MLBits: Wainwright to the DL (Again) a Good Thing? A Pine Tar Problem? An NL East Upset? More

Although I may not catch 100% of every game throughout the course of the regular season, there’s almost no Cubs game that I’m not somewhat tied into (At-bat app, Twitter, etc.).

Yesterday, however, was my wedding shower, so I was radio-silent throughout the entire Cubs/Rockies finale (I may be young, but I’m not dumb). As you can imagine, that was a hard one to catch up with. The Albert Almora defensive plays. The Baez blast and sign-stealing fiasco. The over-turned play at the plate to end the game. And, of course, the one that made my heart stop: Kris Bryant getting hit in the head.

(And now the news that Addison Russell was briefly hospitalized after an allergic reaction? My word, Colorado. Stop it.)

Needless to say, I was buried in my phone catching up after the festivities are done. I think, at the wedding, I’ll have to assign a designated Cubs-checker to keep my apprised on the state of things.

Here’s some news from around the league …

  • The Cardinals have placed starter Adam Wainwright on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation, but if you hear it from him, it sounds more precautionary than anything else. “I took the route of cutting this off before it got like it did last year,” Wainwright said via Cardinals.com. “If you’re concerned whether I make 30 or 31 starts, be very concerned. If you’re concerned whether I make 30 or 10, don’t be.” To be honest, that’s a smart way to go about it and a good point by Wainright … but I can’t help but feel two things: First, Wainwright will not make 30 starts this year (he hasn’t since 2016, and hasn’t done it in back-to-back seasons since 2013/2014), and second, the Cardinals could be better off because of it.
  • (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

  • Or, at least, they would be better off, if they made the right corresponding moves. But instead of recalling No. 2 prospect Jack Flaherty (who filled in admirably for Wainwright already this season), the Cardinals have moved up Luke Weaver to start in Wainwright’s place (thanks to the off-day, the rotation just shifted around without skipping a beat) and re-called John Brebbia, instead. I’m guessing the Cardinals think Wainwright will return soon, so there’s no point in disrupting the prospect’s progress, but I wonder how many times they’ll do this before they just stick him in the bullpen and let Flaherty take over. That, I’m afraid, would make them much better. Hopefully Wainwright talks the Cardinals into letting him start (at 36 and oft-injured) all year. I don’t care what he just did to the Cubs, he’s not the guy he once was. Not by a long shot. Wainwright posted a 4.62 ERA in 2016 and a 5.11 ERA last year.
  • After our colorful discussion about whether stealing signs is “part of the game” or not, I’m very happy to see another, similar issue (one I brought up in comparison this morning) get some attention: Baseball’s pine tar problem. At ESPN, Buster Olney discusses the topic of pitchers using pine tar for better grip, better command, higher spin rates, etc., and how the illegal and ignored form of cheating goes on without much resistance. Most folks might actually agree with this particular Trevor Bauer Twitter rant:
  • There seems to be a difference here between using the sunscreen/rosin mix that most pitchers do versus using actual pine tar, by the way. In any case, rules are rules – either follow them, risk the consequences, or lobby for a change.
  • Although there are plenty of names for the current MLB era (fly ball revolution, juiced ball era, home run era …), the longest and most accurate title might still be “the strikeout era.” According to Yahoo, MLB is set to post a record number of strikeouts … for the 11th consecutive season. Specifically, the league saw 40,104 strikeouts last year and is on pace to for over 43,000 this season.  But remember, Ian Happ is working on a hole in his swing and Javy Baez is a new man, so maybe that number will be closer to 42,000 by the end of the year. *ba dum tsssss*
  • Can’t say I wouldn’t love this:
  • Not only do I enjoy seeing rebuilding clubs turning the corner, I love it even more when they get aggressive in the offseason to do so, because of how much it reminds me of the Cubs circa-2015. Given that this team also has Jake Arrieta and the team they’d be beating out is the Nationals … I’m officially pro-Philadelphia.
  • Not sure if you missed this, but Brandon Belt set an MLB record yesterday, with a 21-pitch, 13-minute at-bat against the Angels:
  • Rob Manfred was very angry with the length of the at-bat and is considering changing the league’s rules to more closely follow beer-league softball, two fouls and yer out! (I’m kidding, probably.)
  • Speaking of the Giants, they’ll be facing the Dodgers in a double-header this weekend, and instead of an injured Rich Hill, they’ll be squaring up against his replacement, Walker Buehler. Buehler, 23, is the No. 12 prospect in baseball and the fourth best right-handed pitching prospect in the game according to MLB Pipeline. “We had a couple of in-house options, but to get him a start, he’s pitching well, we just felt it was a good decision,” said manager Dave Roberts. “I would say he’s six [innings] and 90 [pitches], that would totally be fair.”
  • Derek Jeter told Bryant Gumbel he is “mentally weak” for not understanding that the Marlins actually do have a chance to win everyday. It was a stupid comment in general – even if it was an attempt at a joke – but even worse when you realize how defensive it was. The line of questioning leading up to the exchange was about why fans should be okay with a sub-par Marlins product and instead of explaining the premise of a rebuild (Sure, we might be less talented now, but we’re keeping our eyes on the big picture, in order to build sustainable success each and every season), he just goes on with the “we have a chance to win every day” type excuse. It’s just so hard to watch, man.
  • Yoenis Cespedes is blaming a lack of golf for his early-season struggles, and I kinda love that he’s being 100% serious.
  • FanGraphs has updated their combined WAR Leaderboards to include “primary” and “total” WAR, now that certain pitchers are also awesome hitters. Now, you can find out who’s acquired the most WAR, compare them to players are different positions, and isolate which part of their game is contributing what. Pretty cool if you’re a nerd like me.
  • And finally, here’s the latest on White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar, who suffered a brain aneurysm during a game over the weekend:
  • If you’d like, the Washington Post has much more on Farquhar’s condition and what a team official is calling the “fight of his life.” Best wishes to Farquhar. I hope very much that he is alright.
  • written by

    Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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