So, last night was the 8th game this year that Michael has full-on covered instead of me, and the Cubs have won every single game he’s covered. I’m not bitter, since I like the Cubs to win, but man, my dude is gonna forget what it’s like to cover a multi-game losing stretch! Also, the Cubs are winning at a .557 clip this year, so the frequency with which they would win eight straight games when one particular guy was on duty would be just 0.9% of the time. Michael’s good luck this year is better than 1 in 100.
• Hey, see, that’s why you don’t worry about long power outages from Anthony Rizzo, right? Like we talked about yesterday morning, he just does this sometimes, and then boom, the power comes for a good long while. A double and a homer last night, and there’s just no reason to worry about Rizzo, as long as he feels physically right.
• Also harkening in reference to yesterday’s Bullets, Patrick Wisdom not only homered last night, but didn’t strike out (his first strikeout-free game in the last 10). Fun fact, though, since Wisdom’s numbers are so bonkers, and since he only hit one home run in the game:
Patrick Wisdom came into today hitting .389/.450/1.028. His slash line is now .375/.431/1.025 and his OPS has dropped over 20 points despite hitting a homer
— Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) June 9, 2021
• I mean, even his SLUGGING went down in a game he hit a homer. That’s when you know a guy has played through an absolutely titanic stretch. What I really liked about his homer last night is that it came on a 2-0 slider that wasn’t absolutely brutal. So it wasn’t just a meatball fastball in a hitter’s count, it was kind of an atypical pitch toward the outer half, but it was up just enough and Wisdom sat back just enough to crush it.
Patrick Wisdom is the first Cubs player with 8 homers in any span of 10 games started since Aramis Ramirez in 2011
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) June 9, 2021
• Highlights from the win (including Zach Davies being quite good, though more on him later):
• Matt Duffy could be getting close to a rehab assignment, as his on-field work has clearly stepped up:
Matt Duffy (back) fielded grounders, did some running and is now taking BP. His first two swings (in earlier round than this video) were homers — one off the Western Metal Supply Co. building in left. pic.twitter.com/hK9SWwpBRd
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 9, 2021
• As we’ve discussed, the combined returns of Duffy, Jason Heyward, and Jake Marisnick would seem to make it tricky to keep starting Patrick Wisdom, but the reality is that you cannot justify sitting him down until and unless he goes into a long stretch where you’re seeing not only a lack of production, but clear issues that he’s not adjusting to. And if that means a guy like Duffy – who had been playing well in a different way – comes back to a pure bench gig, then so be it; or if it means Heyward sits more often, then so be it; or if it means Marisnick only starts against lefties, then so be it. The reality is that this will probably sort itself out by the time Duffy is ready to return, but you’re just not sitting Wisdom right now, and obviously you’re not sitting Kris Bryant. So?
• Outfielder Nick Martini cleared waivers and accepted an outright to Iowa. So he’s off the 40-man now, but remains in the Cubs’ organization.
• It’s at a distance, so it’s a little hard to see, but this is Andrew Chafin going WAY over the wall in center to rob Ian Happ of a batting practice homer:
— andrew chafin (@BigCountry1739) June 8, 2021
• On the one hand, oh my god be careful Andrew! On the other hand, I know, I know, these guys have to be themselves and enjoy what they’re doing on a day to day basis if they’re going to be at their best. But also, yeah, the be careful thing.
• The Padres’ bullpen will be happy to stop facing the Cubs:
— Taylor McGregor (@Taylor_McGregor) June 9, 2021
• Alec Mills made his return to the Cubs in relief last night, despite having been starting – stretched out to 6.0 innings – at Iowa in his rehab assignment. With Trevor Williams still out and Adbert Alzolay now on the IL, I’m mildly surprised that Mills wasn’t reserved for a multi-inning appearance. The flip side of that, though, is that he was fresh, it was a big lead, and the Cubs might need a lot of the guys who pitched earlier in the week to go today. Plus, the return of Kohl Stewart means he can take a start later this week, too. So, it’s not bad that Mills pitched just an inning or anything, it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting. You can presume he’s right back into his utility role.
• The data set is still small so you don’t jump to any conclusions on one outing, but, per Statcast, Tommy Nance’s average spin rate was enormously down last night – 90 RPMs on his sinker, 199 RPMs on his four-seamer, and 237 RPMs on his curveball. There is always variability from outing to outing, especially in different geographic locations and depending on usage, but it’s something to keep an eye on in the months ahead, not only as the sticky stuff is acted on by MLB (*no*, I’m not saying that is the thing with Nance, I’m saying that’s why changes in spin rate data are going to be under heavy scrutiny), but also as a newer pitcher who has been having so much success. You want to see him keep it up, because obviously the elite spin rates were part and parcel of his success. It was another solid, scoreless inning, by the way, with a walk and two strikeouts.
• Robert Stock – the 101 mph reliever – has been starting at Triple-A Iowa to help fill in for an emptied rotation. He’s gone 4.0 innings his last two “starts,” and went 3.0 innings in his last relief appearance before that. Interesting guy to stretch out like that. Stock has a minor league option left, so if the Cubs added him to the 40-man at some point, they would be able to bring him up and down. As the year goes on, and given the extreme depth the Cubs have at Iowa – including lots of optionable guys – I wonder if we’re going to see lots and lots of rotating in and out so that Ross can continue to lean heavily on the big league bullpen. And I wonder further if that will mean that the Cubs will try to find a home outside the org for borderline guys without options like Dillon Maples, since he can’t be shuffled up and down.
• Wallets, watches, and then also a bunch of Prime Exclusive deals today at Amazon. #ad
• Great and comprehensive read at The Athletic on the history of stick stuff in the game, how it has evolved over the years, and how it went from being something tolerated (and not necessarily all that “cheat-y” to something where the substances changed and the intentions changed and the use of technology in concert with the substances really made it an untenable situation). I keep seeing conspiracy theorists talking about how MLB is cracking down this year only because the CBA looms and they want to turn players against players, but not only does that make very little sense when you get past the grrr angry surface, it also ignores how this situation has actually developed. Frankly, I’m starting to get to the point where I’m no longer even all that mad about the guys who straight up cheated because of how this played out over the years. Anyway, like I said previously, with the league memo coming soon and umpire random checks to follow, you’re going to see player behavior changing soon (or already). Some guys will just keep risking it, while others will try to get a handle on pitching without whatever they’ve been using before.
• This sounds about right:
Cubs manager David Ross on Joc Pederson:
"He's like a big kid. No care in the world. He's fun. He calls me coach. He's a trip. 'What do you got, coach?' I looked back at him in the dugout yesterday: 'What do you got, coach?' I was like 'I've got nothing. I'm just looking back.'"
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 9, 2021
— MBDChicago (@MBDChicago) June 9, 2021
• This is where the City Connect gear shined:
— Bleacher Nation Cubs (@BleacherNation) June 9, 2021