Thanks to a streaming snafu, I wasn’t able to watch ‘Better Call Saul’ last night, so now I’m dodging spoilers like potholes. (And so help me, if you don’t keep the comments spoiler-free until at least Wednesday, I’m gonna tap that Commenting Policy sign so hard … )
• Through 10 games, the Cubs have held a lead in *every single game,* the first time that’s happened since 2010. That year, the Cubs were only 5-5 at the time, though, having blown half their leads! The team would go on to lose the next four straight, would only briefly smell .500 again later in the season, and wound up finishing 12 games under .500, and 16.0 games out. And then they made some terrible decisions not to fully commit to a rebuild when it was crystal clear that doing so was necessary, but that wound up getting Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer in the door after the 2011 season, so I suppose you could say 2010 totally worked out!
• Speaking of the first 10 games of a season:
• I like the numbers Joe chose to share there, because they do underscore how different this offense has felt. There will be times when the lack of power (compared to the years of The Core) is frustrating, and yields a whole lot of stranded runners. But there will be other times – we’ve seen it a lot already – when keeping the line moving winds up generating a run here or there when previously we were just waiting for the next strikeout. I loved The Core years, without question. But I do find myself enjoying watching this offense quite a bit more this year than, say, the last three (when Theo Epstein said the offense “broke” – remember that?).
• This pitch made me jump up out of my seat when David Robertson threw it:
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 19, 2022
• Robertson, who is totally now the Cubs’ closer even if David Ross won’t anoint him, has yet to allow a run through his five appearances (four saves). You’ll want to see the strikeout rate tick up a bit (just 22.2% to start the year), but if he’s got his cutter at 91-93 mph (that’s his base fastball) consistently, he’s going to induce a whole lot of bad contact even if he doesn’t get the whiffs. It’s a very hard pitch to barrel up because of the subtle, unnatural movement (the league average cutter comes in at just 88 mph, while Robertson is averaging 92.5 mph this year – and although he doesn’t get as much horizontal cut as a typical cutter, it features almost no drop, which is just crazy for a cutter).
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 19, 2022
• Bit of a funky note on Kyle Hendricks, given the mixed success on the results side so far:
Kyle Hendricks' 17 strikeouts through his first three starts are his most in a three-start span to begin a season, surpassing his 15 K in 2016 and 2020. #Cubs
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) April 19, 2022
• Interested in a very early framing check? A catcher’s framing skill can stabilize pretty quickly in a given season because of how many pitches he’s catching each night, but I’d still call this too early to actually CONCLUDE anything. Instead, I offer this only as a check-in on how the framing has gone so far: Yan Gomes has rated as solidly above average (but not elite), and Willson Contreras has rated as slightly below average (but not bad).
• Whoa, whoa, whoa. Play it safe, guys. Give it another day or two. Take a spa day. Get a mani-pedi. Treat yourself and see all that Chicago has to offer outside of work:
#Rays Cash said he expects Franco to be in lineup Tuesday but will check with him in the morning. Said Franco was getting ready to pinch hit in 9th
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) April 19, 2022
• In all seriousness, it’s a bit of a conflicting thing as a baseball fan. I want the Cubs to win, and the Rays missing one of their best players because of a very mild quad issue would help the Cubs without me feeling like I’m evil for wanting him to sit down another day or two. On the flip side, we so rarely get to see a young superstar like Wander Franco playing at Wrigley Field, and that would certainly be cool. So, hey, whatever. It’s fine either way. If the Cubs could, you know, still win.
• Cubs GM Carter Hawkins talked about women in the coaching ranks in baseball at NBC Sports Chicago, saying that a woman managing someday in MLB is not a matter of ‘if,’ but more likely a matter of ‘when.’ From the article, which also includes high praise for Cubs minor league coach Rachel Folden:
“I think that women have shown that they have the ability to be just as effective, if not more than men in the coaching ranks,” [Hawkins] added. “And that’s certainly part of the prerequisites to become a great manager: being able to impact players on the field. Women are doing that. Women are doing that in our organization and other organizations ….
The path to coaching jobs had been at least as daunting. [Alyssa] Nakken became the first woman hired as a full-time big-league coach in 2020, and when called to replace the Giants’ ejected first-base coach in that game last week, she became the first to do so on the field for a regular-season big-league game.
That moment came four days after [Rachel] Balkovec won her season opener with the Single-A Tampa Tarpons as the first woman manager in affiliated professional baseball.
“It was already there,” Hawkins said of a pool of qualified on-field candidates that the industry largely ignored for so many years. “There were already great female coaches in softball and other areas, and baseball as well. For lack of a better term, we just broke the barrier.”
• I will also find this very interesting to follow:
So I'm completely fascinated by the Phillies. They're basically an experiment designed to answer the question: How much does defense actually matter, anyway?
The fact is, even in 2022, we still don't really know. The Phillies will help show us!https://t.co/VCA9yjOOJh
— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) April 19, 2022
• I like to think he has a sandwich stashed in there or something:
Your power-hitting third baseman could never pull off this hat. pic.twitter.com/84Mb3CVz4A
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 19, 2022
• The NFL Draft approaches:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) April 18, 2022
• Speaking of the draft, the Bulls are back in the win column:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) April 18, 2022