It doesn’t matter how long I obsess about the Cubs, I have to adjust every year: when the Cubs lose a frustrating game, I have to work to make sure it doesn’t impact how I behave around family, friends, etc. When you’ve got that angry, burning, fireball in the pit of your stomach while you ruminate about the BS you just watched, you can’t let it sully your attitude toward things that have absolutely nothing to do with baseball. It is a challenge. Annually. And all season long, until/unless it becomes crystal clear that a postseason spot is locked up or completely unattainable. Interestingly, I’m pretty sure the Cubs front office wants to get that point – one way or the other – by late June.
• Very Joe Maddon vibe here:
"Just kind of a crappy game.
"Hopefully, we learned some lessons today and we'll try to be better."#Cubs
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) April 1, 2021
• And I mean that in a good way. Of course we as fans also want to hear the nitty gritty, but as a top-level message (mostly to the players), this is what a manager should be saying on day one after a game like that. It was crappy. Let’s do better. K? Bye.
• As for the nitty gritty stuff, maybe the biggest thing you’d want to hear about is Kyle Hendricks’ day, which featured only three innings, some of the worst command we’ve ever seen from him, and velocity that dipped from 87 mph to, at times, just 84 mph. The most important thing to note from after the game: there are no physical concerns, so don’t worry about the command or the velo in that regard. Instead, it was all mechanics being off (Cubs.com): “From Pitch 1, I was kind of battling myself. It was a fight. Just not a good position at the top of my balance point right now. It’s usually a small adjustment for me …. I have to put in some work, and just find that spot, get through the baseball better.”
• In other words, the good news is that it’s an issue he’s already familiar with and has sorted out before. We already knew that when Hendricks’ mechanics get off, the velo suffers, so you combine that and the cold, and there just shouldn’t be any longer-term concerns. He’ll get it right – he always does – and sometimes you see this from him early in the season. None of this is entirely unfamiliar, even if the extent of the wildness yesterday was jarring.
• As for the relievers, you’re going to hate what I’m about to say, but it’s my job to say it anyway: although there was an obscene volume of walks, very few of them were “non-competitive” walks. When you were watching, most of the walks came in plate appearances with some close calls or deep counts or both. I thought Rex Brothers looked really good, Dan Winkler had some really great pitches, and Alec Mills was great as a one-inning guy.
• Some rough moments from all, but really the only guy whose outing would tilt toward “concerning” after just one appearance was Brandon Workman. He’s gonna issue a ton of walks even when he’s at his best (and strike out even more), but yesterday he had absolutely no sense of where any of his pitches were going (it seemed he was shaking his head at himself, even). And moreover, as Sahadev Sharma noted, he got just one swing on his eight curveballs – his signature, wipeout pitch – and that went for a single. So it’s not clear if that’s an artifact of his overall wildness, a specific issue with the curveball, or just a cold day thing. Keep an eye on it.
• If you absolutely must be happy about something from yesterday’s game, make it this: given three opportunities to drive in a runner from third base with fewer than two outs, the Cubs got a sacrifice fly each time. Hits are better, of course, but we know how badly the Cubs have struggled in those situations with whiffs. So at least getting some contact was nice to see. That’s part of how you wind up with a chance to tie the game in the 9th inning despite getting so thoroughly dominated in a game – you get the drip-drip runs when you have a chance.
• This tweet is designed to be a joke, but it is also accurate, strictly speaking:
Cubs: We need to become a contact-oriented team.[strikes out 13 times]
Cubs: We will be a pitch-to-contact team relying on defense.[walks 11 batters]
— Bleacher Nation Cubs (@BleacherNation) April 1, 2021
• We got an answer on the 41 players being on the 40-man roster, via Cubs.com: minor league righty Tyson Miller is currently on the COVID-related injury list, which means he is temporarily off the 40-man roster. Hopefully all is well with him, and when he’s ready to return to action, presumably at the alternate site, the Cubs will have to open up a 40-man roster spot.
• The Brewers came back late, winning their opener over the Twins – NICE FOR THEM! – and in the 10th, Josh Hader struck out the side, while touching 100 mph (something he’s never done) in the process:
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) April 1, 2021
• With the Brewers and Cardinals winning, the Cubs’ single, solitary loss to the Pirates moved the needle a ton, which is mostly hilarious:
LOL. Cubs playoff odds at FanGraphs dropped 7(!) percentage points to 20.5% because of their Opening Day loss to the Pirates. pic.twitter.com/WFtpnPnjg7
— Bleacher Nation Cubs (@BleacherNation) April 2, 2021
• There is a lot that goes in under the hood with the playoff odds there, and there’s going to be small sample weirdness for a while (note that the Cardinals’ odds also went down after an Opening Day win). So for now, just have a little fun with it, and it’ll stabilize into something a bit more predictive maybe a month+ into the season.
• This is fantastic:
The game today was not great but this Pat and Ron exchange about White Claw is extraordinary.
"Now Pat, have you been living your wave this offseason?"
"I've been LIVING my wave, yes Ron, and thanks for asking! pic.twitter.com/2EC7uAf1Ty
— Corey Freedman (@CFCubsRelated) April 2, 2021