The Rundown: Young Pitchers Fueling Success, Duffy Providing Consistency, Cubs Return to Cleveland
:Well I tried to make it Sunday but I got so damned depressed that I set my sights on Monday….” – America, Sister Golden Hair
I’ve been working so much lately I’ve lost track of what day it is. Apparently the Cubs were off yesterday and, after taking two of three from the Pirates, they travel to Cleveland to take on the Indians. Chicago has won five of six and six of eight, but somebody needs to right Kyle Hendricks of his bad case of first inning-itis.
Tonight’s game, which features Adbert Alzolay vs. Shane Bieber, is a true marquee matchup. Alzolay has been electric and seems to get better with each performance. Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele have also provided a shot in the arm for Chicago’s staff, and though neither had as memorable a debut performance as these 10 Cubs players, the future looks bright with both young pitchers on the big league roster.
#Cubs Adbert Alzolay
2021 Pitch Quality ⭐️
4.73 QOPA (Top 23% MLB)
Slider 4.62 QOPA (Top 13% MLB) ✅
Location (Top 21%)
Low Rise (Top 28%)
Horizontal Break (Top 32%)
Velocity (Top 34%)@adbert29 @karlravechespn @jessmendoza @kevconnorsespn #CubTogether pic.twitter.com/e4XUc6Q8xJ
— MLB Quality of Pitch (@qopbaseball) May 6, 2021
With Brailyn Márquez and Burl Carraway in the pipeline, the Cubs are starting to look like an organization that can actually develop big league pitching. They’re not Padres-level just quite yet, but it’s possible the team’s next championship core might have some dominant homegrown hurlers.
Cubs News & Notes
- While the Cubs continue to ride the fence of under- and overachieving, Matt Duffy has remained the team’s most consistent player and is helping in the most unconventional of ways.
- Duffy has come through almost every time his number’s been called.
- Minor League Baseball is back and Chicago’s farmhands kicked off the season with a combined no-hitter that included Shelby Miller and Brad Wieck. There was also a near no-no by a combination of pitchers at Tennessee. Keep your eye on Kohl Stewart this summer.
- Miller was absolutely dominant in his minor league debut for the Cubs.
- Piecing together minor league rosters after last season was completely canceled has been a satisfying challenge for the organization.
- Backup outfielder Jake Marisnick has a hamstring strain and may be forced to miss some time.
- It’s been five years since the Cubs beat Cleveland in the 2016 World Series and many players have left both organizations since, including Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester, and Francisco Lindor. Mike Napoli, who played for the Indians, is now a coach with the Cubs.
- Game 7 of that Series was the last game David Ross played before retiring. He hit a key home run in his last at-bat, in case you forgot.
- Ross made the celebrity gossip pages this week. Leo Durocher would be jealous.
- The Cubs’ manager called it “scary” that so many hard throwers are going up and in “with less control” than he’s seen in his lifetime.
- Third base coach Willie Harris has definitely been worth the price of admission for fans attending games at Wrigley Field this season.
- Right fielder Jason Heyward is dealing with a right hand injury that may prevent him from playing tonight.
Climbing the Ladder
“The best is yet to come and won’t that be fine.” – Frank Sinatra
- Games Played: 34
- Total Plate Appearances: 1,260
- Total Strikeouts: 334
- Strikeout Rate: 26.5%
- Team Batting Average: .224
Not for nothing, but it seems like the Kris Bryant detractors have left the vicinity. Bryant is the hottest bat (potentially) on the trade market, but, just like last year when the third baseman struggled through injuries, it’s hard to find a fit with another team. That’s what happens when you start the season slashing .308/.397/1.047 with a 190 OPS+ and 22 extra base hits with the versatility to play all over the field.
Bryant has genuinely outpriced himself and teams shopping for the former MVP will likely have to pay up a great deal. Let’s just hope Jed Hoyer re-signs him.
Odds & Sods
You’ll need a subscription to access the article, but Ken Rosenthal is spot on here. Cubs players, particularly Wilson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo, seem to be targeted at times, but the truth is that many pitchers are sacrificing command in favor of velocity.
A disturbing trend emerges: Pitchers are throwing harder than ever with less command. Column: https://t.co/qyPS3nCGoQ
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 11, 2021
How About That!
The Mariners are calling up prized rookie outfielder Jarred Kelenic and (checks service time calculator) not a moment too soon. “In some part because we feel he’s making progress, some part it’s time to take a look at him and that’s coming sooner than later,” said GM Jerry Dipoto. Of course he would say that.
Cedric Mullins made a triple out of a 161-foot pop up to the opposite field. Nice to see anything that foils the shift. The can of corn had an exit velocity of just under 71 mph, which is slightly harder than the breaking ball Alec Mills tosses now and again.
The Phillies may be looking for reinforcements in hopes of making the playoffs for the first time since 2011, and a third baseman of local interest may be on their radar.
Mike Trout and Ronald Acuña Jr. are the early frontrunners for league MVP awards.
With handful of no-hitters and a league batting average that sits around .234, baseball has favored pitching in the early going. That may be about to change.
The return of Minor League Baseball is definitely a sight for sore eyes.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has pledged that Chicago will be 100% reopened by the Fourth of July. I wonder what that means for attendance at Wrigley Field. I have heard that attendance may soon increase to 60%, maybe as early as the first June homestand, so keep an eye on any new developments.
I’ve got nothing.
Over the past six years (as far back as Statcast measures), only 10 starting pitchers have thrown a total of 37 pitches over 100 mph in one MLB outing.
Hunter Greene threw 37 (yes, 37!!!) pitches over 100 mph in his first win for @ChattLookouts: https://t.co/98BjfhqXIu pic.twitter.com/SYaJz3EBb2
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 6, 2021
Monday’s Three Stars
- David Ross – Who knew that a turn on Dancing With the Stars would catch the attention of a Hollywood leading lady?
- Tyler Naquin – The Reds outfielder was 2-for-5 with a home run and four RBI as Cincinnati trounced the Pirates 14-1.
- Jared Walsh – The Angels outfielder homered and matched a career high with four hits as Los Angeles tipped the Astros 5-4.
Behind every great rookie pitcher is a great woman.
Adbert Alzolay (@adbert29) had to adjust change his diet after getting hurt in 2018. Fortunately for him, he had a little help from his wife (@dianapinzunza), who happens to be a certified nutritionist.
“She taught me how to eat.” https://t.co/syGXJnOpsY
— Russell Dorsey (@Russ_Dorsey1) May 10, 2021
They Said It
- “Love Duff. Love his work ethic and how he approaches every single day.” – Jason Heyward
- “My journey here has given me some perspective on the fact this game is a blast. And it’s not always perfect. And despite that, if you choose to enjoy it as often as possible, it stays fun.” – Matt Duffy
- “Sometimes [throwing] into a net and maybe not even to a catcher and a lot of times not to a hitter, you’re just throwing and getting data from the Rapsodos and the Trackmans and all the technology and trying to spin it, rather than competing to zones with hitters and feeling that adrenaline out on the mound too.” – David Ross
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Only the Young by Journey – Nice to see the youthful arms stepping up, and as a bonus, you get scenes from the very underrated Vision Quest included with today’s video. Man, Steve Perry had some pipes.