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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The Third Third

Moses remarked that the Cubs under Maddon seem to be a second-half team, which is undeniable. 2015-17 they tallied 149-73, a .671 clip. The worst second-half record they posted in those three years was .662. Not happening so far this second-half—up 4-0 in the first against the Pirates as I type this, the Cubs are 6-7 so far in the second half. But this is against some tough competition: eight of those games against the Cardinals, four against the Diamondbacks, and one against the suddenly scary Pirates. So while the Cubs have been treading water after a terrific lead-in to the ASB, a game under .500 through a stretch like that is hardly a disaster.

Tonight the Cubs play their 108th game, so looking forward it’s the third third, not the second half. The Cubs schedule from here on out looks somewhat favorable. Depending on the model for strength of schedule, Fangraphs has the Cubs chances of making the playoffs at 80-94%, winning 89-93 games. That range of estimates feels about right to me. 27/56 remaining games are against NL Central opponents, and while neither the Reds nor the Pirates being patsies any more, the rest of the division is in that same boat.

Looking at what’s happened the last two weeks since the Break, here are some good, bad, and MIA highlights:

The Good:

Rizzo has returned to form (I was going to say “Rizzo’s back” but that’s a different thing), at .364/.455/.625 in the last couple of weeks. Good timing.
Baez has kept on keeping on, hitting 3 HR and knocking in 10 runs in the last 13 games.
Likewise, Zobrist has picked up his pace after a terrific first half, hitting .467.
And of course, David Bote has made the most of his 12 plate appearances since the Break, including a very memorable game-tying home run.
Jesse Chavez has been absolutely lights out.

The Bad:

Need I say it?  The starting pitching. Pretty much all of them. Even if it was almost entirely in a single game, any time you have four different position players pitching in a 13-game period (Caratini has two pitching appearances), things are not going well. I won’t belabor the particulars.

The MIA:

The Cubs’ best player is on the DL with a shoulder issue, and when he’s been in the lineup, it appears to have sapped his power. Bryant on the DL, or playing at a diminished level, is potentially a huge problem from here on out. So far, and I think this is a testament not only to the team’s depth but its character, the Cubs have managed remarkably in his absence. Let’s hope that keeps on going.
Brandon Morrow’s absence is also worrying, but Pedro Strop has done well, and the additions of Chavez and Kintzler will hopefully take some pressure off of the Des Moines shuttle crew, who too have performed admirably.

Despite the challenges, this is a pretty damn good team. They retain the highest run differential in the National League. And even when the Cubs starter coughs up some crooked numbers in the early innings, it doesn’t feel like they are out of it. If they make the post-season this year, it will be the first time a Cubs team has done that in four straight seasons, and it likely won’t require a .671 win percentage. You have to feel pretty good about this.

Andere Richtingen Posted: August 01, 2018 at 07:27 PM | 296 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   201. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 21, 2018 at 05:43 PM (#5731069)
Russell scratched due to sore right shoulder

Just DL everyone who's banged up to the point it's affecting performance, grit your teeth, and try to hang on for a couple of weeks.
   202. Brian C Posted: August 21, 2018 at 05:48 PM (#5731080)
Lets just hope his hitting at wrigley is based on the statidum and not the pitchers faced.

Somewhere, Jeff Blauser is shaking his head wistfully.

Still, this works for me. If he hits, great, he's needed. If he doesn't, eh, so what. Love the all-reward, no-risk moves.
   203. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: August 21, 2018 at 05:54 PM (#5731088)
A "stress reaction"?

What is that - a reaction to a bazillion dollar contract and shitting the bed?
   204. Walt Davis Posted: August 21, 2018 at 07:59 PM (#5731238)
Cubs best lineup rest of the way could end up being one of their weakest defensively (Javy SS, Murphy 2b, Bryant RF, Heyward CF),

And Bote at 3B? Seems unlikely they'd do that lineup unless a LHS but then you probably see Almora in CF anyway. Of course if Addison's shoulder is worse than it sounds, then that's quite viable.
   205. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2018 at 10:02 PM (#5731305)
In that lineup I guess I forgot to put anyone at third.

Kyle Hendricks this season

1st inning: 8.31 ERA, 26.0 IP, 10 HR, .301/.345/.619 against
2nd inning on: 3.15 ERA, 125.2 IP, 10 HR, .251/.304/.371 against
#Cubs


Lots of hits today, but not many hard hit.

....

Cubs offense is 0 for 22 with risp these last 5 games.
   206. Walt Davis Posted: August 22, 2018 at 01:46 AM (#5731419)
Cubs offense is 0 for 22 with risp these last 5 games.

One problem masquerading as 2? In general, getting a hit with RISP creates a new situation with RISP (unless you HR'd or there was no runner on 1B). Obviously you can't do worse than 0 for 22 but, over 5 games, just 22 such opps seemed pretty low.

For the season, the Cubs have 1315 PA with RISP (not counting today) ... an average of 10.7 per game. So we've had as many in 5 games as we would previously have had in about 2 games. Heck, we averaged nearly 5 RISP with 2 out PAs per game. And in a massive slump getting guys on base to begin with, it's not surprising we're having trouble getting even more guys one to score them.

Obviously things could have gone differently. 6 for 22 (273 BA) also creates (say) 5 more RISP opportunities of which say we get a hit in 1 and we end up something like 7 for 28 with RISP. Realistically that might be, what, 10 more runs over the last 5 games. Still puts the offense into a slump though obviously much less of one ... and given the awesome pitching, potentially 5 wins instead of 2.

In short, the 0 part is really, really bad ... but the "only 22" part may be the bigger problem.
   207. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 22, 2018 at 09:17 AM (#5731487)
Totally agreed. But also the absurdity of that 0 is hard to fathom - even quintana would likely get 1 hit in those 22 chances.

With the new slide rules that are designed to protect middle infielders on double play attempts, you wonder if it might make sense for Maddon to consider playing Anthony Rizzo at second base in some situations and Murphy at 1B. Rizzo extremely adept, versatile in making throws.


Let's not give Joe any crazier ideas.

Sharma says Russell is likely going to the DL. Joe already said Murphy will play today.

Addison Russell is likely headed to the disabled list to make room for Murphy on the roster. The Cubs shortstop was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup and it was revealed he’s been dealing with a sore right shoulder for quite a while now, something that has been impacting him on offense. That’s in addition to a left finger that’s healing from a fracture and lower body issues as well. No wonder he’s been a lost cause at the plate of late.
   208. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 22, 2018 at 09:25 AM (#5731490)
The team does have good news on Kris Bryant, who participated in full team drills prior to Tuesday’s loss and expects to do that a few more times before heading out on a rehab assignment in the near future.

“With Kris, he’s in a good place in his rehab and we’re optimistic,” Epstein said. “He’s had a good few days and we have the rest of his rehab more or less mapped out. We’re optimistic he’s going to return and play a really significant role. But until someone’s back, there’s always a chance that it doesn’t go the way you want to. But we’re really optimistic there.”

Maddon said it’s possible Bryant gets some time in the outfield when he returns due to the addition of Murphy.


I do think Bote at 3b, heyward CF and Bryant RF might be the best lineup when kb is back/Russell still out. Maybe that's just my preference, with almora replacing heyward against lhp.

