The Adjustment to Sampson, Martin is Good, Morel Climbs, and Other Cubs Bullets

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The Adjustment to Sampson, Martin is Good, Morel Climbs, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I had to take The Wife’s car in for service this morning, and I swear to you, the sticky note I saw on the service advisor’s desk – off to the side, not necessarily displayed for the customer’s eyes – said: “Always Don’t magic mark up 20%.” I would LOVE to know the story of that sticky note.

  • That’s a good Red Sox team that the Cubs came back to beat, and a lot of the credit goes to the pitching staff. To the bullpen, obviously, for holding the line, but also to Adrian Sampson for not disintegrating after the Red Sox were all over him early. Clearly they’d developed a plan to attack him early in counts and not let the suddenly-a-strikeout-pitcher get them behind in the count. He was able to get into the 6th inning having allowed just four earned runs, but that early damage was notable.
  • To his credit, Sampson adjusted from leaning on the four-seamer (which is what had been so good for him the last two outings) to using the sinker a whole lot more. It kept him afloat, but overall, while he got 13 whiffs on 103 pitches, he got almost no called strikes because when he was in the strike zone, the Red Sox were just relentlessly attacking. We’ll see if that was a one-off thing, or if that’s just what is going to work against this version of Sampson. Like I’d been saying, it’s pretty hard to buy a guy just completely transforming himself midseason at age 30, and part of that is because the league figures it out and adjusts so quickly. I’ll be interested to see him get another start – from a pure analysis perspective – but I would still be surprised if he has actually evolved into a guy you’re going to want to consider long-term for the rotation. It’s just an interesting situation.
  • As for the bullpen, the guy I want to give shouts is Chris Martin, who struck out three in his inning of work. I wrote several times that I thought Martin was looking fantastic this year, but was suffering from a whole lot of bad luck in the results. That seems to be stabilizing now, as his ERA is down to 3.70 (13% better than league average), and the rest of his numbers are fantastic: 60.0%(!) groundball rate, 27.0% K rate, 4.0% BB rate, and a 3.00 FIP. The .364 BABIP still feels unearned on the high side, and the 18.8% HR/FB is also awfully high. I think if he keeps doing what he’s been doing, that ERA is going to keep coming down. He should be a desirable rental trade target, though probably not quite on the same level as guys like Ryan Tepera and Andrew Chafin last year.
  • Willson Contreras this year as a Catcher: .263/.401/.519, with a 157 wRC+. Willson Contreras this year as a DH: .315/.402/.517, with a 157 wRC+. I love that so much.
  • In addition to homering in three straight games (and collecting a buncha other hits, too), Christopher Morel’s homers have been DEEP shots:
  • Morel has his season line back up to 281/.339/.503/131 wRC+, and the strikeout rate is back down to an even 30%. Just two rookies this year have played as much as Morel and sport a better wRC+ right now – Cardinals utility man Brendan Donovan (144) and Mariners stud youngster Julio Rodriguez (135).
  • I still think about the people who railed on me because I said Clint/Jackson Frazier had a lot of power back when the Cubs signed him. He has tons. He just hasn’t been able to consistently tap into it (And he still might not. But there IS so much potential in that bat.):
  • Frazier, unfortunately and outside of that homer, really isn’t hitting much at Iowa so far. Relevance into next year – with the Cubs or another org – is going to require that he absolutely obliterate at Triple-A, because he might be bat-only going forward in his career.

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.