Wesneski Kinda Did Everything Well, Swanson ZiPS, Old Friend Off to Mexico, and Other Cubs Bullets
I am very ready to be able to go back outside with the kids regularly. It happens every year in February – the cooped up feeling. They get home from school, and you just want to go outside and chill with them or throw a ball around or take a walk or whatever. Anything. Come on, now.
- The sample was small enough that I still have to reserve myself a bit before going over the top on how good Hayden Wesneski can be, but some comments from Ryan Dempster had me re-looking at Wesneski’s brief big league performance:
- We know Wesneski got results in his 33.0 big league innings (decent strikeout rate, awesome walk rate, terrible contact quality, great ERA), but what I wanted to know is a little more on the batter reaction stuff. Sure enough, what I found was that he was better than league average in every way that you’d want.
- Batters against Wesneski swung more often than league average at pitches out of the zone. They swung less often at pitches in the zone. They made contact more often with pitches out of the zone (i.e., pitcher’s pitches). They made contact less often with pitches in the zone. So the guy was getting extra strikes – takes and whiffs – whenever he was in the zone – and he was getting some additional crappy contact when he was outside the zone. All were just slightly better than average, but when you’re doing ALL of that, it means hitters weren’t tracking your pitches all that well, and you’re going to have success. Here’s hoping it continues even after the league gets the book on him and adjusts.
- A reminder, though, that even if Wesneski doesn’t open the season in the big league rotation, that isn’t saying anything about his ability or the Cubs’ plans for him. You know that Wesneski is highly unlikely to throw 200 innings in 2023 no matter what, and you also know that you have upwards of 10 capable big league starters (all of whom you are going to need at some point, realistically, because guys get hurt). Wesneski has minor league options remaining, and not every other starter option does. So unless injuries in the spring dictate it, or unless Wesneski shows up looking so dominant that you could not possibly make any other decision, he’s likely to start the season at Iowa, where the Cubs can manage his innings and usage more closely (while working on whatever next steps are in his pitcher development plan). When an opening in the rotation inevitably opens up, he’ll probably be the first call.
- No matter where he begins the year, I expect him to get plenty of big league innings in 2023, and if he’s as awesome as we hope he can be, Wesneski will contribute meaningfully, while also hopefully staying healthy and developing. Just remember, though, that there will be bumps along the way. Well, probably.
- Thoughts on this year’s Cubs Spring Training cap:
- The ZiPS three year projections are on each player’s page at FanGraphs right now, and I think if Dansby Swanson played out like this over the next three years (over 13 WAR), we’d all be very happy:
- Old friend has a new gig in a new league:
- Mike Montgomery, who pitched (to bad results) in the Mets’ system last year, has also pitched in Korea and now Mexico. Hopefully his time in Mexico doesn’t involve charging any umpires and chucking a rosin bag at them. Eventually, Montgomery will hang them up (he’s only 33), and then he’ll be a hero in Chicago for the rest of his life. He got THE final out, after all.
- Despite the increase in guys getting held back from playing in the WBC by their MLB teams, I am really excited for the event this year. Pool play starts in one month. It can be very fun, for example:
- Joey Votto, who has been playing in a chess club this offseason and documenting his travels, is so delightfully weird:
- It still feels wrong that this is called a changeup. I know that it has the huge speed differential and (often) moves like a righty changeup, but there’s something about a 3000 RPM pitch that seems like it should be characterized as some kind of breaking pitch instead:
- Williams, 28, remains bonkers good (1.93 ERA and 2.01 FIP over 60.2 innings last year), and figures to be the full-year closer for the Brewers now that Josh Hader is gone. He is one of the slowest pitchers in baseball, though, so maybe the pitch clock will throw him off.
- I love the attitude. But this is statistically overwhelmingly likely to appear repeatedly in October accompanied by lulz:
- Obviously it would help if Tatis, himself, comes back and is actually able to get back to being great and staying on the field.
But What About a Happ Extension, Suzuki Defense, Busy Day, Rucker, Replay Timing, and Other Cubs Bullets
FOLKS! The Cubs Are in “Advanced Discussions” on a Nico Hoerner Extension!!! (UPDATE: It’s Happening!)