As noted earlier this morning, the pitcher roster limit kicks in today (13 max), so stay tuned for a Chicago Cubs roster move, and other maneuverings around baseball.
- More on Kyle Hendricks’ day coming later. For this moment, I’ll just note that Hendricks’ 5.43 ERA is the second worst among all qualified starters in baseball this year, and the guy ahead of him – German Marquez – pitches at Coors Field. The unevenness, or downright struggles, are a continuation of what we saw last year, and it’s cold comfort to hear that at least Hendricks is now over any of that previous shoulder irritation (which could have otherwise explained the down performance). Again, more coming on Hendricks, but I felt like I couldn’t mention him near the top of the Bullets after that one.
- Meanwhile, Adrian Sampson was downright dominant in 4.2 innings of relief of Hendricks, getting whiffs on everything, and striking out a lineup full of good hitters. I was mystified. But I’ll rastrain myself and not make obvious Sampson-hair jokes. Seriously, watch these strikeout pitches, and think about how you’d view this pitcher if you *DIDN’T* know it was “Contact-Manager Adrian Sampson”:
- It was really weird to be watching it, because I feel like I remember how Sampson looked last year and it was not this guy. Moreover, it’s not like anything in his numbers at Iowa suggest he’d made some huge transformation. Yet there he was yesterday, touching 95 mph and throwing a nasty slider. This is a guy who averaged 92 mph last year, and had a swinging strike rate of just 9.2%! I’m not sure I can remember the last time I saw an outing that so completely defied what I thought I knew about a guy. I don’t think you can recalibrate your expectations for Sampson, 30, based on that one appearance. I’m just saying, he looked like someone else wearing a Sampson jersey, and the visuals were eye-popping.
- Seiya Suzuki’s finger rehab hits the next stage, as he heads to Arizona to continue work there. TYPICALLY, that’s where a guy starts facing live pitching, with the ability to slide into a Complex Ball game or two before going out on a rehab assignment at Iowa or South Bend. That’s not a guarantee that Suzuki will follow that path, but hopefully the first step is that we hear about him taking some live batting practice sometime this week.
- Andrelton Simmons is inarguably in the midst of his hottest stretch of the year the last few weeks: .217/.217/.217/19 wRC+. This is not a joke bullet. That is factually his hottest stretch of the year. Well, unless you shrink it to just three games, in which case he’s hitting .444/.444/.444/153 wRC+. SELL SELL SELL!
- Relatedly, since the Cubs opted not to remove him from the 40-man roster a couple weeks ago when it would’ve been understandable to do so, Jason Heyward is hitting .080/.115/.120/-37 wRC+. On the season, he’s down to .198/.271/.281/57 wRC+, all while getting some platoon protection. But remember, he MUST remain on the roster and he MUST keep starting against righties!
- Those two check-ins following the Suzuki update is not a mere coincidence: when Suzuki returns, it’ll create another opportunity for one or both of Simmons and Heyward to stop starting regularly, pending what happens at second base with Nick Madrigal and David Bote. The Chicago Cubs wouldn’t dare sit down – or send down – Christopher Morel, right?
- The Pirates are finally bringing up shortstop prospect Oneil Cruz today, which means the Cubs get the top ten overall prospect first. If you don’t recall, Cruz is the 6’7″ freak of an athlete (yes, he can play shortstop at that size) who hits the ball as hard as anyone in baseball. He had a weird time at Triple-A this year, struggling badly at first (after a very brief cup in the big leagues late last year), and then hitting pretty well the last month and a half. What’s been particularly weird about it, though, is that he’s become like a mega contact guy (over that successful month and a half, the strikeout rate is just 17.6%). That wasn’t always his bag, especially given the absurd power when he lets it all hang out. You’ve gotta believe there was some specific work going on there for him in the final polishing before the big leagues, and now maybe the 23-year-old is in a better position to succeed.
- Hey, when Caleb Kilian faces Cruz tonight, it’ll kinda be like two top 100 prospects facing each other! So that’s kinda neat!
- This pitch is beyond ridiculous. I like the slow-mo, because until the final few frames, I thought I was being shown a wild pitch:
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