Stroman and Defense, Happ's Power Surge, Checking in on Traded Relievers, Rizzo Gets Screwed, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Stroman and Defense, Happ’s Power Surge, Checking in on Traded Relievers, Rizzo Gets Screwed, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I’m so sad. The ‘Better Call Saul’ finale was great, and lived up to all the hype in my mind. But now it’s over. More than that, the whole BB/BCS universe is now over after eleven seasons and a movie. I loved it all. And now I’m sad.

  • It’s a bummer that Zach McKinstry, who’d otherwise looked good so far defensively, biffed twice in the 5th last night to end Marcus Stroman’s night early. Without either of the two mistakes, Stroman not only gets through the fifth, but maybe even cruises through six. I suppose what matters is that, overall, it was another night of Stroman basically looking like Stroman, and settling into what you would expect/hope for him to be in 2023: not an ace, but a guy who pretty much gives you a solid 5/6 innings every single time (and even better when the defense does its part).
  • Meanwhile, David Ross apologized to Stroman (94 pitches) for taking him out one batter too early in the 5th, after Mark Leiter Jr. (who’s been really good in relief) came in and gave up a two-run double. Stroman appreciated it (Cubs.com): “Yeah, he came up to me after the game, for sure,” Stroman said. “He let me know that he wishes he would’ve left me in. That’s huge. Obviously, I want to [stay] in the moment. But yeah, the fact that he identified it and let me know right after the game, that just shows [who Ross is]. I love Rossy. Rossy’s the man, and I have a lot of respect for that man.”
  • On our podcast yesterday, Sahadev Sharma and I were talking about – among many other things – Ian Happ’s reduced power production this year (which seems to be related to his improved contact rates, since it’s all kind of a balance). Happ’s then-.160 ISO was extremely low for him, and would be a much more noticeable issue if his huge .354 BABIP wasn’t floating the overall line. Specifically, we were talking about how you’d want to see a little more power down the stretch from Happ, hopefully paired with keeping the contact quantity where it’s been. That’s where you’d see the real breakout from Happ: the power comes back, but the improved contact sticks around.
  • And then Happ went out and homered twice last night:
  • In one August game, Happ bounced his ISO from .160 (just above league-average) to .173 (solidly above league-average). It’s still lower than where he’s been for his career (.215), but anything approaching .200, for him, is going to support really solid overall production.
  • Fun fact on Happ’s homers from NBC: “Ian Happ hit his 11th and 12th home runs in the first and fifth for the Cubs β€” making him one of just six switch-hitters in history with at least 11 homers in each of his first six seasons (also Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, Ruben Sierra, Jose Cruz Jr. and Mark Teixeira).”
  • Also? Happ’s next homer will be the 100th of his career.
  • Franmil Reyes has raked over his first five games with the Cubs, and although the results may not always be this extreme, he sure does hit the ball hard:
  • Like I’ve said before, I feel bad for the player in this situation, but I do not feel remotely bad for the Mets, who decided not to be more aggressive:
  • If you were curious about the three other relievers the Cubs dealt … Scott Effross has been dinged by the long ball in his first 6.0 innings with the Yankees (4.50 ERA) but has otherwise been solid, Chris Martin has been exactly as good for the Dodgers as his peripherals said he would be (2.45 ERA over 7.1 innings), and David Robertson has yet to allow a run in 5.0 innings for the Phillies.
  • Old friend Anthony Rizzo, who gets hit by pitches all the time, got called for leaning into one:
  • I know how it looks, but my take on a lot of these has always been that you’re asking a hitter to ALWAYS properly diagnose a pitch INSTANTLY to know that it’s not a fastball coming at the back of his leg, instead of a slider that is going to break back over the inside edge. I mean, that’s LITERALLY the whole point of the pitch: to confuse the hitter! And then you’re going to punish him for possibly being confused? Unless the pitch was legit going to be in the strike zone – didn’t quite look like it – I don’t see how you can call Rizzo back to the plate on these.
  • Rizzo was, uh, not happy:
  • The Yankees would lose that game, dropping them to just 11-21 over their last 32 games (and they’ve won just twice in their last 12 games). They still lead the division by 10.0 games, though, so I don’t know that they have any reason to panic.
  • Two could-have-been Cubs:
  • Some day:


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.