Schwarber/heyward/zobrist with Murphy at 2b, Bryant at third might be default but that defense is less good.
   209. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 22, 2018 at 10:03 AM (#5731521)
Let's not give Joe any crazier ideas.
I'm not worried - the part you quoted fails on its premise, as Joe doesn't acknowledge the existence of the new slide rules.
   210. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 22, 2018 at 10:31 AM (#5731562)
Slide rules are obsolete, man.
   211. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 22, 2018 at 11:56 AM (#5731628)
Tim Kurkjian @Kurkjian_ESPN 3h3 hours ago

The Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber has 22 HRS, all against right-handers. The most HRS in one season all off either a RHP or LHP is 40 by Duke Snider in 1957 (all off RHP), confirmed by @EliasSports


Fun?

670 The Score @670TheScore 2h2 hours ago

Jim Hickey remains unsure of who will start for the #Cubs this Friday. It could be a bullpen day, he says, and he thinks a half-dozen names have already been discussed for the start against the Reds.


I want to see Underwood get another start - his overall AAA aren't great but I have no context for them; I thought he looked decent after scuffling that first inning against the Dodgers. Tseng has been much worse in AAA his second time around. I don't think anyone wants to see Chatwood start or pitch ever again.
   212. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 22, 2018 at 12:16 PM (#5731647)

Fun?


Only 77 PAs against LHPs but an OPS of .601. Believe it or not, that's an improvement on his career numbers against them.

I want to see Underwood get another start - his overall AAA aren't great but I have no context for them; I thought he looked decent after scuffling that first inning against the Dodgers. Tseng has been much worse in AAA his second time around. I don't think anyone wants to see Chatwood start or pitch ever again.

Underwood keeps the ball in the park and is, therefore, a good bit less likely to implode than Tseng.

But as much as I hate to say it, Chatwood may still be the best option.
   213. Quaker Posted: August 22, 2018 at 12:42 PM (#5731667)
I increasingly think some random team is going to win the NL like the Dbacks. On the one hand, LA is the only team in the NL that "scares" me, but it's tough to feel great about the Cubs' chances at this juncture. It's just hard to see them winning multiple rounds with a pitching staff that relies so much on the defense.

It feels weird as a Cubs fan to complain about a team that's on pace for 90ish wins. That said, it's kind of disappointing that this group looked SO dominant in 2015 and hasn't quite sustained that level of play since then. In fairness, the 2nd half last year was pretty great as well. It felt in the 2016 offseason like the Cubs were set up to be **the** team in ML for the next few years. You couldn't guarantee postseason success, but I sort of expected a few more 98+ win juggernaut squads. As it's turned out, they're just one of a few good to very good teams.

I think the one other thing that's kind of disappointing (and has been mentioned a lot) is that most of the major FA signings still on the club look like they're going to be negative value. Darvish + Chatwood + Heyward would probably buy a Harper or Machado for a few years. Along these lines, it's hard to see where the Cubs are going to make major improvements going forward. They have like 6 rotation options for next season and probably only one or two (Kyle and maybe Q) that you'd feel good about at this point. Others will all be some combination of performance/injury question mark.

Again, I realize this is mostly nitpicking and the Cubs remain capable of winning the whole thing this year.
   214. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: August 22, 2018 at 01:13 PM (#5731696)
I know it's dumb and cliched to blame the hitting coach/pitching coach.... but at this point, I think I'm disenchanted with the Chili Davis experience. Other than perhaps helping Heyward out of the depths of hopelessness, doesn't seem to be a lot of good. Maybe you give him Baez credit, maybe not.

On the mound, the relievers who are decent have remained decent while the best SP appears to be the guy the Cubs just acquired a month ago.

Lazy, dumb, and cliched... but color me meh or worse on both.
   215. Quaker Posted: August 22, 2018 at 01:51 PM (#5731715)
Missed the edit window (and the site is not currently offering me the ability to edit everyone's posts), but I meant dominant in 2016 in my post above.
   216. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 22, 2018 at 02:01 PM (#5731726)
Lazy, dumb, and cliched... but color me meh or worse on both.

Yeah, we're on the same page. I said something similar in my post right before the Murphy news broke, but the Cubs FO is really going to have to evaluate those changes in more detail once the season is over. How everyone performs down the stretch/in the playoffs can still change that evaluation, but from the outside and a very high level it's hard to point to any significant improvement in either area/it's easy to point out how things are worse. The Bosio experience in Detroit was a failure for different reasons, but it might appear - again, superficially at least - that Boston is better off now and TB isn't really missing Hickey.
   217. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 22, 2018 at 03:07 PM (#5731779)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 35m35 minutes ago

Elias: Cubs have matched franchise record by scoring 1 run or less in 5 straight games for 1st time since May 19-23, 2009. Cubs have scored exactly 1 run in 5 games in a row for 2nd time in franchise history (Aug. 27-Sept. 1 1934).


Murphy 2b
Javy
Rizzo
Zobrist DH
Heyward
Almora
Bote
Conteras
Happ LF

vs LHP. Can't really complain about that; Heyward hits fine-ish against LHP and no one below him is hitting worth a #### anyway.
   218. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 22, 2018 at 07:03 PM (#5731899)
Bryant “close” to starting rehab assignment, Maddon said. looked very good during pregame work.


   219. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 22, 2018 at 11:16 PM (#5732045)
Bad news/good news

Carl Edwards, Jr. induced 0 swings and misses in 13 pitches that appearance. His swing and miss has been completely absent of late w/ just 6 in last 6 appearances (83 pitches for a 7.2% swstr%). Only 2 strikeouts out of 21 batters faced in those outings. A jarring drop for him.


#Cubs pitching last 6 games:
1.34 ERA, 53.2 IP, 48 Hits, 16 BB, 37 K, 1.193 WHIP
   220. Walt Davis Posted: August 23, 2018 at 03:00 AM (#5732110)
I am more worried about the Cubs' increase in BB rate under Hickey than I am about Chili.

2018: 262/340/416 overall, 104 pos OPS+, 4.75 r/g (2nd, 4.40 lg)
2017: 255/338/437 overall, 104 pos OPS+, 5.07 r/g (2nd, 4.58 lg)
2016: 256/343/429 overall, 110 pos OPS+, 4.99 r/g (2nd, 4.44 lg)
2015: 244/321/398 overall, 105 pos OPS+, 4.25 r/g (6th, 4.11 lg)

Not a whole lot to choose from there. Clearly we haven't improved but nothing's dramatically worse either (yes, ISO down but that's true relative to last year for the league ... not as good as the 2016 team but that looks flukier every day). He's not done anything to help the Cub pitchers -- -39 OPS+ this year vs -13 in 2017, +10 in 2016 and -18 in 2015.

Who knows what effect he's had but Heyward and Baez have been much better, Zo has rebounded, Almora has maintained despite less favorable platoon usage. Rizzo has dropped badly, Bryant was down, Contreras is down ... but was just fine as of three weeks ago. Russell hasn't stepped it up but the OPS+ is only a bit worse than last year while his OBP is up -- Rbat basically puts that equal. (I'm now more concerned about his ability to stay healthy which might also have contributed to offensive regression the last two years.)

We were all thrilled about the offense a month ago. It's unlikely he's done anything differently recently to cause the recent debacle. Unless somebody can show that pitchers are doing something differently and Chili hasn't figured out how to deal with it yet, I'm putting it all on a large random fluke.

