Willson on Fire, Hendricks and Bryant Off, Cardinals Bullpen Problems, Reds-Pirates Brawl, and Other Bullets

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Willson on Fire, Hendricks and Bryant Off, Cardinals Bullpen Problems, Reds-Pirates Brawl, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Home opener hype here. Thoughts on the first week road trip here. Bricks of cinnamon where my lovely cinnamon rolls used to be? Here. With me. Because my stupid ace accidentally left them sitting out in the open last night after I got them so I could have them, as I do annually, before the opener.

  • It’s obvious to anyone watching that Kris Bryant is off right now, just missing his pitches late and under. Consistently. But Joe Maddon is not concerned (Cubs.com): “He’s working through some things right now. The big thing is that he is healthy. That’s the important thing. … He’s an elite player and, for me, guys like that, you’ve got to encourage them, you’ve got to be there to support them. And, of course, him and [hitting coach Anthony Iapoce] are talking. But you’ve just got to stay with that. You’ve got to stay with that until he comes out the other side.” I know that sounds pretty empty, but that’s because it’s just true with a guy like Bryant. He’s off, but he’s an elite hitter (get off me about last year – the guy was hurt). You let elite hitters adjust and get back on track, because it’s just what they do in time.
  • How ticked did Kyle Hendricks look yesterday after he was pulled from the game at just 75 pitches and four mostly unsuccessful innings of work? Hendricks doesn’t really show much affect one way or the other, but you could tell he was freaking steamed in a relative way. I tend to doubt he was steamed at Maddon, who appropriately pulled Hendricks when there was an opportunity to try to score some runs before the Brewers turned the game over to Hader, and was instead probably made at himself that it had come to that.

  • We’ve seen it every year in the last few with Hendricks now: it takes him some time (both in the season, and in individual starts) to get his top-tier command going. Unfortunately that has meant some clunkers early, and also so freaking many first inning home runs. Like with Bryant, I can’t say I’m worried yet about Hendricks. For his part, he seems to also say he’s just a touch off mechanically (Tribune).
  • Joe Maddon anticipates giving Victor Caratini more playing time given how well he’s doing (Cubs.com), and to that I say YES PLEASE. We’ve talked about it before – the best balance of Caratini and Willson Contreras will actually HELP Contreras’s long-term production, too, so it’s not even like you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul when you sit Contreras down.
  • Speaking of Contreras, my dude is so freaking scorching right now:

  • Contreras is up to a .364/.517/.864 slash line in the early going, good for a 233 wRC+, third best in the National League.

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
  • Nice to see the Cubs high up in this, which means they are somewhat deserving of the huge offensive results they’ve gotten so far:

  • The Cubs aren’t the only NL Central team with serious bullpen issues, and that includes the Brewers, who’ve actually had some problems outside of Josh Hader (of course, when that dang guy can pitch three innings and dominate at the drop of a hat, how bad could your problems really be?). But the Cardinals have got it almost as bad as the Cubs, in terms of figuring out personnel, with top young arm Alex Reyes already demoted to AAA, and big signing Andrew Miller with an early 9.82 ERA, 9.5% strikeout rate, 19.1% walk rate, and a 7.36 HR/9. Yikes.
  • Ooh, Easter candy is among the Deals of the Day at Amazon today, so load up!
  • Although the actual scuffle was still pretty bad, it was not quite as bad as this magnificent picture makes it look:

  • Basically, Derek Dietrich hit a MONSTER homer off of Chris Archer, and admired the heck out of it. Archer (of all people?) apparently didn’t like it, and threw behind Dietrich the next time he was up. The Reds were very unhappy, and Yasiel Puig exploded. Of literally all the guys you could mess with on that field, Puig is the last one I would choose.

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.