Pitchers Fear Heyward, Baez Showing Hustle and Discipline, and Other Bullets

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Pitchers Fear Heyward, Baez Showing Hustle and Discipline, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Game of Thrones returns tonight for the start of its final season, and although I’m happy to see what the final year has in store – especially after the terrible taste I’ve had in my mouth for nearly two years thanks to the pile of crap that was the penultimate season – I’m also sad to see the culture of it go. Thanks to the fundamental changes in television that have played out slowly over the past decade, I suspect GOT might be the final show that a huge swath of people are all all watching live together, week by week, and unpacking together.

I am also afraid that this final season is going to suck, since last season was the absolute worst mix of terrible Hollywood tropes the showrunners could find. Gulp.

  • Let’s start with something nice: Chris Davis got a hit! He did it! This ends his record 0 for 54(!) streak:

  • He even had the presence of mind to ask for the ball:

  • But also, because it’s baseball, Davis wound up notching THREE hits in the game, as well as driving in four runs. His batting average is up to .079 on the year.
  • Did you notice Jason Heyward get pitched around yesterday at one point to load the bases with two outs for Willson Contreras (who had a rough day, but is currently one of the hottest hitters in baseball)? It was another sign that other teams, at least, seem to believe that Jason Heyward is “back.” It doesn’t mean he is definitely going to keep ripping the ball, but other teams’ advance scouting and analytics departments can see and adjust to things with a high level of confidence in as little as four or five games. In other words, if the Angels were game-planning to pitch around Heyward in certain situations, their internal systems suggest that the hard contact he’s made lately has not been a fluke.
  • Heyward is currently hitting .375/.460/.700 with some of the sexiest peripherals you’ll see this side of the Riviera: 16.0% BB rate, 8.0% K rate, .324 BABIP,  .325 ISO, 36.8% GB rate, 47.4% FB rate, 36.8% hard contact rate.
  • Oh, and heck: that 16.0% BB rate is 12th highest in the NL. Sure, that’s a lot about Heyward’s great eye, but a lot is also about pitchers increasingly being careful (which is precisely what we were hoping to see for him – because he can’t take advantage of the eye if they are just pumping strikes).
  • The Cubs bullpen made me swear in the EBS yesterday, and is hurting my eyes:

  • Javy Baez made something happen in the 9th inning, and although the Cubs didn’t complete the comeback, he deserves a lot of credit for doing the things that he does:

  • That was part of a three double day for Baez, who’d been in a bit of a cold rut. He’s currently sitting at a very strange, and very Javy-like .262/.297/.525 (110 wRC+), with an ISO, BABIP, and walk rate that are all in line with last year, but a very elevated 32.8% K rate, which is being driven almost entirely by his missing more of the pitches out of the zone that he swings at. To his credit, he’s swinging at fewer of those pitches, so that seems good. Then again, he’s also swinging at slightly fewer strikes, so that’s probably contributing, too. Seems to me like a guy who continues to develop in his approach at the plate (and the visuals confirm, in my #NotAScout opinion). In other words, despite the strikeout rate, I’ve actually been encouraged by what I’ve seen from Baez this year in terms of his discipline.
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
  • I certainly won’t rage against any fan, and it may not have turned into an out anyway. But when you’re in that spot, and you’re at Wrigley, you’ve just gotta know better at this:

  • To me, by the way, it looks like both David Bote and Javy Baez adjusted their final approach to the ball because there was a big dude with his back to them standing in the way. That happened at the outset of the three-run second inning, by the way.
  • Kyle Schwarber is going into boss mode:

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.