The Rundown: Yu Can’t Always Get What You Want, Bryant’s Potential to Bounce Back, Braves Explode for 29 Runs

My odds of getting a Yu Darvish tattoo went down just a little bit last night as he gave up three runs to the Reds in the 1st inning. The big righty walked back-to-back batters and gave up a two-out homer to Mike Moustakas on a curveball that hung up just a little high in the zone. He ended up walking another Red later in the game, the first time since June 5, 2019 that he’s walked three batters in a game.

As an aside, those three walks are actually as many as he’s compiled in any two-game stretch since he walked two each on June 21 and 26 last season.

The homer ended up sinking the Cubs, who could do nothing on offense, but the way Darvish rebounded showed his ace credentials as well as anything we’ve seen before. He gave up a single to Shogo Akiyama immediately after the blast, then allowed no more hits while striking out eight over the next 5.1 innings. He buckled down and kept his team in it, not that it mattered.

Trevor Bauer baffled the Cubs by using a tactic that has become all too familiar: He didn’t throw strikes. The quirky righty was out of the zone with 69% of his pitches, a career high, and had his opponents chasing helplessly en route to 10 strikeouts. As if all the whiffs weren’t bad enough, the Cubs were frequently hosed by the baseball gods.

To wit, they hit nine balls with greater than 95 mph exit velocity last night and had only a pair of singles to show for it. That .222 average doesn’t actually look took bad relative to the Cubs’ overall .226 mark on the season, but the 102 mph average exit velo of the nine balls should result in a .578 average. Just a bunch of at ’em balls, each one of which punctuated a crappy game that just wasn’t fun on any level.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Sahadev Sharma has a very detailed piece ($) in The Athletic about Kris Bryant’s struggles, what’s causing them, and whether he can recover this season. In short, he’s swinging through a lot more fastballs than ever before and he’s not been able to crush mistakes to ride a hot streak. Most of that can be attributed to elbow, back, and wrist injuries — the latter of which probably won’t be completely right this season — that have limited his production. The bigger issue, however, is the obvious disruption of his feel for the zone.
  • Much of the same could be said of Javy Báez, Anthony Rizzo, and other Cubs hitters. Heck, we could extend to JD Martinez, Christian Yelich, and Joey Votto. Several of the game’s stars are having poor statistical seasons for various reasons, and the mental aspect may be a prime culprit. That can manifest very differently for each hitter, but the Cubs in particular seem to be overly passive when it comes to swinging at strikes. Only the Angels (62.1%) swing at fewer pitches in the zone than the Cubs (63.6%).
  • Ildemaro Vargas collected a hit in his first game as a Cub on one of the batted balls referenced above.
  • Adbert Alzolay will be added to the active roster today, making it the first time this season that he hasn’t been the 29th man for a doubleheader. That also means the Cubs need to make a corresponding move. Vargas seems like a prime candidate, but an IL stint or other pitching move is more likely.
  • Enough with these low-ceiling retreads, Brailyn Marquez needs to be given a shot in Chicago. The Cubs signed Matt Dermody and promoted him to pitch against the Cards only to turn around and DFA him the next day. They traded for a dude who’s hurt and might only pitch for a week or two. Given the results they’ve gotten otherwise, what’s the worst that can happen by giving Marquez an inning here or there? Maybe he walks a few batters and gets optioned back to South Bend, or maybe he blows everyone away with a 100 mph fastball and wipeout breaking stuff.
  • I understand that there’s so much I don’t know about happening behind the scenes, but I’m way beyond sick of the Cubs churning the fringes of the roster with a bunch of players who aren’t even expected to have significant positive impact in anything other than an unrealistically ideal turnaround. It’s like buying scratch-off tickets and winning $1, then trading that back in for another ticket and losing. They didn’t lose much, but they still lost, and they ended up pissing off everyone in line behind them.

Odds & Sods

Remember the time Mike Piazza had a cameo on Baywatch?

How About That

The Braves scored 29 runs last night, nine of which came with two outs in the 2nd inning. That is some wild stuff.

Here are 18 “mind-blowing” facts about that outburst.

Lefty Drew Smyly is nearing a return and should be active for the Giants’ game against the Padres tonight. As you probably recall, the Cubs signed Smyly to a two-year deal in December of 2017 knowing that he probably wouldn’t pitch in 2018. He was able to make a rehab start for South Bend at the tail end of the season but “ran out of runway” to be activated and was traded in November of 2018 to the Rangers in order to save a little money so they could better afford Cole Hamels.

Justin Verlander threw a bullpen session yesterday and still has time to return this season.

They Said It

  • Yu was good for us. We just came up short. It’s kind of like reverse of the last time these two went at it. We hit a couple home runs and played good defense and gave Yu an early lead. That’s what happened today. When these big-time pitchers get the early lead, they can really settle in. That’s what you saw tonight. – Anthony Rizzo
  • I throw a lot of offspeed stuff, especially in two-strike counts, because my offspeed stuff, my breaking balls, are elite, so I think they’re looking. Watching back the first game, it seemed like they were looking for offspeed stuff, so it was kind of a free feeling knowing that like if I changed that, if I flipped that around a little bit, I didn’t have to be perfect with [fastballs]. – Trevor Bauer

Thursday Walk Up Song

Rubberband Man by The Spinners – Thursday is a rubber game, duh. Also hoping Michael “Matters Love” Canter can bounce back from today’s liver biopsy.

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