Things Have Gotten Really Bad and Other (Not All Terrible?) Cubs Bullets

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Things Have Gotten Really Bad and Other (Not All Terrible?) Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The combined impact of the site problems and the Cubs giving me absolutely nothing to get excited about at the moment (other than trade value? which, not yet in the mood, and also some relievers are torching theirs …) have me feeling a touch dark in relation to writing about the team. I expect that it’ll bleed through – the frustration, the lack of nuance, the inability in the moment to allow for the bigger picture – so I guess … heads up?

  • How bad have things gotten for the Cubs? They’re about to get passed in the standings by a team that started the season 3-22:
  • Increasingly, I don’t even care to have the conversations about where the Cubs land relative to the rest of the worst in the league in “true talent,” because it’s not much going to matter when there are so many injuries that make a bad team even worse, and when their are looming trades that’ll do the same. The Cubs might lose 90 games, they might lose 100 games. Heck, are you really ruling out 105+ at this point? I’ll track that stuff late in the year when we’re psyching ourselves up to follow ping-pong balls in the lottery, but for now, it really doesn’t matter. The Cubs are playing poorly, they are losing a lot of games, and they are not righting this ship in 2022.
  • Last night’s blown lead was the biggest since the infamous Jake Arrieta game in Milwaukee (the one where the Cubs gave him a 7-run lead in the first, and it was all but gone by the second). That loss felt like the end of the Cubs’ competitive chances last year (June 30, and it capped a sweep by the Brewers), but you can’t really say that about last night’s loss, since we already knew these Cubs were way out of it. And multiple weeks ahead of schedule!
  • At least the Cubs got a strong performance last night from Kyle Hendricks in his return from the not-on-the-IL-but-hadn’t-pitched-in-two-weeks:
  • Hendricks looked good, both in terms of smooth mechanics and pitch-command. He said after the game that he felt good, even if he was wearing down at the end of his outing. Of his time off, Hendricks told NBC it was worthwhile: “It benefited me a ton health wise. I feel back to 100 percent normal. That was huge from Rossy (Cubs manager David Ross) to find that window there with a couple off days to have me skip a start and really decrease my volume a lot. I feel back to normal, so now should be good to go.”
  • For lots of reasons, it would be incredibly well-time for Hendricks to get on one of those summer heaters he always used to get on.
  • Willson Contreras was the other obviously great thing from last night, with two homers and a double. He is now hitting .279/.403/.546/166 wRC+ on the year, which is the 9th best wRC+ in baseball. Getting him a real back-up catcher to pair with, and the DH to be able to give him half-time off, have been huge this year, I suspect. Oh, and the funnest of facts? By expected wOBA, Contreras has actually gotten slightly UNLUCKY this year in his results. The guy is just obliterating the ball (9th highest average exit velocity in baseball).
  • You knew who else is really ripping the ball? Nico Hoerner. Two of the top three Cubs exit velos last night were his, including this beautiful triple:
  • Hoerner’s average exit velocity this year (88.8 mph) is only middle of the pack among qualifiers, but remember the profile: he’s a high-contact guy. Having a league average exit velocity over the course of several months for a guy like that is quite good! Notice who’s basically tied with him on the list: Nick Castellanos, Wander Franco, Spencer Torkelson, Cedric Mullins, Justin Turner. Overall, I’m loving what I’m seeing this year from Nico Hoerner, at the plate and in the field.
  • Speaking of which: no, that still doesn’t mean the Cubs should sit out the shortstop class in free agency, because that’s where you might find the best and most impactful player. It’s a sign-him-and-figure-the-rest-out-later situation if you really like the player, especially because some of them might wind up moving off of shortstop, and/or because Hoerner is elite at second base. Worry about it later. For now, it’s just awesome that Hoerner looks like a more-than-capable big league shortstop.
  • OK. Try to turn your day around, Brett:

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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.