he felt discomfort while throwing on Wednesday (the tightness originally occurred last Sunday). So, then, even if it doesn’t take Lackey long to get back into game action once he’s starts throwing, it’s an open question when that ramping up process will begin. Again, Montgomery will take Lackey’s next turn through the rotation for the second time this coming week, and we’ll see what happens after that.
- After yet another big night for Kris Bryant – including the Cubs’ longest homer of the year – his WAR is up to 6.6, trailing only Mike Trout (6.9) and Jose Altuve (6.8) in all of baseball. The quiet thing many of us believed about Bryant but have been afraid to say out loud is showing itself: he has the ability to be a Trout-level player. Which is saying SO much.
- It’ll go mostly unnoticed in a game that featured so much else to talk about, but did you notice how close Ben Zobrist was to a cycle last night? No, I don’t just mean that he was “a triple away” – dudes get to be “a triple away” so often that it’s become something of a nerdy baseball joke. The triple is the hardest part of the cycle to get. What I mean for Zobrist is that not only did he get the single, double, and homer, he also totally had a triple earlier in the game in his first at bat, but Carlos Gonzalez made a sliding catch in the right field corner. If that ball kicks off of his glove, which it easily could have, that’s a standup triple.
- Aroldis Chapman confirmed that he was a little tired when he entered the game Friday night (ESPN), after having pitched so much and having warmed up twice already that night. And as we hoped/expected, he’s getting today off as well, after thankfully not being needed last night. Hopefully the pitching will once again be such that he’s totally superfluous today.
- Cubs fans have a new cult hero, after this kid threw Nick Hundley’s homer back last night, was escorted out by security, only to return to a standing ovation.
- Tommy La Stella was finally back in action last night, playing a full game at second base for the Tennessee Smokies, with a single and two walks. I wonder how soon he’ll head to AAA Iowa.
- Well, we’ll get to see if Yulieski Gurriel can be as good in MLB (at 32) as he was in Cuba in his prime – the Astros are calling him up today. Well, maybe not “as good,” since his numbers in Cuba have been utterly insane.
- I don’t know much about grills, but this looks like a pretty fancy one – among the small, round types – for 50% off. So that’s cool.
Winter Meetings Wednesday Afternoon: LAD Out on Rendon, in on Lindor? WSH Out on Bryant? NYM, Marte, Nimmo, More