Over the last 31 games, it's 3.65 r/g. (not counting today)

2017 vs 2018, times scoring 0, 1, 2 runs, pro-rated for 2018:

0 10 12
1 18 26
2 19 18

So that's looking worse because of 1-run games -- league scoring is down which would explain a little of that.
   221. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 23, 2018 at 09:37 AM (#5732168)
Most pickoff attempts by an #MLB catcher, 2018:

73 = Willson Contreras
28 = Martín Maldonado
23 = Manny Piña

#Cubs' Contreras has attempted more than 2.5 times as many pickoffs as any other catcher in the majors this season.


Heh
   222. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 23, 2018 at 10:01 AM (#5732185)
Lester worked 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run while striking out three and walking just one. He had 11 swing-and-misses over his 100 pitches, nothing eye-popping, but certainly a respectable number considering how much Lester has struggled to get whiffs this season. Entering the day, Lester had an 8.4 percent swinging-strike rate; the 11 percent he posted Wednesday was much more similar to what he’s done in his previous six seasons.

Lester has also made some slight mechanical tweaks that allowed his fastballs to play better. Of the 12 four-seamers and two-seamers the Nats put in play on Aug.11, nine went for hits. But on Wednesday, Lester threw a combined 40 four- and two-seamers. The Tigers put seven in play and only got three hits on those pitches.

“The biggest thing is that I kind of got my fastball to the angle that it should be,” Lester said. “So you’re seeing the mishits, the foul balls and the swing and misses on it. Keep working on that and hopefully these results keep staying where they’re at right now.

“In baseball, you’re talking about fractions of centimeters, not even really inches. As long as my angle is right, my hand is on top of the baseball and the last few starts I’ve been able to put my arm in the right position to get on top of the baseball. The last two starts, I’ve been able to put my arm in the right position to get on top of the baseball.”


Obviously he wasn't as impressive as the last start, but that was still good albiet against a bad bad lineup.
   223. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 23, 2018 at 11:01 AM (#5732227)
Overall, I think Lester has been very impressive making adjustments for his obviously deteriorated stuff. At some point this turd-polishing exercise will no longer work, but I do wonder how long he will be able to keep it up.
   224. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 23, 2018 at 11:56 AM (#5732272)
the 2016 team but that looks flukier every day

That's I guess my real underlying fear. That a bunch of guys topped out then and/or peaked early and aren't going to continue improving. We knew that was what was happening with the pitching, just because of the ages of those guys. But the batters - save guys like Fowler and Zobrist - were all so damn young, that it's hard to imagine so many were at the best then. Again, I know I'm oversimplifying, but you can't explain irrational fears.

Who knows what effect he's had but Heyward and Baez have been much better, Zo has rebounded, Almora has maintained despite less favorable platoon usage. Rizzo has dropped badly, Bryant was down, Contreras is down ... but was just fine as of three weeks ago. Russell hasn't stepped it up but the OPS+ is only a bit worse than last year while his OBP is up -- Rbat basically puts that equal. (I'm now more concerned about his ability to stay healthy which might also have contributed to offensive regression the last two years.)

First, totally agree on Russell and the likely fact that he's just injury prone.

However, I think that still undersells the possible Chili impact. When they talk excessively about the change in approach - more contact, less launch angle - and the numbers bear it out, I think it's more likely that the other stuff are side effects than just a fluke. I also don't know if thrilled is the right word - there were obvious concerns about inconsistency popping up, and the lack of power has always bugged me this year. We complained about the offensive inconsistency last year too, and it seems like it might be even more extreme this year. Yeah, it's been a bad stretch, but there's been warning signs for a while.

As for the individual players, we know Zobrist was hurt last year; but he's at about the same level as 2016, which is definitely a win because of his age. Yes, Heyward is slightly better than he's been here, but he's still below average and well below his career levels (or more specifically, his pre-Cub levels); maybe some guys are just too broken to be fixed though. I think we definitely have to give him some credit on Javy - the fact that Javy is swinging more would appear to be an application of the Chili philosophy, so it's definitely working for him. I don't know what to think about Almora - maybe Joe was just overly protective of him early on, but he's still seen an noticeable power drop like everyone else so I'm not inclined to put him in the positive bucket.

Maybe Contreras is just a slump fluke, but literally every other hitter has been clearly worse under Chili this year. Like I've said before, the flip side is that so many Boston hitters are better this year after Chili - Betts significantly, but also Moreland, Boegarts, Benintendi, Holt have seen improvements (some significant); guys there that haven't seen much change (or are worse) include Bradley, Swihart, Nunez, Leon, Devers (you have a mix of injury concerns, and PT/sample size issues - admittedly that also applies to TLS).

It all mostly circumstantial and post hoc type evidence I'm rambling about here, and I realize that and am not trying to make the case that I'm clearly correct. But just like with Hickey, you can't sell that these changes were needed and the right decisions were made when so many things have gotten worse and it's harder to prove where it's better. I hope/expect the FO can better prove/disprove our theories, and act accordingly. Of course, a nice run at the right time in October could easily erase many of these concerns.
   225. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 23, 2018 at 04:24 PM (#5732477)
Murphy
Baez
Rizzo
Zobrist RF
Schwarber
Happ CF
Caratini
Hamels
Bote


I think longer term, Murphy isn't exactly an ideal guy to have at the leadoff spot. If Schwarber hadn't bombed so much there last year, I suspect he'd be back there already*. Murphy is kind of painful to watch run, he's a contact guy. When Bryant comes back, if his power is still going to be less than it should be, I might want him at leadoff. So, with KB back, Russell out/not starting every day, I might like to see something like

Bryant
Zobrist
Rizzo
Baez
Murphy (I actually won't complain about any order of 3-5)
Contreras (assuming his slump ends)
Schwarber
SP
Heyward CF

Against a lefty, just swap in Almora. Days Zobrist or Murphy have off, slide guys up a spot or just put Happ/Almora in that spot (I still won't admit to wanting Heyward up early all the time). There's still lots of alternating R/L bats in there, and sliding in defensive replacements (Russell or Bote or Almora) or PH or double switches don't really mess things up either in the spots they'd take over.

Yes, I know. I think about this WAY too much.

*Dumb, maybe irrelevant, splits:
leading off an inning: 96PA, .266/.396/.544
RISP: 107PA, .190/.383/.354
Men on: 182PA, .204/.320/.382
Bases empty: .273/.389/.532
   226. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 23, 2018 at 05:18 PM (#5732507)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 7m7 minutes ago

Duensing to embark on rehab assignment for Iowa at Omaha, light workout day for Bryant


####, I forgot about Duensing. Ugh.

   227. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 23, 2018 at 06:14 PM (#5732524)
Chatwood to DL (walk hip inflammation), Maples up.

Mills will start Friday, so Maples is probably only available for tonight. Unless Rosario is sent back first, and then Maples survives until Duensing is done with his rehab. Everyone will be back in a week, so whatever.

