View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



April 2017



Morning News: Notes from Sunday and Game 2 preview

Written by , Posted in General

Since there wasn’t a game last night, and subsequently a lack of news, let’s spend a little longer dwelling on the season opener Sunday night.

First things first. Carlos Martinez was dominant on the mound and fooled Cubs hitters all night long. Off the top of my head, I can only recall a couple of balls squared up off Martinez: Kyle Schwarber’s double into the gap and Javier Baez’s single into left field.

The good news: this team simply refuses to give up. Ashamed as I am to admit, I thought the game was over after failing to push a run across with the bases loaded and one out. But, leave it to Willy Contreras to hit one out and tie the game.

Sadly, we know the rest.

Side note/question: why did Mike Matheny opt to try and get six outs from his closer on Opening Night?

Here are a couple last lingering thoughts from Sunday before we put that one behind us and move on to tonight.

  1. Dexter Fowler sliding into Addison Russell

Not a fan. I enjoyed the moment Fowler and the guys shared during pregame introductions, as well as a a few playful moments on the basepaths with Baez and Rizzo. But, the slide just was not cool, not to mention illegal. As Brett Taylor pointed out here, Fowler appears to go out of the baseline and right into Russell while Addy tries to turn the double play.

I get that he is a competitor and is simply trying to give his team any edge he can, but what did you guys think of Fowler’s play? Dirty or just baseball?

  1. Kris Bryant is not one for the first game of a season

Geez. Kris Bryant honestly looked lost out there at the plate, striking out three times and hitting a weak pop up to shallow right in a critical eighth inning, failing to bring in a run. It eerily reminded me of his debut two years ago, where he also fanned three times at Wrigley. Don’t worry…he seems to know how to bounce back.

  1. Jon Lester tried to paint too many corners

For the majority of his outing, it looked to me like Jon was focused on making perfect pitches every time rather than relying on his stuff and defense to get outs. As a result, his pitch count skyrocketed and he only made it five innings.

On To tonight…

Pitching Matchup: Jake Arrieta vs. Adam Wainwright

OK, there is no denying that Wainwright is a great pitcher, but at this stage in his career, he has to be running out of gas. I expect the Cubs to jump on him early and for Bryzzist to have a much better night behind Schwarbs.

On the other side, I am looking forward to seeing what Jake brings tonight. He was up and down for the most part last season, but he has the capability of twirling a gem every time he steps on the mound.

  • Sherm

    Ah well – I’m at 33,000 feet and listening to Dear Mr. Fantasy by Traffic which many of you will not remember – but the wifi seems strong so what the heck…somebody has to go first.

    I think Joe Maddon manages the bull pen poorly. Did last year. Did in the postseason. Doing so this season. Might expand that to “whole pitching staff” – we’ll have to see.

    Great teams give themselves a chance to win. That they did. Great teams win more of those games than they lose. That they didn’t.

    Didn’t see the aforementioned slide so cannot comment.

    Lester pitches to the edges. Always has and I’m sure he always will. Gets those calls more often than not, so it has worked. Didn’t see the game but Ross was great for him because he was so QUIET behind the plate (movement) that Lester got those calls. Umps got a good long look. Again…didn’t watch this game, but last year found Contreras to be very antsy and quick to the ball (rather than always letting it come to him) If he does that with Lester, they will not get the calls and it will be a long season with a very red-faced Jon Lester.

    Kris Bryant will have plenty of games like that. He’ll have plenty that he provides the win, too. He doesn’t HAVE to bat second against a pitcher like that. It’s not LAW.

    First game of the contract season. I expect Jake to be focused. And kinda scary.

  • Brad Lyerla

    Agree with Sherm across the board. Plus a few more thoughts:

    1. Nate raises a good point about Fowler’s slide. I was shocked by it. And Russell looked dumbfounded. We know Fowler is not a dirty player, but that was a bad, bad play.

    2. Martinez was really good. But the Cardinals seem to pitch Bryant better than any other club. Martinez had the great change going, and that reportedly is Bryant’s weakness. Maybe Cap’n can explain why that’s true. I am not sure I get the connection between his swing and his relative inability to hit a change, which seems more about timing than swing path.

    3. We were tied in the ninth inning. That’s a good place to be. Our bull pen should be able to win most of those situations.

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      The ESPN people were saying Fowler was apologizing to the Cubs about his slide, which probably means that is how a cardinal is to slide, which shows how low that team is.

      • Doug S.

        Well, Dex is one of them now, but the slide was out of the character that I’ve seen for the last 2 years.
        I’m hoping the game 1 pen we saw is the exception, not the norm this year.

