The Mess of the NL Central, Mervis Day, Amaya, Rules, Game Length, and Other Cubs Bullets

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The Mess of the NL Central, Mervis Day, Amaya, Rules, Game Length, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Happy Cinco de Mayo to anyone who is celebrating. If you want to learn about the holiday, some Wikipedia reading for your day.

  • Also, happy Matt Mervis day, folks! He has arrived:
  • We’ll have roster move news shortly on how he’s being added, and if someone else is, too (thanks to the weird Sampson move last night, and we know Javier Assad is likely being optioned out today, too). It’s going to be important to keep perspective on Mervis’s debut – and the weeks ahead – whether it goes really well or really poorly, or a combination of either. No one should be expecting Mervis to be a savior of the offense, as he’s going to have development pains to go through. Instead, the hope should be that he does start to make adjustments and even if he’s just an average bat, that becomes a big upgrade over what the Cubs were too often sporting at DH and 1B over the first month. Mervis won’t be taking too many starts away from Trey Mancini, so it’ll mostly have to come from Eric Hosmer and Edwin Rios (who is likely being optioned today).
  • I expect Michael will touch on this in the pre-gamin’ post today, too, but I just want to point it out:
  • HEAVY changeup guy, so the reverse splits are not a surprise. Definitely would be a tough assignment for Mervis out of the gate. But, to me, that’s kind of the point – get him this experience, see what happens. I would be very upset if he wasn’t starting today because of this factor.
  • This cuts both ways – missed opportunity – but I’ll just try to keep it positive this morning and say thankfully that no one is running away with this thing:
  • A combined streak of 18 straight losses by the division. That’s wildly impressive. Come September, it might take only 85 to 88 wins to win the NL Central. Stay afloat through the deadline, Cubs, and then you can make a move (both literal and figurative). I really believe that.
  • I loved Miguel Amaya’s debut yesterday. No hits, but great plate appearances – very Miggy-like, as he rarely extends the zone – and three very well-struck balls. He’s going to head back down to the minors when Yan Gomes is ready to return, but I am very happy he’s getting this experience. Don’t forget: without any option years remaining after 2023, the Cubs need to know that Amaya can AT LEAST be a third catcher worth carrying on the big league roster by the end of next Spring Training. His upside is obviously considerably higher than that, but there’s a little bit of a rush to get him to that first level.
  • 50 days to London:
  • ESPN asked a bunch of players how they’re feeling about the new rules through the first month of the season, and Ian Happ was among the players. He seems pretty chill about the changes, generally appreciating what they’ve done. His one suggestion was boosting the pitch clock with no one on base to 17 seconds, and giving pitchers a timeout with no runners on base (there is no “disengagement” without runners on). Happ was not alone in either of those suggestions, especially the timeout thing (batters get one, so why not pitchers? – that was the attitude). I get it, but pitchers CAN get a timeout without runners on base so long as the catcher comes out right away for a mound visit. So, in theory, just step off and signal to your catcher. If the process is pre-planned, it’ll work every time as a timeout. Teams never run out of mound visits anyway (did you even remember how that’s a rule?).
  • Speaking of the pitch clock, Ben Lindbergh discovered something remarkable about what it has accomplished. The pace is improved and the games are shorter, yes, but an even bigger change – mathematically speaking – is that the standard deviation in length of games has shrunk precipitously. There is MUCH LESS variability in the length of games this year. The vast majority of games end within 18 minutes – in either direction – of the average game time (around 2 hours and 36 minutes). A few years ago, that number was closer to 30 minutes. Meaning, the typically variability in game length has dropped from around 60 minutes to just about 36 minutes. You could call that a good thing or a bad thing, but I expect TV networks like the better ability to make plans.
  • This is a fun read on shortstop prospect Zach Neto getting the call to the big leagues straight from Double-A, less than a year after the Angels drafted him. It’s an extremely rare thing to come up that quickly (he’s just the 18th ever, and some of the other 17 were guys who had it written into their draft contracts that they HAD to come up that quickly (no longer allowed)). In fact, it is so rare that his parents straight up didn’t believe him. Neto had to put his manager on the phone to confirm for them.
  • Noting that two professional franchises have now gone to this model:
  • It made me chuckle:

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.