Hendricks' Actually Good Start, Baez's Walk-less Month, and Other Bullets

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Hendricks’ Actually Good Start, Baez’s Walk-less Month, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Are the Cubs about to start a four-game series against the Braves (in two locations), or are they finishing out an old series today, and then starting a new one tomorrow?

It doesn’t actually matter in the least, but I think I’m going to decide based on how the games go so that I can maximize my feelings about “how they did”. Win today? Well then they just won a three-game series, boy-o! Lose today? Eh, well, let’s just see how the rest of this series plays out, chap. Baseball fandom: it’s about tricking yourself!

  • I know that giving up three earned runs (four total) over six innings against a terrible offense cannot fairly be characterized as a “good” outing, but upon review, I think Kyle Hendricks was actually really good yesterday. Consider that the Matt Davidson homer came on a good pitch (a changeup at the bottom of the zone, Hendricks hit his spot), the Yolmer Sanchez RBI single came on a good pitch (a changeup low and away), and only the Nicky Delmonico triple came on a meatball.
  • Hendricks had six strikeouts in the game and no walks. He netted 17(!) whiffs in the game, which was good for his best swinging strike rate this season by far, and higher than all but one start last year. The dude was on, and sometimes, even when you’re on against a bad lineup, you’ll give up some runs. That’s baseball.
  • That’s the sense you get from Hendricks about his start, too (Cubs.com): “I felt I threw better. It was better than my last start – fastball command was better, good changeups. A couple bad pitches today, and they got hit. It’s just the nature of the game. You just have to stick with it and stick with the routine.” Not too high, not too low.
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • Javy Baez has not walked in over a month. That’s a real thing that has actually happened. Generally speaking, a good hitter is going to take lots of walks in a month, not by virtue of looking for them, but because some of those plate appearances are not going to feature a drive-able pitch, and four of them will be out of the zone. But, at the same time, I’m not so much judging Baez right now as watching with bemusement. Consider yesterday, when, on a 3-0 count, he got a pitch down and out of the zone … and lined it into the outfield for a two-run single. Should he have walked? Does it matter if a pitch is a “strike” or not if you can drive it? I say no. Javy’s a free-swinger, let him be a free-swinger. (That said, increased selectivity, if possible, will only improve the quality of his contact, and, again, will generate *some* walks, even if inadvertent. Not judging. Just observing.)
  • Brandon Morrow perhaps had the best description of the impressive feat that Baez has pulled off, hitting so well for a month without taking a walk (ESPN): “He’s always been a bad-ball hitter. You just had to miss the bad spots that he was good at hitting. Right now, he’s probably still swinging at those bad pitches that he’s good at hitting but not swinging at the bad pitches that he’s bad at hitting.” Checks out.
  • Teams keep running on Kyle Schwarber in situations where you would expect a hold, even if you thought there was only an average arm out there. But Schwarber does not have an average arm (his 2.5 Arm rating is only barely behind Corey Dickerson (2.6) for the top spot in left field). So teams are being silly nannies, and Schwarber doesn’t mind (NBC): “I love throwing to the bases and if they want to keep challenging, go for it. Obviously they’re not all going to work out, but I’m just gonna keep trying to put some good throws out there and try to get those guys. I always want to pride myself with my defense. Just being able to be accurate with my throws is a big thing for me.” The glove isn’t perfect out there in left, but the arm is about as good as you’d want it to be.
  • Looking ahead: although the Iowa Cubs were rained out yesterday, Adbert Alzolay can still start for the big league team during Saturday’s doubleheader. He’s scheduled to start one of Iowa’s games today, so Saturday would be normal rest for him. Fingers crossed that it all works out just fine, because I’d really like to see him up as the 26th man on Saturday, taking one of those starts.
  • This is fun:

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.