MLBits: The Balls Are Even Juicier, Tommy John for Hicks, Nelson to the Pen, Goldy Bouncing Back, More

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MLBits: The Balls Are Even Juicier, Tommy John for Hicks, Nelson to the Pen, Goldy Bouncing Back, More

Chicago Cubs

Earlier today, I wrote up Jason Heyward’s recent hot streak and impressive underlying peripherals (no need to worry about a jinx, he’s not in the lineup tonight), with a special focus on the fact that he’s already hit 11 home runs – tied for as much as he has had in any full season with the Cubs and tied (twice) for the most by today’s date throughout his entire career.

But of course, the big caveat to that is the fact that the balls have been – and continue to be – juiced. Everyone’s hitting more home runs. And while Heyward is pretty clearly swinging a better bat than he has in the past (it’s not like that’s the only way he’s improved), the juiced ball matters.

  • But I know what you’re thinking, hasn’t the ball been juiced since roughly 2015? Yes. It has. But it might be even more juiced this season. You can get the full low-down right here at The Athletic, but the short version is yes, the ball is different. Among the working theories (it’s likely a series of contributing factors) you can thank a subtly smaller ball size, lower seam height, smoother leather covers, greater spherical symmetry, and a more centered core. Dr. Meredith Willis breaks it all down right here, but make no mistake, the launch angle revolution is not – on its own – the reason so many home run records are set to be broken this season.
  • Jordan Hicks – the leagues resident flame thrower at the moment – has a torn UCL in his right elbow. And although they went back and forth at first, Tommy John surgery is happening tomorrow:

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
  • Speaking of the Cardinals, did you notice that Paul Goldschmidt was not one of the three finalists for the NL first base All-Star voting? That’s pretty unusual for him – he’s typically among the best hitters in baseball, not just at his position and/or in one league – but his .332 wOBA is WELL below his career .389 wOBA mark. And Mike Petriello seems to have discovered why. But before you get excited, note that the one thing he’s struggled with the most (offspeed pitches) is making a big turnaround:

  • Goldschmidt wouldn’t be the first player to struggle early in the season before turning things around later – especially not on a new team – and I wouldn’t bet against him. He’s been too good for too long to just completely fall off without some sort of major injury. You can probably bet that the Cardinals, who just signed him to a 5-year/$130M extension, are wringing their hands though.
  • Since returning from the Injured List on June 5th, Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson has made three starts and they’ve all been pretty bad. Well, to put it in his own words: “They all sucked.” Collectively, he’s gone just 12.0 total innings, allowing 13 earned runs on 16 hits, 10 walks, and 13 strikeouts. Yikes. The Brewers have since announced that he would transition into the bullpen, where he will likely work in long relief. The Brewers weren’t banking their entire season on his return – they’ve done pretty well despite him – but I’m sure they were hoping he could be the boost they needed to topple the Cubs. You can read all about that decision on how he and the Brewers feel about his return right here.
  • I don’t need to tell you that the Mets are a mess, but the latest from their former-agent-turned GM is pretty wild. Apparently, Brodie Van Wagenen was watching a game *from home* the other day when he called a member of the Mets support staff to tell their manager, Mickey Callaway, to remove Jacob deGrom from a game. deGrom had sustained a hip cramp, apparently, but was otherwise certain he could remain in the game. And despite Callaway being grilled for the decision to pull deGrom, Van Wagenen never came forward to take responsibility for the call (should I mention the Mets bullpen blew the game after deGrom was removed and was visibly annoyed for being taken out). Weird story.
  • YESSSS! 42-year-old Fernando Rodney (former Cub) is being added to the Nationals active roster, after spending time in Triple-A. Rodney is famous for his mimed bow-and-arrow routine, and he’s just one of those guys you love hanging around the game for as long as possible (like Bartolo Colon or something).
  • In case you missed it, the Rays owner has been trying to sell this idea of splitting the Rays home games between Tampa Bay and Montreal … while failing miserably. You can hear more of his pitch and the pushback right here. But mostly, I just want to use this as an excuse to remind you all of my *fire-emoji fire-emoji fire-emoji* Tweet from the day the news broke:

  • And finally … Well this is interesting – and almost certainly something that could wind up being a passive benefit towards the Cubs for a few years:

  • Good on the kid for doing his homework and knowing how to find a place wherein he might be best situated to succeed. Give up $100K now for the chance at a bigger contract later. Not everyone can be so cavalier with money or their career, but if you’re feeling confident, I like the approach.


Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is the butler to a wealthy werewolf off the coast of Wales and a writer at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami