Stroman and Taillon, Morel’s Huge Power, Suzuki’s Quiet Success, and Other Cubs Bullets
Thanks for indulging my thoughts this morning on fandom and frustration and whathaveyou. I definitely feel better. So even if you hated it, thank you. I needed to exhale.
- Marcus Stroman got blown up yesterday by the Twins, and he suggested that he struggled to make adjustments to his mechanics after the game started. We’ve seen him come out a number of times this year and be a little off in the early innings, only to settle in from there and cruise. It didn’t happen that way this time, and I’m comfortable chalking it up to “baseball happens.” The other team is out there trying, too, and it was his worst start in nearly a calendar year. It stinks that it came on the heels of a blowout the previous day, which itself came on the heels of a long stretch of more losses than wins. But Stroman, alone, doesn’t bear the weight of all that stuff. He simply had a bad day.
- Meanwhile, the Cubs will be hoping for an efficient outing from Jameson Taillon tonight, who’d previously been on a pitch limit (tonight is TBD, as far as I know). The bullpen is now a little used up because of the back-to-back blowouts, and Javier Assad isn’t up anymore to piggyback with Taillon if he’s still limited. Cubs might have to bring up a fresh bullpen arm either way (though Jeremiah Estrada is not yet eligible to return unless he’s replacing someone going on the IL).
- Speaking of Taillon, setting aside any pitch limits, I will reiterate that I liked the way he looked last time out, even if the results weren’t there. I thought he threw a whole lot of really impressive pitches, with brief flashes of dominance. Of course, that’s not the guy he needs to be to have success, but it was still pretty interesting to see. I like his chances of bouncing back, in terms of performance results, soon. Hopefully tonight.
- From Sahadev Sharma in The Athletic’s latest Cubs mailbag, after noting the groin strain and how quickly Taillon returned (without a rehab start):
Taillon has struck out 28.1 percent of the batters he’s faced, which would be nearly five points above his previous career best. He’s still not walking a lot of batters (6.7 percent) and his hard contact is right at career norms. What’s out of whack is a BABIP (.364) that’s way above his career average and he’s also struggling to strand runners he’s allowing on base (56.5 percent LOB rate).
Those last few stats are likely due to bad luck. There are 21 pitchers who have tossed at least 20 innings this year, have a strikeout rate above 25 percent and a walk rate below seven percent. If he qualified, Taillon’s 6.41 ERA (over 19 2/3 innings) would be the highest. Eighteen of those pitchers have sub-4.00 ERAs. Assuming he can keep those peripherals around the current levels — and with the tightening up of his curve and addition of a sweeper, I think that’s possible — I’d bet on Taillon getting on a hot stretch at some point soon. This really looks like a small sample of bad luck.
- Christopher Morel has been back in the big leagues for five games, during which time he’s already hit three homers. And not just any homers – monster homers, the latest of which was the Cubs’ longest in quite a while:
- Enjoy it again, because why not:
- The other Cub to homer yesterday was Seiya Suzuki, who hadn’t otherwise homered this season but the one time all the way back in his season debut on April 14. Yet this is a guy who is now hitting .267/.353/.406/110 wRC+ DESPITE the lack of homers. Suzuki is striking out less than last year, walking more than last year, and hitting the ball harder than last year. The only thing he’s been missing are those sweet-spot barrels, and they’re coming. I have really liked the way Suzuki has looked at the plate over the last week, and you hope that’s the switch flipping after he got a few weeks of games under his belt (you know, like guys who actually get a spring training do).
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- As soon as I saw this moment last night I thought of this: