Cubs Baserunning, Good Pitching News, Hultzen, Heartwarming, and Other Bullets

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Cubs Baserunning, Good Pitching News, Hultzen, Heartwarming, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The MLB All-Star Game Starters Election begins today at 11 am CT. That means you will be able to vote for the overload of Cubs candidates to be All-Star starters. Be strategic with your votes if you want to do something hilarious like get a Cubs outfielder in as a starter over Christian Yelich …

  • On the ULTIMATE CUBES play last night – Adbert Alzolay misses a bunt with the bases loaded, Javy Baez gets caught off third base, and then Willson Contreras gets thrown out at third – Joe Maddon explained his thinking to Jordan Bastian: “I was just trying to get Albert [Almora] up to the plate. In other words, if you bunt and he’s out at the plate, I’m good. I’m good with that. And just get Albert up with the bases loaded. But, we got neither of that.” Ok … but you could also get a double play. The pitcher was wild. If you really didn’t care if Alzolay made an out, why would you ask him to do anything at all? Just tell him to take pitches. I mean, I know you’re hoping something good can happen – and it could have – but if the primary intention was to limit risk, Alzolay should have just been taking, particularly against a pitcher who’d just walked the bases loaded.

  • As for the other dudes involved, I just think Javy Baez needed to break back to third much more decisively and quickly – and once he didn’t, he needed to get himself stuck in a much longer rundown. And I think Willson Contreras needed to just take off for third right away once Baez was caught.
  • It was a microcosm of the season for the Cubs on the bases – they rate as a below average team on the bases, which is crazy when you think about the fact that they have guys like Baez, Kris Bryant, and Jason Heyward out there. For all that they do well, the team is the 9th worst in the league by BsR. They take aggressive chances, which is going to lead to some mistakes. Mostly, I’m OK with the tradeoff, and you don’t want to preach too much caution and wind up taking away that edge. But hopefully moments like last night are an opportunity to reflect and improve.
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • This is good news, but I’ll celebrate a bit more when the word “tentatively” is removed, and I hear that they felt good after:

  • Some credit where it’s due: Brad Brach pitched well last night in a one-run game, keeping things where they were for two innings of work. I honestly don’t know how long it would take for me to think Brach has turned things around (if it can happen at all), but I do appreciate that by eating up those two innings, he kept the bullpen in a very good spot for tonight’s game.
  • Speaking of which, with Yu Darvish going tonight and Tyler Chatwood going tomorrow, the bullpen could be used rather heavily the next two nights even if the starts go relatively well. The good news is that they’ll get a fresh arm on Thursday or Friday in the form of Craig Kimbrel.
  • Robel Garcia isn’t the only great story currently at AAA Iowa:

  • Hultzen, 29, is throwing in the mid-90s again, and Theo Epstein seems pretty convinced that it’s the kind of arsenal that could succeed in the big leagues. The questions, however, are about the health and sustainability, given what Hultzen has been through and given how little professional time he’s had in his return. You’d love to say, boom, the Cubs now have their lefty! But in reality, even if Hultzen was dominating every other day at Iowa, it would be malpractice to presume he’s going to do it at the big league level AND do it for the rest of the season. Right now, instead, he’s just a maybe guy, and a great story to root for.
  • Oh, but speaking of Robel Garcia, the AAA infielder hit ANOTHER homer last night, his 20th(!) of the year between AA and AAA. Oh, and he started late, so he’s done it in just 67 games. There are questions about his game overall, but the dude pops dingers.
  • With apologies to Adbert Alzolay, this was the best thing about last night’s game:

  • What a season it’s been for Tommy La Stella, who led off last night’s game against the Reds with an inside-the-park homer:

  • This is extremely cool for our partners at Obvious Shirts:

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.