I missed it before, but Bass is off the DL, and he cleared waivers (kinda surprised by that honestly, though he hadn't had a ton of innings this year they were pretty dang good) and was sent to AAA. So he's off the 40 man, which I think is how there was an open spot for Murphy.
   228. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 23, 2018 at 10:43 PM (#5732705)
Christopher Kamka @ckamka 2m2 minutes ago

Cole Hamels in 5 starts with #Cubs:
0.79 ERA, 34.0 IP, 24 Hits, 8 Walks, 30 Strikeouts, 0 HR, 0.941 WHIP


It's pretty much a lock the Cubs pick up his option, right? That would make 7 decent money SP, but Chatwood would like be banished somehow and Smyly is coming of TJ and Darvish coming off this wasted year. Not to mention Lester's age (and Hamels, honestly). Lots of money in the rotation, with a lineup starting to get a little more expensive. If they keep him, unless the Cubs try and package Quintana or Hendricks with a Russell to hope and upgrade for a better SP (not that I think that's enough, but it's a start) we might be looking at our team. I guess you could trade some excess bats (if you are gonna try and sign someone) for some prospects, but I dunno.
   229. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 23, 2018 at 10:56 PM (#5732713)
Rizzo has dropped badly,

Wasn't he dealing with a back injury in April? Since May 1, he's put up numbers virtually identical to the last four years (.291/.385/.507 since May 1, not including today's 2/5 with a HR; .282/.387/.522 from 2014-2017). Bryant has been hurt as well.
   230. Walt Davis Posted: August 24, 2018 at 12:19 AM (#5732748)
literally every other hitter has been clearly worse under Chili this year.

It's hard to say this. Overall position player OPS+ is the same as last year. This of course means that some guys go up and others go down.

The league as a whole is down. NL ISO is 156, down from 169 last year and there's been a 7 point drop in BA too. The Cubs drop in ISO has been twice that but that suggests half the drop is just league context. And the 13 point drop we might attribute to Chili (give or take) is balanced by a 8 point jump in raw (pos) BA which is doubly impressive given league BA has gone down. I agree, it would seem this set of players should "naturally" be producing lots of ISO and we don't seem to be getting any of the supposed benefits of a contact approach (i.e. less reliance on HRs, more stable scoring), so I'm not arguing it's a good idea much less an optimal one. But it's hard to say that it's been an issue when viewed across the overall season.

Davis was also the Red Sox hitting coach in 2015 and 2016, years in which they saw massive improvement (as did the league). They went from a 91 OPS+ in 2014 to 97 to 112 ... then back to 92. Betts' ISO increased substantially in Davis's first two years and was still 191 last year (same as 2015). His ISO this year is a sort of insane 302 -- maybe that was in there all along or maybe it's a massive fluke that his HR/FB jumped by 50% this year. Chili might have been holding him back (the only one who could ever contain Michael Jordan was Dean Smith) but probably not to the tune of 100 points of ISO.

I will agree that Fenway and Wrigley would seem to be among the last places you'd want to preach lower-ISO, especially for RHB.

Anyway, as I've said, I'm perfectly open to an argument that other teams have figured something out and are pitching us differently, but I'd like to see evidence. If that's the case then it's Chili's responsibility to figure out how to combat the new approach and possibly he's failing at that.

As to earlier warning signs, I don't really disagree and I was among those annoyed by the seeming inconsistency of the offense. But this was true last year and in 2015 so I'm not sure that's Chili's fault though it's obviously not to his credit. But at the break we were outscoring the league by about .7 r/g which was likely never sustainable. In 2016, we outscored the league by just .55 r/g. We're currently only .38 r/g ahead of the league but we're also only .01 r/g away from taking the league lead back.

Wow, Wrigley park factors have bounced way back up again, I hadn't noticed that. The multi-year factor is now up to 108 from 104 last year and 101 the year before. This is the highest it's been since 1990. I'll admit I don't see how our raw numbers could be down so far while our PF is up so high yet maintaining the same OPS+ but I'm sure Sean's doing the math right. (whether it's the right math is a different question.)

   231. Quaker Posted: August 24, 2018 at 11:32 AM (#5732945)
You really think they'll drop $20M on Hamels next year? I like him, so I'd be fine w/that (unless that $20 took them out of the Bryce/Machado sweepstakes.)
   232. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 24, 2018 at 12:11 PM (#5732998)
I think it's getting harder to see how they fit in Harper or Machado - or if that's the best use of their money - with the rotation still as the biggest need and the current position player mix. Ideally you're not just sinking more money into a short term solution, but it might be the best use of the money for 2019. Like I've said before, maybe you find a way to consolidate some of the position players and the excess into a better SP option than Hamels and sign one of those guys. It's going to be interesting to see how they approach it.

   233. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 24, 2018 at 04:25 PM (#5733257)
Happ playing 3b today for some reason.

MLB Trade Rumors @mlbtraderumors 31s32 seconds ago

5 of the 6 pitchers the #Cubs signed to multi-year deals last winter are now on the DL. Latest updates:


Hadn't thought of it like that before, and it's not new news, but sheesh.
   234. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 24, 2018 at 04:28 PM (#5733259)
Wasn't he dealing with a back injury in April? Since May 1, he's put up numbers virtually identical to the last four years (.291/.385/.507 since May 1, not including today's 2/5 with a HR; .282/.387/.522 from 2014-2017). Bryant has been hurt as well.

After a much better May than April, he had another extended slump that brought his numbers back down. But you're right, and you have to really slice and dice his numbers to point out the ups and downs. Or, put another way:

Michael Cerami @Michael_Cerami 4h4 hours ago

Take out just the first seven games of Anthony Rizzo's season and he's slashing .283/.377/.483 (126 wRC+).

Also, since ...

May 1: .295/.388/.518 (137 wRC+)
July 1: .305/.402/.530 (144 wRC+)
Aug 1: .319/.412/.597 (162 wRC+)

Dude is swinging it JUST fine.


Bryant had the notconcussion, then his shoulder has been hurt off and on, so perhaps yeah we shouldn't include him in that group too.

Contreras's slump has been so extreme, and the power specifically, I guess I wouldn't be surprised to find out at some point later on he's hurt too.
   235. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 24, 2018 at 04:45 PM (#5733271)
BTW, after yesterday's CG, Hamels is now 8th on the Cubs in bWAR (Cishek is 4th!), jumping ahead of Rizzo. Bryant isn't in the top 12 and Cubs still have best record in the league. That's crazy.
   236. Walt Davis Posted: August 24, 2018 at 08:20 PM (#5733375)
I haven't read the article but the headline and tagline suggest the Red Sox are continuing to employ Chili's (apparent) philosophy. Maybe they have emphasized launch angle more?

Red Sox hitting approach
   237. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 26, 2018 at 12:39 PM (#5733804)
#Cubs Bryant to begin rehab with Iowa on Monday


Cool
   238. Walt Davis Posted: August 26, 2018 at 10:20 PM (#5734031)
I finally got around to reading that article. This seems the meaty bit:

But that's what Betts has, and players up and down the Red Sox lineup are showing it now too. The Red Sox swung at the first pitch in only 20.9 percent of their 2017 plate appearances, versus a league average of 28.1 percent, according to Baseball Reference. This season that number is up to 27.3 percent. And in plate appearances that conclude after one pitch, Xander Bogaerts' OPS has increased by 137 points, Betts' by 262 points and Mitch Moreland's by 360 points! Last winter Boston signed J.D. Martinez, who, it just so happens, has a preternatural ability to crush the first ball he sees. Over his career, even including the years before he raised his launch angle, Martinez has hit .431 and slugged .815 in at-bats ending in the first pitch. This season his OPS in that situation is 1.639. Those numbers are not typos. The Red Sox knew what they were doing when they brought Martinez to town.

Overall, Boston hitters have swung at 68.4 percent of strikes this year, jumping to 11th highest in baseball, while swinging at hardly any more bad pitches and while maintaining a high contact rate (79.6 percent, second in MLB). Those are indeed the statistical tracks of disciplined aggression. And these Red Sox lead the league in hits (by a wide margin) and in runs scored.


According to b-r, the 2018 Cubs are swinging at the first pitch 32% of the time, up slightly from last year's 31%. If Chili was responsible for the Red Sox 20% last year, he learned his lesson.

On PAs ending on the first pitch this year, the Cubs are hitting 356/605; last year it was 362/658 ... the drop in BA might be a league-wide shift but the drop in ISO is too big to be only that. The 2018 Red Sox are hitting just 344/556 on the first pitch so I'm not complaining.

Some notable Cubs on PAs that end on the first pitch by OPS: Schwarber 1256, Baez 1101, Bryant 1034, Russell 1027, Rizzo 971, Happ 971, Zobrist 962 ... and of course Bote 1385. Betts is at 988 which is rather pedestrian for the Cubs. :-)

Off to fangraphs for the pitch data. Red Sox are at 68.4% z-swing and 79.4% (overall) contact %; the Cubs are at 67.6 and 76.8. The difference in z-swing might well be pitchers but the contact % is around the ML and NL median ... at least better than the Yanks and Brewers. For the 2017 Cubs, those numbers were 66.9 and 76.1 so both up a smidgen.

There doesn't seem to be any major difference in hitting approach between the 2018 Cubs and Red Sox. There doesn't seem to be any major difference in these components between the 2017 and 2018 Cubs. The 2018 Cubs are definitely down on HR/PA and HR/FB. HR/FB for 2018 (first) and 2017 ...

Almora 4.1 7.0
Baez 16.9 16.0
Bryant 8.5 12.0
Contreras 6.9 18.3 (that's just amazing)
Happ 13.0 18.9
Heyward 4.6 7.3 (who'd a thunk it)
Rizzo 10.4 12.7
Russell 3.3 8.6
Schwarber 18.4 22.2
Zobrist 6.0 7.4

So that's all pretty lousy. Note, the G/F ratio hasn't really changed so it's not like they're hitting it on the ground more. The LD% hasn't changed so it's not like we're getting more "level" swings than fewer uppercuts. Overall contact rate is up about 2 percent which helps with the BA. What about hard contact? Fangraphs says we're at 32.7% which is near the bottom (tied with the Nats fittingly enough) ... but then that puts only 1 spot behind the Astros and the Red Sox are only 19th. And our hard contact is up over last year (seems true league-wide).

Contreras is hitting the ball on the ground LESS often than he was ... yet has a higher GO/AO rate ... yet has the highest BAgb of his career while (yes) his production on FBs has cratered ... yet his pop-up rate is the same ... I guess his exit velocity must just be off in all regards. Yet in the ever mysterious average EV, Contreras is unchanged -- 87.8 in 2016, 87.1 in 2017, 87.7 in 2018. Launch angle? 5.9, 5.9, 9.2 ... I have no idea what an optimal "average" LA might look like but since his pop-up rate is the same, this can't be too bad. His "barrel" percentage is down but that amounts to 4 barrels off his career average, 7 off of last year's. Even if all 7 were HRs, he'd still be well off last year's HR pace (but would be in much better shape overall).

All of which seems to have led us pretty much nowhere. Our contact and BA are up, our ISO is down, it all seems to balance out to be about the same (given league context). Whatever explains the ISO drop, it doesn't appear to be changes in our "disciplined aggression" -- we're the same as last year, we appear to be better than the Red Sox this year in that regard. HR/FB is way down but, in the most extreme player case (no idea if there are team stats on this stuff), that doesn't seem to have anything to do with EV or LA and even barrels only gets us part of the way there.

If there's a secret here, we're gonna have to dig deeper than these basic aggregates. Maybe we suck at breaking balls or chase high pitches too much or are sacrificing too much to try to make contact behind in the count or the wind has been blowing in a lot or ... it's just some random bad luck?
   239. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:29 AM (#5734125)
Interesting post, thanks Walt.

Contreras is hitting the ball on the ground LESS often than he was ... yet has a higher GO/AO rate ... yet has the highest BAgb of his career while (yes) his production on FBs has cratered ... yet his pop-up rate is the same ... I guess his exit velocity must just be off in all regards. Yet in the ever mysterious average EV, Contreras is unchanged -- 87.8 in 2016, 87.1 in 2017, 87.7 in 2018. Launch angle? 5.9, 5.9, 9.2 ... I have no idea what an optimal "average" LA might look like but since his pop-up rate is the same, this can't be too bad. His "barrel" percentage is down but that amounts to 4 barrels off his career average, 7 off of last year's. Even if all 7 were HRs, he'd still be well off last year's HR pace (but would be in much better shape overall).

I go back to maybe there's an injury here, but nothing in here really suggests that here.
   240. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:40 AM (#5734136)
Montgomery is going to come back and start this week, but Mills is also getting a 2nd start. So that's a 6 man rotation, at least once through. Probably a decent idea, at least a couple more times if it were up to me.
   241. McCoy Posted: August 27, 2018 at 10:56 AM (#5734147)
If I were to tell you the Cubs would be first in the league in runs scored and 3rd in the league in runs allowed how many games do you think the Cubs would have won in 2018?

Houston is 4th and 1st and have a pyth of 88 wins, the Yankees are 2nd and 4th and have won 83 games and are on a 103 win pace.
   242. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: August 27, 2018 at 12:32 PM (#5734208)
If I were to tell you the Cubs would be first in the league in runs scored and 3rd in the league in runs allowed how many games do you think the Cubs would have won in 2018?

Houston is 4th and 1st and have a pyth of 88 wins, the Yankees are 2nd and 4th and have won 83 games and are on a 103 win pace.


Oddly enough, their record matches their pythag record exactly... I suspect this is just part and parcel of the debate had in other threads - AL vs NL.... i.e., the AL has one or two great teams, a couple good teams, a lot of bad teams, and several truly shitty teams. The NL has a lot of good teams, a crapton of average teams, and a couple bad teams.
   243. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: August 27, 2018 at 01:05 PM (#5734220)
If I were to tell you the Cubs would be first in the league in runs scored and 3rd in the league in runs allowed how many games do you think the Cubs would have won in 2018?

Houston is 4th and 1st and have a pyth of 88 wins, the Yankees are 2nd and 4th and have won 83 games and are on a 103 win pace.



Oddly enough, their record matches their pythag record exactly... I suspect this is just part and parcel of the debate had in other threads - AL vs NL.... i.e., the AL has one or two great teams, a couple good teams, a lot of bad teams, and several truly shitty teams. The NL has a lot of good teams, a crapton of average teams, and a couple bad teams.


The Dodgers are 2nd in Runs and 1st in Runs allowed...and they will have to pass 3 teams to get into the playoffs (or 2 if they're both in the West)
   244. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 27, 2018 at 02:26 PM (#5734277)
For example … with yesterday’s fantastic start by Kyle Hendricks (7.0 IP, 2H, 0ER, 1BB, 5Ks), the Cubs rotation has now posted a 1.67 ERA over their past 10 games. And if ten games doesn’t do it for ya, consider that their 3.42 ERA and 3.70 FIP over the past 30 days ranks 10th and 9th best in MLB respectively.


