.500 Again in a Tough League, Wind at Wrigley, Rizzo HBP Streak, Another Hader Loss, and Other Bullets

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.500 Again in a Tough League, Wind at Wrigley, Rizzo HBP Streak, Another Hader Loss, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I tend to think that, when it comes to some of the biggest issues, we don’t really change our minds because of ONE moment. In fact, I’m not even sure we “change” our minds most of the time if and when we do. Rather, we just kinda have our perspectives sculpted a little bit, at the margins, by lots and lots of exposures to different people/ideas/stories/life events/etc. (I am still always listening and reading to your perspectives, too!)

To that end, I am not here to “change” anyone’s mind on the importance of conservation efforts for our planet on Earth Day – I don’t think I’d be the right person to try anyway. Instead, like has been done for me hundreds of very small times over the last 25 years, I just want to expose anyone who is interested to a concept I’d never heard of or thought of until today when I did some poking around: endangered rivers. That just had never crossed my mind as an issue, but, yeah, that seems like it could be a problem. Check it out if you’re intrigued.

  • So many off-days. I get that the weather is traditionally terrible in April, and front-loading off-days makes a lot of on-paper sense – just look at last year – but dang, man. The Cubs are using up all their off-days when they don’t need them! I’m exaggerating, but only slightly. There are going to be some very, very long stretches of baseball later this year, and when the inevitable rain outs come, the very few remaining off-days are at risk for being gobbled up. Better just keep winning now, eh?
  • To that end, the Cubs are back to .500, but now get to host the best team in the National League for three at Wrigley Field. At 15-9 and +29, the Dodgers easily have the best record and the best run differential in the NL.
  • Other standings fun that you notice about the Cubs being .500: there are just FOUR TEAMS in the entire NL that are under .500 right now. This league could just be a madhouse, at least until a team or two make a very early decision to sell.
  • Mike Montgomery is headed to Tennessee for another rehab appearance tonight (Levine). Montgomery (lat) cruised last time out at South Bend, and figures to be able to return soon enough. With Alec Mills coming up yesterday to replace Randy Rosario, he figures to be the guy the Cubs send out for Montgomery, though Jon Lester will also return soon, so two spots may be required. In addition to Mills, Tim Collins and Kyle Ryan can be freely optioned to Iowa. The rest of the crew (Allen Webster, for a notable example) cannot.
  • Another decent day at the plate for Anthony Rizzo has him up to a 108 wRC+ (8% better than league average), but with a weird .197/.367/.380 slash line. Helping him? He’s been hit by a pitch in three straight games. Ouch.
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
  • This will definitely be something to watch this year:

  • It’s fair to wonder if the air flow when the wind is “blowing in” has been impacted – muted, at least? – by more of a “wall” there when it hits the grandstand. I’m not sure it would be enough to create a ricochet, but even a slight impact can make a big difference (as we suspect happened with the left field video board).
  • That said, it doesn’t show up in the data yet, as Wrigley Field pretty much has played so far exactly like you’d expect in April: hilariously difficult to hit a home run. The home run park factor for Wrigley so far this year is 0.476, which means that home runs at Wrigley Field have been – relative to average, which is 1.000 – extraordinarily hard to come by. By the end of a typical year, Wrigley averages out to, well, about average.
  • If you want a Brita water pitcher, now is your chance to get one cheap at Amazon on a Deal of the Day.
  • Josh Hader took the shocking loss again for the Brewers, and once again it was a late two-strike homer that did it:

  • Around June or July of last year, I remember frequently having the conversation with friends: “Man, Counsell is going to burn Hader out so badly if he keeps using him like this in every single high-leverage moment for multiple innings.” Well, Craig Counsell DID keep using Hader like that, and it didn’t cause any issue whatsoever, as Hader went on to be one of the most singularly important and valuable relievers in recent memory. So far, Counsell is using Hader the same way – as just about the only reliable arm in the pen for big moments, and then riding him for just about the rest of the game – and his walks are down and his strikeout rate is up over 50% (good God). But he’s also now given up a relative buttload of homers early, and his ERA is at 3.75. Home runs are maybe flukey – and his home ball park doesn’t help – but maybe this is going to be the strategy to beat him this year. He’s very likely going to strike you out, so you might as well swing out of your shoes and try to run into one.
  • Fanatics is 25% off all orders today only, so make sure you check out the Cubs gear here.
  • And your Bears Bullets:

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.