Was I nervous for Ian Happ’s start at second base today, given all the hype I’m constantly trying to generate for the young switch-hitter? Yup. Did he over-deliver on that hype? OH YEAH.
Overall, Happ went 2-4 with a single and a go-ahead grand slam today, but even his two outs were BOTH 103 MPH line drives that were caught. He wasn’t tested much at second base, but he did have to drift into the outfield for some in-between plays and react to a couple of hard liners, himself. In any case, a .320/.452/.600 (173 wRC+) slash line with 6 walks and 6 strikeouts over 31 plate appearances is going to keep you in the lineup. Now let’s see if he can keep up the production.
Outside of Happ, there were a lot of other good performances today, including Kyle Schwarber (1-3, HR, BB), who has been red-hot lately (more on him tomorrow, no doubt), and Victor Caratini who launched his sixth homer of the year as part of a 2-4 day. Caratini is now slashing .265/.355/.462 (114 wRC+), which is really freaking good for any player, let alone a starting catcher … let alone a backup(!) catcher thrust into a starting role.
Other offensive performances of note: Kris Bryant went 2-4, knocking one off the outfield wall and Nicholas Castellanos not only kept his Cubs-hitting streak alive (all 7 games), he also hit yet ANOTHER double, upping his total to 43 (still leading MLB).
On the other side of the mound, Jose Quintana was ON, going 7.0 IP scoreless innings with just two hits and no walks against seven strikeouts. That was dominant and helped further rest a bullpen that’s been both injured and in flux.
Now onto the not-so-good stuff:
(1) Javy Baez left the game after fouling one off his shin and taking some time to get back into the swing of things, though he did initially remain in. Given the Cubs lead at the time, I’m still optimistic that it was nothing more than precautionary (which is how it appeared).
(2) Pedro Strop came into pitch for the first time since coming off the injured list and although all went well (1.0 IP, 1H, 0ER, 0BB, 1K), he still didn’t have his premium velocity. If he is going to work in the 93 MPH range, he might need to seriously change his pitch-mix/approach. Let’s just keep an eye on that for now.
Oh, yeah: And the Cubs have reportedly signed Jonathan Lucroy.
There were some ups and downs, but all things considered …