The Rundown: Wisdom & Bellinger Lead Cubs Romp, Wesneski Finds Lost Slider, White Sox & Cardinals Among Biggest MLB Disappointments
“You’re so damn electric, you. You know you got that juice.” – Janelle Monáe, The Juice
The Cubs beat the A’s 10-1 last night thanks to a 20-hit attack that included two mammoth home runs by white-hot Patrick Wisdom. Hayden Wesneski had a very good comeback start, too. Good morning, Cubs fans.
Cubs News & Notes
- Wisdom has taken his game to another level during this road trip. He now has five home runs in the first four games of the current West Coast swing.
- The Cubs are leveraging baseball’s new rules to their advantage and the team’s offense is surging as a result.
- Per ESPN Stats and Info, Dansby Swanson recording at least three hits in a game on five occasions makes him the fastest player to accomplish that feat since at least 1900 for the North Siders.
- Lefty Brandon Hughes made his first appearance of the season last night and said he’s ready to “get back out there.”
- Mark Leiter Jr. is becoming the shutdown veteran reliever the Cubs always had but refused to believe they needed.
- Wesneski said he regained confidence in his slider Monday night after working to correct an issue with his mechanics between starts.
- Nico Hoerner grew up 15 minutes from Oakland’s stadium and was a die-hard Athletics fan.
- Chicago entered last night’s game with a positive mindset after taking two of three from the Dodgers over the weekend.
- The Cubs have reached the top half of the MLB power rankings for the first time in a couple of seasons. Matt Snyder of CBS Sports said “They had a ridiculous comeback last week, have won three straight series, and have taken seven of their last 10. There might be a little something going on here.”
Odds & Sods
Hoerner has become a cheat code on the basepaths.
.@nico_hoerner swipes his league-leading 9th base of the season! pic.twitter.com/O9DhpyTYVb
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 18, 2023
- St. Louis: The Cardinals are rumored to be shopping outfielder Tyler O’Neill in an attempt to land a front-end starter. They’d have to package O’Neill with a middle infielder like Tommy Edman or Brendan Donovan according to Jim Bowden.
- Milwaukee: First Brandon Woodruff was injured, and now Corbin Burnes may be sidelined for at least a few starts. The 2021 Cy Young Award winner left last night’s game with a left pectoral strain. The injury appears to be minor but is worth keeping an eye on.
- Cincinnati: Hunter Greene also exited his start against the Rays on Monday after being hit in the shin by a comebacker. The Reds later announced he suffered a right tibia contusion and X-rays were negative.
- Pittsburgh: The Pirates recorded a season-high 16 hits in a dominating 14-3 win over the Rockies. Five players had multi-hit nights, and Mark Mathias led the way with a career-high four hits.
Climbing the Ladder
“I get it right. I kicked the habit. Shed my skin. This is the new stuff. I go dancing in.” – Peter Gabriel, Sledgehammer
Cody Bellinger was 5-for-5 last night, raising his average to .310.
What if Bellinger is so good this year that the Cubs want to keep him? That’s a great problem to have but would add another layer of intrigue to Chicago’s potential outfield logjam. I mean, if the centerfielder is playing at an MVP level, how do you trade him? On the other hand, Bellinger could bring Jed Hoyer quite a haul if he continues at this pace.
Bellinger is slashing .310/.369/.517 and is on pace to hit 32 home runs with 108 RBI. He’s playing at the same level that earned him Rookie of the Year and MVP honors.
He and Wisdom are flat-out raking.
- Games Played: 15
- Record: 9-6
- Total Plate Appearances: 582
- Total Strikeouts: 127
- Strikeout Rate: 21.82%
- Team Batting Average: .289
- Runs Scored: 83
- Runs Allowed: 58
- Chances of Making the Playoffs: 56.9%
How About That!
A’s fans are planning a “reverse boycott” on June 13 to show MLB that the fans are not Oakland’s biggest problem. The idea is to pack the seats with fans. Last night’s attendance was a little over 4,000, by the way.
Padres outfielder Trent Grisham had a historically bad, game-ending strikeout in last night’s 3-2 loss to the Brewers.
The White Sox and Cardinals are among baseball’s 10 biggest disappointments through two weeks and change. It’s shocking that the author spared Javier Báez.
Statcast data has expanded to all of Triple-A for the 2023 season.
Monday’s Three Stars
Wisdom’s K-rate is 31.6% but the power is an easy and acceptable trade-off. A lot of people want to see David Ross bench or cut Nick Madrigal, but Wisdom is getting his at-bats and Madrigal has been producing. Lazy takes are the worst.
"The Cubs have such a historic franchise. To be alongside some of the greats is pretty cool."@PatrickWisdom5 is the 4th Cub since 1901 with 8 HRs in the first 15 games of a season. He follows Gabby Hartnett (1925), Hank Sauer (1954) and Lee Walls (1958). pic.twitter.com/P5ADr0UO9F
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 18, 2023
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
- Dane Brugler of The Athletic dropped his monster 259-player mock draft, but he projected some puzzling choices by the Bears. It certainly didn’t have the feel of a Ryan Poles draft.
- The Bears are employing Touchpoint analytics as a baseline for their player evaluations. Poles has also participated in every Pro Day event this spring.
- David Ortiz served as the Grand Marshall for yesterday’s Boston Marathon, which honored victims of the 2013 Patriot’s Day bombing. Martin Richard, the youngest person killed in the bombings, would have turned 18 and become eligible for this year’s marathon. In his honor, his friends and family ran as a team in the name of the Martin Richard Foundation.
- Yesterday, Jalen Hurts became the highest-paid player (in terms of AAV) in NFL history thanks to a five-year, $255 million contract extension with the Eagles. You can bet your ass Justin Fields stuffed those figures into his back pocket. Hurts’ extension also includes a no-trade clause, the first in Eagles’ history, and a little more than $179 million guaranteed.
- McDonald’s is attempting to improve the Big Mac and they’re bringing back the Hamburglar. Who said there is no joy in Mudville?
- Do real men still eat quiche? King Charles III does, at least during the Coronation Big Lunch, and when he’s not partaking in a tasty burger.
They Said It
- “[Wisdom] is locked in. Homers come in bunches — we’ve said that for a long time in baseball. Right now, he’s feeling good. Big part of the field, the ball is jumping, his bat’s in the zone a really long time, he’s deep into counts, and he’s taking really aggressive swings. He’s also got a lot of confidence in himself right now and that’s a good thing for us.” – Ross
- “I think we’ll continue to explore the rules and push the envelope in different series. There will be series when we run a lot. There will also be series where maybe a team takes care of the running game better — they have a better-throwing catcher or whatever. We have the ability to do that both from a personnel standpoint and also from a coaching staff/attention-to-detail standpoint. I expect us to do a really good job with that. And it kinda goes with playing clean baseball — taking extra bases, or stealing a run here and there, is really important to our success.” – Hoyer
- “We’re rolling. Up and down through our lineup, there’s not a weak spot. … I think we saw it in Spring Training, and now that we’re all coming together every day … we’re having a good time.” – Bellinger
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
When the Cubs are clicking they’re awful fun to watch.