Just Hit the Ball Harder, Guys, and Other Bullets

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Just Hit the Ball Harder, Guys, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Littlest Girl is not yet walking, so we do a lot of carrying, but she is also much larger than a typical child of her age. Not only does that mean we get some extra exercise, but it also means that when she gets excited – as she did this morning when I was getting her into the car – she packs quite a wallop when she kicks. And this morning, I took one right in the left amigo. I almost went down.

  • We’ll have more on Yu Darvish shortly, but a couple horrifying “fun” facts here in the early going. After yesterday’s meltdown, Darvish’s ERA with the Cubs in the 5th inning is a tasty 31.50. Also, more Brewers please:

  • Sahadev Sharma’s latest at The Athletic is a very good, if sobering, read on the state of the Cubs’ offense:

  • The choice of Addison Russell for the image there is spot on, given what we talked about with him earlier this week. The issue he’s facing – primarily, making plenty of contact, but far too much of it “soft” contact – is one the entire team now faces. The Cubs’ 22.5% soft contact rate is the worst in baseball, and is well above the 18.7% league average mark. The team’s 31.1% hard contact rate isn’t much better, well below the 34.2% league average, and 7th worst in baseball. In the last week, the Cubs’ 25.6% hard contact rate has been dead last in baseball. Yes, it has actually been as bad as its felt.
  • Still, the Cubs have managed a nearly league average ISO and BABIP, so they may actually have had good fortune so far in those departments. If they hope to turn the offensive ship around, though, it’s relatively simple: more hard contact, less soft contact.
  • … of course, actualizing that simple solution is a much more complicated matter, and idiosyncratic to each hitter. For some, it’s a pitch identification issue (wait for more drivable pitches), for others it’s a mechanically-induced hole in the swing, and for others it may very well be a physical issue. The off-day, it seems, is will-timed in that regard.
  • Joe Maddon chalks at least some of the especially bad past week up to the pitching the Cubs have faced (Cubs.com): “The at-bats have been good. We’ve seen some good pitching. I mean, that’s part of it also. … It’s not like we’re just out there flailing at anything. [But] part of it is that we’ve won games because we’ve pitched better than good pitching. The runs are going to come, but we’ve been in a stretch where we’ve faced some pretty good guys.”
  • To some extent that’s fair, given that the Brewers legitimately do have some good pitching, Jon Gray is good, Tyler Anderson hit his spots very well, and the bullpens of both the Brewers and Rockies are good. Still, I don’t think the opposing pitching explains it all.
  • Here’s the grace I’ll offer: Ben Zobrist and Kris Bryant have just been coming back from injuries, and Anthony Rizzo hasn’t found his footing yet after his own injury. That’s a set of three important hitters who have some reasonable external excuses for not raking as much as they might otherwise over the past week.
  • Bryant is also probably adjusting a little bit to the face guard.
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • I bet that’s really neat and fun to watch:

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.