Hamels Out of Whack, Boo Boo Notes, Russell Raking, Rizzo on Fire, and Other Bullets

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Hamels Out of Whack, Boo Boo Notes, Russell Raking, Rizzo on Fire, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

So, this New York Times report over the weekend is likely the most credible series of observations about UFOs that I’ve ever seen. To be sure, that doesn’t mean “aliens,” but a number of experienced pilots interacted with objects whose behavior they could not explain, and that put them in danger during training missions (i.e., it would be pretty surprising if it were just a secret government drone program if they were endangering lives and discovery). It’s pretty wild, and worth your time if you’re into weird, unexplainable, real scientific discussions.

  • Cole Hamels has a 7.62 ERA over his last three starts (which have lasted just four, four, and five innings), plus a 12.5% BB rate, a 15.3% K rate, and a 56.9% hard contact rate (holy crap). You have to wonder if he’s mechanically out of whack, which is wrecking his command – the hard contact is a clue, as is the mere 35.8% of the time he’s even been in the strike zone these three starts. You have to wonder whether he is out of whack in a similar way as he was early last season, before the Cubs acquired him. Notice that his velocity and vertical release point during this stretch look a whole lot like early last year, rather than the second half (Brooks):

  • You’ll recall, Hamels was in the process of making certain mechanical tweaks as he transitioned from the Rangers to the Cubs, which resulted in dramatically improved command and an uptick in velocity. So hopefully the same kinds of work can take place now.
  • Hamels struck me as particularly ineffective yesterday with two strikes, unable to really execute that putaway pitch. Hence, no strikeouts despite 9 whiffs on the day.
  • Bonus whoa: Hamels hasn’t had a start without a strikeout in *OVER A DECADE.* (ESPN)
  • Hopefully Mike Montgomery avoided a serious injury when he had to depart yesterday:

  • Similarly, hopefully Albert Almora feels good today after he got a little dinged in the outfield. He subsequently homered, so that’s probably a good sign.
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
  • Early word on Jason Heyward is good, on Kris Bryant is meh.
  • Immediately after I noted how poorly he’d been performing at the plate since returning from Iowa and his domestic violence suspension, Addison Russell has gone on a tear, raising his line through 49 plate appearances to .289.333/.511, with a 122 wRC+. At that kind of rate, and with his defensive ability, it would be impossible to offer baseball-only reasons for not starting him every day at second base, given how poorly Daniel Descalso and David Bote have been performing, and given Ben Zobrist’s absence. Which means, we are very much currently being confronted by this idea of what to make of the organization’s efforts to give Russell this chance, his ex-wife Melisa Reidy’s encouragement of the same, and the fact that he’s here on a team we otherwise want to see do well. I remain hopeful that we’ll see the fruits of positive change in his life, the lives of those around him, and throughout the Cubs’ organization (and, by extension, MLB). As a very secondary thing to that, I hope he continues to play well. Right now, I think you’ve gotta keep giving him starts.
  • That said, if he does continue to play well, and especially if Ben Zobrist is ultimately going to return from the restricted list at some point, you wonder if the Cubs would feel out whether there is a team out there that wants to swap a controllable reliever (or two) for a controllable middle infielder like Russell. No, that probably wouldn’t be a fair “baseball” trade, but obviously there are other considerations at play.
  • Anthony Rizzo is just a little warm:

  • The level of casualness (especially on the second one) is ridiculous:

  • Also want to make sure folks didn’t miss this over the long holiday:

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.