Cubs Catching Duo Doing Special Stuff, Norris and Effross and Wick, and Other Cubs Notes

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Cubs Catching Duo Doing Special Stuff, Norris and Effross and Wick, and Other Cubs Notes

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs have a chance to do something today that they haven’t done yet all season: win back-to-back series. Justin Steele is returning to the mound after his weird thumb knuckle issue (not quite an injury, just discomfort), and hopefully he’ll look as good as he did before his last start was cut short.

•   There is nothing more disheartening than when a guy battles for 10 pitches in an at bat, and gets screwed on a brutal final strike call. Well, nothing more disheartening except when it’s all that, and the guy two batters later homers:

•   Speaking of that Gomes dinger, it was part of a two-hit night for the back-up catcher, who has his slash line creeping back up toward something more like normal for him (.226/.255/.377, 78 wRC+ – still got a way’s to go). And, as part of the tandem with Willson Contreras, whom Gomes is helping keep much fresher this year, it’s going quite well:

•   That was certainly the hope when signing Gomes – that the Cubs would get even more out of Contreras offensively, and overall would have one of the best catching tandems in baseball. So far, so good.

•   And one more bit of praise for Gomes:

•   It was really interesting to see Hendricks get settled after the third inning, because he’s right: usually, when the fastball command is not there after the first inning (sometimes he’s a bit off in the first, and then settles in), it doesn’t come around at all in the 2nd/3rd/4th/5th, if he lasts that long. Of note: Gomes also caught Hendricks’ exceptional outing earlier in the week in San Diego. We will probably continue to see that pairing.

•   Just like that, Kyle Hendricks’ ERA is 4.03, which is an adjusted 99 ERA- … aka, 1% better than league average.

•   After his four-batter, four-strikeout performance last night, lefty reliever Daniel Norris is up to an eye-opening 36.6% K rate (together with a passable 9.8% BB rate). Heck, he’s given up only six hits over his 10.2 innings pitched. His ERA is near six right now exclusively because of two homers and an outlier bit of sequencing (41.7% LOB), though he has given up a decent bit of hard contact. I’m keeping an eye on this overall, because the Cubs may have something cooking with yet another reclamation reliever. Norris, a former top prospect, is only 29, by the way.

•   I mention the age, because it’s just weird to think about how Norris is only a year older than Scott Effross, whom we kinda sometimes think about as an emerging young player. Anyway, Effross just keeps being awesome:

•   Elsewhere in the bullpen (and rotation), no meaningful update yet on closer David Robertson or starter Marcus Stroman:

•   Rowan Wick is pretty clearly the fill-in closer with Robertson out, and so far the Cubs haven’t been any worse for the wear (in the 9th, or in those bridge innings).

•   Funny tweet? Yes. Bad real moment(s) for the sport? Yes:

•   Speaking of lengthy delays involving dead time – oof:

•   Little bit of history on this date:

•   Old friend Taylor Davis, 32, is still catching in the minor leagues (currently in the Pirates’ system), but he talks about how eventually his path might be in a front office or a manager’s seat. Given how long he was in the Cubs’ organization and how well-regarded he was in his rise through the system, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs have kept a bug in his ear that they’d love to have a conversation when he’s finished with his playing days.

•   Oh my. Sorry Leafs fans:


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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.