Thank goodness the cursed Players Weekend is over, with its poisoned uniforms in which no team could possibly be expected to win. Note that the Mets, whom the Cubs play this week, were also swept at home (by the Braves) while wearing the whites. Clearly, it was all just the uniforms. (Please ignore that the Cardinals swept the Rockies in St. Louis wearing the whites – clearly, that’s just because the Rockies are awful on the road.)
- The Cubs haven’t been swept in three at home since September 2017, so yeah, that series really sucked. Happy Monday!
- They were so close to a huge, energy-generating win, too. After the late comeback, Nick Castellanos thought he walked it off, and man, that place would have erupted – but there was just enough wind to keep it in:
You probably don't want to hear that the ball Castellanos hit for the flyout in the 10th (107 mph/35 degrees) is a home run 79.5% of the time. pic.twitter.com/QmghiYhutF
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 25, 2019
- So much of the conversation is different today if the wind just dies down for a minute and Castellanos’s ball leaves the yard. I’m not even saying the convo *should* be different, but that’s just kind of how the emotional swings go. Alas.
- And now the Cubs head back out on the road, starting tomorrow against the Mets and a very, very good trio of pitchers (they’ll face Stroman-Syndergaard-deGrom). Nick Castellanos has the right attitude, and I believe him when he says it – just need his teammates to buy in:
Castellanos: "We're going in and we're playing another hot team, which is the Mets. So, to take the whoa-is-me attitude would do nobody any justice. So, we've got to wash it and get ready to play good baseball in New York."
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 25, 2019
- For a little while, Kyle Schwarber’s 30th homer of the year was really awesome:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 25, 2019
- As with many Cubs this year, Schwarber’s season has been near fine, but disappointing based on talent. He’s hitting just .225/.318/.486, with a 103 wRC+, dragged down mostly by a brutal .236 BABIP. Much of that is bad luck, sure – when you hit it as hard as he does, you usually have an elevated BABIP – I think at this point, with a career BABIP of just .261, it’s pretty clear his game is such that when he’s not hitting dingers, he’s not collecting many hits.
- And of course a huge part of that is due to his speed, pull tendencies on the ground, and the shift. Since 2017, among batters who have hit at least 100 ground balls, only 98 players in baseball have a worst batting average on those grounders than Schwarber’s .209. There have been 440 such players, so Schwarber is in the bottom quartile.
- The good news, such as you want to see it? When Schwarber hits the ball in the air, he gets hits at a very high level – since the start of 2017, there have been 402 players with at least 100 batted fly balls, and Schwarber’s average on *those* is .314, 54th in all of baseball. Schwarber in the air? Great. Schwarber on the ground? Very below average. And right now, even though he doesn’t have a huge groundball rate, it’s enough to cripple his BABIP, and, combined with an elevated strikeout rate, it brings his total production down to merely league average. We don’t usually linger on batting average around here, but right now, although he’s taking walks and slugging well, Schwarber simply isn’t getting enough hits to be a solidly productive player overall.
- At least there is the always-present hope that things are moving in the right direction:
Kyle Schwarber, last calendar month:
.234/.344/.571, 132 wRC+
12.2% BB, 17.8% K
— FullCountTommy (@FullCountTommy) August 26, 2019
- Development *does* happen during the season, and I’m ever-hopeful when it comes to Schwarber. Heck, if the strikeouts can come way down for him, then the BABIP problems will impact his batting average less, and thus his batting average comes up, thus his overall production comes up. A guy can dream.
- iPads, coffee brewers, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon today.
- The Cubs have a trio of middle infield prospects way down on the farm to keep an eye on:
Verdugo in 34 games between July 11 and yesterday: 371 AVG / 408 OBP / 576 SLG.
As Tyler notes, Verdugo is considered a solid defender. Shows good bat speed and some projection in the video below.
The Martinez/Verdugo/Pertuz trio really had a nice summer. Big going forward. https://t.co/beR7uCEPSk
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) August 26, 2019
- Cory Abbott, who added to his gaudy strikeout total on the season, has pretty clearly solved AA:
My favorite streak in the minor league system continues: now 10 consecutive starts for Cory Abbott with 3 or less hits allowed.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) August 25, 2019
Cory Abbott's body count up to 156 Ks as Smokies win!https://t.co/CvQiDeQNsw
— Tennessee Smokies (@smokiesbaseball) August 26, 2019
- Man, these would have been awesome:
MLB made no end of mistakes with this year's PW jerseys, but chief among them is the fact that I gave them this soul-shattering idea a full year ago and I don't think they ever even considered it. Poor leadership, imo pic.twitter.com/0oVZqgh4VF
— Randall J. Sanders (@RandallJSanders) August 26, 2019
- Nicely done, Padres:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) August 26, 2019
- The latest podcast, with me and Sahadev Sharma: