Morel's Two Outcomes, Mervis Moment, Suzuki Blast, Hughes, Alcantara, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Morel’s Two Outcomes, Mervis Moment, Suzuki Blast, Hughes, Alcantara, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Did you know that Oscar the Grouch used to be orange? I know that now, thanks to the extremely old versions of ‘Sesame Street’ that The Littlest Girl is enjoying right now. I wonder why they made the change to green?

  • Thanks to his 105.2 mph double last night, Christopher Morel kept alive his streak of games where he exclusively strikes out and destroys the ball. He does make truly special contact. It’s outrageously good. But eventually, having a 0.0% walk rate against a 43.3% strikeout rate is, uh, not going to work. I imagine it’s pretty hard to work on when your current approach is producing like it is, and like it was at Triple-A. You cannot simply TELL a guy to swing less hard, make more contact, and take more walks. It doesn’t work like that.
  • That is to say, those things are usually the natural byproduct of improved swing decisions as pitchers change their approach to avoid the power. Because, for as much as the pitchers like the strikeouts and no walks, it’s not like they want to be giving up an .800 slugging. So they will stop challenging him soon. My guess is that the pitchers are going to adjust first, and we’re soon going to be in for a period of slightly reduced strikeouts, a handful of walks, and some more low-quality contact. That’s when Morel will have to find the balance that he wasn’t able to find last year after pitchers adjusted the first time around.
  • Speaking of adjustments, we’re seeing some improved production from Matt Mervis, but I’m not actually sure it’s adjustment-related, as opposed to him just finally getting some better match-ups, and sticking to what he’s been doing. That is to say, the biggest issue has been the strikeout rate, which has been holding steady near 40%. The quality of the contact has been better the last handful of games, though, so that’s good to see.
  • That includes the first home run of his career, which was a special moment:

For Mervis, like I mentioned on Morel, it seems like the strikeout-related adjustment is going to have to be about swing decisions. From The Athletic:

“Pretty much every hit I’ve gotten so far has been hard hit,” Mervis said. “So it’s not like I’m missing the barrel too much. It’s too much chase and too many strikeouts.”

Essentially, avoid the chase, and good things will happen. On Tuesday night, he started to make the adjustment. He didn’t swing at a single pitch out of the zone all evening.

“Just trying to swing at the right pitches,” Mervis said. “I got a lot of pitches in the strike zone today and I wasn’t very passive. I was swinging the bat and felt good. Just letting it fly.”

  • All in all, I like Mervis’s chances to improve the strikeout rate considerably with time.
  • Seiya Suzuki took advantage of the Crawford Boxes last night for his third homer of the year, and second in three games. Well, I actually shouldn’t frame it that way, because apparently this would’ve been gone in 19 other ballparks, too, including Wrigley Field:
  • Been a nice run for Suzuki, who seems to be fully ramped up now from the whole no-Spring-Training thing. Hopefully he really takes off from here.
  • David Ross discussed his Monday decision to pull Jameson Taillon after just 4.2 innings at the Sun-Times, but what I found most interesting was his comment on lefty Brandon Hughes, who entered the game there to face a lefty and finish the 5th inning: “Sitting him back down, he probably would have been unavailable for the rest of the game.” As in, because Hughes had gotten up to warm up, it was either use him then or not get to use him at all. I am going to guess that’s knee related, where the Cubs are being extra cautious about his usage. The implication, though, is that Hughes couldn’t go multiple innings right now.
  • I noticed that, after some roster moves and some guys pulling back a bit on scorching starts, the top OPS on the Iowa Cubs belongs to … Sergio Alcántara. I still really don’t know what to make of him, given that he’s only 26, has a great middle infield glove, and clearly is not challenged at Triple-A. He’s also had big league chances with four different organizations, and over his 500 MLB PAs, he hasn’t hit. He may very well be one of those guys whose game plays against Triple-A pitching extremely well, but just won’t play against big league pitching. We’ve seen it plenty. But the glove creates a floor, and I expect he’s probably going to keep getting looks in that 27th/28th/29th man range for several more years. Not sure he gets a big league shot with the Cubs this year – would take multiple longer-term injuries to the middle infielders and/or their back-ups – and you could imagine a scenario where he is one of those minor league veteran trades in July, regardless of how the Cubs are doing.
  • The Brewers rotation suffers another injury (and I keep thinking about the opportunity that the NL Central presents this year, and how the Cubs might squander it):
  • Oof:
  • You will recall that Kumar Rocker was the Mets’ 2021 draft pick who did not sign after the team flagged a medical issue. He pitched in independent ball, entered the draft again, and the Rangers took him all the way up at number three overall in something of a major surprise.
  • This sounds bad, though I suppose it’s worth pointing out that Kipnis last played with Lindor when the latter was just 23:
  • That’s a new one:

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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.