Something-Something, Rain in Cleveland, Something-Something; Cubs 10, Indians 3

schwarby

A day off after a competitive/intense/angry series with the Rockies gave us all time to practice our best "last time the Cubs played at Progressive Field, ________ happened" lines.  I, like probably many of you, had a blast reading through articles, photos, and tweets that brought back fond memories.  Tonight's game made for some new fond memories, while keeping one theme from that fateful Game 7 in forethought.

Rain.

Though it rained all night, you kinda just knew they wouldn't ever delay the game, didn't you? Seems like MLB owed it to the Cleveland club to get this whole thing in so that they wouldn't be exposed to even more stories about the 17-minute delay in Game 7, and The Meeting.

It didn't really matter anyway, as the Cubs didn't need an inspirational team meeting to take care of business tonight.

The Cubs got on the scoreboard early when Kyle Schwarber launched an 117.1 MPH rocket to the right field bleachers.  He was followed by Addison Russell, who doubled.  Ian Happ had a nice night, and drove in the second run of the game with a single to center.  2-0 Cubs.  The lead was extended to 3-0 in the top of the third on a solo home run by Willson Contreras, his first of the season.

Tyler Chatwood was...himself? So far the only thing consistent about Chatwood is that he appears he's going to walk 4-5 batters per game.  That's provided mixed results to this point.  Tonight he walked another five, but took advantage of a first inning double play, a pick-off, and some excellent defense in right field by Jason Heyward to keep the Indians in check.  The double play was of the inning-ending variety to get out of the first.  The pickoff ended the second inning, though the Cubs had to challenge a safe call by first base ump Lance Barksdale.   Cleveland narrowed the lead a bit in the bottom of the third inning.  Bradley Zimmer led off with a bunt single, and Rajai Davis walked to put two runners on.  Francisco Lindor laid down a nice bunt, but Tommy La Stella made an even better play to get the out at first.  Still, Cleveland had runners at second and third with just one out.  Some guy that I hear is from the Chicago area grounded out to La Stella to score Cleveland's first run to make it 3-1.  Heyward ended any further damage, however, when he fielded a Jose Ramirez single and threw a strike to home plate.  The Indians challenged the call on the field, but Rajai Davis was still out.

The Cubs bats really took over from that point forward.

Kyle Schwarber homered a second time - this one a towering fly to right.  Three batters later, Ian Happ hit his third dinger of the season on an opposite field number, ending Josh Tomlin's night on the mound.

Meanwhile, Chatwood was probably at his best in innings 4-6.  He allowed two walks, but did not allow a hit, while striking out three.  In the sixth, Mr. Northbrook smacked a sinking liner into right field, only to have Heyward make a nice diving grab on the play.

By this time, the field conditions were really starting to deteriorate, with the infield becoming noticeably damp.  It slowed down the Cubs only nominally.

Heyward and Happ each singled to start off the seventh inning, and Albert Almora laid down a nice bunt.  Heyward would have scored easily, but pitcher Zach McAllister still attempted to throw home on the play.  When it got past the catcher, Happ easily advanced to third base.  This would allow him to score when Javier Báez grounded out to the pride of Glenbrook North High School.  Anthony Rizzo got a gift of an infield single, and two batters later Tommy La Stella knocked in Almora to make the score 8-1.

Chatwood gave up a lead-off single to start the bottom of the 7th, and was removed after 92 pitches.  His final line for the night was 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 5 BB, and 5 Ks.  Steve Cishek pitched around some poor footing and control issues to get out of the inning unscathed.

Each team added two more runs to close out the ballgame, but it was all over by the end of the 7th.  Hell, Len Kasper got at least 40 minutes to talk about every Michigander's first, true love, euchre (this is not exaggeration).  Justin Wilson and Luke Farrell each got a garbage time inning (and each gave up a run).

All in all, it was a pretty satisfying game.  Javy stayed hot with two more hits.  Schwarber had his two dongs.  Rizzo got two much needed base hits - hopefully that will get him going.  Ian Happ collected three knocks.  Heyward had two hits - it was a dominant night by the Cubs offense.

