We did it – well, YOU did it. The donations to Make-A-Wish are up above $10,000 now, which means a full 40-hour Blogathon starting in the wee hours tomorrow morning, and also now I wonder if we can come up with something extra for me to do. I’m kicking around the idea of something with the nacho helmet since I plan to go to the game tomorrow in the first half of the Blogathon …
• That Kris Bryant-Joey Bart stuff last night was certainly interesting. It was just a few days ago that Bart’s name started trickling out there as “available” from sources in San Francisco, which kinda got me wondering … what was wrong? It wasn’t that long ago that Bart was the kind of inner-circle top prospect that would NEVER be available in a trade. But some big league struggles last year and then a merely “decent” showing at Triple-A has apparently rubbed some of the shine off, together with whatever the Giants know behind the scenes. I’d be modestly leery about why he’s suddenly available, though if it were in a deal where Bryant was the primary piece going back, you’d have a hard time being anything but thrilled (about the trade return, I mean).
• Cubs Pitching Coach Tommy Hottovy confirmed that Keegan Thompson’s option down to Iowa was indeed to get him stretched out like Justin Steele. From his comments to Cubs.com: “Those two guys have proved that they can get big outs late in the game. And now, we’re continuing to see them work two times through the order, try to get three times through the order. We’re just going to keep building.” And on the importance of facing big league hitters in big league relief spots as a precursor to that starter development: “One-hundred percent [there are development benefits]. There’s nothing like pitching in the eighth inning of a 1-1 game. So, being able to use these guys out of the bullpen and put them in situations they may not face in a start, it just gives them a lot more opportunity to be exposed to a lot more things.”
• I would say that the Cubs haven’t really tried this developmental strategy out before for their young starting pitching prospects – expose them in the big league bullpen for a bit – but it’s not like the Cubs have had a lot of young starting pitching prospects come up the last 10 years. This might be the way they prefer to do it, but just haven’t had a lot of chances.
• In any case, I am really excited to see these guys get starts in the second half, just as I am excited to see Adbert Alzolay continue to develop against lefties. I don’t even mean that as a euphemism, because I believe Alzolay WILL do it. But for now, the cutter isn’t there yet and the changeup isn’t back, so every fastball is falling out over the plate to lefties, and too many sliders aren’t down enough. The numbers are jarringly bad against lefties: .275/.342/.677, with an 8.66 FIP. No pitcher with around Alzolay’s innings is even remotely close to his numbers. He is on an island right now as the single worst starting pitcher in baseball against lefties. So, yes, development is very necessary, and it might take an offseason.
• We didn’t get to see another installment of Javy Báez versus Amir Garrett again last night – so close! the game ended with Garrett on the mound and Javy on deck! – but we did get Garrett’s thoughts on Báez mugging the night before:
#Reds LHP Amir Garrett spoke Tuesday about the episode with Javy Báez: “I remember Javy saying that I need to react towards my team more so [than] them. Last night was directly towards me, which is fine, but whatever you preach, you should stand on that.”https://t.co/37FD9lXwUN
— Ryan Herrera (@ryan_a_herrera) July 28, 2021
• The Cubs got late dingers from Kris Bryant and Patrick Wisdom, though it wasn’t enough to complete the comeback:
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) July 28, 2021
— Cachorros de Chicago (@cachorros) July 28, 2021
• Anthony Rizzo also homered earlier in the game, his third straight game with a homer in the first inning:
Cubs tidbit: Anthony Rizzo is 2nd in Cubs history to homer in 1st inning of three consecutive games. (also: Nicholas Castellanos, Aug.18-21, 2019)
Rizzo also became 4th in Cubs history to homer in same inning (any inning) of three straight games. (last: Joc Pederson, June 9-12)
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) July 28, 2021
• All three of those guys are quite hot, too. Pick your cutoffs, but Wisdom is at .260/.351/.520 (130 wRC+) over the past three+ weeks, Bryant is at .305/.414/.542 (159) over roughly the same period, and Rizzo is at .257/.366/.500 (135).
• Something Staci spotted last night:
Spotted Anthony Rizzo’s dad walking around Wrigley tonight literally thanking every employee he saw for what they’ve done for his family during his son’s time on the team.
And then I was sad all over again.
— Staci Heaton (@StaciHeaton) July 28, 2021
• The Pirates wound up backing out of their Tyler Anderson trade to the Phillies because of issue(s) with the prospects in the deal, and it tentatively looks like the trade to the Mariners netted the same kind of return – guys who would just be on the cusp of a system top 30 (maybe slightly better on one of the guys because the Mariners’ system is very good and deep). That still seems like roughly what you could look for in a Zach Davies trade, give or take. He’s scheduled to start tonight for the Cubs, who might just play a game of chicken throughout the day.
• Shohei Ohtani is just so dang special, man. I was watching his nasty pitches just yesterday, and then he did this:
Shohei Ohtani absolutely crushes his 36th homer of the season 💪pic.twitter.com/fFBXoTJesD
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) July 28, 2021
• There was a stir late yesterday when Trea Turner was pulled in the first inning of the Nationals-Phillies game, but it turns out it wasn’t an injury or a trade – he’d just tested positive for COVID-19. Hopefully he’s all right, and it’s just another bit of weirdness and challenge that this pandemic grafts onto other things. It’s all of much, much lesser import than the health and safety of everyone, but you can be sure there are Trade Deadline impacts. It makes me wonder about how vaccination status would impact trade talks. Anyway. Just get vaccinated. Baseball players, non-baseball players, everyone. Talk to an expert if you still have questions or are on the fence.