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Cub Tracks pitches in

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Yu and eye, the “new daily double”, more giant sloths, and other bullets

Yu gotta love it!
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

W!

Yeah, I’ve used that title before. Maybe I should call it ‘son of Cub Tracks pitches in’ or something else flip, but consistency, small minds, lazy, reactionary, and all that. Depot saith not.

Welcome. Our previous episode was Cub Tracks is out to launch, in which we discussed the ideas that Javy is Javy ( as discussed by Jayson Stark on the MLB Network pregame show yesterday — ‘Javier Baez is more aggressive than ever’), Kyle Schwarber is raking, Jon Lester was outdueled, and other bullets. On this fine Saturday, following a tough Cubs victory over the “little brother from the north”, the Milwaukee Brewers, we put forth the ideas that Yu Darvish can really pitch, and the Cubs are good at baseball (original, I know). Also, “our new Daily Double” keeps on looking good.

The host and his wingman on High Heat yesterday were down on Darvish, echoing the red hot take as they usually do, before the game. It’s what they’re paid for, to behave like NY Post readers, and they do it with relish and a bit of sauerkraut. Russo is a Cub-hater and has that kind of hyper persona that is flat guaranteed to make me get blood in my eye. Sometimes I watch, on the principle that irritants can wake you up to other things. Other times I’m busy or just too damn lazy to look for another channel. It’s background noise for the most part, unless something compels my attention. Hmm...Russo haz skills? Yu can hit?

Stark picked up the thread from that pregame show....saying that he thinks that Darvish has lost some of his stuff and is adjusting to that lack. I don’t see any evidence of that at all. The eye test (and Fangraphs’ pitch info pitch velocity table, for a simple explanation) says that his issue would seem to be command, with a release-point and stuff-based inconsistency. His stuff has the same average velocity as it has always has, and lateral/vertical movement doesn’t seem to be the problem. He just-misses a LOT (or was), to put it in simple words.

I’d like to know where Stark got his data, if data he had (here’s looking at Yu, kid. Here’s another look). I prefer the viewpoint expressed in this article:

While four starts is an impossibly small sample size, Darvish currently owns a lofty 6.86 ERA, a BB rate at 12% (career high), and a K rate of 22.8% (career low). As troubling as these may be, they do not reflect the player the Cubs signed, and to bemoan this as is his new norm is lazy and reactionary. — Austin Bloomberg

As opposed to the whimsy of this article’s premise:

I was one of many who did not worry about Yu Darvish’s struggles with pitching in the World Series; I figured it was a one-off thing and Darvish’s full body of work convinced me that he’d be fine. Early on this season with the Cubs, Darvish has been the same pitcher that exploded as a Los Angeles Dodger in the Fall Classic.

With four starts and 19.2 innings over with, Darvish has pitched to an 0-2 record, a 6.86 ERA, and 11 walks. Though he’s still whiffing batters at an above-average rate (21 strikeouts, 9.6 per nine innings), control has been a major issue, and his 1.627 WHIP is an indicator of that. Darvish is signed through 2023, at $126 million total, and fans in the north side of Chicago hope for a quick improvement from the Japanese righty. — Tom Dorsa.

I often think that sportswriters just talk that way because someone else did, and they want that person to speak to them the next time they meet at the bar, and so they echo-chamber things that they might not, if they took the time to think about them. A lot of things work on that sort of ad-hoc social-network basis — especially things involving writers. Trust me on this one. I’m not like the others.

Also, wouldn’t it be “ON the north side of Chicago”?

But hell, I just tried to answer the remote, so some seasoning might be a good idea. I believe I’ll join you. In a nod toward the seemingly-newly-awakened bats, I give you this recently-released musical offering:

Let’s go for some home-cooked meatloaf — as always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs news and notes:

“These two guys stay red hot. — Len Kasper, master of understatement, about Albert Almora and Baez.”