Source: FanGraphs

Coming Up

Jon Lester will take the mound for the Cubs against Trevor Bauer, who lost two games in the 2016 World Series (some people forget that).  First pitch is at 6:10 CDST.

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  • First comment two days running! The Cubs scored 10 runs without Bryant and Zobrist and with Rizzo not contributing much. Rolling!

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Does anyone have doubts? I'm already planning my snow angels, version 2.0.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    120 runs in 20 games IS prettttttttttty impressive :)

  • It was so good, it was almost boring. Chatwood did a credible job, Schwarber hit two bombs, Happ had a decent night, even Heyward got a couple of knocks and a couple of "at-em" ball outs. No drama, they just took care of business.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Yeah, Heyward got maybe a bit of a cheepie double, but I didn't feel too bad about it, because he'd hit a hard liner to center field earlier. The team is rolling right now, with Javy and Schwarber leading the way.

  • In reply to Sean Atchley:

    The ricochet on that first one by Schwarber went farther than some fly balls are hit. That was a bullet.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    117MP exit velo. Bet that ends up being in the top 10 in baseball all year.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Since it was played in Cleveland, maybe Joe could of created some drama by pulling the starting pitcher in the fifth inning. Oh, I just had to go there...sorrry!

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I was REALLY hoping Chatwood would go 7, but Joe couldn't help himself after he gave up a hit with only a 6-run lead...

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    In reply to Cubswin09:

    Too soon. I still wish Hendricks had gotten the win he deserved in Game 7. Imagine if he stays in there he may not uncork the wild pitch that Lester did. Then Lester could have started the 6th inning with the bases empty and probably pitched through the 8th and the question would have been "Leave the stud pitcher in there or go to your closer with a multi-run lead." But that whole line of reasoning seems disingenuous coming from me who insists we can't assume everything would go the same way except the one thing I want to change.

  • There is no doubt that Tyler Chatwood is going to be an occasionally frustrating start, forever. But I'm just hoping/expecting that the frustrating ones become fewer and further between good ones. If he can just get his K:BB ratio down to 3:2 he'll be in business with that defense behind him! And he is the #5. I think he'll be a strong #5 all season. The defense is so much improved over last year, defense was a huge factor in the 2016 campaign.

    This is way more like the team I was expecting this year. Super D up the middle (and not too shaby on the corners!) and a long lineup. I hope KB jumps back in the saddle tomorrow.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    Preach, my friend. I have high hopes for Chatwood, and I also have patience. He's into an entirely different system that takes time. I've said I like our 1-4 in the postseason, but I haven't said who those 1-4 are. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Tyler is there at season's end. I actually expect it.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    looks like the Cubs want Chatwood throwing more over hand than 3/4. Changing his mechaniics some. Same with Darvish also.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    You bring up something I've thought about on occasion when I see people being critical of Chatwood... He is our 5. If he gives us 5 or 6 innings and we are in the game, we've gotten what we should expect from a 5. People criticized Lackey quite a bit when all he did was provide a 3.94 ERA, 359 IP, and a 1.162 WHIP over 2 seasons as a 4 and then 5.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    When you see what Morton is doing for Houston as their fifth starter you get unrealistic expectations lol. Still, Chatwood will be fine but he’s going to make me nervous every time out, in other words a number 5 starter (Morton excepted).

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    Jason Hammel part deux

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    Chatwoods stuff plays, there is no doubt about that. I am not to concerned with the walks, right now, because he also is so hard to square up. He’s 28 and a tweak away from being much more then a 5.

  • 1. My Guy Javy is keeping it going. He said that he loves hitting at the top of the order and he's doing everything to make sure he stays there. It's so enjoyable watching Javy do his thing. He's gonna be a threat for MVP. And isn't that something?

    2. It is so great that Schwarber is off to a not just good, but great start. After last year's struggles this has to do wonders for his confidence. He might just hit his ceiling. Another MVP candidate.

    3. And JHey having one quality AB after another. Hitting .277 with a .360 OBP and 14 RBIs. He's getting all sorts of timely hits. Huge development.