      • Eddie Von White

        Joe should have asked for a review and the Cubs would have gotten a double play by rule. That would have been a good intro for Fowler to realize he is now the enemy.

    • cap’n realist

      Bryant’s swing path sets him up well to keep the barrel in the zone longer, but you are correct, changeup timing can make him look bad unless he’s looking and guessing change. He’s a ‘breaking ball and adjust’ type guy, which means he’s often looking breaking ball, and his swing path keeps him in the game if someone tries to sneak a fastball by him. It’s why we see so many home runs to right center on fastballs. It’s not foolproof, but the results have been thus far pretty good. I think he’ll eventually get better at choosing his spots at guessing changeup. You’d be amazed at the percentage of time big leaguers guess what’s coming, especially in the Information Age.

      • Spot on. He was getting gassed by those fastballs due to location. Up and in.. not quite quick enough to barrel up. He was swinging through pitches, so that 2 seamer must have had some bite.

      • Adam Peters

        Bryant hit exactly one home run right of center last year.


        No one looks curve and adjusts to the fastball–that would be impossible. A hitter has to do the opposite.

        I’d say Bryant’s just no good at recognizing a changeup.

      • cap’n realist

        from a front foot landing timing aspect, guys guess and look offspeed all the time. My guess is you never played past JV, or you’d realize that it’s one of 2 ways you can time up a good pitcher. What makes the changeup so effective it that is has counter spin, at least a good one does. Bryant lands his front foot later than a lot of guys, especially his size. This is because he is trusting his hands to catch up with fastballs, something that IS impossible to do in up and in locations, but because of his hand placement and swing path, he can get to fastballs down. Your home run chart doesn’t tell the entire story, but a spray chart, like this one does:

        While I thought there were more homeruns the other way, a LOT of solid contact, flyballs, and extra base hits have been the other way with Bryant, and LOT of hang time and fly balls to right field. The drawback to this approach is that he can be beaten by fastballs up and in, breaking balls away, and changeups everywhere. The 200 millisecond thing is correct, and it’s why there’s a lot of guessing, and a lot of striking out going on in MLB these days.

      • Adam Peters

        Well, you’d guess wrong about me.

        And in regard to Bryant I wasn’t talking about guessing on a pitch, and neither were you. You said his general approach was to look curve and adjust to the fastball which would just be stupid. He would never hit a fastball into fair territory if he did that. And I guarantee you he is not trying to hit a LOT of fly balls with hang time to right field. Those tend to get caught about 99.999% of the time in MLB. And if you put your cursor over that spray chart it will tell you that the vast majority of balls he hit to RF were outs.

      • cap’n realist

        you or I wouldn’t hit a fastball into fair territory with that approach. It works for Bryant because he has quick, strong hands…watch the timing on the landing of his front foot…it’s later than almost anyone in the league. Because he’s an offspeed and adjust hitter.

      • cap’n realist

        I’m interested to hear your baseball background. I played NCAA Division 1 and have coached Varsity High school baseball in Southern California alongside respected hitting coaches like Don Slaught, Reggie Smith, and Matt Nokes. I’d be interested to hear the background of your expertise.

      • Adam Peters

        First of all, if Bryant is always looking offspeed, why is he always a million miles out in front when he gets a changeup?

        I played Varsity in High School but my vision went kaput during my Senior year. I now wear glasses with a double prism correction
        because my eyes fixate on different horizontal *and* vertical planes. As you might imagine that proved to be quite a hindrance when hitting.

        I’ve coached Little League and middle school, and I’ve studied the game a fair amount.

        I’ve literally never heard of anyone taking a look offspeed and adjust to the fastball approach. You see, because if you look fastball and get offspeed you have time to adjust because the offspeed is slower. Whereas if are looking offspeed and get a fastball you have LESS time to react so the ball would be past you before you could adjust. Logically that approach doesn’t make any sense. I don’t care how fast your reactions or how fast your hands are, it doesn’t make any effing sense. You would be handicapping yourself if you did that.

        And I really couldn’t care less about your baseball “pedigree.” The local former pro who runs a clinic/travel ball operation here teaches his kids to line up the second knuckles on both hands when gripping the bat. Just because you played or coached here or there doesn’t mean you actually know anything.

