Walk-A-Harper, Pitcher Hammies, Happ's Journey, and Other Bullets

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Walk-A-Harper, Pitcher Hammies, Happ’s Journey, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Yankees couldn’t get their starting pitcher through the first inning of last night’s AL Wild Card game, but still wound up winning 8-4 over the Twins thanks to fantastic bullpen performance and a typical explosion of power. The Yankees will face the Indians in the ALDS starting on Thursday. The Rockies and Diamondbacks play tonight at 7pm CT in the NL Wild Card Game.

  • Remember when the Cubs walked Bryce Harper 85 times in a four-game series in May of 2016? OK, so it was actually only 13 times, but still – it was a tremendous volume, and an intentional strategy designed to take advantage of Dusty Baker’s insistence on batting a then-terrible Ryan Zimmerman behind Harper. For a variety of reasons – the batting order is different, Zimmerman is better, Harper has been hurt – that won’t be happening in this series:

  • Speaking of Zimmerman, by the way, what a freaking resurgence he had this year. After his two excellent years in 2009 and 2010, Zimmerman, now 33, steadily declined offensively until he bottomed out last year, hitting just .218/.272/.370 with a 67 wRC+. This year, he had one of the best offensive performances of his career, hitting .303/.358/.573 with a 138 wRC+. What’s most amazing, though, is that most of his batted ball rates look nearly identical to last year, and really the only differences are his sky-high BABIP (.335, versus .311 career) and HR/FB (26.5%, versus 14.6% career). Given that the balls were juiced last year, too, and given that almost all the other peripherals look the same, it leaves to wonder if the difference between Zimmerman last year and this year is simply a matter of him being the most unlucky hitter ever last year, and the most lucky hitter ever this year. That’s how wide that fickle difference can be, apparently.
  • More details here on Max Scherzer’s hamstring situation, which Scherzer himself calls confusing – he feels perfectly normal doing everything else he does with the one exception of “throwing a baseball near 100%.” Yesterday, Jon Heyman reported that Scherzer was targeting Game Three of the NLDS, though the Nationals’ official position is that they’ll wait to see how Scherzer does in his bullpen session today.
  • Meanwhile, you could say most of the same things for the Cubs’ own hoped-for Game Three starter, Jake Arrieta, who will also throw a bullpen session today to test out his hamstring. He was supposed to be pitching in a simulated game today, but Joe Maddon said the Cubs decided instead to go for the more controlled environment of a side session (NBC). There has been no setback, they say. And I intone.
  • Eh hem:

  • The Athletic walks you through the Cubs’ 2017 regular season timeline. It’s fun to be reminded of how things progressed. For example, how easy has it become to forget that Ian Happ was called up only because of a rash of sickness and injury, and nobody expected him to be up for more than a few days. Back later in the year? Sure. But it was just a little quick fill-in look-see. Right? Well, it’s a reminder that you can never take those call-ups for granted. Every single one is a chance to stick.
  • The playoffs have begun, my friends:

  • This is funny, but extremely cold:

  • A Kris Bryant KBoom shirt:

  • Twitter is now just out there owning the heck out of me:


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.