Don’t Waste a Dominant Steele or Successful Swanson, and Other Cubs Bullets
All right. Bigger picture stuff is coming later today. I started writing it this morning and I realized I had more to say than one quick sitting would afford. So these Bullets will take a narrower view …
- Like, for example, specifically on yesterday’s loss and another lost series for the Cubs, who haven’t won a series since the Marlins series at Wrigley at the start of this month. Before that it was the Padres series in late-April, and before that it was the A’s sweep in Oakland. That’s right, the Cubs have won only two series since that sweep in Oakland. Oof. Bah, I just started to widen the lens again. It’s hard not to, because everything that happens in a given series or a given game is taking place against a much larger, much darker background.
- Anyway. The Cubs lost again yesterday, and if not for Christopher Morel currently being in Super Saiyan mode, they would’ve been shut out for the first time this season. That, despite facing a guy in Taijuan Walker who was coming into the game with an ERA over six and a half. They got closed out by old friend Craig Kimbrel, whose ERA was near five.
- It’s especially a shame that the Cubs squandered a brilliant Justin Steele outing. In a year where he’s looked fantastic in almost ever start, that might’ve been the best he’s looked. He got 17(!) whiffs on his 94 pitches over six scoreless innings. Just making Bryce Harper and Trea Turner look like amateurs:
- Steele’s ERA dropped to 2.20 after the outing (third best in the NL), and his FIP dropped to 2.97 (5th best in the NL). And he’s done it over the 4th most innings pitched, 61.1. Don’t waste this season of his, Cubs.
- Steele got some help from Seiya Suzuki on this perfect throw:
- The game-winning Bryson Stott homer, I’m sorry to report, had only a .490 expected batting average. On another day, in another ballpark (Wrigley Field, for example), that’s just a deep fly out.
- Nothing else a guy can really say right now, so here’s Dansby Swanson trying to hold it steady (Cubs.com): “I mean, realistically we’ve just got to be better. This game is meant to be played every day and played at a certain level. And at the end of the day, we’ve just got to be better, and we will. We’ve got a lot of great players in here. A lot of great track records in here. It’s just a matter of it kind of coming together.”
- While we’re on Swanson, he’s another guy whose early-season performance it feels like the Cubs are wasting. He’s now hitting .267/.374/.409/120 wRC+, with sustainable peripherals, good defense, and he’s already been worth 1.9 WAR. He’s been fantastic, and I feel like we never talk about it because he’s the big money free agent signing who (1) is supposed to be good, and (2) is supposed to be signed when a team is trying to compete, because he’s likely be at his best in the first year or two or three of the deal. It REALLY sucks that he’s doing his part, and the wins aren’t coming.
- The current rotation plan would have the Cubs go Smyly, Stroman, Taillon for the three-gamer against the Mets, and then Kyle Hendricks could return this weekend against the Reds.
- Obligatory crossover content:
Taillon and Meatball Swings, Burdi and Estrada, Wesneski and Hendricks, Umpshows, and Other Cubs Bullets