Refreshing and Relieving Win, Bullpen Deployment, Mervis Impressing, and Other Cubs Bullets

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  • That was a really refreshing win last night. It can start to feel like wins are these precious, rare, almost impossible things, and it’s good to be reminded that, no, these Cubs can beat any team on a given night, and can look well-constructed in the process. I guess it was a relief, as well.
  • It’s good for the Cubs to be back home for a win, too, so they can do this:
  • I definitely thought the bullpen deployment last night was fascinating, because although the Mets didn’t get closer than four runs, there were several moments where it felt like danger loomed. Moreover, the sting of the loss last week in Houston is still relatively fresh, and a four or even five-run lead doesn’t feel like a low-leverage spot. So it was interesting to see David Ross go Jeremiah Estrada in a bases-loaded, nobody out, Pete Alonso up moment in the 6th – that’s a spot Estrada definitely wouldn’t have been used in a week ago.
  • Julian Merryweather really showed off some big stuff last night, with a fastball that touched 100 mph, a nasty slider, and at least one outstanding changeup. I don’t know what to make of the two bullet singles he gave up (both were on late swings and obviously weren’t elevated), but my eyes told me that he looked good again. Consider Merryweather’s numbers since that very first outing of the year when he gave up five against the Brewers (some of which was really crappy contact, by the way): 2.55 ERA over 17.2 innings, 2.94 FIP, 30.6% K rate, 5.6% BB rate. He’s been … outstanding? I mean, the question is what would happen if he stopped pitching almost exclusively in low-leverage, but I wonder if last night’s assignment meant he’s getting just a touch more trust? Then again, after the two hits, and despite two strikeouts, it was Mark Leiter Jr. who was brought in to clean up.
  • Michael Fulmer got the 9th in what had become a five-run game, but it seemed like it was lining up for him to get the 9th even when it was just four runs (which, you know, is only one more than three!). Does that mean he’s still in David Ross’s high-leverage circle of trust? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. He looked fine again last night, and he remains a bit of a vexing guy – great stuff, but when the command is off, he seems to get hit harder than you’d expect. Maybe still small sample flukiness when you’re talking about a total of 10 hard-hit balls or whatever. I remain open-minded on him, even if I’m OK with other guys getting clear high-leverage spots for now.
  • Speaking of the bullpen mix and veterans who haven’t quite yet worked out:
  • It would still be for the best if Boxberger could get healthy, get right, and contribute this year – he was really good the last couple years, and would be a steadying veteran presence. I just wonder how much of his earlier “meh” stuff was arm discomfort.
  • A big night for Matt Mervis, who was on base three times, including the homer and the two-out RBI single:
  • This is amazing and hilarious – Matt Mervis’s dad wearing the Mervert shirt:
  • The big night for Mervis gets him ever closer to being on track offensively. The first five games were rough, but since then? He’s been quite good: .267/.333/.500/126 wRC+.
  • One of the other solid nights came from Seiya Suzuki, who homered again, and is now hitting .283/.370/.496/135 wRC+. That’s tied with Ian Happ for the team lead in wRC+.
  • I’ll be sure to talk about Christopher Morel later today, too. Don’t you worry.
  • This made me laugh (that he was willing to say it out loud), and frankly he’s just right:
  • If you saw this and you immediately had questions:
  • Those questions would probably, at first, be about the Cubs and the NL Central teams, but I think you already mostly know the situation there with the Cubs’ run differential compared to their record (and the Brewers have been the opposite of that, of course). You might also question whether the A’s are the worst team in baseball history (and they might wind up that!). But I think if you’ve been paying attention, you’d wonder how in the heck the Rays are not on top!
  • Well, this is why:
  • 19 runs of run differential movement in a single game. Yowsa. Obviously the Rays went with position players pitching late, so those last ten runs don’t really mean much in terms of talent (and run differential never figures into any of the possible playoff tiebreaker scenarios).
  • And if you weren’t aware, the Rangers are getting monster contributions offensively up and down their lineup. They have TEN guys with at least 70 PAs who are posting a 115 wRC+ or better.
  • Nice to see a good night from Caleb Kilian:
  • 406 feet sounds light for this one:
  • Slaughter, who had been scorching hot for a while, is coming off a cool two weeks that put a big dent in his numbers. Overall, he’s hitting .271/.336/.558/116 wRC+ at Iowa, with a 31.5% K rate.
  • Caption it:
  • 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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