Friends of ours just had a baby at the same place we had The Littlest Girl, so we got to take a stroll down near-term memory lane this morning going to visit them. It’s wild how much of that process feels like a blur already, but being in the same place where we first met our third kiddo definitely put me into a happy mood.
Cubs win last night helped, too. Although it’s been a frustrating start to the season for a pre-season-heralded, World-Series-champion-defending Cubs team, I do at least take some tiny bit of extra joy from the fact that a win like last night – even in early May – can still get me really jacked up when it comes in St. Louis against a first place Cardinals team. That was a good win, folks.
- Like I said last night in the EBS, what an interesting Cubs debut for Eddie Butler. The 26-year-old former top prospect held the Cardinals scoreless through six innings, allowing just two hits (one of which was a bunt), striking out five and walking three. He gave up almost exclusively weak contact, and kept Cardinals batters off balance with a combination of two-seamers, four-seamers, cutters, curveballs, and changeups. He has the diverse mix that you’d want in a starter, and the ability (it seemed) to go more to the pitches that were working for him as the night went on. I was definitely not expecting to see such an effective four-seamer up in the zone from him, and I also didn’t expect him to be hitting 97(!)mph. Some of that was assuredly his own level of excitement and a desire to make the most of his debut opportunity with the Cubs, and it did look like he had a lot of effort in his delivery (which, combined with the crossfire style (albeit from the first base side, unlike Jake Arrieta, who goes from the third base side), yielded some clear wildness). All in all, though, it was just impossible to watch and not see the bones of a very good starting pitcher there. The results he got last night were not a fluke, predicated on great defense. The Cardinals simply did not see or anticipate the ball well.
- In sum: don’t get too high or too low with any one start (especially a first start, when the other team has little on which to scout the guy), but it is totally fair to say that what we saw last night was legit.
- Even Willson Contreras said he didn’t know Butler could sit at 95/96mph with his fastball, and when he saw how much juice Butler was getting, he decided to ride that pitch even more (Cubs.com).
- Not-so-fun note in this ESPN write-up on Butler’s desire to hold onto the rotation spot: the Cubs were officially the last team in baseball to have a starting pitcher hit 95mph. Butler will get at least one more start, by the way. Which, well, obviously at this point.
- If you missed it earlier, Kris Bryant won’t play again today (illness), and the Cubs are kind of a mess on the health front.
- Matt Szczur led off for the Padres last night, his second start in as many games since the Cubs traded him – hey, we always said there were teams out there that would give him a shot – and he immediately took to the role:
- Padres Chairman Ron Fowler also said in an interview that they tried to get Szczur from the Cubs in the spring but were rebuffed. While I have no doubts that it’s true talks occurred, I can only assume not much was being offered at the time, because you’ll recall, the Cubs were pretty clearly open to moving Szczur at that time (out of options, roster crunch, outfield depth, etc.). In other words, I’m guessing any offers on Szczur this spring were not much more (or not more at all) than the relief prospect they received in Justin Hancock (who made his debut at AA with a 2 K inning yesterday, by the way).
- Over at Baseball is Fun, Michael throws back to a classic Jim Leyland umpire argument … interrupted by ‘God Bless America.’
- A very high-capacity portable charger for your electronics is on a 58% off sale at Amazon, and also ‘Reader’s Digest’ is on a ridiculous sale for just $9 if you want to check that out (yes, we do get ‘Reader’s Digest’ – we read at a 70th grade level).