MLBits: Brewers Lose Key Starter, Cardinals Demote Diaz, Juiced Baseballs, Pujols, More

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MLBits: Brewers Lose Key Starter, Cardinals Demote Diaz, Juiced Baseballs, Pujols, More

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are going through some stuff right now.

Kris Bryant rolled his ankle last night, Kyle Schwarber is in Triple-A Iowa, Addison Russell, Kyle Hendricks, Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, and Brett Anderson are all injured, Miguel Montero was designated for assignment because of his post-game comments, John Lackey is on pace to allow the most home runs in a season ever, Jake Arrieta has struggled mightily, as has Hector Rondon, and there are probably things I’m missing, too.

Oh, the Cubs are .500 just days before July. I almost forgot that one.

So let’s turn our attention to the rest of the league for a moment, to see what everyone else is dealing with. It can always be worse, right?

  • Well, maybe not worse, but it’s definitely not good for everybody else, either. Take the first place Milwaukee Brewers, for example. They just lost their best starting pitcher in Chase Anderson last night, and it might be for a while. Anderson was taken out of the game after straining his left oblique swinging the bat in the second inning. “We’re probably going to lose him for a pretty good bit of time here,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell.” According to Anderson, he could be out a month to two months, which would probably be quite devastating to a Brewers team that is inarguably already hanging on by a thread (despite the Cubs’ own implosion).
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
  • Through 16 starts and 90.1 IP this season, Anderson has earned a 2.89 ERA (3.44 FIP) and collected 2.3 fWAR (12th best in the Majors) for the Brewers. He had even just gotten a huge write-up at FanGraphs as “another reason the Brewers sit in first place.” But now, he’ll be replaced in the rotation by the Brewers’ 13th best prospect. Somehow, an injury to Chase Anderson is actually a huge needle mover in the 2017 NL Central. Who woulda thought?
  • Kyle Schwarber’s not alone: The Cardinals have demoted 2016 All-Star Aledmys Diaz to Triple-A Memphis. Diaz had a really great year at the plate last season (132 wRC+), but has gotten off to a slow start in 2017 (79 wRC+). So, not unlike what they did with Randal Grichuk at the beginning of the month, the Cardinals decided to make a move to send Diaz down. For what it’s worth, Grichuk played in 15 Minor League games, hit well (134 wRC+) and rejoined the team on June 25. If Diaz follows a similar path, he could return sometime after the All-Star Break.
  • Despite what the commissioner and the league say, the data continues to pile up:

  • A Major League umpire, John Trumpane, saved a woman’s life yesterday, as he prevented a woman from falling off the Roberto Clemente Bridge. And then he went and umped a game. The woman was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and will live to see another day. Way to go, Trumpane, you did a good thing.
  • Drew Smyly, who was acquired by the Mariners to play a big role in this year’s rotation, will undergo Tommy John surgery next week, after failing to throw a single pitch for the Mariners this season. I know a lot of Cubs fans are dying for the front office to make a big trade for a starting pitcher this deadline, and they probably will do something. But here’s your reminder that pitchers can break after you trade for them. Sometimes immediately after you trade for them. Hopefully, Smyly will return sometime in the middle of the 2018 season.
  • “Just because it’s not particularly predictive doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant.” That’s a quote from Jeff Sullivan’s recent and excellent read about Albert Pujols over at FanGraphs. In short, Albert Pujols has essentially been the single worst position player in baseball this year, with -1.0 WAR so far. By all usual accounts, the Angels should just call up any other player to replace him and they’d move up to 0.0 WAR (that’s what “replacement level” means). However, while Pujols has been very bad in normal situations, he’s actually been PHENOMENAL in the situations that matter most:
    • Overall: 76 wRC+
    • Low Leverage: 41 wRC+
    • Med. Leverage: 80 wRC+
    • High Leverage: 210 wRC+
  • There’s more to it than this, but essentially, Pujols has been one of the most clutch hitters this season, and has, thus far, added a ton of value by hitting his best in the spots that matter most. Now, this brings us back to that first quote. None of this particularly predictive. We KNOW that. But this is why, in my opinion, “advanced” stat fans and “traditional” stat fans are in a constant battle. It’s not that RBIs don’t matter – you literally need them to win – it’s just that they’re not particularly convincing about how a player’s going to do going forward. There is absolutely no question that Pujols has been more valuable than the worst player in baseball this season, the question is will he still be over the next three months? Really interesting stuff.
  • Discussing Bryant v. Arenado has always been a fun debate (even if I don’t think there’s much of a debate to be had), but one thing’s for sure … Arenado has Bryant beat on defense:

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami