Nico's Job, Rowan's Stones, Rules Experimentation, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Nico’s Job, Rowan’s Stones, Rules Experimentation, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I have arrived in Chicago for some Cubs action on this homestand, and I better see some wins. Do it for me, Cubs.

  • Although it’s always been in the cards that Nico Hoerner could reach the big leagues as a regular in 2020, his arrival this year out of urgency has potentially accelerated that timeline from “mid-2020” to “Opening Day.” But you won’t get him to focus on it (Sun-Times): “I’m not taking being a part of a division and wild-card race at all for granted. That’s where my attention’s been. But, of course, moving forward, I know this has implications for my career …. This year from the start, for me, has been about development. I know I have a long way to go as a player, chasing my highest potential. And I’ll take that into next year, as well, no matter where I am. As far as where I start next year, it’s a long way off for me right now. But I know the things I do on a daily basis here can impact that. If I continue to be where my feet are and be present with today and then the next day, hopefully those things take care of themselves.”
  • The second base job, on paper, could not possibly be more wide open for Hoerner to grab coming out of Spring Training next year. Ben Zobrist could be gone, as his contract expires (and even if he returns, he’ll be 39). Addison Russell could be gone, as he may be non-tendered or traded. Daniel Descalso certainly didn’t grab the job. The Cubs seem not to trust Ian Happ defensively at second. Tony Kemp is a bench guy. David Bote is a good utility player. There are definitely 130+ starts available at second for Hoerner as we look ahead right now, if he justifies it.
  • Rowan Wick almost got screwed yesterday, as he was ultimately charged with forcing in a run in a scary 9th, though the walk that preceded it absolutely should not have been. The ball I highlight was pitch 2, and the swing that didn’t get called was pitch 5:

  • After all that, and plunking Manny Machado to put the tying run on base, Wick struck out the next guy to end it. He’s got the stuff and he’s got the stones. If he stays healthy, he is going to be a back-three reliever next year for the Cubs.
  • Wick is at a 2.79 ERA over 29.0 big league innings this year, with a 2.55 FIP, a 52.8% groundball rate, a 26.7% K rate, and a 10.8% BB rate. His ERA and FIP will spike as soon as he gives up his first homer, but I also think he’s going to get better and better in his command, which will spike his K rate and drop his walk rate.
  • One thing to watch the rest of the way? He’s already up to 64.0 innings this year between the big leagues and AAA. Don’t ask me why, but the Cubs let him use up a crapload of bullets at Iowa this year, and they will have to be cautious with his usage down the stretch so that he doesn’t lose his effectiveness at the most important juncture.
  • If you recall one of the wilder (but intriguing!) experiments that MLB was going to conduct in the Atlantic League this year, pitchers were going to be moved back two feet. Well, that isn’t actually going to happen. I think that’s fine. I’d rather see the strike zone modified and/or mound lowered slightly if you’re gonna do that kind of thing. Or, if you want to move pitchers back, maybe don’t be quite so dramatic as two feet right away? Also, while I’m down with trying to counteract increasing velocity and whiffs (more balls in play, broadly speaking, is good for the sport), you absolutely HAVE to pair it with fixing the baseball.
  • It came in a losing effort, and his catcher dropped the throw, but holy crap this play is ridiculous:

  • At 6,106 and counting, this year is now the homeriest on record in MLB. No surprise there.
  • Fancy air mattresses are among the Deals of the Day today at Amazon.
  • Oof. Bad news for the Reds and a guy who is supposed to be right at the heart of their competitive window but can’t stay healthy:

  • Hi:

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.