Jason Hammel and the Home Run Problem and Other Bullets

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Jason Hammel and the Home Run Problem and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

jason hammel cubsCan I confess something? I don’t mind that Baby Taylor hasn’t arrived yet, here now two days after her “due” date.

Although a healthy birth and safety/comfort for The Wife are, of course, paramount considerations, there’s one more factor lurking at the back of my mind. The Wife, a teacher, gets a certain amount of maternity leave after the baby’s birth, and it will not quite last until her winter break. That’s fine, and I can do some double-duty at BN and with the baby when the time comes. But the math is such that, if the baby arrived this week, The Wife’s first week back to work would be … The Winter Meetings. Yikes. So, by lasting at least until today, the baby has bought me at least the first two days of Winter Meetings week without double duty (and if you’ve been around during the Winter Meetings, you know: that would be extremely difficult). So if the baby hangs on through today and tomorrow … all of Winter Meetings week is clear.

Again, I know that sounds terrible, and the baby can actually come whenever the baby is good and ready. But if it happens to be after tomorrow … well, you’d already be in my good graces, Littlest Girl.

  • Jason Hammel is in a really bad stretch of outings, though he looked good last night. You don’t strike 9 out over just 5.2 innings if you don’t have good stuff and command going. Unfortunately, two mistakes were clubbed over the wall, accounting for the Cardinals’ four runs. As Hammel noted after the game (Cubs.com), his mistakes lately have gone for homers, which are disproportionately damaging. Some of that is probably misfortune (13.6% of Hammel’s fly balls this year are leaving the yard, the highest rate of his career, and much higher than league average), but not necessarily all of it (HR/FB ratio is not entirely flukey, and Hammel’s has been trending up in recent years; his fly ball rate is also up this year slightly). Overall, Hammel is allowing 1.32 homers per 9 innings, the 5th highest rate in the National League. And since the start of July, that figure is all the way up at 1.93. Yikes.
  • As I sit here today, despite a solid overall season, I have trouble saying Hammel should definitely be on the Cubs’ postseason roster. That’s true even in a bullpen role, because the risk of those homers justifiably makes you very nervous. Last night is a perfect example of just how disproportionately damaging they can be in a single game: on a night where Cubs batters dramatically out-walked the Cardinals (8 to 3), and where Cubs pitchers dramatically out struck-out the Cardinals (11 to 7), the Cubs still lost. That’s actually really rare to see, and most often, when it happens, there are two culprits: the other team had more homers (check) and the Cubs didn’t get hits with runners in scoring position (check). There’s not much you can do to plan around the latter in the playoffs, but you can do a little bit about the former by reducing reliance on pitchers who give up a lot of homers.
  • If you missed it, congrats to the Eugene Emeralds! The Cubs’ short-season Low-A affiliate not only set a bunch of records with their ridiculous regular season, they also just won the Northwest League championship! (Now, if the big league team could follow that same trajectory … )
  • Old friend Dan Vogelbach got the call to the big leagues with the Mariners this week, starting last night at first base and notching a hit. But he actually made his big league debut the night before, and it was inauspicious to say the least. After reaching base beating out a double play (!), Vogelbach went first to third on a single (!) … but missed second base and was called out. He’ll always remember that one. Best of luck to Vogelbach with the Mariners. He’ll have a real shot to be a 1B/DH with the big league team next year, because the bat is legit.
  • Hickory Street Capital – the group owned by the Ricketts Family that is developing the projects surrounding Wrigley Field – released renderings and information about the hotel being constructed across from Wrigley Field on Clark Street (where the McDonald’s used to be (yes, there will be a new McDonald’s inside)):

  • Of note, the 175-room hotel is scheduled to open early in 2018, and, if you’ve ever come in from out of town to take in the Cubs you know all too well that there are no hotels all that close to Wrigley Field. It’s not that difficult, in my immodest opinion, to stay somewhere closer to the Loop and just take the red line up to Wrigley, but I still think many folks will appreciate having the convenience of a hotel right there at Wrigley. Of course, there will probably be a hefty price associated with that convenience. That’s especially true when you consider that, out of a 365-day calendar, there are only 81 scheduled home dates for Cubs games.
  • Anthony Rizzo occasionally will go to a knee when ripping a deep homer, but nobody does it quite like Adrian Beltre.
  • Wow. Not sure how he found it, but Michael found the most ridiculous, embarrassing walk-off win I’ve ever watched unfold. That team didn’t so much win as just kinda accidentally vomit out a victory.
  • Ever wanted to try your hand at bread-making? I don’t. But it seems like a lot of people do. And God bless them. There’s a deal of the day on a bread-maker at Amazon today.

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.