The Little Boy and I took a trip to see The Parents this weekend, which has already been a very nice visit. The one caveat? I am sleeping in a fairly small bed with The Little Boy, who, uh, MOVES AROUND A LOT at night. And makes a lot of sounds. And gets up a lot to use the bathroom. I hope these Bullets actually make sense, because my brain capacity is drastically reduced this morning …
• It’s yielded a funky line – .206/.250/.529 – but after yesterday’s big game, Michael Hermosillo now has a 104 wRC+ in the big leagues, slightly better than league average. KEEP. GIVING. HIM. STARTS. There will be adjustments and issues and problems along the way, but that’s why he needs regular starts to work through them. The fact that he’s been able to post a 104 wRC+ despite NOT getting regular starts and making pinch-hit appearances regularly (where the results are always tougher to come by) is impressive. Just give him that runway. I can come up with reasons to start Ian Happ almost every day. I can come up with reasons to start Rafael Ortega most days. I cannot come up with good reasons to start Jason Heyward every day. And I cannot come up with a good reason not to ensure that Hermosillo gets a start every day by rotating everyone else in and out.
• Speaking of guys getting runway, Frank Schwindel just won’t stop hitting. I gave him a look at 100-ish PAs, and now he’s added another 20ish and the numbers are still where they were: .345/.395/.655, 175 wRC+, 7.6% BB rate, 19.3% K rate. Although I think the contact quality still suggests a much lower level of production (still quite good! but just not THAT good), one I think I do like to see is that his performance has really improved against all pitch types this year. The only pitch against which he’s producing below average is the changeup.
• Gordon Wittenmyer isn’t messing around in this column, which really sums things up well. Plus a note from yesterday’s starter, who knows what’s up:
“I’m vaccinated. I’m going to let the science work,” says #Cubs pitcher Alec Mills.
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) September 3, 2021
• Great quotes in there from bench coach Andy Green, too, who really seems to have a good sense of the utility of the vaccines, including in cases like that of his manager (Ross is symptom-free at this time, despite the positive COVID test, and that’s almost certainly because he’s vaccinated). He’s also really got that ejection thing down.
• As for Mills, the dingers bit him yesterday, which made at least some sense given how attack-oriented he was. He was getting strikeouts, but when you throw 60 strikes out of 83 pitches, you are definitely keeping it in the zone all day. A little risky when you aren’t an elite stuff guy, but obviously generating that contact is Mills’ game.
• Trevor Megill looks SO GOOD when he is at his best, which sounds like I’m not saying anything at all, but I’ve got a point. I’ll wander my way to it after he looked so good again yesterday. To start with, he’s gonna be a really tough 40-man decision this offseason, I think. My bet is that he’ll stick absent a huge fall-off in September, because the upside is elite. The homers are a SERIOUS issue, but consider that, since the start of August, he’s got a 47.6% K rate (lol) against a 0.0% BB rate (lol).
• Putting this another way: the best version of Megill is one of the best relievers the Cubs have had available the last few years, right up there with an average version of Craig Kimbrel. The problem, of course – and why almost no one ever matches a guy like Kimbrel – is that Megill isn’t actually doing it every time, or even every batter. His huge size and over-the-top delivery is simultaneously what makes him so hard to hit and also what makes it so much harder for him to locate his pitches where he remains so hard to hit. So when he stays at the top or bottom of the zone, good luck. You won’t hit him. But when he misses to the middle – which he does much more than you’d want any pitcher to miss – he’s just as dingable as any other pitcher. Or at least that’s how I see things, and how I suspect you wind up a guy who gets SO many strikeouts, issues SO few walks, and yet still gives up SO many homers.
• Oh, and in fairness, the homers have also probably featured some bad luck – by Statcast’s expected homer metric, you would have expected Megill to give up only 2.8 homers so far (based on the actual contact he’s given up). But SIX have actually gone out. That’s the sixth highest spread in all of baseball, including starting pitchers who’ve thrown so many more innings. OK, I typed all that stuff above and, like I said, I wandered my way to this: that’s probably a crapload of bad luck. The Cubs should definitely keep Megill rostered all offseason.
• I love this guy’s story, from an undrafted prospect to making himself into an interesting arm to making himself into a really exciting prospect (constantly developing):
Max Bain last 6 starts: 30.1 IP, 18 H, 2.67 ERA, 8 BB, 35 K.
We are living the Bain Breakout.
Also how about the BB% splits pre- and post- being on the developmental list:
Pre-DL BB%: 14.3%
Post-DL BB%: 6.8%
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) September 4, 2021
• Boo that the Bulls didn’t get Lamarcus Aldridge. Yay that Blackhawks players will be back in the Olympics. Yay(?) that there are several weeks where it makes sense to give Justin Fields the start for the Bears (though, you know, week one would be fine, too … ).
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