Just want to say to those of you who participate in the comments: since the message earlier this week about trying to create a little nicer community by enforcing the commenting policy more aggressively, I have really noticed an improvement. Just wanted to say I appreciate it a lot, and it’s been fun to get back down into the comments and participate more, myself!
• Stay tuned for a roster move from the Cubs before tonight’s game. Mark Leiter Jr. is coming up to take the start, but since he’s not on the 40-man roster, something will have to give – either a DFA or a 60-day IL move. I hope Manny Rodriguez’s elbow injury isn’t already being thought of as a 60-day-type injury (but that wouldn’t clear a spot on the 28-man roster, so another move would be necessary, too).
• Nothing was physically wrong with Marcus Stroman last night, for what it’s worth. He just felt like his mechanics got out of whack in the 41-pitch 4th inning that wound up deciding the game, and he just couldn’t get the feel back (NBCSC). I feel like the command was a bit off even before the 4th got underway (I was seeing a lot of belt-high, a lot of sinkers missing arm-side, and a lot of uncharacteristically non-competitive balls). It’s early after an abbreviated Spring Training, it was Coors Field where every road pitcher has to make weird adjustments, etc., etc. You wouldn’t necessarily develop any concerns from that outing, so long as Stroman says he feels good, which he does. On to the next.
• Connecting those first two bullets: the bullpen should be in decent shape for tonight’s game if Leiter can give the Cubs at least three. Although Stroman managed just four last night, the Cubs needed just three pitchers to cover the other four road innings. Each of Chris Martin, Scott Effross, and Daniel Norris threw at least 20 pitches, so they’re probably not going to be the first call tonight, but one or two might still be available if there’s a big need. Otherwise the Cubs have David Robertson, Mychal Givens, Michael Rucker, Ethan Roberts, Rowan Wick, and Jesse Chavez all pretty fresh.
• It was interesting – not necessarily wrong or bad – that David Ross burned both Seiya Suzuki and Clint Frazier in the 5th inning last night as pinch hitters, and then brought in new guys to replace them thereafter, taking all of Suzuki, Frazier, Jason Heyward, and Alfonso Rivas out of the game in a single swipe.
• I think, for me, since the lefty on the mound was going to have to face at least two more batters, and with first base open it was easy to predict that they wouldn’t pitch to Suzuki as that first pinch hitter. I would have considered, in that instance, batting Michael Hermosillo there – he was coming into the game anyway – against the lefty to see what he could do. Then, if he walked, you guarantee that Suzuki gets pitched to with the bases loaded. If Hermosillo is out, you have *both* Suzuki and Frazier available later in the game, and Rivas also hasn’t been pulled yet. I think it was a really close call, because you don’t want to risk not getting to use Suzuki at all in a big spot (several more came up later, though, and it’s not like he’s only good against lefties). Plus, Ross’s move guaranteed a bases-loaded opportunity for Frazier against a lefty, which isn’t a bad opportunity either.
• So, anyway, not mad about it. Just not sure it’s exactly the way I would’ve gone. Also, note: Suzuki was getting the night off no matter what, so he wasn’t an option to stay in the game. Just pinch-hit.
• Props to Willson Contreras for last night’s game: yeah, there was the big three-pitch-watching strikeout with the bases loaded in the 8th (you would’ve liked to have seen him attack that first pitch, which was a hanging slider that had nothing on it), but I can’t get too upset about that given what he did in the rest of the game: TWO hustle doubles AND a hustle infield single. Guy was busting his butt and was productive overall.
• Last night, Joe Maddon remained thoroughly Joe Maddon, intentionally walking Corey Seager … with one out … with the bases loaded … down a run … in the fourth inning. He explained it after the game as being about stirring up the human element, which means that even though the move in terms of that inning *extremely* didn’t work (two more runs scored *after* the run was forced in), he will likely say it all worked out because it made Ohtani hit another homer thereafter or something. As it was at the end with Joe Maddon, I think he is 99% exceptional at managing. The one thing he has never been able to do is admit when he made a funky decision and it was a mistake. Maybe that’s just the attitude he has to have in order to be successful the other 99% of the time.
• Jake Arrieta was not impressed by his former manager:
Walking in a run already down by one, with a fresh reliever in the game. You are better off pulling the pitcher & optioning him immediately bc you have no faith in his ability. Seager is an incredible hitter, but what is happening to baseball?
— Jake Arrieta (@JArrieta34) April 16, 2022
• That said … come on, Jake. This isn’t a “what is happening to baseball” situation. It’s something that has never happened in that particular situation in baseball history. It’s not a matter of baseball changing, it’s Joe Maddon being Joe Maddon.
• The results of the outing may not have been what he would have wanted, but yesterday’s game was nevertheless really special and important for Marcus Stroman:
Got you tatted for a reason. Beyond grateful for your heroic presence through dark times. Your sacrifices allowed me to play the game I love today. Forever thankful for you. Thank you Jackie! #JackieRobinsonDay 🖤 pic.twitter.com/x4zc6PQgXZ
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) April 15, 2021
“To pitch on this day, it’s my first time that I was able to pitch with the ’42’ on my back,” [Stroman] said. “It definitely has a lot of culture, a lot of history there. And I couldn’t be more proud to have donned that jersey out there.”
Stroman also hopes people reflect on Robinson’s legacy beyond just this annual anniversary.
“Jackie Robinson deserves more than one day,” he said. “I pray that people keep him in their minds, what he did, the trailblazer, the pioneer that he was. I hope it’s not just a one-day-and-gone kind of thing. I hope people truly remember and give thanks.”
• Also, from Jason Heyward (via the Tribune):
Heyward, 32, joined other members of the Players Alliance in donating his six-figure game check Friday. He understands that money doesn’t solve everything but hopes action brings attention to the organization’s efforts and raises awareness on Jackie Robinson Day annually on April 15.
“Jackie Robinson Day is going to have new meaning to everyone and depending on how long they’ve been around, right?” Heyward said. “But I still think that it’s awesome that it pays homage and that we don’t forget it in the game on and off the field. It keeps things in perspective, when it comes down to someone like Seiya (Suzuki), the new first generations of the sport and (Alyssa Nakken), the first woman to coach at first — opportunities like that to me don’t happen without Jackie Robinson and his sacrifices.”
• If you missed yesterday’s less important, but fun, anniversary:
A Very Important Anniversary: Three years ago today, Yu Darvish threw a 99 mph fastball that took out three people, including an opening nut shot. pic.twitter.com/w5lZ4q0e6Z
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 15, 2022
• The MLB section here is (1) really heartening, and (2) really surprising. Makes me wonder if the poll skews older (article didn’t say):
Share of U.S. adults who identify as fans of the following sports or leagues:
1️⃣ NFL: 67%
2️⃣ MLB: 55%
3️⃣ College Football: 52%
4️⃣ NBA: 46%
5️⃣ College Basketball: 43%
6️⃣ NHL: 38%
7️⃣ Soccer: 32%https://t.co/P5IsqvlP7R
— Mark J. Burns (@markjburns88) April 16, 2022
• Ichiro remains the best. He came out in full uniform to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and showed he still has his rocket arm:
Fastest (93.6 MPH) Ceremonial First Pitch ever! Ichiro! 😊👍⚾️
— Dan Roche (@RochieWBZ) April 16, 2022
• Cubs might consider seeing if he wants to become a bullpen reclamation project …
• If anyone has been looking for a jersey display case, there’s one 24% off on Amazon today. #ad
• Good luck to the Bulls this weekend. No one is expecting much, but hey, maybe they’ve got a surprise or four in them:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) April 15, 2022
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) April 14, 2022