    4. Happ. Maybe he's got his issues straightened out as well. But with Javy, Almora, Schwarber and Heyward all playing so well, when will he play when we leave an AL park? I don't want to see him in the lineup if it means no Javy, Almora, Schwarbsy or Heyward. Good problem to have. And Zo can take his time getting better.

    5. We may actually now have the monster lineup we were all dreaming of during he rebuild.

    Loving it!
    Go Cubs!

  • In reply to TTP:

    I've told you before, TTP, that Javy is my guy. I get jealous when anyone says otherwise.

    I guess I'll have to learn how to share.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    He was My Guy first. But happy to share -- especially with a fellow Sabbath aficionado.

    It's Alright!

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    In reply to TTP:

    Don't look now but with over 75 PAs (STARTING to get a decent sample size) Heyward has his wRC+ over 120 per fangraphs. His slash line is starting to look respectable at over .760. Let's hope he can keep this up. His K% is down, his BB% is up, and his FB% is way up (I am not seeing as many 3 hoppers to the 2B). He is making hard contact. Again, no guarantee it continues. But at least when he walks up to the plate his BA doesn't start with a 1, his OBP doesn't start with a 2, and his SLG doesn't start with a 3.

    As for Happ if he can even put up decent production he could give Almora a break against a really tough RHP. Or give Schwarber a day off against a really tough lefty. Also, the ability to play some infield is valuable too. If he can get his K% down to the mid 20s, or even upper 20's he can put together a respectable season. Maybe he needs to be handled really carefully and put in "situations to succeed." I don't know. But I think he could be a valuable cog within the next year or two. And if he can make some improvements this year he could be exciting in 2018.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Good post Joel. Agree. Both TC and I exchanged a few posts on this. It is a great news if Heyward can keep it up.

    Now we gotta get Russell on track. He’s down to a 71 wRC+ this year. I’d like to see him get back to respectability by Memorial Day. Otherwise it may make sense to give Javy more time at SS with Zo, LaStella, or Happ getting some at bats at 2B.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I don't think you have to worry about Addy. Hes been driving the ball the other way on a rope for the last week just ran into some bad luck.

  • In reply to jefeggs2542:

    He’s had 3 years of bad luck then because his numbers are the same over that time. He’s gotta get untracked.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    He also just turned 24. And he has a history of solid, if unspectacular, fWAR. His K% is down. His BB% is up. Still a small sample size but his K% has dropped 10 points. Some of his Med% has drifted to soft which isn't good. But his Line Drive percentage has remained as high as last year (though not a banner year). So he is striking out less, his BABIP is about 30 points below his career numbers, he is hitting line drives, he isn't pulling the ball as much as he did before. I am not forecasting a .300 hitter, but I think that .260/.340/.400 is very achievable. And with his defense and if he can limit his TOOTBLANs we would probably be looking at a 3 fWAR player. As the 4-5 best player on the offense I can live with that.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    His WAR has been all tied to Defense. His wRC+ has been problematic for the last year and change. His swing was UGLY last year and I liked what I saw in ST and the first couple of series. So that is why I said Memorial Day as I think there may be an uptick in performance in there. Hopefully the next 120 at bats give him some results because the numbers are not good today. Your triple slash numbers are reasonable. Although not close to what was expected from a Top 5 prospect in baseball who was in the same breath as Correa and Lindor and comp’d to Barry Larkin. Sometimes all it takes is a couple bleeders to get the positive mojo going and get off the schneid.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    Yes, his fWAR is tied to Defense. And I agree his wRC+ has been lackluster. But defense does contribute. And remember that not all players develop the same way and at the same rate. It is not uncommon for young players to struggle against MLB pitching. And Russell is extremely young. Maybe he doesn't reach the level of Correa or Lindor or even Baez. But maybe he does in 2-3 years. In the meantime we are getting solid contributions from a MLB SS. I can live with that. To me the only thing that has me concerned is that some of his med% contact seems to have drifted to soft%. Other than that he seems like a guy that is likely to get the benefit of a regression to the mean.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I'm down on Russell personally and that's coming from a guy that's been one of his biggest supporters because I think the talent is there. The reason I'm down on his is because my reports on him from the minor league recaps were that he was a player with good mental makeup. I have reason to doubt that assertion due to some first hand knowledge that I have. Number one, I heard that he's constantly partying and chasing girls in the city which I don't fully approve of but not a big deal he wouldn't be the 1st or the last. But then he had the alleged domestic incident with his wife and the story that somewhat troubled me is what happened on a team flight. I have a friend that is very well connected with this hispanic players on the team and he was on a team flight, and I guess a flight attendant spilled a little juice or soda on his shoes. She apologized to him and he responded by saying, "It's ok these are only guccis" sarcastically to give the flight attendant crap for spilling a little on his expensive shoes. In addition, this was also the day before the game in Boston last season and he was constantly ordering beers for himself as well.

