To all the mothers out there, a very happy and relaxing day to you. For the mother in my household, it’s gonna be a chill one, which means I got the kiddos under my arms as I write these Bullets. I will do my best!
• Javy Báez left yesterday’s game early due to back tightness, and I wonder if we’ll see him get the day off today (thus giving him back-to-back days off with tomorrow’s off-day):
Ross said Javy left game today because of back tightness but sounded like he didn't believe it was serious. Tomorrow's status to be determined by temps/precautions as well as how much better Javy feels. #Cubs
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) May 8, 2021
• The Cubs have won five in a row, and here’s a crazy stat from within that winning streak:
The last 16 hits by the Cubs have all been singles. Last extra base hit was in the 6th inning on Wednesday.
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) May 8, 2021
• To be sure, power is important – and correlates very strongly with the best offenses overall – but when you consider the context of this lineup and how much pain has been taken to improve contact (which could and should yield a few more singles), I’ll take a momentary stat like that. Also, the Cubs had been averaging about 1.1 strikeout per inning this year, and over those three games, they struck out 27 times in 29 innings. So, hey! Marginal improvement!
The #Cubs have won 2 straight games with no extra-base hits for the first time since May 19-20, 1944
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 8, 2021
• The Cubs are also doing a really good job on the bases this year, despite the extra outs you’ve seen (like David Bote’s pick-off yesterday). From Sahadev Sharma:
When Ross speaks of risks, he’s talking about the Cubs being aggressive on the basepaths. Entering Saturday, the Cubs were first in extra-base-taken percentage (defined by Baseball-Reference as the percentage of times a runner advances more than one base on a single and more than two on a double) at 52 percent. They were second in total bases taken (45 bases advanced on fly balls, passed balls, wild pitches, balks and defensive indifference), and they’ve already racked up 26 steals, including Jason Heyward’s huge theft of second that led to the game-winning run in the seventh inning.
• For the most part, the big concern right now remains the starting pitching. The Cubs will need Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies to continue their turnaround, Jake Arrieta to come back and continue to be at least average, and will need youngsters to keep surprising. It’s a lot to ask of a thin rotation, and that’s without noting that, overall, Trevor Williams has been pitching to results that almost exactly mirror his last two ugly years, rather than the two really good years before that.
• Shared mostly to be silly, but it was also true at the time (the Dodgers since won a game):
The Cubs are now tied with the Dodgers and Brewers for the second Wild Card spot, which is totally a tweet I'm sending on May 8. pic.twitter.com/i8j8f2xuE4
— Bleacher Nation Cubs (@BleacherNation) May 8, 2021
• The real crazy thing is that the Cubs are only three games behind the Giants for the best record in the National League. Not that I’m saying that MEANS anything for the Cubs necessarily (or the Giants, actually). Instead, just pointing out how clustered things still are in the NL.
• Wild fun fact on Dillon Maples’ 29th birthday: despite how long and how much he’s been in our consciousness, his 13.2 innings this year are by far the most innings he’s thrown in any of his 5 partial big league seasons (5.1, 5.1, 11.2, 1.0, 13.2). His results this year have been stellar, though the walk rate is still crazy high (17.2%), and while the strikeout rate is way up, too (39.7%), that ERA won’t stay under two for long without a little more control. The newly-shortened arm stroke seems not to have negatively impacted the strikeouts, and I would argue that more of his walks are competitive walks (rather than the four-pitch, not-even-close types). But I don’t know that we can yet say he finally turned that corner we’ve been dreaming on for five years.
• Matt Duffy on playing ball and living life:
Matt Duffy with an awesome quote on his perspective and choosing to be happy in this difficult game: pic.twitter.com/kTPuQ3S9pS
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) May 8, 2021
• If you were wondering already, Duffy will be a free agent after this season. He’s currently hitting .309/.418/.364 (126 wRC+), and his long at bats (13.4% BB rate) and huge contact rate (14.9% K rate) seem to have a more beneficial impact on this lineup than his mere slash numbers or wRC+. There’s probably some confirmation bias in there, I’ll admit. But he sure seems to keep coming up in spots when the Cubs need contact, and then makes contact.
• Beth Mullins made history on yesterday’s broadcast, filling in for Boog Sciambi:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 8, 2021
• I thought it was a really good broadcast, too. Mullins worked well with JD, didn’t try to do too much (that’s what grates me from a broadcaster), and within an couple innings I sort barely noticed it was someone else working the game (except for the different voice). It was just perfectly fine and solid.
• Minor league bits from Bryan, with some love for a versatile player who could work his way up the ladder as an interesting future bench option:
What an impressive week Delvin Zinn (@delvinzinn3) has had so far. On base in every game, 5-for-5 stealing bases, stints at 4 positions. Just 3 strikeouts in 20 PA.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) May 9, 2021
• A couple ridiculous games last night in baseball, with the Dodgers nearly blowing a THIRTEEN TO NOTHING lead, and the Braves and Phillies doing this:
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) May 9, 2021
• By the way, this moment happened when the Dodgers were still up 13:
Clayton Kershaw and Dave Roberts in disbelief after Taylor Ward bunts down 13-0. pic.twitter.com/UaXgITMpmX
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) May 9, 2021
• So enjoy the highlights from those games:
• Under Armour, sunscreens, books, and science subscription boxes for kids (ooh, that caught my eye) are your Deals of the Day at Amazon #ad
• Great catch out there by Vance Vizcaino, a former Royals and Rockies prospect the Cubs brought in before this season:
— Tennessee Smokies (@smokiesbaseball) May 9, 2021
• Also, fun to see a trio of prospects get together on this one:
Herz, Hearn, Howard strike ‘em out throw ‘em out. pic.twitter.com/ewXH6qV8Cl
— Brad (@ballskwok) May 9, 2021