What a Road Trip, Confidence in Your Lineup, How Much Rosin is Too Much Rosin, and Other Cubs Bullets

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What a Road Trip, Confidence in Your Lineup, How Much Rosin is Too Much Rosin, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Been watching the show “Beef” on Netflix. Pretty good stuff. Not what I expected it to be based on the very general description (two people involved in a road rage incident have beef; I mean, it *is* that, but it is also a lot more). I haven’t finished the season yet, but I’ve been hooked.

  • What a tremendous road trip. When you’re heading west, there’s just an expectation that you’ll slightly underperform whatever you think you would do against the teams on the trip if you played at a neutral site. There’s research on it, but the short version is that going across time zones like that (even more for Eastern Time teams than Central) ever so slightly messes with the body. And, in baseball, the margins are so small that it can make a real difference in game outcomes. So, even if I think these Cubs are solid (I do), I would’ve been perfectly content with a 3-3 trip to LA and Oakland. At 4-2, I would’ve been thrilled. At 5-1? I’m over the moon.
  • The win yesterday against the A’s to complete the sweep was one of those fun ones where the Cubs battle early, get the opposing starter out of the game, and then pour it on:

  • More on Justin Steele’s performance coming later. On the positional side, I liked this quote from Ian Happ to the Tribune, which contemplates that first inning rocket lineout into a double-play, which might otherwise get in your head: “The ability to stay in there in an at-bat you don’t like or balls hit right at people, just to keep going and having good at-bats is important. When the offense is clicking like that, you’re going to get five, six at-bats in a game. You have to keep that levelness throughout.”
  • In other words, staying steady is an individual skill, yes, but if you have confidence in the rest of your lineup, it can HELP you stay steady throughout a game. We often think about the exponential nature of offensive production being about the pitcher and the defense (batters tend to perform better with runners on base, so the better the offense around you, the more likely you are to be facing pitchers and defenses in a favorable spot). But maybe there’s a mental component to it, too: the better the lineup around you, the more you can be at ease mentally for each of your at bats, which, in turn, helps you perform better?
  • I had the same reaction as Matt to all the walks we’re seeing from Dansby Swanson. I don’t want to make any declarations about it, but through 74 PAs, it’s certainly interesting:
  • It was nice to see Julian Merryweather looking at his best yesterday, though it also kind of underscored his situation right now: he’s going to be used only when absolutely necessary or in blowouts, and it can be really hard to evaluate how a guy is doing in those situations (especially against a team like the A’s). He looked really good to me, but how much does that tell us? And with so many VERY interesting relief options at Iowa – Merryweather has no minor league options remaining – I just wonder how the Cubs are going to play this. Eventually, they’re going to have to use him in a tighter spot or two, and see how things are coming together, right? Otherwise, you’re kinda operating with a seven-man bullpen.
  • Patrick Wisdom almost had another homer:
  • More on the Max Scherzer ejection yesterday following an inspection for sticky stuff. As Scherzer explains it, he was using rosin and sweat to get his hand how he wanted it, was warned that it was too much/too sticky/kind of clumping, washed his hands (in front of an MLB official), did it again, and that time he got ejected:
  • Despite that explanation, and Scherzer’s emphatic statement that he wasn’t using anything illegal, the umpires just weren’t buying it:
  • That is about as firm as a rebuke can get. The umpires concluded that Scherzer HAD to have been using an illegal substance, and thus the ejection and the possible ten-game suspension forthcoming (officially, MLB has to review the reports and make a decision).
  • Is it possible they’re both right? Like, is it possible that Scherzer and the Mets have figured out a way to use rosin (legal) and sweat (legal) to make the hand extremely sticky? Could that explain why he – and Domingo German – was rosin’ing up in between innings, rather than on the mound like most pitchers? Maybe there’s a technique that you need to do off the field to get it just right. (And that assumes there isn’t something else at play, like sunscreen – it’s long been known that combining rosin with sunscreen can create “sticky stuff,” and that’s definitely barred.)
  • If so, Scherzer and the Mets could argue they aren’t breaking any rules, though they would obviously be outside the spirit of the ban on foreign substances. Also, there are prohibitions against using rosin in a way to circumvent the sticky stuff rules, so maybe this would fall under that? If rosin – which has a little tack to it, but is legal – can be used in this way to “manufacture” sticky stuff in between innings, is that going to be a serious problem league-wide? Is this just the start of another annoyingly gray area? Are a whole lot of pitchers and teams doing this, but now it’s just on the radar?
  • A little crossover content for fans of the Cubs and a certain HBO show:

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.