    I understand that these are very limited samples of Addison's life and I don't want to blow these incidents out of proportion or make any generalizations on his character as I just don't know him well enough to make any sure fire judgments. But they were somewhat disappointing to me and it's hard for me not to value him a little bit less as an asset of this organization after hearing these stories from a source that I fully trust. He's definitely not the type of player or person that I want to hand out a big contract to once his rookie deal is expired. I want to reiterate that I really like Addy's skillset as a baseball player and I'm sure a lot of these issues stem from him being a 23 year old kid so hopefully he grows as a player and a person as his career moves forward.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Joel, what is regression to the mean? The same .240 hitter we have seen the last 3 years and first month of '18?

    My issue has been he was way over-valued and was never a Larkin, Correa, or Lindor type. I never saw it in him. And his MILB track record also shows gaps and flaws. Yet he was still very highly rated, so you lean towards the people making money to make decisions.

    A lot of folks fell in love with him because his trade signaled a major tipping point in the Cubs rebuild. I get that. And we all want him to produce. I'm just not sure there is a lot there. So I will hold out hope that he finds something over the next 120 at bats to get his Offensive game up to par. Or we may have to live with a pretty good defensive SS batting 8th. I was hoping for a Machado deal this off season to provide the upgrade at SS I felt necessary to get us over the top for another World Series. That is out the window, so I will take a .750 OPS and a 95 wRC+ and call it a year. :-)

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    rbrucato, maybe "regression to the mean" was a bad choice of phrase. What I mean by it is that there is reason to believe that he has improved and the production hasn't followed. I suppose it is possible that he is simply exchanging a K for soft contact.

    What I currently look for in a player has more to do with process and less and less to do with production. In the past Russell would K about 20-25% of the time and BB about 9% of the time. This year, and, again, this is still SSS but there is reason to hope, he has dropped his K% to the low teens (currently a little below 14%) and his BB% has increased a couple percentage points as well. So he is putting more balls in play. His BABIP is much lower than his career norms (about 35 points--.259 this year, .294 for his career). He is spreading the ball around and hitting to all fields more than he has in the past. His LD% and FB% have ticked up slightly. Both generally good indicators (as you know, LD are usually hard hit almost by definition and FB are more likely to turn into XBH than GB). Again, SSS applies to all of these. But, other than an increase in soft contact percentage everything seems to point toward an improved production. Yet it hasn't materialized. So, either it will "correct" (which is what I meant by "regressing to the mean") OR there is something fundamentally flawed in him that allows him to improve in almost all the little indicators that I look for in a player likely to make a turn around but not have the improved production to go with it.

    He is quite a ways from hitting .300. On that I fully agree. Which is why I put his slash line that I hope for relatively low.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I REALLY like Heyward in the 8-spot.

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    In reply to Sean Atchley:

    Generally Heyward is not the kind of hitter I want in the #8 hole. In some ways the #8 hole is one of the most contradictory spots. On the one hand I don't want someone who strikes out a lot because it leaves open the strong possibility of ending a rally with 2 Ks (#8-9 hitters). But I also want someone who can make contact and maybe get a guy in before the pitcher comes up.

    Ideally, I want a guy with good plate discipline that is willing to take a walk if that will help the most (it gets the #9 guy up in this inning and it gives a baserunner). But I also want a guy with really good bat-to-ball skills and doesn't K often, preferably a guy willing to go out of the zone if that is what is dictated by the situation.

