The Blowout, the Style of Offense, Hey Hendricks Was Great, Too, and Other Cubs Bullets

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The Blowout, the Style of Offense, Hey Hendricks Was Great, Too, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs have received an official letter of protest from the Washington Nationals after Ian Happ dared to score from second base on a Jonathan Villar single late in yesterday’s win …

•   There is just so much to enjoy – and keep enjoying – from yesterday’s 21-0 history-making blowout win for the Cubs, but before mentioning any more of the offense, I want to make sure to note that it was a dominant day for Kyle Hendricks, too. Sure, it was the Pirates and, sure, he tends to pitch better at Wrigley Field, but still. Consider that it was the first time this year a Cubs starting pitcher has gone six innings, let alone the seven he wound up going. Further consider that, through seven scoreless innings, Hendricks was at just 76 pitches. In a different situation, he would’ve kept going and would’ve had a shot at a Maddux (nine shutout innings under 100 pitches) – that’s quite rare and special, even if not as officially-recognized as a no-hitter!

•   It wasn’t Hendricks’ best contact-management day, but there were just four balls in play that had an expected batting average better than .500, and of the three balls hit over 100 mph, two were on the ground. What was interesting about the outing is that Hendricks went four-seamer heavy (31) rather than sinker (25). He generated almost no whiffs, as he was filling up the strike zone with fastballs – makes sense when, by the third time you go out to the mound, you’re already up 9-0. Just throw strikes at that point and let them hit it. Hendricks did, and most of ’em turned into outs.

•   The outing dropped Hendricks’ ERA all the way under 4, roughly league-average. Pretty wild considering his rough outings. Also, his FIP is now 3.33, which is 9% better than league average (and would be his best since 2016). Early season, small sample, etc., etc. It’s just kinda funky to see, given how the year has played out.

•   You could do the “before yesterday he was hitting X, and now he’s hitting an incredible Y!” thing with so many Cubs batters. That happens when a team puts up 21 runs in an April game. Some I want to highlight, though:

⇒ Seiya Suzuki’s three-hit day managed to sizably increase his slash line, too, which is bonkers, given how high it already was! From .333/.500/.692 (228 wRC+) to .372/.517/.721 (241).

⇒ Jason Heyward is now hitting .276/.364/.379 (119 wRC+), which looks good, and you might conclude the Cubs are finding the right match-ups for him. Maybe. But it’s worth pointing out that he’s still putting it on the ground 50% of the time, and his hard contact rate is a paltry 15.0%, while the soft contact is a whopping 30.0%. The strikeout rate is an enormous, for him, 27.3%. The results have been good, including yesterday’s slash line. But if you’re watching, I’m sorry to say, you have not been impressed.

⇒ Nico Hoerner’s four-single day bumped his season line from .273/.289/.432 (106 wRC+) to .327/.340/.469 (133). Dude has SEVEN hits in his last nine plate appearances. Heh.

•   Something to keep an eye on – in generally, but certainly after yesterday – is that the Cubs now have SEVEN regulars with BABIPs above .350 (Hoerner, Suzuki, Heyward, Ian Happ, Jonathan Villar, Patrick Wisdom, and Yan Gomes), and they are more or less all going to come down substantially over time. Some are earning their BABIPs more than others, but really only Hoerner’s (.366) is even remotely close to a number that might be sustainable.

•   All that said, yesterday was certainly how the Cubs have constructed the offense to look at its best: lots of contact, few strikeouts, spray the ball all over.

•   It really was perfect that new Bears head coach Matt Eberflus threw out the first pitch at Wrigley on the same day the Cubs put up a football score on the Pirates. If the Bears beat a team this year by 21 points I’ll be shocked …

https://twitter.com/Cubs/status/1517965440424812544

•   After the game, since he is a man of the people, Frank Schwindel walked across the street to have a beer with the fans:

•   SportsMemorabilia.com is having its semi-annual sale, so if you’ve been wanting to look at collectibles, go ahead and peruse while there’s a sale. #ad

•   An earlier note I missed on Keegan Thompson, who was scoreless again on Friday (a note that also makes me sad about Brad Wieck’s elbow injury):

•   If you’ve been following 20-year-old stud Roki Sasaki’s unbelievable streak in the NPB, it ended on the very first pitch of his overnight start:

https://twitter.com/BaseballBrit/status/1518086997356990464

•   Incredible play, yes. Probably not a great idea in April? Also yes:

•   Not great, Reds:


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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.