Long-Time Coming, Fulmer and Boxberger, Bellinger Hot, Smyly, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Long-Time Coming, Fulmer and Boxberger, Bellinger Hot, Smyly, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Apple Jacks are just Fruit Loops with a more specific flavor. Not a complaint. Just a fact.

  • I think it would be a mistake to view this weekend’s series against the Dodgers as some definitive proof of anything or some clear turning point in the direction of the organization. But I also think it would be a mistake not to celebrate just how impressive it is that the Cubs absolutely looked competitive against a very good team, that the Cubs won two of three games, and that the Cubs came a foot away from sweeping the Dodgers in their house. It was a great weekend. This is not a bad Cubs team, no matter how many people tried to convince you that winning more than 75 games was going to be impossible.
  • I knew that it’d been a long time since the Cubs won a series in Los Angeles against the Dodgers – because I had basically no positive recent memories – but I didn’t realize it had been almost a DECADE:
  • Great to see Michael Fulmer asked to go right back out there with a one-run lead to protect yesterday. This time he got the 8th inning, but it was the middle of the order, so it was still extremely high-leverage. It was a moment to remind everyone that the Cubs don’t have a TRULY SET “closer” yet, which was always what we expected. We expected that Fulmer would get MOST of the save situations ALL ELSE EQUAL, but he wouldn’t be designated the closer until/unless it takes that shape by midseason (a la David Robertson last year). So yesterday was not about Fulmer not getting the 9th because of the previous day’s blown save, it was just the way the bullpen usage shook out.
  • The 9th wound up going to Brad Boxberger, who has himself closed out plenty of games and was a perfectly fine choice to do the job yesterday. The Dodgers exhibited exceptional plate discipline in the 9th inning yesterday, and they were rewarded with three called strikeouts. Two of the calls were not even close to the strike zone, and the other was probably a ball, too:
  • A quick search around shows that Dodgers fans were mighty ticked about that 9th inning strike zone, and you better believe I would’ve been apoplectic if the shoe was on the other foot. THAT SAID, I thought the strike zone was unreasonable all game, with a number of calls going against Cubs batters earlier in day (and an OBVIOUS strikeout pitch that was called a ball for Fulmer just an inning earlier).
  • Oh, also, some credit to Yan Gomes: he knew the strike zone was generous at times yesterday, and he presented the hell out of those pitches (especially the first strikeout of David Peralta).
  • Drew Smyly was really good once again, keeping the ball on the ground, staying off the barrel, and getting some big strikeouts when he needed them.
  • Cody Bellinger’s homer yesterday (108.1 mph off the bat) was his hardest hit ball in three years, according to Statcast. The game got him into positive offensive territory for the year (.245/.317/.453/104 wRC+), and I think you’d gladly take that this season given the glove in center field and given the downside he showed the last couple years. But there is probably still some upside from here – after that first cold series against the Brewers’ aces, Bellinger has gone .310/.375/.571/149 wRC+ with matching 10.4% walk and strikeout rates.
  • Bellinger could leave at any time for the birth of his second kiddo, but the Tribune reports he planned to head to Oakland with the team today. David Ross joked that the bun needs to stay in the oven as long as Bellinger is still hot. Just a joke! Just a joke!
  • Dansby Swanson started the Dodgers series 0-9 with 8 strikeouts and looked completely lost. Then he finished the series by going 3-4 with a couple singles and a double.
  • This guy rocks:
  • I like seeing stuff like this, because Petriello is right, we can’t always tell on a broadcast just how impressive an outfield catch is (and it reminds me of a lot of what we’re going to see soon from Pete Crow-Armstrong):
  • The Brewers beat the Padres yesterday 1-0, with Wade Miley going 7.0 innings, allowing just 4 hits, no walks, and striking out 8. Quite a feat against that Padres lineup, and although I’m happy he is back to being healthy and successful, it’s a bummer to see it after he couldn’t stay on the field last year with the Cubs.

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.