Aim to Split, Hoerner’s Throwback, Wesneski’s Command, and Other Cubs Bullets

Family requirements – schedule and sickness – are going to leave me without much time this morning. Sorry for the brevity of the Bullets today.

  • Splitting a four-gamer against the Dodgers, even at home, is absolutely a solid outcome for the Cubs. So hopefully Marcus Stroman keeps his extremely hot start to the season going this afternoon, and the bats can imagine that it’s Game 6 of the 2016 NLCS and put up some runs on Clayton Kershaw.
  • One tip for the game: walk James Outman.
  • Nico Hoerner has reached base in every single game this season except one, the second game of the season. He has appreciated the chance to stick to a routine atop the batting order (Cubs.com): “To truly know the same thing every day is a huge luxury in our game,” Hoerner said. “It really allows you to just take care of your work and go from there. I’m really grateful to have that opportunity.”
  • Hoerner, who homered for the second game in a row yesterday, is now hitting .367/.406/.489/147 wRC+ on the young season. Just ridiculous. Among regulars, his .367 batting average is fourth best in baseball, and his 7.3% K rate is third best in baseball. Kind of a throwback guy right now, and it’s really working.
  • Hayden Wesneski is at least thinking through his pre-game preparation to see if there is some connection there to his early-game struggles (Tribune): “Maybe I need to have better preparation going into a start and do something a little differently. Probably mentally I’m not ready to get going. There’s little things you can change. … I’m going to look into it a little bit more and see if we need to change anything and talk to (pitching coach) Tommy (Hottovy) about it.” Maybe there’s a relatively easy solution there to getting him into mid-game mode earlier in the game, but I think the bigger issue is the lack of command. Like I said yesterday, it’s not that he’s wild – it’s not one of those issues. It’s that he cannot succeed at his highest level without much more precision with the fastball (which is otherwise just not a great pitch right now). If he can’t locate the fastball at all, not only will he get into deeper counts, but he will get that pitch hammered sometimes, and he also won’t get nearly as many whiffs on the slider.
  • And making matters worse is that his command on the slider hasn’t been all that great lately, either. As he told the Sun-Times, because it’s a pitch that gets so much movement, it is naturally difficult to locate with precision – but when he’s feeling right, he’s able to do that.
  • I doubt there is too much to this yet beyond the small sample and the particular match-ups, but the Cubs are now 10-1 when Yan Gomes starts at catcher, and just 2-7 when Tucker Barnhart does. Then again, if we put as much weight on the “soft factor” stuff as the Cubs do, maybe there is some small amount of signal there: Gomes has had over a year to work with this run prevention group and many of these pitchers. Barnhart might still be getting acclimated.
  • Clearly, the Pirates are happy with their start to the season:
  • Bryce Harper might come back from Tommy John surgery faster than any other position player has:
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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