Thoughts with any of you in Florida this week. I know it’s going to be deeply challenging and traumatic, and I just hope folks can get through it as well as possible. And that they get help on the back end.
- When the Chicago Cubs won last night, beating a good Phillies team, the following absurd thing was true: Just ONE team in the National League (the Mets, 41) has more wins this season against teams with a record above .500 than the Cubs (33).
- So how is that possible? Well, two things: for one, the Cubs have played a TON of teams with a record over .500. They have 33 wins, sure, but they also have 50 losses. For another, the Cubs have a mere .500 record against teams who are under .500. That’s where fringe playoff teams actually make their bones – most teams have a losing record against teams above .500 (only the Dodgers, Mets, Yankees, Astros, and Mariners have a winning record against above-.500 teams). You want to make the playoffs? Beat up on bad teams.
- BUT STILL. The Cubs have been pretty solid in the second half, have won a lot of games against good teams, and have been far from full strength. I remain very positive about the future.
- Manny Rodriguez had a scoreless appearance last night to lower his big league ERA to 2.84 over 12.2 innings of work this season. And yet … I have concerns. If you’ve been watching, you would notice that his fastball velocity is down this year 1 to 2 mph each time out, and he’s not getting any swings and misses. His swinging strike rate, 9.0%, is way below league average (11.1%), which is not at all what you need to see from a late-inning reliever. His CSW%, 21.1%, is kinda terrible. His strikeout rate (14.3%) and walk rate (12.2%) combo are downright scary.
- The eye test on Rodriguez has just not seen anything remotely impressive from a guy who, at times last year, looked absolutely explosive. I can’t help but wonder if the arm injury this year really put him behind the curve in his ability to get to where he needed to be, physically. Or at least that’s what I hope, because this version of Rodriguez would not be an impact arm. He might not even be useable over a larger sample.
- Meanwhile, Brandon Hughes is so useable that David Ross can’t stop using him – but seriously, let’s just let the lefty wind down, man! He’s going to be critically important for the bullpen in 2023.
- Clearly he’s still feeling good, though. Look at what he did to BRYCE HARPER last night:
- David Ross and Kyle Schwarber still BEEFING:
- You wanna see something really cool? Well, you might have seen yesterday that Jared Young, recently of the big league Cubs, hit the walk-off homer for the Iowa Cubs in their season finale. But remember, Young was optioned to Iowa just the day before to make room for a returning Willson Contreras. Young, it turns out, immediately headed to Des Moines and asked into the lineup for the final game:
- I’m having an emotional reaction to that, to be honest. Guy just really wanted to make sure he could play in one more game – one more game on the season, yes, but maybe one more game with his teammates, with the coaching staff there, etc. And all right on the heels of facing the disappointment of being sent back down from your first chance in the big leagues. It’s just really impressive. As we’ve discussed, Young is not a great bet to stay on the 40-man through the offseason because of the roster crunch, but I sure hope the Cubs can keep him in the organization.
- Guy thinks dad is the real home run champ, news at 11:
- Whatever. I don’t really care what Roger Maris Jr. thinks on this topic, meaning no offense. And to the others who see the Steroid Era home run records as illegitimate, I just shrug my shoulders. They are the records. They happened. They don’t go away because you don’t like the way you THINK they were accomplished. We don’t wipe away dead ball pitching records, or accomplishments by DHs, or shorter-season numbers, or pre-integration numbers. There’s a whole lotta asterisk’ing we could do if we were being intellectually honest. So just stop. The record is the record is the record, and then after you accept that, you can talk about whether you hate it or not.
- And, to be clear, I still think it’s pretty dang impressive to reach 60+ homers, especially against today’s pitching. What Aaron Judge has done is historic, and if he hits one more, he’ll have the American League home run record to himself. That’s something.
- Speaking of Judge:
- I like that reminder in general, though I’d note that Judge’s debut was just 95 plate appearances, so it was just as likely a statistical fluke as it was a need for further development. Still, the point does stand: sometimes top prospects arrive, having crushed the minor leagues in exactly the ways you’d want to see, and then they struggle in that next adjustment. With time, many figure it out and then get better and better from there. Sometimes I think we forget about the whole “struggle at a new level for a bit and then break out” thing we see about all the time at new MINOR league levels (heck, we kinda LIKE to see it). That should apply to the big leagues, too! It’s just that it’s a little harder to get the space to work things out and adjust at the big league level when the team wins and losses are so critical.
- Oh, and if you were wondering who caught the ball, it was the Blue Jays’ bullpen coach. The fans were sooooo close, and they’ll be telling that story to their friends for decades:
- As for Matt Buschmann, who caught the homer, this is funny stuff from his wife:
- Good gravy:
- Seiya Suzuki, new kid new hair:
- More prospect stuff coming, but sadly the Tennessee Smokies did not win the Southern League championship last night. Still a great season.
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