We will have a recap writer soon. In fact, we have decided it is a two-man job. An announcement will come in the next day or so.
But this game is too fun not to talk about.
We have preached patience for so long here that perhaps some of you may now qualify to be Buddhist monks. And while the future may not have arrived quite yet, we at least caught a glimpse of it today.
The pitcher, Kyle Hendricks was once again masterful, mixing an 88-91 mph FB with a cutter and a change that had the Rockies making weak ground ball contact all day long. He produced 11 ground outs in his 8 innings. He was efficient, walking just one batter and needing 107 pitches to get through 8 innings. He got the strikeouts when he needed them. I asked a scout about Hendricks and whether he could legitimately be a part of this rotation in the long term...
Maybe. It depends if that break can be thrown for strikes. He pulls the string and works the ball around well enough to change eye levels. Velocity is overblown and with his ability to induce ground balls with the change, he just needs to have an honest break to keep hitters from sitting on this fastball.
I then asked him if he could get by with just an average breaking ball...
Yeah. Might even get away with a slightly below average break as long as it is not loopy and back ended. Back ended means that it sits at the back knee, not shoe strings. That is the wheelhouse break.
Put that on the to-do list for Bosio and Hendricks this offseason.
Meanwhile the bats and the defense were also on display.
Arismendy Alcantara got the Cubs on the board in the first inning with an RBI single and then later, showed he can also play a little CF.
But it was Javier Baez who was the star today. The Cubs 21 year old 2B went 3 for 4 with 2 HRs and 4 RBI. After flying out to LF in his first AB, Baez gave the Cubs a 2 run lead with a ground ball RBI single through the hole.
In his next AB, Javy went deep. The first HR was on an inside pitch that Baez turned on and hit down the LF line...
And then, 24 year old "veteran" Starlin Castro came to the plate and made it back to back. If that doesn't get you excited about how these pieces fit together, then nothing will. Castro, however, is such old news on this young talent-laden team that he doesn't even have an embed option on his HR. He gets a link. Move aside kid, I guess. Castro has had his time in the spotlight, it's Javy's turn now.
And Baez did it again in the 8th. After swinging and missing on a pitch low and away, Rockies reliever decided to try it again. Big mistake. Baez was ready and with his tremendous plate coverage and bat speed, was able to take that low away pitch and hit it on a line over the RF wall. It's encouraging that Baez has hit 2 HRs to the opposite field. MLB pitchers are trying to work him away and he is showing that he can make them pay.
He's now hitting .286 in his first 3 games and has not struck out since that first game, so in a very small sample size, he is at a 21% K rate for the year. Of course, it won't always be this easy for Baez. The same scout made sure I didn't get too excited. At least not yet anyway,
One thing to temper. Once pitchers get enough data on what he likes and does not, what he cannot square up, Javy will get exposed. Not saying he can't overcome, but that is the guessing game you call baseball. It is a game of subtle adjustments.
He's right, of course. but given Baez's demonstrated ability to adapt in the minor leagues, the hope is that he will continue to do so in the majors. Eventually pitchers will figure him out and Baez will have to adjust. All hitters go through it and we have seen Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro make needed adjustments this season. Theo Epstein has said he is baseball mature beyond his years and we know Baez will do whatever it takes. I think he will struggle at some point early in his career -- and I think he will respond accordingly.
But we have worried about the future for too long here in Chicago. Today, we were able to enjoy the team as it is now -- young, athletic, exciting, and talented. I have to admit that since I started writing this blog in 2011, the end of each season has come with some relief. That will not be the case this year. This year I have a feeling I am going to be left wanting more.
The future is finally here and it looks like it's going to be a whole lot of fun.
Filed under: Uncategorized