Stroman Keeps It on the Ground, the Defense Assists, Thompson and Heuer, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Stroman Keeps It on the Ground, the Defense Assists, Thompson and Heuer, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Ambitious crossover event: ‘Succession’ meets the Chicago Cubs.

Cousin Greg is about to fumble his way up to Assistant GM:

Ah, but what does it MEAN for Sunday’s series finale …

  • It’s going to be so nice to see Kyle Hendricks back on the mound for the Chicago Cubs tonight at Wrigley Field. I’m realistic about how it might go from a results standpoint – and, good or bad, it’s just one outing – but it’s impossible not to root for him. Both for the connection to the last great Cubs team, and for the work he put in to get himself back on the mound over the last year.
  • When a guy talks about how he wants to lean on his sinker because of the quality defense behind him on the infield (sanker gonna be sankin’ and all), you love to see a night like that from Marcus Stroman. He got 15 groundballs, two of which turned into double-plays – so a whopping 17 outs on the ground. That’s how you go 8.0 innings of two-run ball with only three strikeouts. And look at this outstanding location:
  • Speaking of which, the Cubs remain just about as good as they hoped they’d be defensively on the infield:
  • When you dig in, no surprise that shortstop (+7) and second base (+7) are carrying the load there (first base is 0, which is fine, and third base is -1, which isn’t terrible). Interestingly, the Cubs are just 10th overall in DRS because the outfield rates brutally. Center field is -1, which you’d expect to be in positive territory with Cody Bellinger making most of the starts, and each of the corners are -6, which is among the worst numbers in the league. I would not say Ian Happ has looked as good this year as he did last year, and I still see Seiya Suzuki’s performance in right field as mixed, but among the worst in baseball? That just doesn’t quite track for me. Always keep in mind – both good and bad – that small-sample advanced defensive metrics are tricky, and anything short of at least a full season is a pretty small sample.
  • If you missed it, Stroman, himself is pretty outstanding on defense, too. Look at the lead he gave Dansby Swanson on the double-play he started:
  • And the jump throw play was just magnificent:
  • Keegan Thompson arrived at Iowa to get himself back on track and, uh, well:
  • Before we freak, I think there has to be a little grace for any guy who gets demoted when he wasn’t expecting it – when he thought maybe he was a locked-in, full-time big leaguer now. Don’t get me wrong, you’d rather see a guy go down and dominate right away, but I don’t know that a terrible initial outing necessarily says much more than this is a guy who needs to get himself re-settled. Plus, you never know what a guy has been asked to work on – mechanically or pitch mix – down there, and that can take some adjustment. We see that all the time. Of note, Thompson threw his cutter last night half of his pitches, which is dramatically more than usual.
  • In better reliever news from that Iowa game:
  • Although Jed Hoyer wouldn’t say this week that Heuer will return to the big league team as soon as he’s eligible to be activated off the 60-day IL (five days from now), he’s pitching on a regular schedule, he’s gone over an inning, and he’s throwing 97-99 mph. That seems like a guy who’s just about ready to return after a long Tommy John recovery (though he would notably be returning ahead of schedule – his recovery period was expected to be longer than usual because of a more involved version of the surgery). Best bet is that he makes one more appearance at Iowa in the coming days, and then comes to join the Cubs at Wrigley Field so they can get a final check-in with him in a bullpen session. Then a decision will be made on when to activate him.
  • And in non-Cubs-reliever news, Jhoan Duran remains unbelievable. Each of these three pitches – the combination of velocity and/or movement – should not be humanly possible:

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.