Here’s a few difficult pills to swallow:
(1) The Chicago Cubs have gotten off to a uniquely terrible start in 2019, losing five of their first six games, with just one win on Opening Day in their favor.
(2) The Milwaukee Brewers have gotten off to a uniquely great start in 2019, winning six of their first seven games, with just one loss in their second game of the season and all of their wins coming against NL Central opponents.
(3) The NL Central already figured to be one of the toughest divisions in baseball, which means the Cubs always had a tough hill to climb. And of the four other teams standing in their way, the Brewers figured to give them the most trouble.
Thus, this start has been really bad … and I also still don’t think you know how bad it actually was.
- At MLB.com, Mike Petriello took a look at the objective playoff odds (which include current standings, remaining schedule, and a team’s projected performance all averaged over 10K simulations) as they were on March 19th and compared them to today. As you can imagine, the Cubs do not fare well.
It's early, but it's not so early that teams aren't already helping or hurting their playoff odds. Games in April *do* count as much as those in September.
Good news, Rays fans! Look away, Cubs fans.
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) April 5, 2019
- Back before the year started, the Cubs playoff odds sat around 64%. Today, they’re at 46%. That 18-point drop marks the single greatest decrease in odds to make the postseason in all of baseball. Kewl.
- I’d like to say that stinks, but is understandable and a near-50% shot at the postseason in this division isn’t the end of the world, but we’re not let off the hook that easily. On March 19th, the Brewers’ odds of reaching the postseason were at 28%. Today, they sit at 44%. That 16-point gain is the second-highest increase in baseball and tops in the NL. So basically, no team has weakened their position more than the Cubs, and no team has improved it more than the Brewers. You can say it’s early, but the Cubs have dug themselves a serious hole. They can still climb out of it starting this weekend, but of course: a loss in March/April counts the same as one in September.
- Craving a good umpire argument and ejection or two? The Astros got you covered, after arguing balls and strikes:
It's a little chilly out, but things are running hot on the field.
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) April 4, 2019
- Apparently during the debate, the home plate umpire proclaimed “I can do anything I want” … which is never a good look. It’s kind of true, but also, not something you really want to hear. Full Story at CBS Sports.
- Baseball is clearly trying to ratchet up interest in their All-Star Game (for obvious reasons), but not just for the fans. In addition to increases in awarded prize money for winning the Home Run Derby (the winner used to get $150K, but will now get $1M!) and the All-Star game (winning team gets $800K instead of $640K), the top vote getters will get individual winnings, too. And remember, the All-Star voting is going to look very different this year, with a preliminary voting schedule and then a pseudo “election day.” That could be a lot of fun.
- Corey Dickerson, who slashed .300/.330/.474 last season, will miss the series against the Cubs starting on Monday:
Corey Dickerson has been placed on the 10 day IL with a posterior right shoulder strain.
Jordan Lyles has been reinstated from the IL.
— Pirates (@Pirates) April 4, 2019
- Left fielder Marcell Ozuna was removed from the starting lineup on Wednesday because of tightness and soreness along his right side. He had an MRI yesterday, but only a contusion was revealed, so he’s in the lineup today. Similarly, Dexter Fowler was hit by a pitch in the foot he fractured last season, but the diagnosis was nothing more than a bruise, so he’s back as well. In the meantime, Carlos Martinez, Brett Cecil, and Luke Gregerson are all on the IL, while Alex Reyes remains in the bullpen. The Cardinals are pretty beat up right now, but they’ve treaded water at 3-3.
- Trevor Bauer is still really good and nearly threw a no-hitter last night. Indeed, he left the game with no hits through 7.0 innings. But because he struck out 8 batters and walked 6(!) he was already at 117 pitches and needed to be removed. That’s always a tough decision for a manager (it’s happened twice this year already), but it was the right call. Bauer has given up 1 hit through his first 14.0 IP this season.
- Manny Machado is not necessarily the cleanest player in baseball, but you’ll forgive me if I don’t agree with former Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly’s “bush league” comments over this … literal nothing?
Is Manny Machado bush league? pic.twitter.com/SV21i9qomp
— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) April 3, 2019
- Brenly went on to talk encouragingly about Machado someday getting “dropped in his tracks” after pulling his “hijinks.”
- Back before the 2016 season, Chris Davis signed a 7-year/$161M deal with the Baltimore Orioles … and immediately fell so far off the map that he’s in the discussion for being the worst player in baseball. His first year under contract (2016) wasn’t terrible, as he finished with a 113 wRC+, but it was way off previous expectations and with no defensive value, left him as a 2.9 WAR player. In 2017, he was a below average hitter (92 wRC+) worth just 0.1 WAR. And in 2018, his 46(!) wRC+ left him as a NEGATIVE 3-WAR PLAYER. Just think about that. In any case, he’s stepped up to the plate 21 times so far this season, striking out 11 times. Naturally, he’s being booed quite a bit in Baltimore. Former Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde – now the manager there – weighs in on the lack of fan support, but as you can imagine there’s not much to say. More at the Baltimore Sun.
- Mets broadcaster Ron Darling wrote a book which, in part, reveals some unsavory stories about his former teammates, including one bit about Lenny Dykstra, who, according to Darling, “screamed ‘foul, racist, hateful, hurtful stuff’ at former Red Sox pitcher Oil Can Boyd in the 1986 World Series.” Despite some backlash from former teammates, Darling is standing by what he said. Dykstra, meanwhile, is calling him a lying rat (using the rat emoji). I can’t speak to the truth of anything in that book – also, I haven’t read it, just excerpts – but it’s not like that’s particularly difficult to believe. And if Darling’s intentions were to reveal an ugly underbelly of baseball from a different era, that’s not something I’ll chide.
- Wanna know why your favorite hitter sometimes swings at terrible pitches? This is why:
Thor, 99mph Fastball & 82mph Curveball, Stop Gif. pic.twitter.com/kbRtYdDxyv
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 4, 2019
- You don’t even need to do the overlay/tunneling thing for that. Those are some nasty pitches that look way too similar for too long. Dang.
- And finally, this is absolutely glorious and epic … and such a great idea!
We've opened up video for >EVERY< pitch since 2018. Here's how you can view them. When you run a search you can click on the players row and see a link on the right with a video icon. Here's a search, click a row and watch a video. Much more to come!https://t.co/BDmbz0nfQw pic.twitter.com/cTgUYC7rkK
— Daren Willman (@darenw) April 4, 2019