Cubs Lineup Struggles, Arrieta Has Nothing, Rucker, Heuer, Heyward, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Cubs Lineup Struggles, Arrieta Has Nothing, Rucker, Heuer, Heyward, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Today’s a big one: 15 years married to The Wife. I couldn’t have predicted the 15 years that would follow, but I was pretty darn sure I’d pass them all with her. So far, so good. Much love, my dear.

•   Corbin Burnes last night tied the MLB record with 10 consecutive strikeouts, which is maybe only slightly more impressive than his 15 total strikeouts on just 99 pitches. I mean, it requires three pitches to record a strikeout, so you’re talking about just 54 extra pitches for the entirety of his 8.0 innings. This Cubs lineup is obviously missing quite a bit, and is also featuring a lot of youth/depth guys, but still. Burnes was impressive. No rest for the weary today with Brandon Woodruff taking the mound. Kyle Hendricks might have to throw a shutout AND hit a home run.

•   Last night was not so effective from Jake Arrieta, and there’s no value in belaboring anything at this point. He gave up a billion runs immediately because the command and the stuff are both completely gone, and then he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory with this moment after the game (via The Athletic):

Jake Arrieta sat in the Wrigley Field interview room late Wednesday night for a video conference after a 10-0 loss to the Brewers. While giving an answer about hoping to mentor young pitchers, Arrieta looked at the screen and told a reporter up in the press box: “I’d love you to take your mask off. I don’t think anybody’s around you.”

•   If you can’t understand the question, that’d be one thing. But maybe just let people do whatever they want to do since it’s not affecting you in any way? The mask thing is obviously making a comeback, and where it’s necessary for safety – folks who can’t get vaccinated, for example – it should be required. In other situations, can’t we just let people do what makes them feel comfortable? Isn’t that the whole personal autonomy point that certain groups have been making all along? I don’t know how much of this applies to Arrieta, specifically, but Mooney’s description there sure sounds bad.

•   As for the pitching, Arrieta once again blamed balls just happening to find holes and said there wasn’t a lot of hard contact, which is half supported, half not supported, by the data. The groundball rate was fantastic (up near 70%), but there was almost no soft contact, and a whole lot of hard contact. I’m not really sure why I’m even digging in. It’s not like last night was a one-off fluke at this point – the ability to miss bats and/or induce soft contact is just flat not there anymore, and hasn’t been for years. I don’t know when he’ll get bounced from the rotation, though, because (1) the wins don’t really matter at this point, (2) the Cubs want to go with a six-man rotation to limit innings from here on out, and (3) there is no one else immediately ready to step into the rotation (though Keegan Thompson could be getting close). Arrieta says that he’s just trying to do the best he can, but it was appropriate that he apparently wrapped his media session, when asked about why things haven’t worked out this year, by saying, “I’ve got nothing for you, man.”

•   I suppose we can appreciate Arrieta’s service in getting the Cubs their 64th loss on the season, tying them with the Royals in that column (the Royals currently have the 6th worst record in baseball). It’s a big mush of teams there in that 6-10 range in the reverse standings, and although staying within the top 10 is the key for the Cubs (so they don’t get bumped back an extra pick (the Mets will pick 11 as a compensatory selection)), I’ve gotten greedy. The Cubs can’t get into the top four (the Diamondbacks, Orioles, Rangers, and Pirates are waaaaay too far gone and just won’t win enough to even let the Cubs catch up). But that five to seven range is not impossible.

•   Great three innings of work from Michael Rucker last night, albeit in the lowest of low leverage spots. A CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) of 43% is really, really fantastic. Like Bryan wrote this morning, the fastball might just have to be used as his “changeup” so to speak, because all his secondaries (curveball, slider, cutter) are great pitches. I think we can safely include him in the group of pitchers who “have big league pitches.” Success over a longer period of time, of course, requires more than that. But it’s a good first checkpoint.

•   Meanwhile, Codi Heuer didn’t have his best night, but I think it’s because he was working on stuff – the Cubs are trying to help him differentiate two clear pitches (sinker and four-seamer), whereas previously it was basically just one pitch thrown two slightly different ways without much effectiveness. Great read there at The Athletic.

•   Jason Heyward is helping do something very good for the community:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.