Season-High Winning Streak, Chavez is Ridiculous, Chatwood Chatwooding, and Other Bullets

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Season-High Winning Streak, Chavez is Ridiculous, Chatwood Chatwooding, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I’ve started digging into random episodes of a delightfully nerdy science podcast, “Stuff to Blow Your Mind.” They did a three-part series on black holes that gave a deep but accessible overview of everything we know about them. It was awesome.

  • The Cubs defeated the mighty Thor last night, winning their sixth game in a row, a streak they’ve matched just once before this season (culminating in a 4th of July win over the Tigers – the same team against whom the Cubs kicked off the current streak (if the Cubs played in the AL Central, they might have 120 wins … just sayin’)). If the Cubs want to set a new season high, though, they’re going to have beat Jacob deGrom, who is right there with Max Scherzer as the best-performing starter of 2018. Get this: deGrom’s worst start of the season came all the way back on April 10, when he gave up a whopping four runs over 6.0 innings against the Marlins. You can’t even hope to get him out early: since May 17, he’s gone under 6.0 innings exactly zero times. And 13 of those 18 starts have been at least 7.0 innings. He is a freak in the current environment.
  • Last night’s win also bumped the Cubs up a bit further on the idle and shiftless Cardinals and Brewers:

  • As with the winning streak, that 4.5-game lead is also tied for a season high for the Cubs.
  • If there was any question about whether Pedro Strop is *THE* Cubs closer right now, Joe Maddon answered it definitively last night, when, even with a three-run lead, Strop was yanked after a walk, a groundout, and a single that brought a thumping lefty to the plate as the tying run. It felt like the right decision at the time, even as Justin Wilson then gave up a single to Jay Bruce. Jesse Chavez came in throwing (relative) gas, and got two strikeouts to end the threat and get the “save.”
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • Of Strop’s role, Maddon reminded folks ( “[Strop] is not an ordained closer. He has not been to the Vatican and he has not received the holy oils. He’s part of the bullpen. We have different guys.” Although some guys require that knowledge that they are THE man in order to be at their best in the 9th, Strop has not been the ordained closer before, and if he can function just as well in a role bouncing around (he has), then there’s no need to have a dedicated closer while Brandon Morrow is out.
  • Oh, and about Jesse Chavez: that dude has been so freaking good since the trade to the Cubs. He’s got a 1.29 ERA over 21.0 innings and 16 appearances. He’s struck out 33.8% of the batters he’s faced and walked just 2.6%. Tons of soft contact. No hard contact. Tons of ground balls. He’s been used in all kinds of roles and situations. The guy has basically been the perfect reliever.

  • Kris Bryant’s night in Iowa looked to be a success, whereas Tyler Chatwood’s night seemed to be vintage Chatwood, alternating between innings of extreme effectiveness and innings of complete and total inability to throw strikes. His first two innings summed up the tantalizing potential and frustrating wildness of Chatwood: a nine-pitch, nine-strike, perfect first inning … followed by a second inning that went groundout, walk, fly out, hit, walk, walk, walk, strikeout.
  • Chatwood is rehabbing a hip injury, though I think we can all be big boys and girls and note that his absence from the big league roster right now was well-timed to allow the Cubs to give someone else a start (Alec Mills, who looked great), and not continue to carry in the bullpen a pitcher who cannot be used in even remotely competitive situations. It’s a sucky situation for all sides, but the reality is that Chatwood can come back up in September when Iowa’s season ends, he can be part of the bullpen, and maybe even appear in a blowout or two if the Cubs lock things up. What really matters for him at this point – in my totally outsider perspective – is an offseason to reset physically and mentally. He has enough talent that you want to see what he can do next year, but you just can’t have him throwing innings that matter this year.
  • Pretty easy answer, eh:

  • Kyle Hendricks’ changeup only requires that you bend the hell out of two fingers while also gripping the ball well enough to throw it 80 mph to a precise location 60.5 feet away:

  • Attaboy, Schwarbs:

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.