The Rundown: Looking for More Power from Kris Bryant, Len Kasper Offers Positive Perspective, New York Celebrates World Pride
It’s a shame Jason Heyward won’t be going to Cleveland next week to participate in this year’s All-Star Game. The slugging right fielder has homered in three straight games and has been one of the league’s most productive hitters during the last month. Maybe they have a spot reserved for him in the Home Run Derby. J-Hey also stole a home run from Reds’ outfielder Nick Senzel in yesterday’s 8-6 loss.
J-Hey brings one back! pic.twitter.com/wsP28gZ9vu
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 30, 2019
Unfortunately, Heyward was one of just a few bright spots in the weekend series. José Quintana pitched marvelously on Saturday and Kyle Schwarber continued his hot pace as the team’s leadoff hitter. He’s having one of the loudest league-average years ever since, despite 18 home runs, his OPS+ is just 98.
On the other hand, Kris Bryant is having one of the softest, yet typically productive, years of his career. Bryant has an OPS+ of 137 and was named as a reserve third baseman for the mid-summer contest. It’s his first ASG appearance since ’16 and the third of his career.
The fifth-year player has 16 home runs and 41 RBI this season but has never really seemed impactful in the way Cubs fans want him to be. Other than his three-homer game in Washington on May 17th, he has seemed such a silent part of Chicago’s offense. I know the true analytics guys will point to his elite on-base skills to fight me on this point and I know he’s on pace for his most total bases since his 2016 MVP season, but I’m looking for more power. In a season where baseballs are leaving yards all across America in record numbers, keeping a homer-for-homer pace with Tommy La Stella just seems so uninspiring.
The Cubs third baseman had a monster May, but has been a little off this month. Coincidentally, the Cubs played their best baseball that month, going 16-10. So as Bryant goes, so go the Cubs. The Cubs finished June with 14 wins in 29 games.
Miraculously, the Cubs enter tonight’s game against the Pirates tied with the Brewers for first place in the NL Central (45-39). The Pirates have been the best team in the division over the last two weeks and the Cubs have been mostly ineffective on the road this season, with 16-23 record in away games that is worst in the division. Adbert Alzolay will be tasked with righting the Cubs’ ship in the opener.
For what it’s worth, Bryant has slashed .350/.472/1.042 in his career against Pittsburgh. It would nice to see him make an appearance or two in the headlines this week.
Cubs News & Notes
- Speaking of La Stella and uninspiring, why haven’t the Cubs cut the cord on Daniel Descalso yet? The backup infielder was 0-for-3 with a walk yesterday and has an OPS+ of 45. His oWAR of -0.6 is less than Kyle Hendricks (0.3) and Jon Lester (0.2). Things certainly haven’t played out the way that ESPN’s Sam Miller anticipated back in March. Giancarlo Stanton has had just 31 at-bats and is out until August and still has had a more productive season than Descalso.
- The Cubs will activate Hendricks before Tuesday’s game in Pittsburgh and he’ll get the start that night against the Pirates. Hendricks is 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA in six career starts at PNC Park.
- Javier Báez was voted the NL’s starting second baseman last year, and his fan selection as starting shortstop this season makes him only the third player in major league history to start an ASG at both shortstop and second base.
- The Pedro Strop – Yasiel Puig kerfuffle is priceless.
- Joe Maddon was upset with a fan interference call during an Anthony Rizzo at-bat in the 3rd inning on Sunday. Rizzo was called out after a review of a fan reaching over to catch a foul ball which Reds left fielder Phil Ervin was tracking.
- The Cubs DFA’d Carlos González ahead of the Cincinnati series, but Maddon thinks Cargo may accept a minor league assignment.
- What’s been wrong with Mike Montgomery this season? The swingman is having the worst season of his career and may be relying too much on his awful changeup.
- Leave it to our old pal Len Kasper to put things into a positive perspective.
How About That!
FIFTY runs were scored in the two-game series between the Yankees and Red Sox played in London’s Wembley Stadium over the weekend. The Yankees took both games, winning 17-13 on Saturday and 12-8 yesterday. The Yankees are now 54-28 and have won 13 of their last 14 games. That’s good.
With the London Series, Yankees DH Edwin Encarnación became the first player to take part in regular season MLB games in three different continents in the same season (Asia, North America, and Europe).
The Orioles became the first team in MLB history to post back-to-back shutouts of at least 13-0, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. In related news, the Indians are the first team in MLB history to get shut out by a score of at least 13-0 in back-to-back games. Baltimore whitewashed Cleveland on Friday and Saturday night.
Max Scherzer dominated the Tigers yesterday. The former Tiger made his first start as an opposing pitcher at Comerica Park and had one of the best performances of his career. Scherzer made six starts in June and allowed five runs in 45 innings. His strikeouts by start: 15, 9, 10, 10, 10, 14. His 170 strikeouts on the season are the most in baseball.
The White Sox will call up top prospect RHP Dylan Cease to start the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Tigers, the team announced.
MLB.com ranks Cease as the 18th best prospect in MLB.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Max Scherzer – The Nationals ace struck out 14 Tigers’ hitters in eight innings without issuing a walk in Washington’s 2-1 win.
- Shane Bieber – The Indians starter stopped a woeful Cleveland stretch by leading his team to a 2-0 win against the Orioles. Bieber had 11 Ks and did not issue a walk in the shutout.
- Matt Chapman – The slugging A’s third baseman celebrated his inclusion as an ASG reserve by racking up six RBI as Oakland thrashed the Angels 12-3. Chapman was 3-for-5 with a home run.
Yesterday was World Pride Day in New York City and I am incredibly proud that my stepdaughter Eleanor participated in all of the activities. Her participation and core desire for acceptance and diversity has been at the forefront of her character since she came into my life as a tow-headed 10-year-old who wanted me to teach her how to be the best basketball player in Wisconsin.
She recently made Brooklyn her home and is now a permanent New Yorker, attending the Fashion Institute and working for Sony Records. Her undying support for her LGBTQ friends — and all oppressed and marginalized individuals for that matter — is her most amazing quality.
Our own Ryan Thomure wrote about the safe haven that baseball provides to its LGBTQ fans a few weeks ago and it’s worth another read in light of this historic day. It’s a truly impactful post.
Harassed by local police simply for congregating, #Stonewall’s patrons—most of whom were trans women of color—decided to fight back against the brutal intimidation they regularly faced from police.
As we honor #Stonewall50 and celebrate #WorldPride, we remember their courage. pic.twitter.com/mj2eI27uIR
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) June 30, 2019
They Said It
- “You know what I would like you to do? Call New York. Because I’m tired of getting fines, quite frankly. I want my grandkids to go to college. Every time I make a comment on umpires I get fined. I prefer that you call New York and ask them. Please do. Please do. Because I want to hear what they have to say. [The call against Rizzo] was just way too ambiguous to be overturned for me.” – Joe Maddon
- “It’s no secret, [Puig] is stupid. He’s stupid as (expletive). Nothing against him, he’s just stupid.” – Pedro Strop
- “I want to go out tomorrow, and my teammates want to go out tomorrow, and win the game, win the series. Because that’s more important than to fight with another player from another team.” Yasiel Puig
- “We’re putting together good at-bats late, but we’ve got to do it early and put pressure on them early because what we have now is Craig Kimbrel. We’ve got to score runs early.” – Anthony Rizzo
Monday Walk Up Song
Get Together by the Youngbloods. World Pride. We can all take a lesson from Eleanor and Ryan.