Thompson Great Again, Wick’s Rough Patch, Stroman Speaks Out, Hoerner Again, and Other Cubs Bullets

I wish I had made better eating choices yesterday so that I could justify making bad eating choices today, which is very much what I want to do …

  • Keegan Thompson was, overall, excellent last night. For the third start in a row, he was pounding the zone with the four-seamer, attacking aggressively early, and periodically breaking out his reworked slider (which he threw eight times and elicited three swings … all whiffs). Thompson totaled 11 whiffs and a 36% CSW on his 86 pitches, and through that lens, it was clearly an excellent start. Matched the eye test, too. The box score line doesn’t interest me a ton, especially given how two of his four runs wound up scoring.
  • Much more on Thompson’s new sweeper here. If you want a deeper dive on the pitch, that Jordan Bastian piece has you covered.
  • Back to the game – yes, he started to wear down a bit in the 6th as the pitch count climbed and the lineup turned over to the third time through. Still, Thompson managed to get through the inning allowing just a couple runs, and keeping the overall performance an obvious success. And then David Ross did the thing that he keeps doing – and, again, other managers do this, too, so it’s not like it’s just a Ross thing – he sent Thompson back out there to start the 7th and pulled him after a couple batters reached. I don’t understand why you don’t just start that inning clean for the reliever, or – at 86 pitches – you don’t give the young starter another chance to work through it (if that was the point of sending him back out there for the 7th in the first place). The way it played out just made no sense to me. If it was about challenging Thompson and helping him continue to develop, then let him work out there a bit more. If it was about maximizing your chance to win the game, then it should’ve been clear after the 6th that moving on to the bullpen was the better move.
  • Speaking of that 7th inning, Rowan Wick gave up the dinger that allowed those two inherited runners to score, and ultimately wound up being the difference in the game. Wick has overall been a great reliever with the Chicago Cubs, but boy is he in a funk right now. Since May 21, he’s posted an 8.22 ERA, while striking out just 13 over his 15.1 innings and walking 8. He’s allowed a whopping 24 hits in that time, which is probably somewhat flukey in a small sample (.396 BABIP), but then again, his hard hit rate during that time is an eye-popping 50%. That’s the Statcast rate, and for context, just five relievers in all of baseball have allowed an above-50% hard hit rate.
  • One more down thing before I talk about the happier stuff. Christopher Morel, whose double last night was really just a fly ball that two outfielders couldn’t decide who should catch, struck out four more times in the game. The rough stretch is really here now: .191/.222/.309/45 wRC+ over his last 16 games with a strikeout rate over 45% (he’s seeing a lot fewer fastballs during this stretch, for what it’s worth). This is all part of the development process, especially for a guy who effectively skipped Triple-A, but it is also a reminder that we can’t assume Morel isn’t going to need time at Iowa at some point. Let’s see how he works through this period first, though.
  • OK, on to a happy thing, where Nico Hoerner – who was already getting the “wow, he’s been so good!” treatment from us before the game – went ahead and posted another three-hit game:
  • Hoerner is up to .304/.338/.422/110 wRC+ on the year (and the batted ball data suggests he’s been unlucky!), and coupled with his increasingly impressive defense at short, he’s already been worth 2.3 WAR. That makes him the 8th most valuable shortstop in baseball so far this year, and he’s played in substantially fewer games than everyone ahead of him except Andres Gimenez and Jeremy Pena, two young shortstops in the AL who are getting a heckuva lot more attention than Hoerner.
  • Alfonso Rivas had another multi-hit game of his own, plus a walk. Since he returned to the big leagues 10 days ago, Rivas has hit .344/.389/.438/132 wRC+, with a much-improved 25.0% K rate. Before we go too far, though, you’ll note this comes primarily from his .435 BABIP during this stretch. His line-drive gap-to-gap approach is likely to always generate a higher BABIP than most, but there still needs to be some power and some walks in his game for the overall skillset to play. Rivas is going to keep getting a lot of starts right now as Frank Schwindel recovers from his back injury.
  • This was weird in so many ways:
  • Marcus Stroman spoke out publicly on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and added substantially in this Tribune article. Among his comments: “I know there are a lot of people out there who are pretty affected by this and who are damaged by this decision. I‘m always going to be someone who stands up for females, who stands up for inequalities, who stands up for those people who don’t get treated right in America because I’m a minority, so I fall into that category as well.” The article is really worth a read to consider his perspective, particularly within the context of baseball, with additional comments from David Ross and Liam Hendriks.
  • Some drama going on with the Dodgers and Freddie Freeman, who has maybe let it be a little too known that he regrets signing with them (not necessarily because he dislikes the Dodgers, but because he wishes he were still with the Braves):
  • Heads up, the Eero wi-fi system is 35% off at Amazon today if you have Prime. So if you’ve been thinking of going to a mesh system, there you go. #ad
  • The ESPY for best MLB player is … hmmm:
  • Among the best Baseball Sky pictures I’ve seen:
  • Beautiful:
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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