Just Get Hot and See What Happens, Senga, Wesneski, Ohtani, and Other Cubs Bullets
The Cubs were off yesterday, and thus could not lose. In this year’s NL Central, that means you make up ground. So now the Cubs are only 4.5 games back. Time for a home stand reset. Maybe. Hopefully.
- Just get hot and let’s see what can happen. I know that’s such a facile thing to say and think and hope for but dang it, I do believe these Cubs can be better than their results. Maybe not as good as BaseRuns suggests they should be, but maybe they can get to within a game or two of .500 by the end of the next 30 days. For all we know, that could have them within a few games of the top of the NL Central in late June, and keep them on track to NOT SELL at the Trade Deadline. Honestly, realistically, that’s where I see the goal for the next 30 days: don’t give the front office a reason to say, “We had to start making plans to sell in July.”
- Those 30 days are the lead up to the London Series, by the way. So it’s almost like that is the next cut-off point for when decisions COULD be made. It’s about halfway through the schedule at that point, so it sounds right, even if it wasn’t just poetic.
- Competing/improving over the next month is not just about the NL Central, by the way. The team the Cubs are playing this week? The Mets? They’re two games over .500, and they hold the last Wild Card spot right now. That’s how mediocre the results have been across the board. JUST. GET. HOT.
- To that end, this how I expected the voting to go (and how it SHOULD go):
- Speaking of the Mets, as I said, the Cubs open up against them tonight, and taking the ball: Kodai Senga. The Cubs will get a first-hand look at the guy they were rumored to be big in on, but who ultimately chose the Mets. When the dust settled, the Cubs said Jameson Taillon was actually their top pitching target from the word go. Senga has been roughly league average so far, by the way, whereas we know Taillon has struggled mightily. Senga is coming off his best start of the year by far, though, having absolutely dominated the Rays. So, yeah. It would kinda suck on the timing front if something really clicked now for him.
- Ah ha. So this is why Hayden Wesneski was initially not using his cutter as much at the big league level this year (Sun-Times):
Early in the season, Wesneski’s slider — his bread-and-butter pitch — was a little off. So the Cubs had him cut back on using his cutter to simplify the process of getting back the shape of his slider. But the cutter is a key pitch for Wesneski against lefties. And when he reintroduced it, he wasn’t throwing it as hard as usual.
‘‘The biggest thing for me with him is, now that the shapes are good, now that he’s gotten things where he wants to, it’s about, ‘Go execute your pitches,’ ’’ (Cubs pitching coach Tommy) Hottovy said. ‘‘And then if shapes start changing and we need to readjust something — a grip or a tweak or something — we can. But just go back to the compete mode and go get guys out.’’
- Because the cutter and the slider are such similar/related pitches, it only makes sense that if things were off with the slider, the Cubs might not want Wesneski muddying his own waters by continuing to work on the cutter and letting the two pitches bleed together. I wondered why we weren’t seeing the cutter all that much initially – it’s a pretty important pitch for him to succeed against lefties, which he was not – and this makes sense. I had never even considered it. Hopefully now he can keep the two pitches separate and work to add velo back to the cutter (it was 89 mph last year, and in his first Triple-A start it was just 86 mph).
- So the Cubs can get a first-hand look at this guy to see if he might be a decent free agent:
- In all seriousness, it would be better to NOT face Ohtani, since he’s kinda awesome. But I’ll theoretically enjoy watching him pitch and seeing if the Cubs can put up a few runs on him. Wish it was at Wrigley Field, though.
- Justin Steele out here just busting his own teammate for using a performance-enhancing tennis racquet. I am here for it:
- I was all ready to complain that Morel did not win this award, but – grumble – you can definitely make an argument for Nolan Gorman, who actually topped Morel in OPS and RBI, while hitting only one fewer homer:
- I guess it’s time to mention that Gorman, who only just turned 23 and was a top prospect, is now hitting .301/.392/.636/177 wRC+, with outstanding peripherals. He might be the stud that many thought he could be.
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