ESPuNdits:

Even before Kris Bryant was hit in the head by a pitch in Colorado, he was leading the league in HBPs. In fact, he’s on pace to be plunked a staggering 51 times this season. Cubs manager Joe Maddon says there may not be a tangible reason for this. “I don’t think he’s changed. He does kind of stride into the ball. Probably the word on the street is to pitch him inside. I’m not accusing anybody of throwing at us. I don’t believe that is the issue right now. It could just a little bit of the weather-related situation -- grip, location, not being able to control the ball exactly.” Maddon added that it is a trend the Cubs will monitor as the season progresses. — Bradford Doolittle.

  • Kris Bryant not in lineup Friday. Nothing ‘sinister’ about it.

Kris Bryant did some baseball activities on Thursday at Wrigley Field and was examined by team physician Dr. Stephen Adams. On Friday, he repeated the activities at full exertion, including hitting on the field. He was wearing a partial face guard on his batting helmet.

Bryant has been hit by a pitch seven times this season, most in the National League.

”Maybe the word on the street is to pitch him inside,” Maddon said. “I’m not accusing anybody of throwing at us. I don’t believe that’s the issue. It could just be a weather-related situation -- grip, not being able to control where the ball’s going.

”I haven’t seen anything where people are trying to do this intentionally,” Maddon said. “We’ll watch it as it progresses during the course of the season. I don’t think there’s anything sinister to this point.” — Carrie Muskat

Evaluators from the Cubs and Cardinals were recently on hand to watch the Rays last week, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Rays’ limited payroll capability could make them sellers regardless of their record, though the team is also off to a slow 8-13 start overall (though Tampa has won five of its last six games). It isn’t known what players were being watched, though the Cubs have been heavily linked to Chris Archer in the past while the Cardinals had strong interest in Alex Colome this offseason. — Mark Polishuk.

  • Travis Sorandos (Brew Crew Ball): Sogard’s error sinks Brewers as Cubs continue the domination. “Eric Sogard boots the game away with costly error in the seventh.”
  • Madeleine Kenney (Chicago Sun-Times*): 8-year-old with artificial hand to throw out Cubs’ first pitch Saturday. “Hailey Dawson is expected to throw out the Cubs’ first pitch.”
  • Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs aren’t fretting over Darvish’s early struggles. “I think it’s approach,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I’ve already talked to him about that. Just like our hitting goes back to approach, (it’s) the same with his pitching. Just trying to get him to slow down moments.”
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Maddon: Narrative that Darvish doesn’t compete is absolutely false. “This guy is one of the best pitchers in the world, not in the United States, but in the world. How could you arrive at that point if you don’t compete?”
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): How is Mike Montgomery adjusting to life in Cubs bullpen? ‘I don’t even think they know [my] role’. “So I just gotta prepare for any situation,” he says.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Errant throw snaps Anthony Rizzo’s 150-game errorless streak. “Since the start of the 2013 season, Rizzo leads all major-league first basemen with 683 assists...”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Cubs set to activate Ben Zobrist from DL Saturday. “Zobrist has been sidelined since April 14 because of tightness in his back.”
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): Cubs Quick Hits: Addison Russell might be working through adjustments. “...his plate discipline looks really, really interesting.”
  • Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs’ Kris Bryant out of lineup for 4th straight game but close to returning, team says. “That’s the word I’m getting, I think he’s feeling more like himself today,” Joe Maddon said.
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): An optimistic update and how Jed Hoyer reacted when he saw Kris Bryant go down. “You want to get them back on the horse,” Maddon said.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Bryant expected back Saturday, likely sporting new look. “...he wore a c-flap helmet as a Little Leaguer back in Las Vegas.”
  • Tom Musick (Chicago Sun-Times*): Cubs confident Bryant will stay fearless at plate despite beaning. “After a while, you don’t think about it too much, or I personally don’t,” Jason Heyward said.
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Kyle Schwarber keeps finding barrels, and that’s a very good sign. “...for the year, Schwarber is hitting a brilliant .286/.398/.629 (177 wRC+).”

Food for thought: