Thoughts remain with everyone impacted by the events of September 11, even 20 years later. It was a world-changing event for all of us, yes, but the impact was deeply personal for so many. I still think about those families whose losses were so deep, and then were wrapped up in so much that had nothing at all to do with them.
• That was Kyle Hendricks’ best start since July, both in results and just how in control he looked out there. It had been a while since he looked like that. Bookending the highlights with his two strikeouts of Kris Bryant:
6 IP / 4 K / 4 H / 1 ER
In 36 career September starts, Kyle Hendricks has a 2.56 ERA. pic.twitter.com/9lT84W7pIS
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) September 10, 2021
• Not that you’d count Hendricks out, but as we’ve discussed, you do have to keep an eye on him wearing down not only this year year but also in general as he gets a little more into his 30s. It was good and important to see that he could get his mechanics back in shape this year, but I’m still fine if, at some point soon-ish, the Cubs want to wind him down with an eye on 2022.
• Among the other few highlights from yesterday’s loss, Frank Schwindel sending one out to center:
Schwin Diesel. 💪 pic.twitter.com/EbYxsyyOUO
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 10, 2021
• Schwindel had been in his longest slump of the year with the Cubs … two games. That sounds like a joke, but it’s not. The previous two games were the first time all year with the Cubs that he’d had back-to-back games without a hit or multiple walks. He’s now up to 145 PAs with the Cubs, and a .361/.414/.684 (188 wRC+) line. The strikeout rate is down to 16.6%, the walk rate is up to 8.3%, and the BABIP is down to .378. That last one remains elevated, to be sure, but the K/BB and contact quality are really incredible. A real slump is coming at some point. It has to. This league is too good and the pitchers are too talented not to find some holes to exploit, and when they do, he’ll have to go through his first big league adjustment period. You’d actually LIKE that to happen before the end of this season.
• Tommy Nance’s return to the big leagues was also definitely a highlight, as he looked solid. That crazy riding four-seamer is gone now that its requisite obscene spin rate is no longer possible, but it looks like he’s really turned his two-seamer/sinker into something useful. It was getting a ton of arm-side movement at 96/97 mph, and figures to now be his primary (maybe exclusive) fastball. The slider still looked good, though with less movement (and, like the four-seamer, I’m wondering if the hammer curve is going to take a backseat now that it can’t have the same spin).
• If I had to guess based on a single appearance, when Nance went down to Iowa this summer, he and the Cubs got together and decided to transform him into a sinker-slider guy, and that’s what he has been working on. Pretty tough to pull off in-season when you were breaking out because of your four-seamer and curveball, but it’s not like he didn’t already throw the sinker-slider. It was a matter of rededicating to the other pitches a bit, and trying to take advantage of what is still a very live arm. I hope it works. I think the upside is probably no longer what we would hoped based on he looked when he first came up (the guy looked like an elite closer – the stuff was that unfair), but he could still be a quality reliever. Give him a few more outings to study, please and thanks, and then we can all be in a better spot to speculate about whether he can hang onto a 40-man spot this offseason.
• Drew Robinson threw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field yesterday:
Last year @Drewrobbb lost his eye in a suicide attempt. Today he shared his inspirational and courageous comeback story with us on @WatchMarquee. Thank you, Drew! #EndTheStigma #SuicidePreventionDay @Cubs @SFGiants pic.twitter.com/6sk2WDsIcP
— Elise Menaker (@EliseMenaker) September 10, 2021
• Robinson’s story is so important, and I appreciate that he is putting in the work to share it, and I appreciate the Cubs and Marquee for boosting. If you are unfamiliar with the former minor leaguer’s story, Jeff Passan wrote an incredible profile earlier this year. Tough, but important. You can come back, and there is absolutely NO SHAME in dealing with mental health issues, depression, and/or suicidal thoughts or actions. More here at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
• Fascinating explanation why some young international free agents might not come over to the States in the same year they were signed:
Norge signed in 2021, and by allowing him to stay in the DR for the calendar year, it allows him to keep his bonus tax free, which would not be the case if he came to the states. Might be the reason here…. https://t.co/lfnpmXd5Gr
— Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) September 10, 2021
Not at all. Most players demand it as part of their negotiation.
— Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) September 10, 2021
• Speaking of top Cubs IFA prospects who didn’t come over stateside for rookie ball in the year they signed, Cristian Hernandez’s progress this year is exactly what you want to see:
Hernandez has played in 36 games, and if nothing else it’s nice to see the progression over the season.
.237/.362/.237 (88+), 17.0 BB%, 19.1 K%
.244/.347/.390 (104+), 14.3 BB%, 34.7 K%
.386/.491/.682 (213+), 15.1 BB%, 13.2 K%
— Brad (@ballskwok) September 10, 2021
• Hernandez will do instructs, likely in the Dominican Republic, and then he’ll probably come on over next year for minor league Spring Training before playing in the ACL.
• Rays pitching prospect Cole Wilcox is undergoing Tommy John surgery, and if you’re wondering why I’m mentioning it: Wilcox was reportedly the prospect the Cubs were targeting from the Padres in the Yu Darvish talks initially, before the Rays swooped in with the Blake Snell deal and snagged Wilcox as part of the package.
• Nick Madrigal has arrived at Wrigley Field, joining the Cubs this weekend for the next steps in his rehab process. I wonder if he’ll increasingly be able to do baseball work with the team before the season is over (not games, obviously, but other things to start the integration process before next Spring Training):
Nick Madrigal (acquired from White Sox in Kimbrel trade) is here with the Cubs this weekend. He’s working his way back from right hamstring surgery. pic.twitter.com/PQs8GIKBei
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 10, 2021
Andy Green getting help from Nick Madrigal pic.twitter.com/UCVfUGIpRs
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) September 10, 2021
• Welp, there go my feelings again:
Chicago ➡️ New York.
All love. pic.twitter.com/Rr0BYOySGF
— MLB (@MLB) September 11, 2021
• OK, but why:
Kyle Schwarber gets booed by White Sox fans as he steps in to the box.
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) September 11, 2021
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