MLBits: deGrom and Syndergaard Available? HR Spike on Pause? Strike Zone Inconsistencies? More

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MLBits: deGrom and Syndergaard Available? HR Spike on Pause? Strike Zone Inconsistencies? More

Chicago Cubs

I’m getting married one week from tomorrow, and none of you have RSVP-ed to the reception yet. I’m starting to think your invitations were lost in the mail.

But Brett and Luis will be there, at least – so if you really wanna get away with some stuff in the comments, next Saturday night (when Brett is five Radlers deep) is the time to do it. [Brett: There are several things I do not like about this sentence.]

Here’s some news from around the league …

  • The New York Mets are totally not currently listening to offers for Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard – two of the best pitchers in baseball right now – but according to a NY Daily News source, they will be willing to listen in the future if things don’t turn around. And while it’s easy to get excited about the potential movement of either guy (deGrom comes with two years of cheap team control after this season, Syndergaard three), I’m not sure this is necessarily good news for the Cubs.
  • Here’s why: The Cubs rotation has some question marks right now with Yu Darvish on the shelf and Tyler Chatwood struggling, but Darvish is going to return and will be fine (and is definitely not going anywhere) and it might still be too early to give up on Chatwood. And even if the Cubs do give up on Chatwood, it’ll probably be because Mike Montgomery still looks so good and he could slide right in immediately. So while you always “make room” for an arm like deGrom or Syndergaard, I tend to doubt the Cubs will improve their rotation via trade this summer. Which means, if one or both of those guys were traded, it would be to another team – maybe even a direct Cubs competitor.
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
  • Speaking of which: The Milwaukee Brewers are winning again this summer, and, after failing to land Jose Quintana at the deadline last year (and narrowly missing the playoffs to the team that did get him (the Cubs)), you can bet they’ll be more aggressive on the trade market this time around. They did already commit some significant assets (both cash and prospects) to land Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich this winter, but they still have some room in the budget and the system to get a deal done. And perhaps most importantly, they definitely have the need. With Jimmy Nelson still on the shelf, the Brewers have dealt with injuries to Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, and others in their rotation, leading to a rotation that generally ranks in the bottom third of baseball. So if they’re going to do anything this July, it’ll be to add a starter, and deGrom and Syndergaard are the type that could really make an impact both this season and in the future.
  • Ken Rosenthal also explores the Mets options – with regards to tearing things down – at The Athletic.
  • At The Athletic, Dr. Meredith Wills examines the official MLB report on the change in baseball composition, looking more closely at the drag coefficient, which has apparently decreased and been called the reason for the “juiced ball” era. It’s a very deep, very comprehensive dive, and a good one to check out, given MLB’s own hand in the investigation. It could be all about the laces.
  • And like a rich cab next to a juicy steak, I have the perfect pairing for that study: Something Has Paused the Home Run Spike. At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan’s curiosity uncovered an interesting trend: fewer ball are leaving the park (HR/batted ball is down and HR/fly ball is down, among other indicators). It’s possible this is just some early-season noise, but maybe the balls have changed again. Or maybe we just reached a peak last year. Or maybe pitchers have adjusted to the new era in just a season and a half. Sullivan has some theories about what’s going on, but even his answers (which are great) lead to more questions. Baseball is confusing.
  • Former Cubs legend Jon Jay has been acquired by the Diamondbacks in exchange for two Minor Leaguers, and I say good for him. Jay was a pretty integral part of the 2017 Cubs team that made it to the NLCS and he’s having an even better (albeit familiar) season this year: .307/.363/.374. He still isn’t hitting for power, but he hits for average and gets on base and plays good defense. Jay has already been worth 1.1 WAR this season, and, while I prefer he helped out teams in the AL, the NL West is far enough away for now to wish him the best.
  • Orioles closer Zach Britton continues to inch back from right Achilles surgery (remember when the Cubs were rumored to be all over him last season and this winter? Bullet dodged? Or would he not have been injured if he were with the Cubs?) throwing his fourth scoreless rehab outing in Triple-A. And while the Orioles are not rushing him back, they will want him to prove he’s still got it before the July 31st trade deadline (Britton is a free agent at the end of the year, so they’ll want to move on from him if they’re smart (which, well …). Apparently returning Britton to a starting role has been discussed (LOL … don’t do that, you knuckleheads), but he’s inclined to stay in the bullpen for now. I’m very interested to see if he can return to form and prove himself in time for the Orioles to get significant value out of him, but I’m skeptical. Britton, by the way, is making $12 million this year.
  • At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan digs into the “strike zone” this year, as it relates to which teams have gotten the most and fewest extra strikes. You’ll be unsurprised to find that the Cubs (at -63) have gotten the sixth fewest extra strikes this season, which is really quite bad. HOWEVA, the Cubs hitters (at +27) have gotten the sixth MOST extra strikes, which … is really quite lucky and probably not the best sign going forward – unlike catchers framing pitches, hitters don’t really have any control over that. Combined, the Cubs’ -36 extra strikes ranks 24th in baseball, ahead of only the Rangers, Brewers, Royals, Pirates, and Reds. You probably noticed it in your gut, and your gut was correct.
  • At ESPN, Keith Law has a recap of the draft for every NL team and his assessment of the Cubs first-round pick is both familiar and encouraging. In short, it sounds like Nico Hoerner’s makeup, instincts, contact skills, and ability to stick at short long-term are unquestioned across the board. So if he can develop a bit more in-game power (#flyballrevolution), he might be a really excellent pick.
  • This is the most #Mets story ever: On May 22, the Mets signed Aaron Laffey, who hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2015, to a Minor League contract. And yesterday, after allowing 14 runs over a 3+ innings start, he decided to retire. That’s one rough outing.
  • And finally, this is just plain impressive:

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami