• So for the bullpen to work five scoreless innings yesterday – including two with a runner starting at second – was really shocking, whoever the opponent was. This game brought down the Cubs’ box ERA by nearly two points, to only 8.07. Their wOBA counter is now only .420. Yeah, always worse in baseball on both counts, but the margins are shrinking!
• In fact, the bullpen was so good yesterday that I couldn’t use the obvious “when the bullpen doors open” tweet for this screenshot of Willy:
When you see the Cubs arrive on your schedule. pic.twitter.com/slAkdw25VK
– Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) August 3, 2020
• As for the performance of the bullpen, I think it was pretty easy to see that Casey Sadler, aside from that first nerve and sweat induced control issue on his first outing, had looks great. Great results, good skills, great stuff. He’s definitely a guy at this point. Ryan Tepera already tended to be a guy for me based on how he looks in spring and summer camp, and he was doing more or less well yesterday – there’s really not much that teams can do with this cutter. He dropped a rocket on his lead, however. Jeremy Jeffress can be trusted not to implode, although I think the question remains open as to how effective he can be as a late-inning guy with reduced speed (he topped at just 91, 5 mph yesterday).
• Then you have Dan Winkler. On paper, and looking at his Spring Training performances, he was the guy that turned me on the most in this group of buy-low types, not quite established but successful. He generates elite spin, gets great movement, and I think his distracting peak effort must make it pretty hard for hitters to get the ball out of his hand right away. But at the same time I’m not sure what the Cubs have yet because his four stitch speed is a bit higher than the Cubs (94ish with a large elevation), his cutting speed is dropping (88-89 after have been closer before) 90-91), but it leans EXTREMELY strongly on the knife. In fact, he didn’t even throw a single fastball yesterday. It was cutter, cutter, cutter, cutter. He even burst five curved bullets so that the strikes were relaxed with the cutter. It was an awesome performance, but I guess I want to see that he can keep it going with this delivery (so easy to unbalance your mechanics, I think), and I want to get a better idea of what the pitch mix is. it will look like.
• But it’s really very interesting, because no one seemed comfortable up there:
This is how Winkler will do it: commanded in the zone, using that low release point and his high spin to beat hitters with his unique vertical approach angle.
– Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) 2 août 2020
• A little more fun in the enclosure:
Cubs 2019 through 9 games: 8.37 Bullpen ERA, 2-7 record
2020 Cubs through 9 games: 8.07 Bullpen ERA, 7-2 record
– Aldo Soto (@ AldoSoto21) August 3, 2020
• Educational toys, electric toothbrushes, bedspreads and more are your daily deals on Amazon. #a d
• I’ve seen a few people brag about the Cubs for getting a high five after yesterday’s celebration, but I think those reviews miss the mark. The only high-fives I saw (I could be wrong!) Were between players / coaches where at least one was wearing a glove. Prefer not to do it at all? Sure. But I don’t think you really cross a line at this point. And as for the remote celebration, there was the message, and it was good:
Schwarber on this celebration:
“I wanted to bring out the mask and have everyone jump on it. It was pretty good there. I think everyone wanted to stack Javy up, but then we were like, let’s keep it a bit, let’s be cool, show that we’re responsible here. “Https://t.co/00EBZsMQl3
– Tony Andracki (@ TonyAndracki23) 2 août 2020
• I love to see quotes like this from opposing managers, in this case about Báez cutting off the first runner in the 11th round (Pirates.com): “I think we need to be a little more aware of Báez’s position on that game over there and also knowing how far Javy is moving and how far he’s throwing, ”Shelton said. “We just need to be more aware of this situation.”
• The Pirates also talked about not throwing at Báez in the 11th – runner third, one out, I really don’t know why you wouldn’t just stay super far (not that Willson Contreras being a lot of fun after Báez) – but Shelton did stated with a youngster on the mound who had just been added to the taxi team, he didn’t necessarily want to put more traffic on the bases. Kay, but that traffic could have helped you get a double game and get out of the round? My best guess? This youngster, Cody Ponce, was supposed to just throw waaaay sliders off the set until Báez came out or got out. Ponce blundered on the location, and his manager wanted to protect him.
• After the Cubs’ victory – and the accompanying rains – a beautiful set of rainbows covered the city. Show me a better arch over a city (you can’t):
Double rainbow over the Chicago skyline on Sunday. My 4th rainbow in the past 7 days. Crazy. #weather #news #ilwx #chicago pic.twitter.com/2NKGTyJ29M
– Barry Butler (@ barrybutler9) August 2, 2020
– Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) August 2, 2020
• When Tyler Chatwood receives the first FanGraphs treatment, you know there is something legitimate about what he is doing (and, indeed, the downward exploration of the early radiation rate suggests that he was largely won):
Tyler Chatwood and Strikeouts meet cute https://t.co/3VhJXTDzQ1
– FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) August 3, 2020
• Sure enough, when Anthony Rizzo reacts strongly to a call, you know that not only was it wrong, it wasn’t close:
Referee Shane Livensparger with a 5.01 inch failure Friday at Anthony Rizzo. # Cubs v #Pirates pic.twitter.com/YE7xLpHJf7
– Umpire (@UmpireAuditor) August 2, 2020
• We’ll see if Kris Bryant is able to return with the Cubs for today’s game against the Royals. He has not tested positive for COVID-19, but as he self-reported symptoms on Saturday night, he has to go through certain protocols (still a bit unspecified publicly) before returning.