I’m off to Chicago today to take in my final stop at Wrigley Field for the season tomorrow. This season has sucked in a lot of ways, but I will be happy to be at Wrigley one more time. Having that taken away last year definitely gave me a renewed appreciation for how much I enjoy just being there for a baseball game.
• The Cubs swept the Twins in the two-gamer in Minnesota, and the Twins returned the favor on the Cubs this week in Chicago to leave the teams at an equal 67-85 record. The universe of bad teams is in balance. But thankfully the tie-breaker goes to the Cubs, so as of this moment, the Cubs would pick ahead of the Twins at number 7.
• I don’t have a problem with Kyle Hendricks and David Ross trying to take positives away from his outing against the Twins (you can see all their quotes here), and I’ll agree that it was really good to see him getting so many groundballs. But to my eye, the fastball was still not consistently avoiding the heart of the plate (40% hard contact on the night, and just 15% soft contact), and the fact that he got just three whiffs – only one on the changeup – tells me there were still execution/location/command issues. The 4.2% swinging strike rate last night was Hendricks’ lowest of the season. Whiffs aren’t everything, but they are (1) obviously good, and (2) a signal that batters are struggling to pick you up. Even as a contact-manager, Hendricks still historically gets whiffs at a 9.2% clip. It’s part of his game (pitcher’s counts are always a good thing), and when it’s entirely absent, I am concerned.
• Also a concern I noticed when poking around this stuff? Hendricks’ called strike rate this year (18.4%) is the lowest since he was a rookie. I am resigned to hope that things just got off for him this year because of the combination of the new baseball, the generally non-competitive team, the sell-off at the deadline, and the fatigue of a huge innings/season bump. Best we’ve got is that hope.
• Robinson Chirinos left the game late after a checked swing, grabbing at his side. We’ve seen that kind of thing before on check swings, and it is sometimes an oblique strain. If that’s the case here, Chirinos’s season would be over. We’ll see.
• The Iowa Cubs have picked up quite a few players this week – it’s like September call-ups for Triple-A, now that their season is a couple weeks longer than the rest of the teams. That includes utility man Christopher Morel, who is already on the 40-man and could/should be on the radar to get some big league exposure next year:
Lots of additions to the Iowa Cubs roster.
-C Tyler Payne from Tennessee.
-C Caleb Knight from Tennessee.
-LHP Scott Kobos from Tennessee.
-INF/OF Christopher Morel from Tennessee.
-RHP Dillon Maples who cleared waivers.
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) September 22, 2021
• Guess who got the save for the Iowa Cubs last night? You couldn’t guess if you weren’t already checking – it was Jason Adam. The same Jason Adam who suffered a career threatening, compound ankle dislocation earlier this season (yes, “compound” like the scary, bloody kind). That was Adam’s second scoreless, two-strikeout appearance with the I-Cubs after rehabbing down in Arizona. I really can’t believe how quickly he returned from something so serious, and it makes me hope the Cubs can hang onto him for next year, perhaps on another minor league deal. If not, he’s going to find plenty of suitors. As you’ll recall, he has four quality big league pitches, and although command is always the separator, when his is right, he’s a setup man. Teams are plenty happy to bring in those guys on minor league deals.
• I tell you, this guy’s joy is just infectious:
If you don't love Frank Schwindel, you're doing it wrong. pic.twitter.com/ODDY7hIf6d
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 22, 2021
• Meanwhile, Schwindel extended his hitting streak to 11 games with another couple hits, and his line with the Cubs just keeps holding in absurd territory (.363/.409/.670, 183 wRC+, 7.3% BB rate, 16.1% K rate, 193 PAs). And despite the MUCH later start, Schwindel’s 2.3 WAR is now tied with Patrick Wisdom for the Cubs rookie lead.
• I don’t really have an answer to the question, but I think about it often:
I kinda love this question about Schwindel. How long can a guy do LEGIT hitting stuff (i.e., excellent quality of contact and no strikeouts) and it's just a total fluke? We see these stories all the time, but usually the hitting isn't THIS good (under the hood) for THIS long. https://t.co/0COz2HOTRo
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) September 23, 2021
• Derrek Lee was the guest for last night’s Cubs game – first pitch, stretch, etc. – which is a good excuse to remember this incredible season:
In honor of Derrek Lee's appearance at Wrigley and on @WatchMarquee this evening, here's a reminder of how absolutely incredible his 2005 season was with the Cubs.
99 extra-base hits! pic.twitter.com/glUCdz6drR
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) September 23, 2021
• Lee was worth 7.0 WAR that year, and posted a 170 wRC+. That’s like doing what Frank Schwindel has been doing, but over a full season! Incredibly, Lee was walking at a 12.3% clip that year, but striking out just 15.8% of the time. And his ISO was .327. Just a bonkers season – one of the best in Cubs history.
• The Blackhawks have announced their training camp roster:
Blackhawks Announce The 2021-22 Training Camp Roster https://t.co/4ugqfl2d8W
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) September 23, 2021
• More on Justin Fields becoming QB1:
Justin Fields and Matt Nagy Discuss the Move to QB1 https://t.co/JNqWK8JdoS
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) September 22, 2021
• Put him in:
Devin Hester – The Greatest Returner Ever – Headlines the 2022 Hall-of-Fame Nomineeshttps://t.co/AwxoYNspS8
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) September 22, 2021
• More love for Derrek Lee – and give our friends at Obvious Shirts a like on Facebook while you’re at it: