Mike Olt hit a grand slam Thursday night. Though his BA is still just .184, his OBP is not awful for that low a BA (.259) and his SLG is quite respectable (.434). The .693 OPS gives him an OPS+ of 86, still below average but at least getting close to decent.
It was suggested in the comments to Thursday's game recap that Olt could be "Mark Reynolds 2.0." I'm thinking that's not too bad a thing to be. From 2008-11, his age 24-27 seasons, Reynolds hit .231/.329/.481, an OPS of .810 and OPS+ of 110. He had a 44-homer season that got him MVP votes and averaged 35 HR and 98 RBI over that four-year period.
Olt is two years older than Reynolds was when he started that run, but if Olt could produce anywhere close to those numbers, he'd be valuable, even with the strikeouts (and Reynolds had plenty of them, too).
But he has to play, or at least get a chance at consistent playing time for a while, to even get a shot at showing that he could do that. Starting tonight against a tough righthander like Julio Teheran is a good first step. Thanks to Rick Renteria for doing this; maybe he's finally decided to give Olt his chance. Olt has his flaws, but a third baseman who could hit like Mark Reynolds in his prime would be just fine -- Kris Bryant could move to the outfield.
This is supposed to be a player development year. Glad Rick Renteria is giving Mike Olt his shot.
Bonifacio CF, Kalish LF, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Schierholtz RF, Valbuena 2B, Olt 3B, Baker C, Hammel P
Heyward RF, J. Upton LF, Freeman 1B, Gattis C, Johnson 3B, B. Upton CF, Simmons SS, Teheran P, Pena 2B
This is not a misprint. This is the fourth straight game the Braves have batted their pitcher eighth.
Today's Starting Pitchers
The last time Jason Hammel faced the Braves -- June 16, 2012 -- he threw a one-hit shutout. Unfortunately for Hammel, only two Braves who played in that game (Andrelton Simmons and Dan Uggla) are still on the team. New to the Braves since then is B.J. Upton, who Hammel faced quite a bit in the A.L. East (7-for-23, two doubles, a home run). Jason Heyward is 6-for-8 against Hammel (and had the only hit in that shutout two years ago).
Julio Teheran is off to an excellent start this year. He's allowed more than two earned runs once in seven starts, and that was in his last outing, in which he went seven innings, gave up four hits and struck out seven. Last year he held the Cubs to one run in six innings September 22 at Wrigley Field. Current Cubs are 8-for-33 with no home runs against him.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago.
For 2014, we are going to have the same game-thread routine as 2013. Here's how it works.
You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.
In general, game previews will post two hours before game time. Exception: for day games after night games, that will usually be 90 minutes.
You will also be able to find the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in this StoryStream™. As I've done for each regular-season game for several years now, we'll have the First Pitch thread at five minutes before game time (moved up from actual game time per your requests), then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.
Discuss amongst yourselves.