Sampson's Sustainability, Field of Dreams Ratings, a Magnificent Moment for a Former Cub, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Sampson’s Sustainability, Field of Dreams Ratings, a Magnificent Moment for a Former Cub, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Bears are back! Which, well, you could read as a statement of excitement or a threat, depending on your perspective on the team. Me? I’m an idiot, so I regard the return of Bears preseason as the first step in getting to see Justin Fields really break out this year. I have NO illusions about the Bears making the playoffs this year. I’m not ridiculous. And frankly, I’m not even sure I care how many games they lose (even though I’ll be screaming during the game each week). But I do care, deeply, about seeing real progress from Fields. I’ve gotta know by the end of the year that he’s The Guy. Or not, I guess.

The Bears play at noon, and you’ll want to be following our coverage at the site, on Twitter, and on Facebook, please and thanks.

  • The Cubs, after their rare Friday off-day yesterday for travel, are back in action this evening in Cincinnati. Adrian Sampson gets another start, and I’m gonna speculate that it’ll once again be serviceable – not quite outstanding, not terrible, and forever in the zone where I just don’t know how to best evaluate the guy. He has become perhaps the most challenging player for me to review in terms of current performance and future roster decisions. The Cubs no doubt have a much better sense than I do, but I can’t help but suspect they wish he would just steer REALLY HARD in either direction over the next few weeks to make things a lot easier on them.
  • On the year, Sampson, 30, has a 3.83 ERA over 49.1 innings (8 starts in 10 appearances). That’s about 7% better than league average, which exactly matches where his FIP has been, too. He’s posted a 17.6% K rate and 5.4% BB rate. Despite being a contact guy, he’s been a fly-ball pitcher (41.7% FB rate), but without giving up homers (0.91 per 9). His barrel rate is tiny (6.4%), and his hard hit rate is good, too (33.3%). He’s got a diverse pitch mix, and seems to keep hitters off balance, even as he doesn’t log a lot of strikeouts. I like the way he *looks* when he’s pitching. Is this is all a sustainable set of skills, though? Or are the results just a small-sample fluke? There’s nothing in his career track record before this year that suggests it’s *definitely* sustainable, so I just don’t know. Hence why I keep getting stuck.
  • The Field of Dreams Game was Fox’s biggest broadcast of the year, even as it was down from last year’s installment:
  • Given the teams involved, the playoff races NOT at stake, and this being the second year of the game, I suspect Fox and MLB view these ratings as a big success. But it’s always hard to tell for sure, especially in the ever-shifting ratings environment for traditional network TV. One thing is for sure – outside of Hologram Harry, the production was fantastic for the folks who did tune in to watch.
  • These are indeed very cool:
  • Would you like to feel some wonderful emotions today? This is almost 32-year-old outfielder Wynton Bernard, who has been playing in the minor leagues since 2012 (including two years in the Cubs’ system), getting to tell his mom he finally made the big leagues:
  • That just melts my heart. A guy grinding that long, perpetually in the range of being almost-but-just-not-quite-good-enough, but always still good enough for teams to want to take a chance. I don’t know if he’s got a real shot to stick with the Rockies, but I hope he gets in as many games as possible.
  • He got a hit in his debut, by the way, thanks to replay. How did you miss this call live:
  • Ooooooof:

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.