Cubs Plate Discipline, Ross as a Human, Chavez as a Leader, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Cubs Plate Discipline, Ross as a Human, Chavez as a Leader, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs head to Pittsburgh today to face the Pirates and an old friend. Jose Quintana is making the start. Let’s just say, it would be nice if he greets them as a friendly face and hasn’t suddenly figured things back out. Since 2019, Quintana has a 5.13 ERA over 244.0 innings. In particular, righties have absolutely obliterated him recently, and I might put down a dollar on a Seiya Suzuki homer …

•   Here’s hoping this becomes a thing we can keep discussing for weeks and weeks to come:

•   I would add to Bastian’s note, perhaps even more importantly, the Cubs have the second lowest out-of-zone swing rate so far. That would be an incredible thing to carry forward after years of, uh, not being that team. While you will swing outside of the zone from time to time, generally speaking, the strike zone contains the areas where you can do the most damage with pitches – so, swinging too frequently outside the zone tends to be a leading indicator of future problems (not just strikeouts, but also poor quality of contact).

•   All that said, the Cubs have faced just one pitching staff, and the Brewers were particularly wild in that series. The Cubs saw the fourth fewest pitches in the zone overall in baseball that opening weekend – again, it’s really good that the Cubs laid off so many of those pitches, but when the pitchers are that wild, it becomes a little easier to default to take mode. Just something to keep in mind before we get too excited about this being a “new” Cubs team.

•   A big profile on David Ross over at Marquee, which makes sense even a few years into his tenure because the focus is about how he’s leading a new group of guys through a significant period of transition. Enjoyed it.

•   Appreciated this anecdote on Ross’s visit to minor league spring training this year:

In February as the MLB lockout dipped into the typical Spring Training schedule, Ross roamed the backfields at the Cubs’ complex in Mesa, Ariz., evaluating young players and getting to know some of the young prospects.

“If I can go back to my minor league days a long time ago, the big league manager is like this daunting figure — somebody you don’t know and you see him on TV and stuff,” Ross said. “I just wanted to go down there and ask them where they’re from, introduce myself, tell them where I’m from. Anything we can relate to — talk catching, talk hitting.

“Just engage in their personalities. Just get to know them as humans. They’ve got a long road ahead of them to get to the major leagues and a lot of adversity and good and bad things are going to happen to them.

“The more I see them in the weight room, I can say, ‘hey.’ I think that’s just kinda my thing. I like to engage everybody and make sure they know I’m just a redneck from Tallahassee.”

•   Interesting from Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma on the clubhouse and the importance of leadership – I say interesting, because this is coming just after Jesse Chavez had a rough opening outing and gave up a Cubs lead:

Anointing a leader for any team is a foolhardy task. Years ago, Rizzo was given the title by some before he’d even established himself as an everyday player at the big-league level. That’s certainly not how it works. The reality is, there are very few players who actually bring a difference-making intangible quality to a clubhouse. Cubs personnel believe Ross was able to do that in his two years as a player with the team. Those qualities are part of what makes him their choice to lead this group for the foreseeable future.

Part of the reason Chavez is around is that the Cubs value that aspect in the bullpen. A veteran presence helps the younger relief pitchers prepare for the day-to-day grind that comes with working out of the bullpen. Preparation and routine are important for all players, but especially so for those who aren’t used to what it takes to be a reliever in the majors. The Cubs are finally seeing some names emerge in this area. The Cubs hope Chavez excels on the mound, but they are also banking on him helping the likes of Ethan Roberts, Michael Rucker and other inexperienced relievers who are likely to cycle through the bullpen this season.

•   Extra leash, therefore, for Chavez? It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, unless he reveals himself to suddenly be completely unpitchable. There are going to be a lot of young arms coming up that could see their big league development aided by the organic presence of leadership.

•   The latest ‘Onto Waveland’:

•   The Savannah Bananas remain a treasure:

•   So, Guardians rookie Steven Kwan is doing some ridiculous things after doing ridiculous things in the minor leagues last year, and he might be a stud:

•   The 24-year-old outfielder just did not strike out like hardly ever at Double-A and Triple-A last year, but DID hit for a lot of power (and average, and took walks). He’s a smaller guy who was not a top draft pick or prospect, so he hasn’t been getting a lot of hype until now, but these results are worth following. Wouldn’t it be crazy if, in the year we see the arrivals of Julio Rodriguez, Spencer Torkelson, Adley Rutschman, Riley Greene, Bobby Witt Jr., and more, it turns out that Kwan wins Rookie of the Year?

•   A Very Javy Homer:

•   Tigers fans really are getting the full El Mago treatment right out of the gate. Good for him, good for them. Second highest pitch Báez has ever homered on, after this one, on a 100 mph pitch:

•   Toys, tablets, humidifiers, and chargers are among the Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

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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.