Hendricks allowed zero hard hit balls yesterday. He seems to have figured some things out:

Since July 3 (his last 11 starts), Hendricks has a 3.38 ERA and 2.69 FIP. He’s got a solid 45.3% ground ball rate, and excellent 10.2% IFFB rate, a TON of soft contact (23.9%) and very little hard contact (27.9%). Meanwhile, he’s striking out more batters than the league average and walking guys just 3.3% of the time. For a full third of a season, Hendricks has essentially been on top of his game.
   245. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 27, 2018 at 04:01 PM (#5734345)
Bryant is hitting 2nd, and playing DH, in Iowa tonight. Also, Chatwood is starting for Iowa. Both are presumably on rehab assignments.

---

Murhpy
Javy
Rizzo
Zobrist RF
Heyward CF
Contreras
Schwarber
Lester
Bote

vs. Syndergaard.
   246. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 27, 2018 at 04:04 PM (#5734349)
playing DH
Does anyone really "play" DH?
   247. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 27, 2018 at 04:08 PM (#5734354)
He'll play DH better than Chatwood will play SP, I'll tell you that.
   248. Walt Davis Posted: August 28, 2018 at 12:23 AM (#5734612)
Huh, I lost a post. Maybe I stuck it in a mystery thread somewhere.

Montgomery is going to come back and start this week, but Mills is also getting a 2nd start. So that's a 6 man rotation, at least once through. Probably a decent idea, at least a couple more times if it were up to me.

Agreed. Especially with this long stretch of games without a break.

Toughest stretch of the season coming up after the Mets -- 14 straight against solid-good teams with the first 11 on the road. A makeup at Atl, 3 at Philly, 3 at Milw, 4 at Nats, 3 home against Milw. Main advantage is that, of the 16 games remaining against NLC, 13 are at home.
   249. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 28, 2018 at 10:12 AM (#5734706)
Jesse Rogers @ESPNChiCubs 10h10 hours ago

From @ESPNStatsInfo: Carl Edwards extends his streak of appearances without a strikeout to 6. The previous longest streak of his career was 2 games. Over that stretch of 6 games he's induced a swing and miss on just 12 of 94 pitches.


He had a 1,2,3 inning last night, which he hasn't done in a while (or so it feels).

With the offense finally firing on all cylinders again, the pitching has stepped up as well. In their past 11 starts, Cubs starters are averaging a tick under six innings per outing while posting a strong 1.93 ERA. And that counts Tyler Chatwood’s two innings of three-run ball 10 days ago in Pittsburgh. The righty started a rehab game in Iowa on Monday night, but is unlikely to start a game for the big-league club anytime soon.


Lester looked absolutely toasty early last night, but he really did get better as the game went on:

The lefty ended up working six strong, giving up just those three runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three. In his first 49 pitches, he garnered just one swing and miss. In his next 45, he was able to induce nine, five on his cutter.


I still don't trust him completely, but I can live with him starting the 3rd game of a playoff series at this point (my confidence level in him and Quintana varies start to start, pitch to pitch with them).

After posting a 31 wRC+ in March and April, Rizzo has pushed that number up to 124 for the season. Since the calendar turned to May, Rizzo is slashing an impressive .302/.393/.537.


That includes another terrible stretch in June that preceding him hitting leadoff for a while. Had he had a normal April, or even just a normal bad April, this might have been his best offensive season.

A deep dive on Hamels:

By May, Hamels was averaging 92.8 mph on his fastball. In July, he was sitting an easy 93. But still, the results weren’t there. Hamels’ four-seamer was getting crushed and in July, the height of his mechanical issues, opponents hit .579 off his four-seamer with a .947 slugging percentage.

---

Since joining the Cubs, opponents are hitting .286 off his four-seamer with zero extra-base hits.

---

Hamels has used his four-seamer 40.2 percent of the time in August, his highest usage for a month since May 2014. His changeup usage isn’t particularly high or low (15.1 percent), but the results are there. He’s getting a 58.5 percent whiff/swing rate, a number he’s topped in a full month only twice previously in his career. And if hitters are not swinging and missing at the pitch, when they actually put it in play, it’s going on the ground at an 81.2 percent rate, a rate he’s bested just one other month in his career.
   250. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 28, 2018 at 10:34 AM (#5734732)
If the weather cooperates, I will be there for Hamels v. deGrom tonight, which will be the second time I've seen deGrom. First was at PNC, and the Pirates beat him 5-0. If he loses tonight, I will take credit.
   251. Brian C Posted: August 28, 2018 at 11:35 AM (#5734775)
If he loses tonight, I will take credit.

And I, for one, will gladly give it to you.

Speaking of credit, I looked it up after I got home last night, and since I moved to Chicago in December 2007, the Cubs are 42-13 in games I attend. That's mostly at Wrigley, of course, but a few on the road also. I might try to get to 2 more this season, but being out of town during the entire mid-September homestand will really limit my opportunities.
   252. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 28, 2018 at 11:44 AM (#5734778)
Keep me away from games Lester starts. I was at this one, this one, and this one last year; those are the last 3 times I've seen him in person.
   253. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: August 28, 2018 at 11:52 AM (#5734784)
I will be at Principal Park to see Kris Bryant play tonight, weather permitting.
   254. Red Voodooin Posted: August 28, 2018 at 01:58 PM (#5734929)
The Cubs are 42-13 in games I attend.


Wow! That's like a 123 win pace!
   255. Brian C Posted: August 28, 2018 at 05:57 PM (#5735091)
Wow! That's like a 123 win pace!

I know, right? And yet, the team has not reached out to give me complimentary playoff tickets. Hell, they haven't even rigged the lottery to allow me to BUY playoff tickets. So despite all the good that's happened with this franchise, there's still some question about their commitment to winning championships, in my mind.
   256. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 29, 2018 at 09:44 AM (#5735381)
Hamels wasn't at his sharpest last night, but the defense also let him down (Murphy's booted inning ending DP, Javy's lame effort to get deGrom). Regardless, 39IP in 6 starts, with a 0.69ERA and a 38/11 K/BB ratio with 0HR allowed; of the 28 hits allowed, 26 are singles. Just unreal. What a ####### steal he turned out to be.

Christopher Kamka @ckamka 11h11 hours ago

#Cubs starting pitching: 1.79 ERA over last 12 games


   257. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 29, 2018 at 11:51 AM (#5735454)
Drew Smyly is scheduled to pitch one inning tomorrow with Class-A South Bend. Brandon Morrow continues to throw off flat ground. #Cubs adding James Norwood as the 26th man for today's Game 2.


Another person will have to go down tomorrow for Monty to come off the DL and start. I'll guess Rosario.

Maddon supposedly has some crazy lineup for the regular game today. It isn't posted yet, but Bote is at SS. Not sure which other vets get the day off.
   258. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 29, 2018 at 12:35 PM (#5735486)
...and the rains begin again. Might be a long day at Wrigley.
   259. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 29, 2018 at 12:44 PM (#5735497)
Cole Hamels is now 6th in bWAR for the Chicago Cubs with 2.2. He is just behind Anthony Rizzo and immediately ahead of... Steve Cishek.
   260. Zonk qualifies as an invasive species Posted: August 29, 2018 at 12:55 PM (#5735508)
...and the rains begin again. Might be a long day at Wrigley.


Forecast claims a cloudy day with low chances of precipitation until later tonight (~9ish) - but yeah, this looks decidedly more rainy than the forecast says.
   261. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 29, 2018 at 01:15 PM (#5735527)
I didn't think to save my ticket from yesterday (our friend had them in her purse), but could I have used it to get into the park now?
   262. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 29, 2018 at 02:21 PM (#5735623)
could I have used it to get into the park now?


According to the Cubs' Twitter account, no. To get into the completion of the suspended game, you had to have a ticket to today's regularly-scheduled game. This generated a lot of outrage on Twitter - although, to be fair, pretty much everything generates a lot of outrage on Twitter. I think it was probably a timing issue: they wanted to start today's regular game as close to its scheduled start as possible, so they didn't want to have to take the time to clear the stands from Game 1 and then let the folks with tickets to Game 2 in (i.e., they were treating today as an old-school "traditional" single-admission double-header). To be fair, you paid to watch nine innings of baseball and you got to watch nine innings of baseball last night.
   263. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 29, 2018 at 02:25 PM (#5735626)
By the way, today's lineup, which Maddon had kind of teased would be unusual is actually pretty straightforward, except for the fact that Baez is getting the day off.

Schwarber, LF
Almora, CF
Zobrist, 2B
Rizzo, 1B
Bote, SS
Contreras, C
La Stella, 3B
Mills, P
Happ, RF

I guess putting Schwarber at leadoff is kind of bold given how last season went. But Maddon's definitely put out wackier lineups and 2 - 9 seem pretty conventional if you're willing to accept the pitcher batting 8th as "conventional".
   264. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 29, 2018 at 02:26 PM (#5735627)
To be fair, you paid to watch nine innings of baseball and you got to watch nine innings of baseball last night.
No, I (actually my friend) paid to watch a baseball game, all of which are of indeterminate length according to the rules of play.
   265. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 29, 2018 at 02:28 PM (#5735631)
By the way, today's lineup, which Maddon had kind of teased would be unusual is actually pretty straightforward, except for the fact that Baez is getting the day off.
Heh. It's like U2 saying for every tour that they're going to vary the setlist a lot, by which they mean that one slot will alternate between I Will Follow and Gloria.
   266. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 30, 2018 at 12:19 PM (#5736302)
Bryant is playing in Iowa again today; leading off and playing LF. I am not going to read anything into the leadoff part, even though I've said a few times I think he might be best suited as a leadoff guy with this group if his power isn't back. I wonder if they're going to wait until rosters expand to bring him back.

I'm guessing Mills goes down for Monty to start today. I do bet he'll get one more start, even after his bad first inning yesterday.
   267. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 30, 2018 at 12:56 PM (#5736350)
I think it's safe to assume Bryant is leading off in his game to get him the most plate appearances possible.
   268. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 30, 2018 at 05:15 PM (#5736546)
(that's what I was saying)

---

Chicago Cubs @Cubs 1m1 minute ago

#Cubs today acquired catcher Bobby Wilson from the Twins for catcher Chris Gimenez and a player to be named or cash consideration. Wilson was placed on the 10-day DL.

To make room for Wilson on the 40-man roster, RHP Cory Mazzoni has been designated for assignment.h


Wilson is currently on the DL, and also such a terrible hitter (.577 career OPS, .523 current year), you have to assume he's got a good defensive reputation. I'm guessing this is just September 3rd catcher depth.

It does make me wonder about Caratini. He just isn't going to get enough PT in the bigs and hasn't hit that great in those limited appearances. OTOH, he clearly is too good of a hitter to just be stuck in AAA and probably not a good enough catcher to be a long term backup. He has value on a Joe Maddon team since he can play 1b/3b, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him moved this offseason and the Cubs go back to a more traditional backup C type.

I think you have to take Caratini over Wilson or another C in the playoffs though, just because he's a better PH option and Willson is going to start every game.

Regardless, farewell to a guy who truly was arguably the worst player the Cubs have had since this rebuild took off.

Christopher Kamka @ckamka 4m4 minutes ago

Chris Gimenez allowed more runs on the mound (3) than he scored as a batter (1) during his #Cubs career.
   269. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 30, 2018 at 05:17 PM (#5736549)
Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma 33s34 seconds ago

According to Baseball Prospectus' metrics, Wilson is a solid framing catcher. Ranked 25th this year (Caratini 91 and Contreras 104 out of 105). Heard pitchers love throwing to him.


ok
   270. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 30, 2018 at 05:45 PM (#5736567)
#Cubs today acquired catcher Bobby Wilson from the Twins for catcher Chris Gimenez and a player to be named or cash consideration.
Well, they finally got a catcher who knows how to spell, I suppose.
   271. Brian C Posted: August 30, 2018 at 06:56 PM (#5736612)
Regardless, farewell to a guy who truly was arguably the worst player the Cubs have had since this rebuild took off.

Possibly, but in terms of what the team could have expected in terms of production at the time, nothing is likely to be worse than giving a completely washed-up Brian Matusz a start that went predictably awful.
   272. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 30, 2018 at 07:15 PM (#5736623)
Forgot about him, but yeah, he's on the list. Joe Nathan. A handful of other random washed up RPs I can't remember.

---

South Bend Cubs @SBCubs 5m5 minutes ago

Drew Smyly STRIKES OUT THE SIDE! In his one inning in a Cubs uniform tonight, the southpaw flashes a one inning gem! #EverybodyIn
   273. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 30, 2018 at 07:45 PM (#5736636)
Possibly, but in terms of what the team could have expected in terms of production at the time, nothing is likely to be worse than giving a completely washed-up Brian Matusz a start that went predictably awful.

If by predictably awful, you mean setting the stage for possibly my favorite regular season game of 2016.
   274. Brian C Posted: August 31, 2018 at 01:21 AM (#5736777)
Yeah, it was a fun game for sure. But I bet none of us remembered that the pitcher who blew the 3-run lead in the ninth for the Mariners was none other than Steve Cishek! At least I had long forgotten.
   275. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 31, 2018 at 05:13 PM (#5737070)
Average exit velocity leaders in 2018, minimum 50 batted balls
95.8 mph -- Aaron Judge, Yankees
94.5 mph -- Bote, Cubs
94.4 mph -- Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees
94.4 mph -- Nelson Cruz, Mariners
94.3 mph -- Miguel Cabrera, Tigera

Another, perhaps preferable way to look at this is to look at "hard-hit rate," which we define the number of balls hit with at least 95 mph of exit velocity. This often works better than an "average" number, because while hitting a ball at 40 mph or 60 mph or 80 mph will affect your average, it won't affect your success rate much. They're just different flavors of weak contact. At 95 mph of exit velocity is where it really starts to "matter," so the more balls you can hit that hard or harder, the better.

Looking again at the same 444 players with 50 batted balls, this time sorted by hard-hit rate, Bote doesn't just rank well. He ranks at the top.

Hard-hit rate leaders in 2018, minimum 50 batted balls
56.8 percent -- Bote, Cubs
56.3 percent -- Judge, Yankees
54.6 percent -- Kendrys Morales, Blue Jays
54.2 percent -- Martinez, Red Sox
53.8 percent -- Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals



link

Bryant officially back tomorrow. Duensing not far behind; in case he's too effective, the Cubs signed Jaime Garcia to a minors deal today.
   276. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 31, 2018 at 05:32 PM (#5737075)
Cubs, Phillies supposed to meet at 5:15 CT regarding forecast. Cubs could make roster move for Heyward if they play tonight.


