Effross's Medal, Vargas's Tough Day, Contreras's Javy Move, Schwindel's AB, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Effross’s Medal, Vargas’s Tough Day, Contreras’s Javy Move, Schwindel’s AB, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Off-days after a Cubs series-clinching win >>>>> off-days after yet another series loss.

•   Scott Effross, once again, was quietly a hero of yesterday’s Cubs game, though it wasn’t so quiet if you were watching (1) Ildemaro Vargas’s defensive issues that led to two or three more baserunners than there should’ve been, and (2) the continued absurd movement on Effross’s pitches:

•   Poor Jorge Alfaro there. He had to know that the last pitch was going to hit him, and he still couldn’t help himself. And it didn’t just hit him a little bit, it hit him FLUSH on the leg. Still, a swing and miss.

•   Effross, 28, who remade himself over his pro career from a decent college swing pitcher to a traditional relief pitcher who was gonna stall out at Double-A to an incredible sidearming reliever who is dominating in MLB. Effross currently has a 1.32 ERA and 1.15 FIP (top 10 in baseball) over 13.2 innings. Through his two partial big league seasons (14 appearances in each of 2021 and 2022), he has a 29.2% K rate against a 1.8(!)% BB rate. It’s not just that he’s got extreme pitch movement and funk, it’s that he is ridiculously good at locating his pitches.

•   Speaking of Effross’s appearance yesterday, like I said, it was obviously complicated by the bases loading up on three straight plays Ildemaro Vargas could’ve/should’ve made but didn’t. I can’t remember the last time I saw three straight plays involving the same player of that type, none of which resulted in an error (a groundball he should’ve taken but peeled off (might’ve been an infield hit anyway); a short pop fly he should’ve taken but peeled off and Ian Happ couldn’t make a sliding catch; and a slow bouncer where he decided to try to throw to second base instead of taking a sure out at first). Effross still would’ve gotten out of it if not for a catcher’s inference drawn by Jake Cronenworth. Give that man a medal.

•   Vargas had a chance to make up for it almost right away, with two on and nobody out, but he grounded into a double-play, generating more outs on one swing than he generated on four chances in the field the previous inning (just one).

•   A lot of folks were wondering why Vargas was up at all, and it was because of the rash of injuries this past week, and the fact that he was there on the taxi squad (because of the potential COVID issues). It made sense, generally speaking, and I feel bad for him that his chance to fill in after Nico Hoerner’s injury went so badly. I suspect he won’t be long for the roster when a player or two are ready to return, even if Hoerner has to miss time – Andrelton Simmons will be returning soon-ish from his rehab stint, and the Cubs also have excellent defensive shortstop Dixon Machado at Iowa.

•   Willson Contreras is already in rare company for Cubs catchers, though it’d be pretty impressive if he could hit another 23 homers this year:

•   Willy also pulled off a Javy swim move at second base when he was advancing on a not-quite-wild-enough pitch:

•   Frank Schwindel had himself a heckuvan at bat:

•   So, after being sent to Iowa and brought back in a whirlwind, Schwindel had a brutal game on Monday, but then missed a game-winning grand slam on Tuesday by inches, and missed another homer on Wednesday by feet. He does not want to go to Iowa.

•   This is cool:

•   A little extra travel for the Blackhawks next year, and an opportunity for folks who can’t/won’t come to Chicago for a game:

•   The Bears are adding even more wide receiver flyers:

•   Weird and bad trade idea season:

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.