    So, basically, I want Vlad Guerrero, ca 2002 (and his 7.1 fWAR) in my #8 hole. He had a solid BB%, didn't K much, and had the ability to hit "nose-to-toes." Is the #8 hole the best spot for that? AAAARRRGGGGHHHHH!

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Yeah - if Heyward can keep the old slash line up over 0.270/0.350/0.420 for the season - he's going to silence some significant amount of his criticism. And with Schwarber looking to be a leaner, meaner hitting machine in April, and Baez hitting everything (almost) for extra base - the're all helping carry a team where Zobrist and Rizzo have been ailing, and where Happ was stumbling badly out of the gate.

  • It appears that Happ is a competitor (sarcasm). There is zero doubt about AA Jr's competitive drive, just look at him! Now that Joe has been forced, and relented, to starting Almora regularly - I think that these two 24 year old's will feed off from the healthy competition, and thrive.

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    We are 17th in team ERA (4.14) and 25th in WHIP (1.44) and are 2 games over .500 and 2 games out of 1st. We have won the last 4 of 5 and during this period Albert A and Javy are batting 1 and 2. Our defense up the middle is superb. Let's keep this lineup and see how far we can go.
    I also hope that all those who wanted to trade Javy can just admit they didn't see this coming and were willing to sell him short. We have the most exciting player in baseball and he's only 25!
    This team can win it all.

  • Schwarber and his two dongs. Sorry, the 10 year old in me could not stop laughing at that line. You had me at two dongs, LOL!!

  • In reply to HefCA:

    That second homer really was a long dong. Do they still give out the Long Dong Silver Slugger Award?

  • In reply to TTP:

    Man, this takes me back to 9th grade, when my Civics teacher somehow thought it was a great idea to let 14-15 year-olds watch the Anita Hill testimony in class. It certainly was an eye-opening experience.

  • In reply to Sean Atchley:

    Spit out my Monster Ultra laughing so hard. That was hilarious, Sinister!!!

  • Almora and Baez stepping up at the top of the order has filled one of the missing ingredients. Heyward has filled one the others at the bottom. The question is will they be able to do that consistently. The team doesn't need everybody hot at the same time, but with two weaknesses closed they should be able to sustain over the season.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    That’s the luxury of having a bench of Happ, Zo, TLS and even Caratini.
    The defense is set, from the standpoint of putting the best defense on the field. But the offense is fluid. AA is the perfect example of the Cubs putting players in a position to succeed, while they work on making adjustments. He needed to improve against RHed pitching, otherwise he is little more then a 4th outfielder. He knew it, we knew it and the Cubs knew it. And he did do it.
    Happ has holes in his swing, he knows it, we know it and the Cubs know it.
    Javy gonna Javy, nuff said. He will be in the lineup most days. Where, is fluid, as it is with AA and Heyward. Schwarber and Contreras.
    They’re still so young, but so so deep.

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    That's why I haven't been nearly as worried as some people about "Where are we going to find PAs for all these guys. We have to trade X." Having that depth and versatility allows the team to give guys a day off when they are likely to struggle. Give guys a day of rest to kind of rejuvenate them. In short, there are PAs there for guys that are able to take advantage of them.

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    The administrator ate my post.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Hope it wasn't a crappy post, cause the administrator's breath would not be good!

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    In reply to KJRyno:

    It was my usual drivel so I would stand back.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Ha

  • The Cubs have 10 (!!) guys over 100 wRC+ and 8 over 110 wRC+. Their team wRC+ is 117 compared to 101 last year and 106 in 2016. While I’m not sure that number will stand it’s pretty clear that the season number will be a marked improvement over the last 2. This is what happens when young, talented hitters mature.

