Stroman Quality Again, Outstanding Defense, Another Series Win, Madrigal, Miller, and Other Cubs Bullets
And then there was one. My name is Brett Taylor, and I am the last surviving member of the Great Taylor Family Sickness of Spring 2023. Let at least me continue to have the good fortune to avoid this infernal plague …
- The Chicago Cubs won again last night, and I’ve gotten in the habit of really enjoying a re-watch of the highlights the next day. When they win, at least. This team is fun.
- With last night’s win, the Cubs have now won four series in a row. But with a win today, they can finally SWEEP one of those series. I really want to break out the broom.
- Marcus Stroman did what he does (after getting through a dicey first inning), mixing up five pitches (threw each one at least nine times), staying in the zone, avoiding hard contact, and getting just enough whiffs to stay out of trouble. It was his fourth straight quality start to open the season, and his third out of four where he allowed no runs at all. Stroman’s 0.75 ERA leads the National League by nearly a full run (his teammate Justin Steele is one of the guys tied in that spot). It’s the second best in MLB, just behind Luis Castillo’s 0.73 ERA. (And hey, the Cubs had to face that guy and they won that game!)
- “I just feel good — mentally, physically, emotionally,” Stroman said, per Cubs.com. “I just feel like I’m very in tune right now, on and off the field. I feel like the defense behind me is incredible. They’re giving me more confidence. I feel like the vibe of the squad and the clubhouse is amazing. I feel like it’s everything, kind of playing into one.”
- Dating back to last year, Stroman is now up to eight straight Quality Starts. Only 18 more to go to tie the record shared by Jacob deGrom and Bob Gibson! (Framber Valdez holds the record within a single season at 25.)
- Just a fun list:
- Ni-Co, Ni-Co:
- Patrick Wisdom did not homer yesterday, ending his four-game streak. He did hit a rocket double in the 4-run 8th inning, though, so that was cool.
- He’s playing so little that the sample size remains tiny (26 PAs), but so far, Nick Madrigal has basically been what you’d expect him to be when healthy: .320/.346/.400/103 wRC+, 3.8% BB, 3.8% K. As the wRC+ indicates, that isn’t SUPER valuable in this offensive environment, but we know there are situations where having his extreme contact bat available has unique value. And we also know that a hit is slightly more valuable than a walk, so I don’t want to completely ignore that .320 BA. I still have no idea what the Cubs’ plan is for Madrigal longer-term, but I would think they want to keep hanging onto him in the event of an injury to any of Dansby Swanson, Nico Hoerner, or Patrick Wisdom.
- Dansby Swanson sliding backhands:
- And what a job tracking this down by Cody Bellinger:
- If the Cubs are to pull off the sweep today, they may have to touch up one of the best pitching prospects in baseball:
- Miller has barely pitched at all in the minors because of injuries, but you can see there that the pitches are pretty clearly big league caliber. Hopefully he’s got some nerves, and even more hopefully, the Cubs can make him work a bit. Based on his recent starts and limited experience, you can’t expect Miller to be allowed to throw more than about 50 or 60 pitches. So make that young man work!
- Oof. The news on Rays lefty Jeffrey Springs went from minor to a nerve issue to a flexor issue to Tommy John surgery over the span of a week:
- The 30-year-old was a surprising breakout last year for the Rays (standard for them), and thankfully for him, he just signed a four-year, $31 million deal before the season. Never crap on a guy for taking life-changing money when he has a chance!
- Cubs connections all over that staff – Lester, Lackey, Dempster, Breslow:
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