Cubs Flip Flop Rotation, Baseball's Power Surge, Love for Happ and Young, and Other Bullets

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Cubs Flip Flop Rotation, Baseball’s Power Surge, Love for Happ and Young, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

We had a bunch of appointments this morning, so The Wife and The Littlest Girl and I are hanging out at a Potbelly while I feverishly type these Bullets. It’s actually the place – same booth! – where I wrapped up my offseason/World Series opus this past weekend.

  • The Cubs have changed up their rotation for next week, opting to flip-flop Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta the next time through, allowing Lester to face the Dodgers, who were brutal against lefties last year. Arrieta goes on normal rest against the Brewers on Sunday, Lester now starts the home opener on Monday.
  • Dan Szmborski looks at the dramatic home run spike in baseball in 2016, and considers what it means for the league if it happens to carry forward into 2017. The players most positioned to benefit from an overall, uniform, and otherwise not-quite-precisely-explainable jump in the home run rate are players who are otherwise predisposed to hit homers. In turn, the teams with a lot of those types – especially in a ballpark conducive to homers, and with a pitching staff that can manage homers – stand to benefit most if we are in a new era of dramatically increased home run rates. For example, based on Szymborski’s ZiPS calculations, the Rockies would be the single biggest beneficiary of a league-wide home run jump, not only because of their home park, and not only because of their lineup and rotation, but also because they currently project for that sweet spot of wins (82 to 84) where an increase of a couple wins can significantly increase a team’s chances of making the playoffs. It’s a really interesting read, and will be something to consider if we see homer rates still way up there by the end of April – it could make the Rockies a good surprise bet for a Wild Card spot.
  • The Cubs, whose playoff odds are already enormous, don’t benefit as much as several other teams in this calculation, by the way, but they do still see a projected win jump in ZiPS from 98 to 99 wins. Given the lineup, the ballpark, and the rotation, this makes sense.
  • Earlier, Michael wrote about Kris Bryant being the Face of Baseball, and, what do you know – he’s front in center in another MLB spot:

  • Jesse Rogers has a Q&A with Bryant, and it’s a great read. Bryant gets into his work this offseason to get back to going the other way when necessary, and his improvements against changeups. I thought perhaps the most interesting response, though, was when he was asked about his younger teammates in spring camp: “I like looking at the guys in the minor leagues. Ian Happ, Chesny Young. I told them all the time – they’re my favorite players. I love watching them play the game. Chesny, I mean, never heard of him, and he comes out here … he’s great. He hits every ball hard, fields every ball clean. I’m super impressed with both of them, and I think they’re big leaguers right now.” That’s been something of a consensus opinion on those two, who will be manning the middle infield for AAA Iowa, starting today.
  • Speaking of which:

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.