Cubs Lineup Notes: Harvey provides tough test, no promotion for Wada, a new name in picture for Cubs pick

Okay…back to baseball on the field…

The young Cubs hitters will face one of their toughest challenges yet. Matt Harvey throws hard and he throws strikes. They may have to pounce on those precious few mistakes he may or may not make,

Here is today’s lineup and broadcast info…

Lineup Notes…

  • Here is something crazy:  The Cubs current hitters are batting .355/.400/.484 vs. Harvey though there are only 31 total ABs and only one individual Cub (Dexter Fowler) has more than 5 PAs.  Something tells me those numbers aren’t going to last all that long.
  • Starlin Castro in the 4th spot today.  That shows a lot of confidence in the kid vs, one of the more talented players in baseball.  But in case you haven’t been watching, Castro has some very quick hands.  He, can turn around anybody’s fastball and we saw him do that against Syndegaard yesterday.
  • Seems like Curtis Granderson must have hit the Orioles pretty well as a Yankee.  He has had good success against Jason Hammel over 17 ABs, hitting 2 HRs and posting a .421 OBP.  There is a lot of pressure on Hammel to pitch well tonight as runs may be hard to come by.
  • Matt Harvey is effective up and in as well as low and a way, so I am looking forward to the match-up with Kris Bryant as Harvey will likely try to tie him up a little inside.  But Bryant has the discipline to lay off those pitches and hopefully force Harvey to catch too much of the plate.  Bryant has had success with up and in — and inside in general — as long as it is in the strike zone.  He has also shown the ability to take outside pitches to RF with authority.  If Harvey is precise with his location, he can get Bryant out — but if he misses, even by a little, Bryant should give him some trouble.  We can say the same for Jorge Soler, who certainly has the hand speed to get inside and drive the ball, though Harvey may have more success with Soler because he is not as good low and away.
  • Anthony Rizzo, of course, is another interesting match-up.  Harvey has been tough on left-handers but he has allowed them to hit with some power (.178 ISO), so Rizzo will have to wait for a mistake — and we know he is pretty patient.  All in all, this is going to be a tough test for the Cubs young hitters, but there is enough talent and good approaches there that they should be able to take advantage of his mistakes.  That said, Harvey has very good command and we shouldn’t expect him to make many mistakes at all tonight.

Other Notes

  • Tony Andracki takes a look at the Cubs by the numbers through the first 1/5 of the season.
  • Carrie Muskat tweets that Jon Lester has some serious respect for Jake Arrieta, calling him an ace.
  •  Tsuyoshi Wada is starting for Iowa Thursday per Tommy Birch.  Thus endeth the speculation.  For now.  Pitching coach Mike Cather said that the Cubs wanted him to work a bit more on the side with his FB command.

MLB Draft Notes

Keith Law said today that the Cubs are focusing on a new name, a 5’9″ left-handed hitting CF’er named Andrew Benintendi.  Now before you think Benintendi is the second coming of Doug Dascenzo, he is actually one of the better power hitters in college (look at those forearms in the video below).  He is hitting .412/.507/.580 with 17 HRs and 20 stolen bases.  He has also shown a good eye, walking in 16% of his PAs this year.  He has struck out just 11.5% of the time.  He has a 60 grade speed tool and projects as an above average hitter.

He gets mixed reviews on his tools, with some liking him a lot but some publications, like Baseball America, have him pegged more as a second rounder.  If his height takes him down to #9 with those tools and numbers, then maybe that can be a blessing in disguise for the Cubs.  It could be an attempt to underslot, but we should bear in mind that Benintendi is a draft-eligible sophomore, meaning he can return for two more years, so he has some leverage of his own.

Support Cubs Blogs

Like yesterday, not really a blog, but  Cubs Strike Zone  — @CubsUmp on Twitter, provides a nice service to Cubs fans,  They track balls and strikes during Cubs games and report whether the call hurts or helps the Cubs.  As you might imagine, it has leaned more toward “hurt the Cubs” so far this season.

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  • That is a nice compact swing that Andrew Benintendi possesses. Seems very intriguing.

  • I think they are lining up Wada with Wood's spot in the rotation. He has to be on a short leash.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Not sure Wada is the answer there. Hasn't really dominated AAA and the Cubs take FB command very seriously -- something Wada has struggled with so far. And Wood hasn't been awful as far as some periphery stats. A low strand rate and a high FB/HR rate have really hurt him this year. K numbers, walk numbers are good. The LD rate is a career high by far, so that may be an issue for some concern, but that tells me it is more about location than stuff, which has been essentially the same as it has been throughout his career.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Wada got shelled after 2 times the order last year. I think he's a better fit for E-Jax/Villanueva swing man role. We do have to upgrade one of Wood/Hendricks though and Wood seems like the logical choice to move.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I'm not a fan of Wada. He is a five inning guy. But Wood has been pretty awful for more than a season. At the very least Wada needs to be available for multiple innings in place of Wood the next time through, even if Wada takes Jackson's place on the roster.

