Sampson’s Heater, the Pitching That Matters, Alternate Broadcast, and Other Cubs Bullets

Our family is going to a tailgate this afternoon that is specifically designed to be inclusive. I know some people instinctively chafe when they hear about things like “inclusion,” but I have to tell you, it matters a whole lot to people you might not think about.

Going as a family to a traditional tailgate might be impossible for us because of The Littlest Girl’s disability. It’s not just logistically and physically challenging, but it can be emotionally challenging because she – and therefore how we have to manage – is not typical. When we know we’re going to an inclusive environment, where those challenges have been specifically contemplated by the organizers and others in attendance? It just means a lot to us. So if you’ve never thought about “inclusion” from that perspective, maybe this helps give you a little context.

On to the DOMINANT Chicago Cubs …

  • Adrian Sampson’s latest great outing has lowered his season ERA to just 3.10 (23% better than league average) and FIP to 3.81 (3% better). At this point, he’s a no-brainer to keep on the 40-man, and then you head into Spring Training and figure out what his role should be, depending on everything else. You’re going to need innings from him at some point no matter what – that’s just being realistic – and he’s been good enough that you would love him as your number six or seven starter, or long man in the bullpen.
  • All that said, I think we do have one caveat emerging: in his great run he’s been on, the majority of opponents have been post-sell-off, rebuilding-type clubs (five straight great starts have come against the Mets (yo!) … and Reds, Pirates, and Marlins). When you go back to look at him start-by-start, you notice that, since he joined the rotation in late June, he’s faced just a handful of playoff caliber teams, and those have tended to be his weakest starts. Not “bad” starts – he really hasn’t had many or any of those – but just not these six-inning, one-or-two-run outings we keep seeing against lesser competition. That still matters, of course (there are always some bad teams to face, and you do still want to hold them down!), but I think it’s a little more evidence that if you’re EXPECTING Sampson to be a 3.00-3.50 true talent ERA guy over a full season, that’s probably a little aggressive.
  • (Or he’s the next Charlie Morton and he’s actually just going to keep getting better from here … )
  • We noted all the “wow, Sampson’s had a killer second half” things in the EBS, but here’s one more:
  • And yes, of course Jose Quintana is on top after he was acquired by the Cardinals.
  • One more from Tony, because this is a great comment on how different the last two post-deadline periods have been:
  • I would add that the vast majority of innings in this second half have come from starters and relievers who will factor into the team’s 2023 plans in one way or another – day one starters, depth starters, prospect development, or relievers. You get all the way down to 13th on the list of innings in the second half before you get to a guy who is pretty unlikely to contribute to the 2023 Cubs (Sean Newcomb, 18.1 IP). The group is exactly the type of group you’d WANT taking these second half innings, and it just so happened to turn out that they have performed very well. What else would you want to see?
  • The biggest chunk of the innings that comes from a question mark for 2023 is today’s starting pitcher, Drew Smyly. I think he and the Cubs are both pretty clearly going to have an interest in re-upping, but I also wonder if the Cubs might prefer to wait to re-sign him – if at all possible – until after the Rule 5 rostering deadline in late November (or even after the Rule 5 Draft in early December), which would allow them a little more flexibility in the meantime. I still count him as a guy who is certainly plausibly going to contribute to the 2023 Cubs, even if he is not currently under team control.
  • Interesting read at FanGraphs about how the very best-of-the-best relievers are getting disproportionately better. In other words, the very top relievers, when compared to league average, are much better than they used to be. I think you could argue that means, in order to keep pace, you need to have at least one or two truly elite relievers in your bullpen. I don’t know that it means you couldn’t succeed without it, though. You’d just have to have more quality spread across the whole group and be really good at managing match-ups and your up-down usage.
  • The Cubs have so much quality depth in this area as we look ahead to next year, but do they have anyone internally that you could project as being super-elite next year (i.e., a top 10-15 reliever in baseball)? Not sure I see that. Again, it might not actually matter for overall production, as much as you’d definitely want to have a guy like that in the postseason.
  • Very cool moment here, as the prospects who came to Wrigley Field for the weekend also stopped by the Obvious Shirts store:
  • This has been expected for a while, and they’re going to try it out today – an alternate broadcast for today’s game, with a sports betting focus:
  • The gaming feed will be on the Marquee app, and the sports betting talk will take place during the 2nd, 4th, and 6th innings. Generally, my reaction is: if it’s an alternate feed, why not? Some folks are EXTREMELY into it, and some others just want to check it out occasionally. This feels like the right way to do it: optional. I’ll be curious to see how it goes.
  • Speaking of which: I am very happy that legal sports betting is finally coming to Ohio in January (pre-registration bonus here for those of you in the state). I don’t want to bet THAT much, but basically all of my sports-connected friends in Illinois do, and I want to participate sometimes. Yes, there are ways I could be doing it, but I kinda just want to be able to do it clean and legal and a little easier.
  • MBDChicago took an incredibly memeable shot:
  • Speaking of incredible shots, a great look at Wrigley overhead, showing the message that is cut into the grass right now:
  • Albert Pujols hit 701:
  • https://twitter.com/YahooSports/status/1576024102556475393

    written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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