We are transitioning The Littlest Girl to a new sleeping situation, which means we are back into monitoring the night/possible wee hours wake-ups/etc. mode. It has been a minute. Fingers crossed for good sleeps on the horizon.
• Love this read on Patrick Wisdom, who is necessarily deep in the “adjustment” phase after a month in the bigs:
Patrick Wisdom laughs at the funny memes about himself and has enjoyed Cubs fans’ response to him.
But after what has been a historic month for the 29-year-old rookie sensation, he wants to be more than baseball’s flavor of the month.https://t.co/hLyZmxvBt2
— Russell Dorsey (@Russ_Dorsey1) June 24, 2021
• Here’s how Wisdom described adjustment mode: “It’s understanding my weaknesses and cold zones. Then figuring out how I can adjust to that. If it looks like a strike coming in and then ends up being a ball, do I just learn to not swing at those pitches anymore, or do I figure out how to hit them? So kind [of] at that crossroad of learning, trying to adjust and staying one step ahead. Mentally, I think more than anything, it’s just knowing that I can play this game.”
• I’ve mentioned it before with Wisdom, as we track the small sample stuff to identify trends in how he’s being attacked and adjusting, you could go back as far as 12 games and say he’s been slumping (.176/.243/.353, 65 wRC+, 43.2% K rate). But that’s not THAT bad when you’re just grabbing any 12-game stretch for any player. When you dig deeper into some of the plate discipline trends, there’s not a lot that stands out – maybe a TOUCH more swinging outside the zone lately. Otherwise, you just see a slight decrease in his contact rates both in and out of the zone, which has been enough to keep that strikeout rate trending up. Pitchers, by the way, figure to keep working him up in the zone until the contact rates there improve, because right now it’s a huge hole:
• Wisdom’s hard contact rate is definitely trending down, though that was inevitable because it started out as an absolutely ungodly level. His BABIP appears, to my eye, to have been disproportionately crushed lately, which might be a little bit of bad luck. Generally speaking, I see a guy to whom pitchers are adjusting at the margins, and with an already-elevated strikeout rate, it’s now gotten a little out of hand. But when he makes contact, it’s still good contact.
• Speaking of which, Wisdom’s 10 homers already have him tied with Paul Goldschmidt and Josh Donaldson, and have him ahead of guys like Mookie Betts, Matt Chapman, Francisco Lindor, Anthony Rizzo, Juan Soto, and so many more big names.
• At last, the Commissioner is speaking publicly about sticky stuff and the increased enforcement around baseball, taking great issue with the idea that players didn’t have a chance to provide input and/or adjust behavior long before this week:
Rob Manfred talked to @TylerKepner about the sticky stuff situation, enforcing baseball’s rules, the league looking into a universal legal gripping agent, players’ reaction so far, and more: https://t.co/LuxI8x03VY pic.twitter.com/cflcbaSNLZ
— James Wagner (@ByJamesWagner) June 23, 2021
Rob Manfred on MLB's foreign substance checks: "The first two days have gone very well."
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) June 23, 2021
• You can take issue with the question on whether it’s been a good or bad process – lotta folks have a lotta different perspectives on that one, and there was at least one huge embarrassing moment – but I’ll note that if the goal was to get the sticky stuff out of the game, and if our best evidence of success is a dramatic reduction in spin rates from certain pitchers, well, then it has worked. Because you can pretty much look at any pitcher in any game, and the guys with the spin rates that were absurdly higher than anything we’d ever seen before … they’re all down. Every single one.
• One notable newsy thing from Manfred is that he confirms MLB is working on a uniform substance that all pitchers can apply to fingers/baseballs as necessary (i.e., something tackier than just rosin), but it’s doubtful it’ll come out this year.
• Now in the COMPLETE OPPOSITE direction, there’s finally another knuckleballer back in the big leagues:
Knuckleballer Mickey Jannis is making his major league debut at 33 years, 189 days old.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) June 24, 2021
Mickey Jannis, Knuckleball. 🦋 pic.twitter.com/PeFcmsxuRv
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 24, 2021
• When we talk about things that make watching baseball more enjoyable, if you can set aside competitiveness considerations for a moment, I absolutely love watching knuckleballers. I really wish there were more of them.
• Kris Bryant on cage work:
This was interesting yesterday from Kris Bryant. On why his pregame hitting routine mostly consists of cage work inside, rather than taking BP on the field… pic.twitter.com/2mfi76zf4K
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 24, 2021
• Important background from Patrick Mooney on the minor league housing situation (where the Cubs could and should join the Astros as the only organization in baseball to fully provide housing for all of its minor leaguers):
Were a group of Cubs prospects stranded without housing and planning a sleepover in the locker room? Or was the Myrtle Beach situation far more nuanced than the tweets? This is minor league baseball in 2021. https://t.co/662QZSAXy1
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) June 24, 2021
• All-Star gear is out:
— Bleacher Nation Cubs (@BleacherNation) June 24, 2021