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    Off Topic, but I was watching some of the Cards-Mets game last night. When Jordan Hicks came in the game the Cards broadcasters got REALLY excited. He has a 0.00 ERA. And he is particularly tough when he gets 2 strikes on a batter. In those situations they gave the stat that batters were 1-24 against him. But even the slightest scratching beneath the surface indicated to me that there was something fishy in his low ERA. Now, if I tell you that this guy throws over 100 mph and guys have a terrible time getting a hit off of him with 2 strikes you are probably thinking someone like Chapman. But Hicks walks more than he strikes out, and his K% is pedestrian at best. He doesn't illicit much in the way of soft contact and his BABIP is 0.167 (for perspective, A-ball hitters hit .316 off of him on BIP). This is a guy due for a MAJOR regression to the mean. And, surprise, surprise, Jay Bruce got a 2 strike hit against him that advanced a runner (who had BB) to 3B and was driven in by a solidly hit FB to LF by Adrian Gonzalez that tied the game and the Cards went on to lose in extra innings.

    My point is not that Jordan Hicks isn't a talented pitcher. Guys that throw 100 mph don't grow on trees. And his slider could be devastating when he controls it. But right now his ERA is incredibly artificially low. His FIP is at a more pedestrian 5.02 and his xFIP is 6.33. In short he has pitched into extraordinary good luck.

    Then the broadcasters lost all credibility they might have had. One of them was saying that he remembers facing the Cubs. He pointed out that Kerry Wood's 97 "looked like" 97. But Mark Prior was only throwing 92-93 but it "looked" like 96. Yes, injuries cost prior some velocity. But when he was really good his FB WAS 95-97. Which might also have something to do with why it "looked" that way. Naturally, they were pointing out that Hicks was "Prior" but throwing about 10 mph faster.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I missed the last few innings over the weekend and had to suffer thru the Rox broadcasters, because MLB had not put up the Cubs feed yet. It was gruesome. Javy was up and they said, just throw him fastballs, with his all or nothing swing, he can’t catch up to them. Granted, Javy was spitting on everything down and away (Yea!), but even the most untrained eye would never question his elite bat speed.
    Also, I have to say, Len and JD have reached another level this year, Euchre aside. But going on about Bong State Park, among other things, is 2 guys at the top of their game.
    I couldn’t help but feel like JD gave a shout out to Cubs Den and Barley Pop, with his “and the calliope crashed to the ground’ comment during the Cubs 8th inning comeback.
    Maybe it’s rose colored glasses, but they do not rely on hot takes above their heads, esp. with teams outside the division.
    But I also have to say this, Pat Hughes deserves better. Ron Santo was an Ikon, Coomer is not that.

  • Coomer may not be the best color man in history but he is enjoyable for me to listen to, and Pat does deserve the best. But the best may really be someone that Pat enjoys working with, not just someone who is highly skilled. With over 200 games together, they really should enjoy each others company.

  • Salute to Chili Davis. It was ugly early but I like what I'm seeing from the cubs hitters specifically the approaches and adjustments.

    The simple fact heyward has #'s trending up in several categories that he was abysmal in the last 2 years speaks volumes.Read an article that said heyward is hitting the fastballs on the inner half of the plate he couldn't get to 2 years ago because of an adjustment in his stance

  • In reply to bolla:

    And his wrist is not hurt this year as it was in 2016. Hopefully he stays healthy and his confidence returns. He might end up being the player the FO envisioned when they signed him.

  • Don't look now, but Javy and Kyle are making that non-linear growth spurt in hitting this year, which is one of JA's old talking points. Add in Mr. Consistent Excellence, KB, and Rizzo, who you know will start mashing baseballs soon, and this offense has really become dangerous. A Big Blue Koolaid Machine, or something like that.

    We even have young guys like Willson, AA, Happ, Addi, TLS (why not?), Caratini who all could hit that non-linear accelerator sometime this year.

    Fun times, indeed!

  • In reply to HefCA:

    I also could not help but think about Jon going into the season and how young this team is and the plan and growth rarely being linear, exept for the rare few. Thankfully, we have one of thise rare few for at least the next 4 years, in Kris Bryant. But we are so lucky to have JA beat it into our heads when it all started.
    It wasn’t that long ago that 2018 was considered the year when it all comes together. Non linear indeed.

  • Maybe it will all come together in 2018. :-)

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