Good Decisions and Bad Outcomes, Bullpen Troubles, Baez Slump, Rizzo Stretch, and Other Bullets

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Good Decisions and Bad Outcomes, Bullpen Troubles, Baez Slump, Rizzo Stretch, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Wait. IHOP rebranded to IHOB, and the ‘B’ stands for Burgers? They’re now a burger joint? How does that even make sense? That’s like Taco Bell changing their name to Pasta Bell and serving spaghetti. This ain’t right, and I won’t stand for it.

More like International House of Butt, AMIRITE.

  • For Joe Maddon, the decision to pull Kyle Hendricks after five innings yesterday when his spot in the order came up with a couple men on base was an easy one (NBCS Chicago): “We weren’t scoring a whole lot of runs so you gotta try to get them whenever you can. [Tommy] La Stella hitting, top of the order coming up, I’ll take my chances.” I think it was the right move, too, and I’m not gonna rip it just because La Stella – the best pinch hitter in the game – happened to hit into a double play that time. You’re trying to do more than just tie the game in that moment, and if La Stella’s grounder gets through, who knows how many runs the Cubs might score in that inning.
  • Although I understand why Maddon wouldn’t say it, I’m sure another factor in not preferring to leave Hendricks in to sac bunt: with Javy Baez on deck, you might not feel as confident that he’ll put a ball in play to score that tying run from third as you might if it were someone else coming up next. Baez does incredible things at times with the bat, but in those particular moments, sometimes he gets outside himself.
  • Speaking of Baez: over the past month, he’s hitting just .202/.213/.365 with a 30.6% strikeout rate. Worse, he just looks really, really bad at the plate right now.
  • Hendricks allowed another homer – leading off the game – yesterday, pushing his HR/9 to a whopping 1.51, 7th highest in the National League. League average is 1.07. You no doubt remember that he struggled with homers early last year, too, but he eventually got that number down to 1.10 by the end of the year. Here’s hoping the same trend is coming.
  • Kinda dig Brian Duensing’s simple tweet after yesterday’s implosion:

  • The reality of Duensing’s early-season performance, however, was that his peripherals never quite supported his sparkling ERA, and moreover, he was getting a lot of help from the rest of the bullpen when he happened to depart with runners on base. Right now, his numbers atrocious, especially each of his 14.4% walk and strikeout rates (yes, they match, and yes, they’re both horrible). Given his success against lefties in the past, and Justin Wilson’s renewed success in a full-inning setup role, the Cubs may have to pull Duensing back into pure match-up duty for a while until they can together figure out the issue (the only thing I can see in the data is a huge change in the horizontal movement of his pitches this year).
  • Luke Farrell actually allowed three of those Duensing runs when he came into a bases-loaded jam and gave up a triple. I’m assuming we’re going to see Justin Hancock coming back up soon enough, and it’s possible it’ll be Farrell who’s rotated out this time, but I’m still a fan. The dude has a 35.1% strikeout rate and a 5.3% walk rate. From my perspective, he hasn’t been bad so much as giving up some really big extra-base hits at the worst possible times. Maybe that’s an actual issue, or maybe it was a trio of flukes (in terms of the timing). By contrast, for what it’s worth, Randy Rosario’s and Cory Mazzoni’s K/BB numbers are actually pretty bad, despite their sterling ERAs.
  • Do your stretches, kids:

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
  • I saw a lot of “oh crap, he’s having TJS” tweeted headlines this morning, but:

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.