Time for me to head back home after a nice time in Chicago, albeit wherein the Cubs were outscored 21-3 in my two games. Maybe my departure will help today …
• Yesterday’s loss was a flusher according to David Ross (NBCSC): “We didn’t play very well in any facet of the game — hitting, pitching, base running, defense. You just flush that one. Every season I’ve been a part of in my playing career you have a couple of those.” No doubt on any of that, though it’s always easier to flush one when it ISN’T part of a longer losing stretch. The Cubs have now lost five of six, and the Brewers finally won. So it’s back to being tied atop the NL Central standings. (The cold streak for each team has also moved them out of the second Wild Card spot, for what that’s worth, a game behind the Padres.)
• Another rough, non-competitive outing from Jake Arrieta (though his velocity was WAY up, so I don’t know what to make of that), which just reiterates the need for another arm in the rotation. Thankfully the Cubs will at least get Adbert Alzolay (blister) back to start tomorrow’s opener against Cleveland. Hey, if the Cubs want to give former prospect Tyson Miller a spot start, he’s already been DFA’d by the Rangers who are likely trying to slip him through waivers.
• Trevor Williams, by the way, threw a 25-pitch bullpen session a couple days ago, so he might be trending toward a rehab assignment in the coming weeks.
• To be sure, Arrieta has always been on the easier side to run on (remember the comments that got Miguel Montero ousted?), but that was still pretty rough yesterday from Jose Lobaton. The Marlins just ran wild. We knew he wasn’t going to hit, but he was supposed to be excellent defensively to justify his spot. Not sure we’ve really seen that. The Cubs may need to move on to back-up catcher number five. Wilson Ramos? Chance Sisco?
• To that end, Willson Contreras has already been leaned on SO heavily that you worry about the load into the second half. Without a capable back-up, the tendency to lean is only going to get stronger (and the situation is terrifying if he were to actually get hurt). From Cubs.com:
Entering Saturday’s action, Contreras led the Majors with 483 innings caught, leading the second-ranked Christian Vázquez (466 2/3) of the Red Sox. In the National League, St. Louis’ Yadier Molina and Pittsburgh’s Jacob Stallings ranked second to Contreras with 407 innings each. That difference of 76 innings amounts to an eight-game-plus gap in workload.
“It is extremely difficult not to write his name in the lineup,” Ross said. “We try to balance it the best we can. We can’t sacrifice the long-term goal with the everyday. That’s the hard part for me.
“My job is to win every single game, and the best chance we have to do that is to put Willson in the lineup. I also have to understand this is a guy who’s going to break down if we push him too hard.”
• Oh cool, sticky stuff might have ALSO been reducing batted ball distances, even accounting for everything else:
because a few people are getting tripped up: the balls are flying further than expected *even accounting for higher EVs.* This is, as far as I can tell, purely an aerodynamic effect, and much larger than you'd expect purely from the warmer June weather.
— Rob Arthur (@No_Little_Plans) June 18, 2021
• Tomorrow is the day when the random spot checks begin. The Cubs host Cleveland in the evening, so we’ll see if either team gets tripped up at any point, or if something crazy has happened elsewhere in baseball earlier in the day. I tentatively expect we don’t really see much, because I think a lot of the adjusting has already taken place. I guess we’ll see.
• The Cubs’ position as a team has been a version of “we’re not worried,” presumably both because maybe they haven’t had too many guys using the really sticky stuff, and/or because they believe everyone can adjust successfully. Again, we’ll just have to see.
• Joey Votto, good dude:
This young fan was disappointed when her favorite player ever, Joey Votto, was ejected in the 1st inning today because she couldn't watch him play. Votto later sent her a signed ball saying he was sorry that he couldn't play. 🙏❤️
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) June 20, 2021
• As Rob importantly points out, the ump was ultimately OK, so we can watch and laugh:
He was ok.
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 19, 2021
• Correct additional reason to enjoy a Jacob Wetzel highlight:
— Caleb Webb (@calebgwebb) June 19, 2021
• This is absolutely delightful, and a perfect place to end these Bullets on Father’s Day:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 20, 2021