There have been a handful of times this year, going against my try-to-keep-calm nature about a baseball season, where I’ve been on the precipice of getting worried or upset about this team and thinking it might need bigger changes than I thought. Or giving up on any sort of glory in October. And then right about as I’m going to Tommen myself over the edge, they’ve pulled a rabbit. Splitting with the Sox and Mets isn’t exactly acceptable, but losing three of four to the Mets would have been far worse. Now you’re only one game off where you should have been on this homestand really, and a series win over the admittedly molten Braves probably gets you there. There’s still much to complain about, but now they’re just complaints instead of outright beefs.
Let’s clean it up.
The Two Obs
-Javy Baez’s last two ABs are the difference between the raw variety show he used to be and All-Star he is now. He was completely overmatched by deGrom in his first two PAs, though a lot of hitters were. He couldn’t pick up the slider and he wasn’t getting within a foot of it. Then in his third AB he went with a plan, fought off some tough pitches, and muscled a single through the middle. Gained a little confidence, and even being down 0-2 to Lugo didn’t phase him. And then he finally remembered right field is legal, and pulled his team’s ass out of a sling. I shouldn’t doubt him.
-If you do want to worry, here’s Jose Quintana for you. It was only four starts ago that he did throw seven against the Rockies, but walks in the last three have been a problem. Yesterday he was wild in the zone, and though I thought he had some rough BABIP luck with Jeff McNeil basically cricket-ing a double for two runs, he fell apart after that. I think it’s just a blip, but when he got in trouble yesterday he abandoned his change. He can’t do that, because then he’s just two pitches. Even if he doesn’t have a feel for it, he’s got to find it. Hopefully back to basics soon.
-I’ve had enough of McNeil and Alonso for a while, thank you.
-Alzolay’s debut was certainly enticing, and no one should get ahead of themselves. But he does present some more interesting options, and one of them the Cubs will use this week is six starters to keep everyone fresh. When Hendricks returns he could again be what Chatwood and Montgomery could have been, a multi-inning weapon out of the pen. He was going to be on an innings-limit anyway. We’re a long way from that, but it’s at least something to get excited about.
-Friday’s loss is the one that hurts. Sometimes it’s not your day and you get stuffed like Saturday. But Friday was there for them. Yu was itchy again, there seems to be this fascination with getting Brach right even though he probably won’t be here next week, and then continued use of Montgomery as a LOOGY which he’s never been. It’s not like McNeil crushed that ball off of him or anything but Monty isn’t missing a ton of bats either. Give him a clean inning, or two, or three. It’s what he’s built to do. He’s not a high-leverage one-hitter dude. Add up enough games you feel like you should have gotten and you’re in the muck with the Brewers and Cardinals. And no one wants that.
-Bryant has two homers in June. He’s slugging .453 in the month. Are we a touch worried about either wear or the shoulder again? This seems long for a slump.