The 2020 BN Trade Deadline Dogathon is here! Short version? We’re raising funds for Make-A-Wish by making me eat ONLY hot dogs for two days at the Trade Deadline. The more you give, the more I have to eat. I am scared, but committed. Longer explanation here.
• The Cubs won that series against the Cardinals. 3-2. Cubs win. How weird does that sound given the way the series felt? That’s a good series win in any case (as it is any time you win 3 of 5 in baseball!), having to play five games in three days while using two fill-in starters. The Cardinals were up against it, too, and were missing some key contributors, but really, so were the Cubs. I don’t think there’s any reason not to feel good about that series win.
• Adbert Alzolay was great yesterday, even if you don’t consider the context that he had NO REAL STARTS this year in the minors (because there are no minors), and then had to just show up at Wrigley Field and face the Cardinals. Five innings, no earned runs, two hits, one walk, and six strikeouts? That’s just flat out really good by any measure. His quality of contact was great, too, with just ONE batted ball above a 50% chance to be a hit by xBA. Yeah, there was some overthrowing early – it’s gotta be impossible not to be a little too amped – but he settled quickly, and then just let his stuff play.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 20, 2020
• From David Ross (Cubs.com): “Adbert looked really good. The arm is super quick. It’s a guy that’s going to pitch big innings for us this season. He’s a huge depth piece that we have, and you see tonight what he’s capable of. I was extremely pleased.”
• Individually, each of Alzolay’s four-seamer, curveball, and changeup are big league-caliber pitches, and he can generally throw any of them in any count for a strike. Each can also be a swing-and-miss pitch. As far as what you’re looking for, traditionally, in a starting pitcher, Alzolay has it. Going forward, the question is whether he can sustain his health as a starter, whether he can sustain stuff and velo, consistently, through six-inning appearances, and whether the changeup and curveball are there for him every time takes the ball. Those, all together, have been the questions when you think about Alzolay’s future in the rotation or the bullpen. He’s out of options next year, so it’s going to be one or the other.
• For now, Alzolay has been optioned back to South Bend. The Cubs will need a fifth starter early next week, and it’s conceivable he could come back for that one if Tyler Chatwood (back) is still out, or if Jose Quintana (thumb) is still not ready. Otherwise, the Cubs have another doubleheader exactly 10 days after yesterday, so Alzolay would be perfectly lined up for that one. It’s possible he will make three straight starts for the Cubs. If not, the Cubs will almost certainly try to figure out how to get contributions from him in advance of the postseason one way or another.
• Amazon’s Big Summer Sales Event is going on right now, so check it out. #ad
• It sure *felt* like this was true, and it is:
Nico Hoerner still has a lot to work on to improve his approach and maximize hard contact, but he’s also been absurdly unlucky so far this year – he has the 10th largest difference between his actual wOBA and the wOBA you would expect based on quality of contact. pic.twitter.com/zQoMBRIcrT
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) August 20, 2020
• The Cubs have actually had a whole lot of unlucky guys so far – Contreras (-.076), Heyward (-.043), Bote (-.037), Bryant (-.025), and Báez (-.024). Some of those guys are getting good results in spite of the bad luck, others are performing poorly *AND ALSO* getting unlucky. The Cubs’ most fortunate hitter by this measure is Ian Happ (+.039), but even his expected wOBA is still a whopping .398, which is 37th in baseball. So he’s still raking.
• Oh, and by the way, the Cubs’ xwOBA leader? It’s not Happ. It’s actually Jason Heyward at .402. He is hitting very, very well this year, folks.
• From Tuesday night, as snagged by Bryan:
For the first time in his Cubs career, Rowan Wick threw 4 cutters in a game last night. All for strikes, one for a K. Missed spot once, other 3 command was great. The pitch was 91.0-92.9 mph, spun at 2284-2444 rpm (credit: Savant). Looks like a nice extra weapon to add to FB/CV. pic.twitter.com/mvu22JKYIZ
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) August 19, 2020
• I am now suddenly against the pitch clock for totally unrelated reasons but we don’t need to get into it:
Fangraphs doesn’t currently have pace numbers for ’20, but Darvish’s tempo has remained very deliberate. And, hey, he’s had a 2.50 ERA with 152 K and 12 BB since start of 2nd half last year. Take your time, Yu.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 19, 2020
• Cubs dropped a cool Blast from the Past video:
Blast from the past. pic.twitter.com/ym3C9sTYpa
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 19, 2020
• Today is the NBA Draft Lottery, which is KIND OF A BIG DEAL for the Bulls. Make sure you’re following Eli’s coverage:
Good morning simulated Bulls fans!!! pic.twitter.com/5kvqBi3mEl
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) August 20, 2020