      • cap’n realist

        In all honesty, that sucks about your vision issue. If only there were someone around here who could address a vision issue. A lot of guys guess breaking ball. A lot of guys, especially those vulnerable to the breaking ball, set their timing up that way. He’s a million miles in front of the changeup because when the change is thrown correctly with similar arm speed the spin is the same making it nearly
        Impossible to recognize. He’s more vulnerable because the millisecond he reads fastball, his hands have to go into hyperdrive, because of the aforementioned early foot. He realized at some point that he was more vulnerable to breaking balls, so he starts later. Again, a lot of guys at higher levels where breaking balls are routinely thrown for strikes do this. It’s counter-intuitive in little league, because the rubber is too close and the kids don’t have quick hands.

        Where I played and coached probably doesn’t mean I know anything, but I know more than most people or I wouldn’t keep getting hired. Your local former pro was also not a former MLB hitting coach like the guys I’ve worked with. My main ‘credential’ is that I watch the games and I know what I’m looking at. When the first place a guy goes is to fangraphs or stat cast, its a tell.

      • Adam Peters

        You realize YOU, and not I, posted a link to fangraphs, right?

      • cap’n realist

        Right. You went to I tried to solidify my flawed homerun point by using fangraphs after you went to the first place.

      • Adam Peters

        Right, so it’s a “tell” that I googled a chart that showed your statement was completely wrong. Got it.

        You know, people keep hiring Dusty Baker too. That doesn’t prove that he knows what the f*&% he’s doing.

      • Joe Aiello

        Look out. Buss just whipped out the credentials.

      • Sherm

        You mean Cap’n Stupidass?

        Like 45 hours awake. I don’t even know what I type.

      • cap’n realist

        Don’t worry, Joe…you’re still in charge here. And Sherm is still a sleep deprived McGrumpypants.

      • Sherm

        No shit. And I apologize. (I waffle depending on who went last) You are Cap’n Hitting Von Genius

        Made it to Chicago. One more flight and then that place where my stuff is.

      • Doug S.

        That’s a very cool site. Just watched Schwarbs scoreboard home run vid from 2015 there. He could have a very busy HR chart if the VFTB’s predictions come true.

  • Doc Raker

    We are in last place, a win would be nice since we have our worst right handed pitcher pitching game 3 of the series.

    • Doug S.

      Yeah but we’re tied with 3 other teams in last place.

      • Eddie Von White

        I feel so much better.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        After Today we will be tied with one team for first place!

    • Junior Von White

      I am wondering how much Hendricks can take playing second (or in this case fourth) fiddle. I mean honestly, if I were in his shoes and did not have a strong emotional tie to this team, I would take the first train out when given the chance. He is pitching at historic levels and he gets pulled early in the World Series and then is bumped down to the number 4 starter the following season? I don’t think so. I am already bracing myself for him to leave when his contract is up, or at least have a good level of understanding if he doesn’t want to stay.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Send Muskrat an email. Me and Doc already did

      • Sherm

        Send her a wheel for her cage

      • Sherm

        I think he will be fine. Unless he’s a Boras guy. Memories fade when the dollars grow.

        The issue is simple. Maddon is a player’s manager. That means he’s afraid to do anything they don’t like. Lackey is a hardass and that probably scares the crap out of Joe.

        For the record? Player’s managers? Like Dusty Baker – don’t win many WS. Joe got lucky. Let’s hope that luck holds up.

      • Junior Von White

        I hope you are right. I would hate to see him leave, especially if issues like this play a factor.

      • Seymour Butts

        Players managers do fine when the players they manage play better than the other managers players.

      • Bryzzo1744

        The other difference is Dusty plays garbage players doesn’t know how to manage a pitching staff and doesn’t believe in walks. They clog the bases for guys who can run

  • Ben

    Fear the Beard tonight hopefully lol

    • Sherm

      Jake was good – I was able to see about four innings from the plane on the flight from Chicago to Charlotte, and Raker and Cap’n Update get the assist for keeping me current on the drive home.

      Today the bats break out…

      • Ben

        Didnt see any of it cut cable a couple of months ago and not enough money to buy mlb tv right now lol feelsbad :/

      • Ben

        thats why i have u guys for lol

  • Doc Raker

    I have pretty good credentials for double prisms. I actually see a lot of need for prism in recent years, even young people have slight blur related to double vision. I think it is the increased computer work people do. Next time someone is scrolling on their phone, watch their eyes, watching the quick saccades of the eyes makes me dizzy. Do that to your eyes 8 hours a day and no wonder when your eyes are at rest that are not aligned.

    • Seymour Butts

      Whats the difference between a priapism and a double prism?
      (getting back to my roots)

      • Ben

        Wtf you guys talking about? Can we get back to talking about baseball please lol