“It sure is mellow grazin’ in the grass (grazin’ in the grass is a gas, baby, can you dig it?). What a trip just watchin’ as the world goes past (grazin’ in the grass is a gas, baby, can you dig it?).” – Friends of Distinction, Grazing in the Grass
Sometimes, and I am not one to partake in such things, I believe watching the Cubs requires some type of herbal assistance to make it through an entire game.
Chicago was shut out for the second straight time, making it three of their last four in which they’ve failed to score a run. Kyle Hendricks was bombed in last night’s 10-0 loss to the Braves and the game was over before he escaped the 1st inning trailing 4-0.
Hendricks and Zach Davies were supposed to be the anchors of Chicago’s rotation, but so far that’s not been the case. The two have combined to give up 39 earned runs in 41.2 innings and 13 home runs against the 206 batters they’ve faced this season. The Professor reached rock bottom when he gave up a dinger to Atlanta starter Huascar Ynoa to lead off the bottom of the 4th.
Adbert Alzolay will try to salvage the series and avoid the sweep, but he’ll need the Cubs to score at least one run to do so. The Braves will counter with Bryce Wilson. You may enjoy yourselves more watching Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace implode in this evening’s NFL draft.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 29, 2021
- The Good: Anthony Rizzo pitched and he struck out Freddie Freeman on a 61 mph Uncle Charlie.
- The Bad: The Cubs have now lost five straight and have been outscored 33-10 in those games, with seven of those runs coming in Monday’s 8-7 loss.
- The Ugly: Hendricks has allowed 10 home runs in five starts, matching his total for all of last season.
- The Strange: Freeman was 4-for-4 with a home run against Cubs pitchers and 0-for-1 with a K against Rizzo.
David Ross may want to consider finding a way to get Brailyn Márquez a start or two, even as an opener for Hendricks or Davies. He really needs someone who can shove, if only to get those first three outs.
Cubs News & Notes
- Rizzo has a long way to go to match Jake Arrieta when it comes to pitching accolades, but as it stands the lefty holds a career 0.00 ERA in the big leagues.
- Hendricks was frustrated after giving up seven runs while experiencing the worst month of his major-league career. “It’s obviously a low point.”
- The Cubs can’t wait to leave the month of April behind, under the assumption that things can only get better.
- There’s more than just simple bad luck to the vile offensive start by center fielder Ian Happ.
- It was originally thought that Javier Báez might end up on the injured list, but it appears he may return to the lineup today.
Apropos of Nothing
I’ll be posting something over at Bears Insider following each day of the NFL draft. I’m no Chris Berman when it comes to football insight (that’s a joke), but it might be fun to see if Pace actually trades up for a “franchise” QB when he should probably consider trading down to stockpile more draft picks. I am amazed at how often he overlooks the gaping holes on his team in pursuit of each failed signal-caller.
Climbing the Ladder
“We are not retreating – we’re advancing in another direction.” – Douglas MacArthur
That’s not a “tanking” reference, or is it?
- Games Played: 24
- Total Plate Appearances: 875
- Total Strikeouts: 248
- Strikeout Rate: 28.3%
- Team Batting Average: .203
Happ-O-Meter: Happ was 0-for-2 with a strikeout after replacing Jason Heyward. His slash line stands at .135/.297/.176 through 92 plate appearances and saves David Bote (.164/.298.,295) from a spot in this section.
Odds & Sods
A transition year? I have a different name for it.
Seems like a good time to remind (angry) Cubs fans (again): On the first day of spring games, on their own TV Network, Jed Hoyer called this season a 'transition year.' Not much more to know than that.
Root for good things around July 31. https://t.co/46z7OaGRe2
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) April 29, 2021
How About That!
MLB is closing in on its 20,000th player debut. Some of the more entertaining benchmark names on that awe-inspiring list include Peek-a-Boo Veach, Slim Love, and Steve Rogers, though not the one who goes by the alias “Captain America.”
The month of April has provided all kinds of baseball anomalies.
The Twins probably have little love for Rob Manfred and the commissioner’s avant-garde approach to the national pastime. Minnesota is 0-5 in extra inning games and 0-4 in seven-inning doubleheader games.
Byron Buxton has been one of the best hitters in the game this season and seems analytically primed to continue his remarkable offensive surge. The centerfielder has a 1.408 OPS and a 295 wRC+ so far.
Umpire Angel Hernandez continues to be the scourge of his profession.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
- Byron Buxton – The Twins center fielder enjoyed a 5-for-5 afternoon with an RBI and a stolen base for good measure as Minnesota blasted the Indians 10-2. Buxton is hitting .438 and has already earned 2.1 WAR in 17 games played.
- Tyler Glasnow – The Rays starter shut out the A’s over seven innings, punching out 10 Oakland hitters while earning his third win of the year.
- Freddie Freeman – The ever-jovial first baseman was 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBI, plus that gargantuan whiff against Rizzo.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
The Braves announced that all COVID-19-related attendance limitations for home games at Truist Park will be lifted beginning May 7, when Atlanta hosts the Phillies. With the decision, the Braves will become the first MLB team to allow 100% capacity on an ongoing basis.
In college baseball, LSU plans to allow full fan capacity with no mask requirements for fans starting this weekend when their baseball and softball teams host Arkansas.
If this group of gypsies, tramps, and thieves can perform at this level, why can’t Hendricks and Davies? The Giants are 16-9 and tied for first in the NL West, and one of the biggest surprises in baseball.
ERAs for the @SFGiants' top starters:
1.50 – DeSclafani
1.50 – Wood
1.80 – Cueto
2.14 – Gausman
2.22 – Sanchez
They would join the 1978 A's as the only teams to have 5 starters with a sub-2.50 ERA in the month of April (min. 3 starts) since ERA became an official stat in 1913.
— OptaSTATS (@OptaSTATS) April 29, 2021
They Said It
- “Every day is one day closer to May, and I love getting out of April.” – Anthony Rizzo
- “It’s a little bit of everything right now. Mentally, I was attacking, getting after it, tempo was better. Now just [have] to make better pitches. There are so many pitches over the middle of the plate that are flat right now. I’ve got to simplify my mental approach and just get back to attacking at the bottom of the zone.” – Kyle Hendricks
Thursday Walk Up Song
Lawyers, Guns and Money (Live) by Warren Zevon – Perhaps that’s all the Cubs need to escape this dreadful slump.