Wesneski’s Great Day, When’s Morel Coming, Alzolay’s Development and Ticky-Tack Balk, and Other Cubs Bullets

The NHL Draft Lottery is tonight, and it’s pretty wild how much a ping pong ball could determine the next decade+ of performance for a number of teams. Obviously baseball now also has a lottery system, but I get the sense that landing Connor Bedard, as it relates to the impact on an NHL team, is dramatically different than landing even a Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg type in the MLB Draft. So, good luck, Blackhawks

  • I wouldn’t go so far as to say we can do the “you are what your results say you are” thing on Hayden Wesneski just yet – he’s still green enough that I think we have to dig a little deeper on his performances, whether the results are good or bad. But even as that’s true, I also think it’s fair to note that the results have been stellar ever since that Mariners implosion in his second start of the season: 5 starts, 28.1 IP, 2.22 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 17.3% K, 1.8% BB. Obviously we know about the command issues in the strike zone – which is why you see the almost hilariously small walk rate and below-average strikeout rate – but he hasn’t been getting wrecked. Not even close to it. We’re seeing progress.
  • Yesterday’s start against the Marlins was a great example, as Wesneski was locating his fastball well, which meant the slider played back up. He was also able to locate the sinker, which he threw almost as much as the four-seamer and the slider, while also mixing in the cutter and the changeup. Top to bottom, it was just a very encouraging outing from Wesneski, who’ll get at least one more turn before Kyle Hendricks could be ready to return.
  • There is going to be a lot to say today about the state of the Cardinals as they come to town for the first match-up of the season against the Cubs, but I want to say only generically that I swear to the heavens: if the Cubs help the Cardinals right the ship this week, I will lose my mind. More on the Cardinals, and the series against the Cubs, soon.
  • Been thinking about how badly Patrick Wisdom is slumping (.167/.286/.375, 42.1% K over last 57 PAs), and about how little Nelson Velazquez is being used (just 12 unsuccessful PAs in the last 10 days). Together, it makes me feel like there’s an opportunity there for Christopher Morel. Maybe he comes up for Velazquez, who can resume regular starts at Iowa, and maybe Morel finally does have a clear path to regular playing time at the big league level in a combination of 3B/OF/Misc starts? It had been Jed Hoyer and David Ross’s suggestion last week that you wouldn’t want Morel coming up until there was regular playing time available, and maybe now that path is slightly more clear? Maybe not everyday starts, but certainly 50+%? Is that enough?
  • Here’s how Jed Hoyer put it on Friday:
  • “Chris is playing awesome, and he’s obviously great in the clubhouse. And he’s going to have a huge impact on this team. I do think he’s benefiting from playing every day. When there’s a path to playing a lot, I think it’s no question he’ll be up here.

    “He really sparked this last year. I know he can have an impact, but we want to make sure he’s coming and playing every day. Having him come and not get those at-bats and not get a chance to really participate on a regular basis, I don’t think that’s the right thing for him or for us.”

  • Speaking of Morel, he hit one so hard yesterday that it wound up accidentally causing a problem at third base for Brennen Davis, who has the absolute worst injury luck in baseball:
  • The game was over after that, so we don’t know if Davis would’ve stayed in or been pulled. That was a big dude coming down hard on him, and Davis definitely looked shaken up. I particularly hate to see it, because Davis had finally been putting together a solid multi-week stretch of performance.
  • It’s been fun to see these three similar pitches separate from each other over the last two years, and I’d love to believe they are why lefties haven’t done anything against Adbert Alzolay (after years of struggle there):
  • Alzolay had to throw three innings yesterday in the marathon loss – a day after closing out a game – which really sucks not only because the Cubs lost, but because now he’s definitely unavailable for at least the first two games of this Cardinals series, and maybe even all three. He’s been the Cubs’ most reliable reliever overall.
  • That balk that got called on him – for just barely lowering his glove a little bit before starting his delivery – was ticky-tack as hell:
  • Clearly, the ump had been primed to be looking for that one, and I wonder if it’s something the Marlins had complained about previously. By rule, if you’re at a set position like Alzolay was, you can’t make a motion that looks like you’re starting your delivery and then stop. The little glove lower would, I think, count. I’m not going to argue that the balk call was incorrect there. I just think it really sucks that it was such a minor infraction – nobody was deceived, which is the real purpose of the rule – and it led to a run scoring. Who knows how things go from there if the runner is still on third for Alzolay’s next several pitches.
  • 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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