Suddenly Sinking, Suzuki's Comp and Stretch, Bote Timeline, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Suddenly Sinking, Suzuki’s Comp and Stretch, Bote Timeline, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

After last night, I could stand to have a margarita or five today. If only there were an excuse …

•   With last night’s loss, a mini sweep by the White Sox, the Cubs fell to the 6th worst record in baseball. That being their record range is not necessarily shocking, but the fall was certainly swift. They’ve won just three games in their last fourteen. Holy crap, I didn’t really process how bad it’d been until I typed that. What a brutal two and a half weeks. From a 6-4 start to 9-15. How is this thing gonna look in a month?

•   Remember the second half of 2015 through August 2018, when it constantly felt like the Cubs were probably gonna win that day? That was a nice time. We are currently in a long stretch of it feeling like the exact opposite of that.

•   At last, a David Bote update:

•   It’s weird to think about how things might be different on the roster if Bote had been healthy. Would the fact that he can play passably on the left side of the infield have changed the calculus on Jonathan Villar? Would the Cubs have put him in the group of guys who deserve a couple months of runway to see what they’ve got? Presumably he wouldn’t be seeing a ton of time at second base no matter what, so would he even have an obvious spot on the roster? Would someone like Michael Hermosillo have been squeezed out sooner? So on and so forth. I don’t think it would’ve impacted anything major, but it’s still interesting to think about.

•   As for when Bote returns, and how that all plays out, I don’t think there’s too much merit in digging in more than a month out. Things could look very different for this club, in a number of ways, come early to mid June.

•   A Ben Zobrist comp for Seiya Suzuki, but in a very specific way (The Athletic):

Until Seiya Suzuki, the last Cubs player who left Chicago reporters waiting that long in an otherwise empty Wrigley Field clubhouse after a good game was probably Ben Zobrist. To be clear, that’s not a complaint about media access or a criticism of Suzuki or Zobrist. It’s a sign of Suzuki’s dedication. A Cubs official agreed that his extensive postgame routine — mostly focused on stretching and taking extra swings in the batting cage — is reminiscent of the diligence that allowed Zobrist to have such a long and distinguished career.

Zobrist would always deliver insightful answers once he got to his locker, but first he had to do his postgame work with Tim Buss, the longtime strength and conditioning coach for the Cubs who followed Joe Maddon to the Angels after the 2019 season. Like Zobrist, the only World Series MVP in franchise history, Suzuki pays attention to the details and understands that it’s a long season.

“Obviously, there are good things and bad things every day,” Suzuki said through his interpreter, Toy Matsushita. “The most important thing is just trying to find that even ground where you kind of figure out what’s working well and what’s not working well. That’s how these days are going, just trying out different things and hoping to get better results.”

•   Hopefully that work pays off during this adjustment period for Suzuki, who is hitting just .163/.180/.245 since the start of that Pirates series. We’ve all noticed. It’s been terrible. It’s also been only 12 games. I should probably get a grip.

•   In that time, his strikeout rate is up a bit and his barrel rate is down, but the overall quality of contact isn’t THAT much worse than his baller first couple weeks. The biggest most humongous most wow difference is the walk rate dropping from 28.3% in that first stretch to 2.0%(!!!) in this latest stretch. As we’ve discussed, it was a really obvious and simple adjustment by other teams: just throw more strikes. At first, Suzuki was still just taking way too many of them, and it crippled his performance. Good news? His zone swing rate is definitely trending up. That’s the first adjustment. Now that quality of contact needs to get better, which will, in turn, make pitchers more cautious, which will, in turn, play to his discerning eye, and the walks will come back up organically (together, you’d hope, with the power).

•   I don’t have more to say on Kyle Hendricks for now than I said last night. I’m just worried about how “normal” last night seemed, and how that normal translated to bad results (even accounting for bad batted ball luck/sequencing).

•   It’s a random thing to be looking for, because you really only need it at certain times, but *IF* you are looking for a phone case, the Otterbox line (I love them and have only had them) is on a huge sale at Amazon today. #ad

•   Something nice and light:

•   I laughed a lot:

•   And if you don’t get the reference, it was an incredibly sweet moment (just imagine that video in reverse, and that’s what actually happened), and the Yankees and Aaron Judge wound up making it even better:

•   Big offseason for the Blackhawks as they kinda restart (again):

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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.