Stellar Steele, Great Gomes, Lousy Loss, and Other Cubs Bullets
Finally saw ‘Matrix Resurrections’ last night. I liked the conceit, and do think there was a reason for the movie to exist, contrary to many of the criticisms I’ve seen. (I feel like the rare bird who actually liked all three of the originals, which absolutely left wide open the path to another film in the series.) Unfortunately, the execution of the movie just didn’t work for me at all in this one. It missed the mark in a number of ways, taking what would have to be a pretty grand story to work and turning it into something that felt facile and brief and hokey.
It was my second disappointing watch of the day …
• Consensus out there seems to be that, for a variety of reasons (surrounding the game, and internal to the game), that was the Cubs’ worst loss of the season. The Cubs are back down to having the 5th worst record in baseball, having lost three in a row at home to a team that you would’ve otherwise seen on the schedule as a “good” match-up. I made the joke previously about the winning streak that preceded this losing streak, so it’s only fair that I do it in the other direction: the Cubs’ four-game losing streak is the current longest in baseball.
• Justin Steele, for the second straight start, was incredible:
5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K.@J_Steele21 has 19 strikeouts over his last two starts! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/50oZxrQiLu
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 21, 2022
• You do want to hope that this was about Steele continuing to develop and turn the corner, rather than something idiosyncratic about him facing the Diamondbacks (both of the dominant starts, back-to-back, came against Arizona). I do think that offense can struggle against lefties, so that’s a factor, no doubt. But the pitches look awfully good! Steele now has his ERA under 4, and his 2.73 FIP is 19th best in baseball, sandwiched between Max Fried and Michael Kopech.
• Obviously you’d love to see Steele go more than 5.0 innings in a game like that – efficiency is just not his thing, generally speaking – but at 89 pitches, it was a good decision to pull him. From there, things fell apart in the usually-stellar bullpen. The key to not feeling sad that Justin Steele got screwed out of his pitcher “win” stat yesterday is to remember that it is a stupid, worthless, misleading stat, and that game was the proof. Steele was fantastic, regardless of what happened after he left. He had nothing to do with that. We gotta just move on, completely, from that so-much-worse-than-almost-all-other-stats statistic.
• Been saying for years that Justin Steele is the next Rube Waddell:
Justin Steele joins Cole Hamels, Jon Lester, Tom Gorzelanny, Ted Lilly, Rich Hill, Hippo Vaughn and Rube Waddell as the only lefty pitchers to have 9+ strikeouts in at least two straight starts for the Cubs (since 1901). Vaughn is only one to have 3 such starts in a row.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 21, 2022
• In all seriousness, Waddell, who pitched at the turn of the 19th century, was pretty awesome by the stats. But he pitched only one partial season for the Cubs.
• If you didn’t see Yan Gomes’ ridiculous play, enjoy it:
• Something that I think is worth *noting* at this point, but is not necessarily worth *going too far with*: It’s been over three weeks since Yan Gomes started at catcher and the starting pitcher that day did NOT have a good game (you have to go back to April 30, Steele v. Brewers – he went only 3.0 innings, allowing 2 ER). That’s eight straight games started by Yan Gomes behind the plate and the starting pitcher had a good day.
• Hopefully that’s mild comfort if the Cubs are going to be without Willson Contreras for a while, as he deals with his – so-far-dubbed – tight hamstring.
Postgame update on Willson Contreras (right hamstring tightness) from Cubs manager David Ross: “The doctors are checking him out. There’s definitely something going on. We’ll find out how extensive.”
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) May 22, 2022
• At least the news on Nico Hoerner’s ankle is good – he ran the bases yesterday, and David Ross thought he looked pretty good (NBC). Hopefully we see him back in game action (Cubs or minor league rehab stint) by the end of this week. That’d be a pretty quick return from an ankle sprain.
• The Duality of Man:
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) May 21, 2022
• Thought the numbers would be better on Frank Schwindel since he was temporarily saved from the demotion to Iowa, but it’s only .250/.267/.386/83 wRC+. It’s an improvement on where he was, but still nowhere close to what you need to see from a bat-mostly first baseman. With Alfonso Rivas also struggling, I wonder at what point we see Jared Young get an audition of sorts:
One name that has continually popped up in conversations Cubs GM Carter Hawkins has had with coaches from the @IowaCubs: Jared Young.https://t.co/UxrZTjnjQp
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) May 21, 2022
This photo sums up the Cubs season. pic.twitter.com/TIRaLw8Wxs
— Joey W (@WrigleyvilleBum) May 21, 2022
• Ben Joyce doing Ben Joyce things – when he throws 100-101 mph, it’s like, oh, he wasn’t even throwing all that hard on that one:
47 Seconds of Ben Joyce Fastballs from Today. pic.twitter.com/DwvHKXWfVm
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 21, 2022
• Speaking of heat, here’s what it looks like to catch 100 mph:
Catching 100 mph in super slow-mo 🤯 pic.twitter.com/twFR2wVyPU
— MLB (@MLB) May 21, 2022