I’ve said it before, but I’ll sure say it again: when a Cubs game goes deep and keeps me up late before an early morning, it’s ALWAYS easier to shake off the rust when it was a win. I got very little sleep, but I feel like I could chop down redwoods with my bare hands this morning.
• What a great series, and coming at a great time. Fundamentally change your perception of what the 2021 Cubs are or will be? No, I don’t think you can go that far. But I think last night’s win, and this series sweep, should underscore what has always been possible with this group, given the individual talent. The Cubs faced Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer, Walker Buehler, and the reigning World Series champs and they swept ’em. That’s impressive.
• Speaking of the Dodgers getting swept, it hadn’t happened in a long time:
The Dodgers had not been swept in a series of 3+ games since April 2019. That's a pretty long time.
From ELIAS: Their 68 consecutive series of 3+ games without being swept was the longest in franchise history
Matt Duffy just mentioned this stat in his postgame zoom.
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) May 6, 2021
• Speaking of Duffy, give him a lot of credit not only for the game-tying single in the 11th with two outs, but then also for stealing second base to reframe the at bat to Tony Wolters. If Duffy is still on first, you’re probably much more comfortable attacking Wolters aggressively in the zone, because he’s not much of a power threat. But as soon as Duffy was on second, representing the winning run, the calculus to Wolters changes. Credit to Wolters for being patient and accepting his walk, too, which set up Anthony Rizzo’s walk-off. Imagine hearing a few months ago that the Cubs were going to walk off on the Dodgers thanks to the work of Matt Duffy and Tony Wolters, eh?
• Duffy is now hitting .308/.429/.365 on the year (129 wRC+), with a mix of sustainability in there. On the one hand, the .381 BABIP is 50 points higher than his career mark, so that one is just not sustainable. On the other hand, his expected stats suggest he’s been really unlucky to hit for so little power so far. On the other hand, he has an insane 28.6% line drive rate, which, yes, is gonna inflate your BABIP. And then you’ve got the very sexy 14.3% BB rate and 15.9% K rate. It’s 63 plate appearances, so you chill a bit, but we’ve said it before about Duffy: it’s not like he hasn’t been a solid hitter in his career when he’s been healthy. This good? Nah. But slightly above average, working good at bats and generating contact? Yes. David Ross will have to figure out how to keep him getting starts even after the return of Joc Pederson and Nico Hoerner (next week, hopefully).
• Speaking of guys who have to keep getting starts, Jake Marisnick just keeps raking. I understand – and agree! – that you don’t want to just suddenly bench Pederson or Ian Happ because guys like Duffy and Marisnick are getting good results right now, but the reality is that each of those two has shown the potential to be regulars in the big leagues in the past, and each is just 30 years old. It’s not as if it would be totally asinine to want them to get more starts right now, especially against all lefties.
• Props to CENTER FIELDER Kris Bryant for his perfect play off the wall in the 10th last night on Max Muncy’s double, approaching the ball with enough caution to cover himself if it took one of those crazy bounces off the ivy. If you’re TOO aggressive pursuing one of those, you get eaten up. So he hung back just enough, got the ball quickly to Javy Báez, who fired it to Willson Contreras to cut down Justin Turner and keep it a one-run game. “Great relay, playing that carom for Kris,” David Ross said, per Cubs.com. “Having that angle on the baseball was huge. … I thought that was one of the best relays we’ve had since I’ve been here, for sure, and that I can remember for a while. That was a nice, game-saving relay.”
• Props to Ryan Tepera for coming into that bases-loaded, no-out situation, and then getting sac fly, out, out to allow only the one run. I’ve mentioned it before the past couple weeks, but it’s clear he’s getting his cutter back, finally. That was the pitch that made him an MVP FINALIST last year, so it’s key. Once he has it, he’s right back to being a top setup option for the Cubs, and/or a fixer like last night.
• Outside of Kyle Ryan, the whole bullpen did great work last night. Rex Brothers keeps on doing work. Alec Mills got the unhappy job of pitching to the top of the Dodgers’ order with a free runner on second, and I gotta say, he did really well despite not getting some calls and having a blooper fall in on him.
• By the way, of course I also want to give props to starter Adbert Alzolay, too, though his is coming later.
• Javy Báez may strike out a whole lot, but to the extent driving in runs when they are out there and available is important to you, then he’s sure been doing a good job of putting the ball in play:
View this post on Instagram
• I would say that Craig Kimbrel “bounced back” from his first run allowed in a very long time, but it’s like, he gave up a solo homer that barely got out the other night. That’s just gonna happen, and it’s not really reflective of a guy who needs to “bounce back.” He’s still quite fine. Showed it again last night, including inducing one of the worst swings you’ll ever see. It looked like the dude was taking a practice swing from the on-deck circle:
Craig Kimbrel, Filthy 87mph Knuckle Curve.
I'm not sure Neuse saw that very well. 😂 pic.twitter.com/avYVhDnsrs
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 6, 2021
Craig Kimbrel cuts through the bottom of Dodgers' order to give the Cubs a chance to walk it off in the bottom of the 9th.
Also, this may have been one of the worst misses I've seen from a non-pitcher in a long time. See if you can even spot the ball Neuse was "swinging" at. pic.twitter.com/iKNOiLlp6v
— Bleacher Nation Cubs (@BleacherNation) May 6, 2021
• Jake Marisnick tried to take care of Anthony Rizzo for his day off before Rizzo was pressed into service for extra innings:
#Cubs Anthony Rizzo said Jake Marisnick put cucumbers on Rizz’s eyes earlier today so that he could enjoy a nice spa day on his day off from starting. 😂😂😂
— Taylor McGregor (@Taylor_McGregor) May 6, 2021
• Bitta history for the Cubs:
The Cubs have won consecutive games where they were down to their final out in both for the first time in the Expansion Era (since 1961).
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) May 6, 2021
• Marquee busted out a new camera for this series for periodic shots, and I’m loving it:
• I’m a sucker for ARam content:
Aramis Ramírez 🇩🇴 slashed 28/98/.294 over a 10-yr stretch 2003-2012, inc 9 yr w @Cubs as one of the NL's most consistent run-producing 3B. Collected 100+ RBIs 7 times in career. His @sabr bio https://t.co/Fe84Ovy8MW pic.twitter.com/B1QDr3LYgH
— SABR BioProject (@SABRbioproject) May 6, 2021
• Get this, though – over his eight and a half seasons with the Cubs, Ramirez was worth 25.6 WAR. Over Kris Bryant’s not-quite-six-years-because-pandemic, he’s already been worth 30.1 WAR.
• A reminder to win yourself some free stuff:
🔥GIVEAWAY🔥Picking 5 lucky winners to win a $100 gift card.
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) May 5, 2021