Aiming for Sole First Place, Playing the Conditions at Wrigley, and Other Bullets

Social Navigation

Aiming for Sole First Place, Playing the Conditions at Wrigley, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Horrible news from Ballpark Village at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, where one man is dead and another is injured after a shooting (STL Post-Dispatch). The early reporting indicates that an argument broke out, one man pulled a gun and started shooting, hitting bystanders. One of them was killed. There to have a good time, not involved in any way, and then dead. Just like that.

It’s hard to transition from stories like that, but we do it all the time. On to other things …

  • After the latest gem from a Cubs starting pitcher, the team is now working on a streak of six straight quality starts. It’s up to Jon Lester to keep things rolling tonight against the Rockies, who are tied for the second worst offense in baseball on the road.
  • If Lester does it, if the Cubs win the game, and if the Pirates fall to the Nationals tonight in Washington, the Cubs will finish April precisely where you would have predicted back in March: in sole possession of first place in the NL Central.
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
  • How familiar does Travis Shaw’s comment about playing at Wrigley Field sound to Cubs fans (ESPN): “We just couldn’t score any runs. It’s tough to score runs here when the wind is blowing in. We’re kind of a home run-hitting team and we need to find other ways to score when that’s not there.” How many times have we heard that before about Cubs teams built with power? And it’s not like being a home-run-hitting team is bad, but as you saw with the Brewers this weekend, so many well-struck balls would have changed the series … if it weren’t April with the wind blowing in.
  • I tend to think that’s at least part of the reason the Cubs have had more success offensively the last few years – yes, they’ve got these hulking, slugging, youngsters, but they have also chipped away (slowly, yes) at their contact issues. When the wind howls in at Wrigley, yes, even the pitchers want to see the ball in play, BUT if you’re also striking out a ton, that’s the kind of double-whammy that yields zeroes in games like that. High contact, a line-drive approach, and good situational hitting can carry the day on a windy day at Wrigley.
  • Speaking of a line-drive approach, Joe Maddon continues to push back against SOME of the proliferating analytics in the public space, telling the Tribune that he’s down with exit velocity (since everyone wants to hit the ball hard), but not so much with launch angle. You’ll recall, Maddon earlier this year suggested the fly ball revolution was going to hit a wall, so to speak, in the face of increasing reliance by pitchers on the high fastball. Whether that proves to be the case is yet to be seen, but, again, it is certainly true at Wrigley Field on a windy day in April that line drives are going to play better than fly balls.
  • (… to the extent a player’s game is really that malleable. For the most part, I’d just want to see Cubs batters taking whatever approach works for them to hit the ball the hardest consistently. For some guys, that’s gonna be full on fly ball revolution stuff. For others, it’s going to be a more level swing. I *tend* to think that’s what hitting coach Chili Davis is all about – meet a guy where he is.)
  • Tyler Chatwood, himself, knocked in the only run the Cubs would ultimately need yesterday:

  • He might be able to hit a little bit (for a pitcher), though it’s hard to know the dreaded Coors effect – despite a nice (for a pitcher) .216/.243/.246 career batting line, he’s got a meager 18 wRC+. Still, even that’s a lot better than Jose Quintana (-71), Kyle Hendricks (-44), Jon Lester (-31), and Yu Darvish (4).
  • Each of Javy Baez’s and Albert Almora’s 11-game hitting streaks ended yesterday.
  • If you missed anything from the Cubs’ good weekend, catch up on the headlines here.
  • And if you missed anything from the NFL Draft or the flurry of signings that followed, catch up at our sister site The Ten-Yard Line.
  • Super cases and fire pits are among the Deals of the Day at Amazon today.

Latest from Bleacher Nation:

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.