Sudden Winning, What If, Sampson Stuff, the Schwarber Mistake, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Sudden Winning, What If, Sampson Stuff, the Schwarber Mistake, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

If you missed it, I announced the Blogathon fundraiser for Make-A-Wish last night, so please check it out if you haven’t, and please consider giving to a great cause! I’m willing to bump this thing over 40 hours for the first time (haven’t told The Wife yet about that part … hi, dear! It’ll be fine!).

  • The Cubs just won a series in Milwaukee, their fourth series win in a row (and fifth in the last six), and they’re now just 9.0 games out of a Wild Card spot. I am mostly being cheeky there, but it at least makes you wonder: what WOULD happen if the Cubs somehow broke off a ten-game winning streak, and came out of the All-Star break something like five games out of a playoff spot? Would that change their calculus at all? Would they at least wait to start making sell moves until riiiight up to the deadline, just in case they kept winning? Or are they pot committed to selling now, regardless of whether they get scorching hot?
  • That’s all academic, by the way, because I just don’t see that kind of streak coming. Eight of the Cubs’ next ten games are against the Dodgers and Mets. If the Cubs won THESE ten games in a row, then, man, BUY BUY BUY. (They won’t. And they won’t.)
  • Both Marcus Stroman and Drew Smyly rejoined the Cubs after their rehab starts this week, and it sounds like it’s possible they could slide right back into the rotation after a bullpen session to evaluate their progress. That seems awfully rapid to me, especially in Smyly’s case, but I guess we’ll see. With Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills hitting the IL, it’s not as if the Cubs don’t have the obviously-ready spots, though.
  • As long as Adrian Sampson keeps getting starts, AMIRITE?! He wasn’t quite as eye-popping yesterday – in terms of the swing and miss – as he had been the few times prior, but he was still extremely effective. I can’t shake my dubious feeling on his success this year (again, because it runs counter to who he has been over the last several years, in terms of style, in such a stark way that it’s hard to “buy” a light switch flipping without some explanation). Still, he basically shut the Brewers down for 5.2 innings, striking out five, and mostly cruising.
  • Also, I did pick up one thing yesterday that I hadn’t observed before: thanks to the dead-on camera at AmFam, I noticed that Sampson is working with a very slight crossfire delivery, which could explain some of his deception/ability to stay off the barrel, despite not having overly impressive pitch data. Relatedly, he’s releasing from quite a bit closer to third base with the Cubs (and lower) than he did in his previous big league stops (and more this year), so I wonder if there has been an emphasis on getting a little more lateral in his attack angle. If a guy can repeat it consistently without losing command, it’s a nice addition. Couple that with a slight uptick in his velocity, the increasing use of the sinker and slider, and maybe it’s all enough to make him a capable big league starter at age 30. I’m open to the possibility.
  • Sampson says he’s just trying to show that he deserves to be here, after getting a little steamed when the Cubs demoted him after that first outstanding appearance (NBCSC): “I think I handled it not the best,” Sampson said of the angry reaction when manager David Ross sent him out. “But I thought I told him what I wanted to tell him. You’ve got to be careful when things like that happen, because if you say the wrong thing it deters people from wanting to keep you around. I tried to be precise with my words and let them know that I was not happy with their decision …. Every time I’m out there, I want them to know I belong here.”
  • Wow, just an incredible group, featuring the best player in baseball, and also Mike Trout, Julio Rodriguez, Jazz Chisholm, and Byron Buxton:
  • Morel, by the way, crushed one off of Josh Hader yesterday, but it didn’t get the same attention as P.J. Higgins’ big moment, since Morel’s was, you know, just a fly out. But it was a 105.2 mph, 402-foot barrel of a fly out. Morel has been looking reeeeally good since he was moved down in the order in response to his first slump.
  • A bit of statistical weirdness here about Patrick Wisdom – he’s been the most “consistent” hitter in baseball this season:
  • That’s a fun read overall, by the way, that challenges a lot of our deeply-held assumptions about what it means to be consistent. For example, there’s a statistical correlation between consistency and overall success … except it’s not necessarily the correlation you think. The very best hitters in baseball tend to be slightly more INconsistent. They are a little more streaky, overall, on average.
  • Cubs players speak out on gun violence after the shooting in Highland Park, with thoughts from Ian Happ, Marcus Stroman, and Nico Hoerner here at NBCSC.
  • Steven Brault is now pitching at Iowa – remember him? Among the Cubs reclamation signings this offseason, Brault was theoretically set to compete for a rotation spot before his physical revealed an injury that wound up turning his big league deal into a minor league deal. He’s been rehabbing since then, and made a relief appearance last night for the Iowa Cubs. The 30-year-old lefty will try to work his way back to the big leagues in the second half.
  • For the second straight game, Kyle Schwarber homered twice. I’m glad he’s having another great year, even if it’s a reminder of how badly the Cubs screwed the pooch there. Either they screwed up badly by letting him go for nothing after 2020, or, even if you would argue that he wouldn’t have broken out like this with the Cubs, then they screwed the pooch by not fully cultivating the talent Schwarber clearly always had. Schwarber is not even yet to 200 games between 2021 and 2022, and he’s already hit 59 homers, while slashing .249/.360/.548/143 wRC+.
  • Shohei Ohtani just casually does stuff that hasn’t been done in a century:
  • Heh. I’ve missed this:

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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.