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    I've mentioned before that I think the Cubs need more speed in their lineup and he sounds like he can fill a void. I also like the pitchers who are injured and am willing to wait a year for them to heal if it means a #1 in two or three years.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    He does sound like a Cubs type player.

  • Looking forward to tonight's game. Will be a great challange for our young hitters. Also a good story will be how well Jason does. Let's go streaking.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Agreed... They haven't been up to the "ACE" test so far with Wainright, Shields, Cole, etc... But they need to see more and more of this caliber opposing pitcher.

  • ..first inning strike zone seemed a little exspansive, but if it's consistent than I am good...Also, both Bryant and Rizzo looked very locked on...Lastly, whose roster spots do La Stella, Alcantara and Baez take if they come back strong in a month or two? Could be a pretty deep team, if things break right.

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    In reply to rsanchez11:

    I think the first two to go would be Herrera and Szczur. After that things get more complicated. Trade Denorfia?

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Is there a demand for a fifth outfielder???

  • I think the Cubs may strike out 15+ times tonight.

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    If the best pitchers are off the board, including Aiken and Matuella, then he would be nice if he is willing to sign underslot.

    But the really feels like the right year to pick up a good pitcher. Last year Schwarber surprised people but there really weren't any promising arms that we passed on so NBD.

    This year seems like a great year to roll the dice on an arm.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I agree with you Giffmo. I feel like all the other names that will surface will all be a smoke screen for Mike Nikorak. He just screams work hoarse ace to me. With some of the coaching the Cubs have in the organization I could see him developing quickly into helping the big league club, and if not he could be a big trade chip in the offseason as some others have suggested.

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    Hoping for a big arm with the first pick as well. It's about time we got our very own Harvey/Cole-type.

  • I wonder if Castro is feeling pressure. It's known that Addison Russell is considered untouchable. Also, Javy Baez is playing second base (preparing for MLB?) while Mendy is playing SS (prepping for super-sub role in MLB?).

    It seems like the writing is on the wall for Starlin.

  • In reply to ElvisSanto:

    Let's see now, Castro got key hits the past two nights against the Mets and has made fine defensive plays as well. Neither Baez or Alcantara have shown that they have a MLB-ready approach at the plate. Why exactly should Starlin Castro feel pressure from those two?

  • Walk for a walk off. sweet.

  • That's a nice win. Rizzo is awesome. Nice comeback. Feeling good. Let's finish the sweep tomorrow!

  • I'm wondering in Soler gets sent down once La Stella gets back. Bryant can move to RF while Soler gets his groove back. He is great with FB, but he looks awful on off speed/breaking balls. He & Baez can work with Manny & get ready for a run after the all star break

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    In reply to Bamacub:

    while he's not playing as well as he could, a 271 avg and 321 OBP is hardly struggling.

    If Baez was putting up those numbers we would all be jumping up and down in excitement. The handwringing over Soler is overblown.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    If he doesn't adjust to the offspeed pitches those numbers will nose dive like Baez's did to end the season. He's young & talented so I have no doubt he can bounce back. It might be other factors that are affecting his play like fatigue & weather, so I don't want to panic with him either

  • Figured the Cubs had it when Rizzo pantsed Harvey with the bunt double play. Loved Maddon pulling Rosscup after one batter. Best game yet.

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    In reply to wastrel:

    I think it made a big difference that the previous 2 nights the Cubs starters got through 7 (or eight). So the bullpen had time to catch its breath. This meant that he had options he probably didn't have earlier when Wood and Hendricks weren't getting through 6.

  • Awesome win, and nice piece of hitting by Rizzo. Glad Castro put the ball in play, but trying to pull that outside pitch could have easily resulted in a double play. Fortunately, it had eyes and got through.
    Good baserunning by Szczur, nice to see him get a boost scoring the winning run. Good eye by Coghlin.

    Soler looked positively awful in that at-bat. I hope he turns it around soon.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    he's been swinging at balls in the dirt all season. Not sure how you can even teach a guy not to do that - he either has pitch recognition skills or he doesn't.

    embarrassing to see the White Sox dispensing with the Brewers the way they deserve to be, after the Cubs fell flat on their face against them

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I would like to see Starlin go to right center more often. His gravy train is out there. However, he's recorded key hits the past two nights when they were needed.

  • I wonder what Soler's numbers look like while wearing his mask?

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    In reply to tharr:

    while I get that you're joking, it might not be a bad point that he's clearly uncomfortable in the cold.

  • I am going to do EVERYONE a favor. Remember these rookies (and yes, Soler is still a rookie) they ARE going to have growing pains as they learn to adapt to MLB pitching, especially after the pitchers have learned to adapt to him. He now needs to struggle and go through an adjustment period. It is the one downside that he did not have a ton of at bats in the minors, to learn to struggle and come out the other side. He is going to be fine with time. Bryant will go through a stretch where he will struggle for a period of time (he had a small stretch recently), but the talent will persevere, and their ability to make in-game adjustments (Bryant makes in-bat adjustments amazingly) is how they will further cement them as talented to productive major leaguers.

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