Wild Cards Worth It, Cubs Pitch(er) Development, Boog's New Gig, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Wild Cards Worth It, Cubs Pitch(er) Development, Boog’s New Gig, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Kicked the hornet’s nest a bit last night on Twitter with a take on ‘House of the Dragon,’ and how it’s lack of anything ACTUALLY happening is frustrating the heck out of me. We’re nine episodes through the ten episode season and it’s all clearly just been throat-clearing and prelude. Yes, things happen on the show, but how much of it actually CHANGES the stakes or MOVES the story forward? It’s just been terribly disappointing – to me – for a show so highly anticipated. (I’m told they are FINALLY getting to the part where the source material actually kicks in, but I’ve avoided learning about any of that because I don’t want spoilers. But, at some point, you have to use the good stuff. To me, it now feels pretty clear why the co-showrunner left the show after completing work on the first season.)

But, hey. I don’t claim to be a TV expert. On to baseball, where I am also not an expert, but slightly less so …

  • The NLCS will feature two Wild Card teams squaring off for the first time … ever? Yeah. Has to be ever, because before this year – except for the one-off 2020 postseason – it was not possible for two Wild Cards to both reach the LCS. One way to think about the two-Wild-Card NLCS in relation to the Cubs:
  • To be sure, Wild Card teams surviving multiple rounds this year to reach the NLCS is not proof that it’s easy to do it, but it’s certainly a reminder that winning upper-80s games CAN get you to the cusp of the World Series (and, by definition, one of these two will get to the World Series). So, we’ll keep saying it: the Cubs must get themselves to an on-paper 85-win (minimum) team by March. That is absolutely doable, and it gives them a realistic chance to win 88+ when the final accounting is done.
  • Oh, and as Matt implies, you might just mess around and win the NL Central in the process. Of course, then you’ve gotta be the one potentially fending off a Wild Card team …
  • If we do some dot-connecting here, this is a REALLY great note. OK, so in this FanGraphs article about a variety of topics, there’s a discussion of Guardians reliever Trevor Stephan, formerly of the Yankees’ system. Stephan is known, among other things, for having an exceptional sweeper (sometimes called a whirly – it’s the slider that moves much more laterally than you’d expect, rather than moving more downward). Stephan says he’s always thrown a version of that pitch, but the piece notes that the Yankees organization is excellent at teaching the sweeper. Maybe excellent at honing its usage, too.
  • Where am I going with this? Well, who else do we know that used to be in the Yankees’ system and throws an exceptionally good sweeper? That’d be Hayden Wesneski, whose current assistant pitching coach with the Cubs, Daniel Moskos, was his minor league pitching coach at multiple levels with the Yankees in 2020 and 2021. Any chance Moskos brought with him to the Cubs some of that “Yankees are really good at teaching the sweeper” stuff? Might we see an even greater emergence of the pitch – usage and/or quality – among Cubs pitchers (big leagues and minor leagues) in the years ahead? The Cubs were no doubt already at work on the pitch in the aggregate before Moskos’s arrival. I’m just hoping that he can help, and that Wesneski is something like the proof of concept.
  • David Robertson, who injured his calf celebrating a big Bryce Harper home run against the Cardinals in the Wild Card round, is hoping he can be back to pitch for the Phillies against the Padres in the NLCS.
  • I don’t know if this is the exact route I would go, but I do still think there COULD be something to having teams pick opponents at some stage of the postseason:
  • Since the Dodgers never actually win the World Series after a great, full-and-normal-lengthed season, it’s an annual question: will Dave Roberts get fired? It’s always struck me as a little silly, given that the team obviously performs well under him, and we know what can happen in the playoffs. But it’s definitely a discussion every single year. This year’s installment indicates that Roberts is “expected” to be retained by the Dodgers.
  • Speaking of the Dodgers’ disappointing end to the 2022 season that saw them dominate the regular season to an extent we very rarely experience:
  • Congrats to Boog Sciambi on picking up a historic assignment from ESPN, starting next year:
  • I appreciate this read from Peter Gammons on how this season of baseball has brought back a little of the magic, in a way that seemed impossible back in February and March.

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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.