Bullpen Successes, Balls in Play, Suzuki's Oopsie, Carriage Deal, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Bullpen Successes, Balls in Play, Suzuki’s Oopsie, Carriage Deal, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Today is the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut in Major League Baseball. The tributes will be plentiful, and I look forward to them all.

Meanwhile …

•   Outside of one really bad Jesse Chavez outing, the Cubs’ bullpen has been nearly perfect so far this year (and if not for that one, the Cubs are 5-1). Six games and only about 24 innings or so won’t tell you much, of course, but it’s a good start for a group that necessarily came with a lot of questions. I expect the ongoing evaluation/development process to hit some bigger bumps sooner or later, and remember that rosters shrink back down to 26 in May (plus Alec Mills and Wade Miley will be returning). There are still a lot of decisions coming.

•   On Miley, by the way, he’s up to 100+ feet of long toss and he could be back throwing on the mound relatively soon. An early-May debut still seems possible.

•   Just like last year, Keegan Thompson really showing something special in that multi-inning relief role. Another 3.1 scoreless last night, including coming into the scary mess in the 5th and ending it. (Now maybe he serves his suspension since he is going to be down for several days anyway?)

•   About that scary mess in the 5th – it was pretty clear that Justin Steele, whose stuff and velo were waning, was on a pitch count around 70-80, so once that lineup turned over and it was the third time through, it makes sense to me that he was pulled when two batters reached. It also made sense to me that Ethan Roberts was asked to bridge the inning, which he unfortunately was unable to do thanks to some wildness (inexperience pitching in Colorado, perhaps?). That’s when Thompson came in.

•   On the offensive side last night, can I offer one general comment first? In a game at Coors Field, the last thing you want to do is strike out. Putting the ball in play is paramount. The Cubs struck out just four times in the game. (Two by Patrick Wisdom, and, hey, he’s not there for his contact bat.)

•   Of course, the flip side of that is that the Cubs hit into FIVE(!!!) double plays, which is just nuts. HOWEVER, there’s absolutely some flukiness to that (for example, the Ian Happ double play that squashed the first inning was 106 mph off the bat, it just happened to be right at the third baseman). You also have to have runners on the bases to ground into that many double plays, so, hey, there’s that, too. Lastly, though, yes: it’s a reminder that putting the ball on the ground, all else equal, is not good.

•   One of those five double plays, of course, was the baserunning gaffe by Seiya Suzuki, which cost the Cubs at least one run:

•   Best I can figure is that Suzuki completely misread that one off the bat. I don’t think it was a matter of forgetting the outs, because he wasn’t booking it the whole way, as you would be in that situation if you thought there were two outs and the ball was hit to right field. Instead, I think maybe he thought Charlie Blackmon was maybe more off the line? And thought the ball was more toward the line than it was? It just kinda had the look of a guy who was trying to make sure he could go first to third with one out, but then realized, oh crap, I totally misread that ball. (And since Suzuki was out at first before Jonathan Villar scored, the run didn’t count. Inning over, one definite run wiped off the board, and possible future runs thwarted for the inning. Outs on the bases are very bad.)

•   By the way, remember that kinda fake streak we were talking about to start Seiya Suzuki’s Cubs career? The one where you reach base at least twice and drive in or score a run? Crazy thing: it ends at five games, just like the guy he tied (Mark Grudzielanek), despite “reaching base” twice last night – one of them came via an error, so I guess it doesn’t count. That’s exactly what happened to Grudzielanek in his sixth Cubs game!

•   Early season numbers are silly: Frank Schwindel started yesterday hitting .235/.316/.235 (67 wRC+) and he ended the day – after a good game, but not a CRAZY NUTS game – hitting .286/.348/.429 (123 wRC+). Maybe the regression is coming, but it’s all still data-collection mode.

•   Thanks to Sam Johnson on Twitter for reminding me of this tweet from one year ago today:

•   Boy that was a … darkly funny(?) story to follow for a long time – the lack of hits, specifically. It was crazy. By the time of that tweet on this day last year, the Cubs had played 12 games already, and had just those 59 hits. This year, through just 6 games, the Cubs already have 46 hits. In case you were curious.

•   Sinclair and Charter Communications (you would know them as Spectrum Cable) have reached a multi-year carriage deal on the RSNs – including Marquee – so that’s good news for baseball fans in the areas served by Spectrum.

•   Stay tuned on whether Christian Yelich has turned things around:

•   LOL, OK:

•   The Red Sox did one of those awesome drone videos and I am jealous:

•   Baseball is nuts:



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.