Bryant expected to be in lineup Saturday, Russell to return initially in late-inning role.


Heywards dive was awkward, it didn't look like a hamstring injury.
   277. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 31, 2018 at 06:28 PM (#5737099)
The #Cubs today placed OF Jason Heyward on the 10-day DL with right hamstring tightness and recalled RHP Dillon Maples from @IowaCubs. pic.twitter.com/kWsf7efHxp


   278. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 31, 2018 at 11:45 PM (#5737283)
Baez on exchange with J. West: ".There’s nothing wrong with asking or talking to umpires. They need to start talking to us like humans, because they’re not. And if anybody, it doesn’t have to be them. if anybody doesn’t talk to me with respect, I won’t talk to them with respect."


West called Baez out on a full count pitch that was very clearly well inside.
   279. McCoy Posted: September 01, 2018 at 09:33 AM (#5737340)
Always a weird outlook. They didn't respect me so I'm not going to respect them. You'll be surprised by how much respect you get off you don't adopt this outlook. If instead you give everyone respect regardless of how you think they are acting towards you.
   280. McCoy Posted: September 01, 2018 at 09:34 AM (#5737341)
The #Cubs today placed OF Jason Heyward on the 10-day DL with right hamstring tightness and recalled RHP Dillon Maples from @IowaCubs. pic.twitter.com/kWsf7efHxp

So for September their tapping Maples. Thank you, try the veal!
   281. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 01, 2018 at 10:39 AM (#5737353)
Russell to return initially in late-inning role.
I mean, I know #MoarReleevurz! is all the rage for the stretch drive, but I’m not sure this is a good idea.
   282. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 01, 2018 at 02:13 PM (#5737403)
Always a weird outlook. They didn't respect me so I'm not going to respect them. You'll be surprised by how much respect you get off you don't adopt this outlook. If instead you give everyone respect regardless of how you think they are acting towards you.

We still talking about Joe West?
   283. Meatwad Posted: September 01, 2018 at 03:44 PM (#5737420)
Looking over the cubs 40 man it wont be call ups so much as activating guys from the DL.
   284. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 01, 2018 at 04:10 PM (#5737426)
Bryant, Russell activated, Norwood recalled, Gore and Taylor Davis added. Luke Farrell and Rob Zastrzyny DFAd.


Yeah designated pinch runner. Mills Will's probably be next. Then heyward and Morrow off DL. Wilson. Bass is off the 40 otherwise he'd be next.

Murphy
Javy
Rizzo
Zobrist
Bryant
Schwarber
Caratini
Hendricks
Happ

   285. Brian C Posted: September 01, 2018 at 05:32 PM (#5737440)
Luke Farrell and Rob Zastrzyny DFAd.

Man, I thought it was humiliating for Mazzoni to get DFA'd two days before rosters expanded. Getting DFA'd actually on 9/1 must be the ultimate kick in the nuts.
   286. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 01, 2018 at 08:35 PM (#5737500)
Forgot about zagunis, Underwood, and tseng. I guess we could see them too since they'll all been up already.

I wish I could forget about chatwood but I'll be surprised if he pitches for the Cubs again.
   287. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 02, 2018 at 12:20 PM (#5737645)
Murphy
Javy
Rizzo
Bryant RF
Schwarber
Contreras
Happ
Lester
Bote

Only player in that lineup with an obp below .350 is javy, who leads the team in OPS+ and wRC+. Wait, Bote is down to .331. Damn.
   288. McCoy Posted: September 03, 2018 at 02:25 PM (#5737941)
Baez for MVP
   289. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 04, 2018 at 10:38 AM (#5738168)
Lot to think about with yesterday's loss:

1. So the failed pickoff was initially ruled a steal; then they changed it to an error on Murphy (which seems like the right call; I have no idea how he just whiffed on catching that); even later they then said the umps called a balk on Hamels. I can see the balk - I think - but if Murphy had made the play, would they have waited to call it until after the runner was tagged out?
2. The strike zone was really, really bad, but the calls that got Maddon and then Edwards tossed were right (strike 3 to Braun, and the first 2 to Moosetacos). I'm guessing Maddon had just had enough at that point when he got tossed, but I don't see how getting thrown out there really helps. I also am not sure why they let Edwards pitch to Moosetacos - was Cishek not ready yet? Were they giving him a longer rope to try and build up his confidence? If so, that backfired.
3. Do we have to worry about Cishek now? Is he just wearing down from too much usage? Edwards was already in the worried about camp, Strop has been good but still doesn't fully have my trust. And it's been almost a week since I have seen a Morrow update (and that was he was starting to play catch). Now that the rotation and offense appear to be rounding into shape, is the bullpen going to be the thing that does us in?
4. Chavez and de la Rosa have both been really awesome so far. SSS, and they both have lots of history before coming here so I don't expect them to really be difference makers in the playoffs, but they've been awesome.
5. I guess we can talk about that Bryant play to death. Were Javy still at 3rd, they turn a 5-2-3 DP or something, right? After the game, Bryant said he wouldn't do anything differently, and maybe he really didn't have an angle to throw home, but there was no way he was getting to third and still getting Yelich at first. None whatsoever. So it kinda means had he thrown home or 2nd it would have been a better play even if it doesn't work, right?
   290. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: September 04, 2018 at 10:49 AM (#5738170)
even later they then said the umps called a balk on Hamels.


Seriously? So Hamels went from 2 ER on the initial call (SB), to 0 ER on the revised scoring (E4), back to 2 ER on the revised revised ruling (Balk).
   291. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 04, 2018 at 12:11 PM (#5738233)
Seriously.
   292. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 04, 2018 at 12:22 PM (#5738241)
BTW, Chatwood and Duensing were activated off the DL yesterday.

During two rehab starts with Triple-A Iowa, Chatwood gave up seven runs, five hits and 10 walks in 6 2/3 innings.


They're going to have to swallow hard and just flat out release him.

Which means he'll be starting the AL WC game for the A's in a couple of years. Oh well.
   293. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: September 04, 2018 at 03:49 PM (#5738399)
I betcha Chatwood is on the opening day roster next season.
   294. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 04, 2018 at 04:45 PM (#5738446)
Probably. Edwin lasted 2.5 years out of his 4. I think there's enough uncertainty about Darvish and Smyly's comeback, that even if they picked up Hamels's option it isn't like the Cubs have so much depth he's completely expendable. Maybe if Darvish weren't hurt and someone like Azolay had forced his way onto the roster it'd be easier to cut bait this early.

In spite of my other comments, I'm also not completely sure they should release him yet. Maybe there's no progress and he's still a complete trainwreck in ST and they don't want to waste a roster spot of him, but more likely he's still around and he likely isn't this bad again.

---

vs Miley

Almora
Javy 2b
Rizzo
Bryant LF
Bote
Zobrist RF
Contreras
Montgomery
Russell
   295. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 04, 2018 at 05:58 PM (#5738507)
Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma 7s8 seconds ago

LHP Jaime Garcia activated, Mark Zagunis recalled and placed on the 60-day DL with right shoulder inflammation.


Oh, wow. Didn't expect we'd see him so soon.
   296. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 04, 2018 at 06:20 PM (#5738517)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 1m1 minute ago

Maddon very impressed by Smyly, will report observations to execs. Might be ready to pitch an inning right now


So many LOOGY options.
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