Hendricks Good Fortune, Sogard Struggles, the One Ring, Mets Defend deGrom, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Hendricks Good Fortune, Sogard Struggles, the One Ring, Mets Defend deGrom, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

If this were last season, today – Game 60 – would be the final day of the regular season. That’s pretty wild to think about in relation to how a normal season feels. Really underscores just how short and not-really-real last year was.

•   Kudos again to Kyle Hendricks for giving the Cubs some length yesterday after a really rough start to his day. He was missing his spots quite badly and the Giants were all over him early. His location improved enough to get him through to the 7th, though there was definitely a lot of luck involved when you have a trio of top contact like this:

•   That could easily have been several more runs and innings still going. It was just a lotta hard contact yesterday for the Giants, particularly in those first three innings. In total, there were 11 balls in play above 92 mph, and Hendricks’ pitch location chart shows far too many sinkers up in the zone, and changeups that probably didn’t get down as much as he would’ve wanted. The four-seamer up got him some whiffs – and one of them rounded up to 90 mph! – but that will always have to be a change of pace for him to play off the sinker/changeup, not a primary offering.

•   Of note:

•   With the rotation already in scary shape, the Cubs desperately need Kyle Hendricks to be his best self going forward. Fortunately, the summer is often when he really starts cooking.

•   Injuries have forestalled things, but as guys come back, it’s increasingly difficult to see a place on the roster for Eric Sogard (much less how he keeps on drawing starts). I understood and appreciated the signing when the Cubs made it, and had Sogard performed, it would’ve been a fantastic move – he can play solid defense all over the infield, he has a high-contact lefty bat with occasional pop, he’s veteran, etc. But through nearly 60 games, Sogard has not performed. Coming off a dreadful 2020 season, Sogard is only marginally better this year, hitting .245/.292/.318 (68 wRC+), striking out more than the last couple years, and doing things like diving OVER first base instead of just running through it safely. Only 25 hitters in baseball with at least 120 PAs have a worse wRC+ this year.

•   If Javy Báez is gonna be out for any amount of time (thumb), that’ll buy Sogard some more time (even if Jake Marisnick comes back tonight), since Sogard can play short and/or coordinate with Sergio Alcantara at short (who should otherwise be starting every day at second, in my view). But when Nico Hoerner or David Bote comes back, I really don’t see how or why Sogard would be retained on the 26-man roster unless he’s caught absolute fire.

•   As I was looking up those league stats, by the way, I noticed that the two worst hitters in baseball by wRC+ are both on the Brewers. Jackie Bradley, Jr. is at 40, and Keston Hiura is at just 27. Yikes. Maybe Bradley turns it around, by the way, but here we were thinking the Brewers got a late offseason steal in signing him. Instead, it’s been a disaster. Cubs were rumored to be in on him, you’ll recall, and that might’ve been a happy accident to miss out.

•   Andrew Chafin stumbled over himself trying to snag a comebacker, but thankfully it got past him and turned into a double play up the middle. As he sat on his duff after the stumble and watched the rest of the plate, he gave us a perfect GIF:

•   We know now that Ben Zobrist is definitely not selling his World Series ring, but what we still don’t know how how Heritage Auctions – a legit auction house – came to announce an upcoming auction for a ring that they were apparently never going to be able to sell. Here’s how a Heritage spokesperson is responding for now in a statement to the Kansas City Star:

“[W]e’re still doing our diligence. There could be any number of answers to the question, so at this point I just don’t know. He may have it. I mean until we see Zobrist’s ring, and I’ve asked to see the paperwork from the consigner, it’s possible (Zobrist) had a duplicate ring made. There’s any number of possible answers to the question ….This guy who is consigning it is somebody who collects this kind of material. He certainly bought it. He told the consignment director that he bought it from Zobrist, so he’s somebody who is a collector of this kind of stuff. He buys it frequently. So until I talk to him or until the consignment director talks to him, I can’t give anybody a definitive answer yet.”

•   You’ve got Zobrist – with a picture of the ring – confirming that he still has it and isn’t selling it (I’m inclined to believe that one). Then you’ve got Heritage saying someone who was previously trusted by Heritage claiming he bought the ring from Zobrist and wants to auction it. So, among the possibilities: someone is playing it fast and loose, or somebody got duped with a replica. And it could be multiple people in the chain to whom that stuff applies. But something clearly went wrong.

•   Mostly I just think this is kinda weird, but hey if they want to put themselves out there:

•   deGrom, who I’m not super interested in accusing of anything because he’s the best, certainly does go to his belt and his glove in an odd way:

•   Basically, though, the issue here is less deGrom (or any other specific dude) and more the whole situation. We know that so many guys are using stuff. Heck, maybe a majority of pitchers at this point.

•   Good read from Jon Greenberg on why broadcasters are still not traveling for road broadcasts, and how that continues to limit their ability to call the games as well as they could:

•   Watches, desks, power supplies, and much more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

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.