Getting the Energy Back, Davies Results, Busy Bullpen, Tepera, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Getting the Energy Back, Davies Results, Busy Bullpen, Tepera, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

We knew that fans being at sporting events was important to the experience for those of us watching at home, but I don’t think I realized just how important until we experienced last year, and now get to contrast it with this year as fans come back. It’s just such a better experience hearing and seeing the fans there in St. Louis – yes, even St. Louis – and then feeling the energy reflected from the players.

•   Speaking of that kind of return to normalcy on the field, the Cubs are benefiting from it in another way, according to David Ross (Sun-Times): “Confidence is very important in our game and remembering how good of a baseball player you are,” Ross said. “I think KB has said it. . . . I can’t speak for players, but last year I felt there was such an anxiety to get going. I really feel like this season just continues to go and we’re in May and we’re like, ‘Wow, we still have a long way to go.’ This feels a little more normal to those guys, and they settled and stopped putting so much pressure on themselves to do this or that, and they understand, ‘I’ve got four or five at-bats every day.'”

•   Zach Davies was probably more lucky than good last night – at least as far as giving up no runs through his five innings of work – but his pitch location has generally continued to improve (particularly the sinker down). Time for a silly stat that doesn’t at all tell you the whole story but DOES coincide with the first start this year when I felt like he was actually putting his sinker where he wanted: since the start of May (5 outings), Davies has posted a 1.71 ERA. Now then, if you’ve actually been watching, you know that the performance simple hasn’t actually been that good, and you know that his K/BB numbers are still way out of whack. You also know that he’s barely managed five innings per outing. The whole story on Davies, even in May, still ain’t great. But he certainly gave the Cubs a reasonable outing in each of those five May starts, and that’s a helluva lot more than you can say about his April.

•   Davies, even at his best, tends not to be a guy who goes very deep in outings. It increasingly seems like Trevor Williams will be that type, too, if he can even settle in there. Jake Arrieta, at this stage of his career, is probably also in that vein, where you’re more cautious about the third time through the order. Adbert Alzolay is only just now starting to get more opportunities to face the third time through, and there will be fits and spurts and struggles and what-have-you. Can the Cubs continue to succeed all year with a rotation that usually goes only five-ish innings per start? It has worked reasonably well so far because the bullpen has been so good and so deep. As attrition inevitably adds up for the pen – especially covering all of these innings – will that bullpen depth hold up at the performance level necessary to handle four+ innings per night on average? On the one hand, you love leaning on your bullpen a lot when your bullpen is this good … on the other hand, can it realistically stay this good if it’s leaned on this much in June and July and August and September?

•   The Cubs bullpen’s collective 178 game appearances is the most in baseball, and their 182.0 innings pitched are 8th most, despite 18 teams having played more games than the Cubs.

•   How intense was that bottom of the 7th? And how clutch was Ryan Tepera? He comes in to a two-on, no-out, tie game situation. He snags a would-be sac bunt and gets the force out at third (the call, of course, was wrong, but we’ll say he got it for the purposes of his performance). And then, with the bases loaded and nobody out, he gets two balls in play that completely miss the barrel (an easy bouncer and a foul pop up), and then he strikes out Nolan Arenado on his nasty cutter. That’s how you get yourself some MVP votes. We recently mentioned that he might be the hottest reliever in the group over the last month – which is just an absurd thing to say about this loaded bullpen – but I think it’s true.

•   Luis is right that it’s been a big, big turn since early May:

•   Matt Duffy’s absence from the starting lineup has been about a lower-back issue, so hopefully that abates soon. In the interim, as we’ve seen, David Bote will keep drawing starts at third base.

•   Jed Hoyer spoke very frankly last week about his concern that the club will not reach the 85% vaccinated threshold, and you can see it reiterated in another way by Willson Contreras here at NBCSC:

Teams that don’t reach the 85-percent mark not only run a greater risk of positive tests, but contact-tracing protocols for lesser vaccinated teams require IL moves for players exposed to those testing positive, regardless of their own testing results.

“That’s a huge advantage for a guy getting the vaccine,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras told NBCSC. “That’s something that a few guys need to think [about].”

•   Fanatics is making these fan gift boxes, and they’re all 10 bucks off right now with free shipping (could be good Father’s Day thing):

•   Another view on the Javy shot:





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.