With Robert Stock coming up to fill in for the Cubs tonight, the Mets might have to face a 101 mph fastball. I feel so bad for them. Can you even imagine?
• … I kid, of course, because we know that’s what is coming for the Cubs in Jacob deGrom. Although I know it means their chances of winning tonight are pretty slim, I gotta admit, I’m pretty excited for the game. Not only do I really want to see Stock in action, but deGrom is such a stud that it’s going to be fun to see the Cubs try to hit him. Don’t get me wrong: watching the Cubs win is still pretty much better than anything in my entertainment sphere. But we all follow baseball because we want to see cool and good shit. Most of the time, that’s a Chicago Cubs win. Sometimes, in addition to that, it’s whatever an opponent is doing. The Cubs probably won’t knock deGrom around, but the chance to see tonight if they might? That’s pretty enticing to me. It feels like a freebie, because if they get owned, it’s like, so what? Everyone gets owned by deGrom.
• That said, of course, you’d love to see the Cubs figure out a way to plate two or three on deGrom, and then give themselves a chance to win it later on in the game. We knew this series was going to be a beast, but I was certainly hoping the Cubs could’ve won one of the first two, ensuring that a worst case scenario was a 3-1 series loss on the road against the heart of the Mets’ beastly rotation. Unfortunately, now, a sweep is on the table.
• As for Stock, if he can give you three innings tonight while allowing, say, one or two runs, you just kinda have to take it. You hope for more, of course! He’s actually gone four innings his last two fill-in starts for the Iowa Cubs, and apparently was holding his premium velocity throughout (and not walking anybody – it’s kinda crazy). I don’t think you can realistically expect him to pull it off at the big league level tonight against better, more discerning hitters, but I am definitely stoked to see how he looks. At 31, Stock isn’t young, but his development/experience situation is more like that of a prospect than a veteran. He could show himself this year to be a nice piece to keep on the 40-man all offseason into 2022, especially if he’s a multi-inning guy.
• If both he and deGrom touch 101 mph tonight, will that be the first time this season each starter in a game has gone 101 mph+? Has to be, right?
• Although the initial scans on Kris Bryant’s hand showed no breaks, thank jeebus, I don’t love hearing from David Ross that the reason Bryant was pulled was because there was swelling and Bryant said he “couldn’t really grip the bat.” There’s basically no chance he plays tonight, which is not exactly ideal against the best pitcher on the planet.
• Michael wanted to slide in a little more this morning from his game coverage last night:
“There was a lot of second-guessing on Twitter last night, when David Ross brought Rex Brothers into the game in the 5th, but I’m pretty sure it was the correct call. For one, Alec Mills was facing the third time through the Mets order, with Francisco Lindor due up. He had been great until that point, but with a guy on base, it made sense to get him out for that reason, alone. For another, three of the next four batters were lefties (or switch hitters who would bat lefty), and Mills has had significant trouble with lefties in his entire career.”
So bringing in a southpaw, Brothers, to turn Lindor around to his weaker side [EDIT: I think Michael may have had that part backwards, but the rest stands] with the lefty Dominic Smith on deck was the right call. Unfortunately, Brothers couldn’t get it done against either of them, and with the three-batter minimum, that meant he had to face a dangerous righty, Pete Alonso, with the bases loaded. But even still … Alonso hit a sac fly, scoring just one run, and Billy McKinney struck out to end the inning. It was a calculated gamble by Ross (he probably thought it wouldn’t get to Alonso), but it almost worked perfectly. And even though it didn’t, the Mets still got only one run out of it.”
• Sergio Alcantara had a very rough night, striking out four times, all on fastballs. That’s not what you want to see. Two were whiffs (one foul tip), and two were called. I guess sometimes that happens, and I’ll try not to overreact, especially when a WHOLE lotta Cubs were striking out. Maybe it’s a one-off. And certainly, cap tip to Taijuan Walker on this one:
Taijuan Walker's Gorgeous Front Door Two Seamers. 😍
11th and 12th Ks. pic.twitter.com/ctz7Aa4uVQ
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 16, 2021
• The White Sox got good news on Eloy Jimenez the day before, but then got really bad news on Nick Madrigal: the surgery to repair his hamstring tear is going to take him out for the rest of the season.
• I read this as a caution that Adbert Alzolay may not return to the rotation immediately when he’s eligible:
Adbert Alzolay (blister right middle finger) threw bullpen yesterday & probably needs one more bullpen before he's activated from IL, via pitching coach Tommy Hottovy.
They want to see how finger recovers under "game mode" conditions. Alzolay is eligible to come off IL Friday.
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) June 15, 2021
• The Cubs can go with Zach Davies on Friday and Jake Arrieta on Saturday, on regular rest, but then they’d need another fill-in the next day (Alec Mills again?), and then another fill-in the day after that. If Stock is optioned down tonight after his start, you’ll start to be able to suspect that Alzolay could be back for that start.
• Two monstrous dudes going at it:
One of the best Chicago baseball fights. Derrek Lee and Chris Young were All-Star teammates a month after this. pic.twitter.com/QeSvtM8JkN
— Kevin Kaduk (@KevinKaduk) June 16, 2021
• Derrek Lee: 6’5″, 240 lbs. Chris Young: 6’10”, 255 lbs. Couldn’t have been very often that someone could step to Lee with a height advantage, even though Lee clearly had the thump advantage. Bonus there is Mike Quade pulling Carlos Zambrano off the pile while Zambrano fixes his belt.