The Rundown: Wesneski Tosses Immaculate Inning, Hoerner Could Be Centerpiece of Rebuild, Cowardly Red Sox Walk Judge Three Times
“See you and me have a better time than most can dream of. Have it better than the best, so can we pull on through whatever tears at us, whatever holds us down.” – Dave Mattews, The Best of What’s Around
I’ve said it before, but I see Hayden Wesneski as a future ace. It’s not because he threw an immaculate inning yesterday either, which is a pretty cool feat. Nope, Wesneski did something that I haven’t seen a lot of since Jake Arrieta was in his heyday. He beat the Pirates despite having a horseshit lineup behind him. It’s so Cubs to win games even when it looks like they’re trying to lose.
Hayden Wesneski, Immaculate Inning. 😇 pic.twitter.com/XJ3nnTDZXb
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 23, 2022
Here’s where things get a little uncomfortable, though. The Cubs have so many good pitchers, I wouldn’t mind it if Jed Hoyer trades Kyle Hendricks this winter. I know I can be a little controversial at times, or so I’m told, but I want to see a young, hungry, fireballing rotation. It used to be fun to compare Hendricks to Greg Maddux, but The Professor is not of the same mold as the 355-game winner. Not that anyone really is. Comparing soft tossers to Maddux is a maddening exercise because no pitcher in the history of the game had his combination of precision and chill. Hendricks compares more favorably to former Dodger Chad Billingsley.
Putting Wesneski in a rotation with Justin Steele, Marcus Stroman, Keegan Thompson, and one of Caleb Kilian, Ben Brown, DJ Herz, Jordan Wicks, or Cade Horton relegates Hendricks to Alec Mills status, and frankly, he deserves better. I’d rather Hendricks take the bump every fifth day for a contending team such as the Padres or — just throwing this out there — the Orioles. In fact, Hendricks is exactly the type of veteran presence Baltimore needs.
The Orioles are a bullpen-rich team that needs two top starters. Hendricks isn’t a number one, but he’d make a better Day 2 starter than Jordan Lyles. Besides, Grayson Rodriguez is the future ace there. Brandon Hyde is familiar with Hendricks from his days with the Cubs, and the veteran starter is cheap enough that he’d be in Baltimore’s financial wheelhouse if Hoyer is looking to make a deal.
None of this is meant to diminish Hendricks’ career. In fact, I’d rather see him go elsewhere than stay in Chicago as a swingman. His Game 6 win in the 2016 NLCS was the finest pitching performance of that postseason and Joe Maddon should have let him earn the win in Game 7 of the World Series. Based on the trajectory of this team, I’m ready to move on. It just makes a whole lot of sense for the player and the ballclub.
Cubs News & Notes
- The last Cubs pitcher to throw an immaculate inning was LaTroy Hawkins. Lynn McGlothen, Bruce Sutter, and Milt Pappas are the only other pitchers in team history to do the same.
- Wesneski credits preparation for his success in the bigs.
- Nico Hoerner is taking a big-picture approach to his health while trying to navigate a return to Chicago’s lineup before the season ends.
- Patrick Mooney of The Athletic said the Cubs have reached the point where it is time to build a team with Hoerner at the center of its core ($).
- Which free agents would you like the Cubs to pursue this winter? How about Trea Turner, Carlos Rodón, and Willson Contreras? I’d like to add David Robertson.
- Alex Cohen, the voice of the Iowa Cubs, believes Matt Mervis is going to be a superstar. Canter’s take? It’s about time the North Siders get their Max Muncy-like diamond-in-the-rough, so I’m rooting for him.
- Have you ordered your M*A*S*H Mervis t-shirt yet? I just did. Pro tip: Use discount code KAP to save $4.95.
- Brennen Davis is still expected to be a big part of Chicago’s future. He believes in himself and the organization believes in him, too.
Odds & Sods
On September 22, 1987, Dickie Noles was traded for himself. Seventeen days after that, Noles was granted free agency and never pitched for the Cubs agai. His Major League career ended where it began with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1990.
Today's #RandomTigeroftheDay is RHP Dickie Noles. Why? Noles was essentially traded for himself. #Tigers acquired the 30 yo Noles from #Cubs in Sep '87 for PTBNL. Noles saved a key game in Toronto. After the season, the PTBNL back to the Cubs was…Noles! Heavy drinker. pic.twitter.com/MkbDuQSTgs
— Greg Eno (@GregEno) May 30, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“Ah, maybe you’ve been through this before, but it’s my first time, so please ignore the next few lines ’cause they’re directed at you. I can’t always be waiting, waiting on you.” – Jack Johnson, Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
The makeshift lineups that David Ross is using are making double-digit strikeouts the norm. Seven of yesterday’s starters were hitting .240 or less. Nelson Velázquez struck out twice in three trips and his batting average fell to .193.
- Games Played: 150
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,628
- Total Strikeouts: 1,338
- Strikeout Rate: 23.77%
- Team Batting Average: .240
- Runs Scored: 601
- Runs Allowed: 703
How About That!
Why not quit your job, catch the next home run that Aaron Judge hits, and then settle into a cozy life of retirement? When Judge hits Nos. 61 and 62, those baseballs could fetch as much as $20 million apiece ($). The Yankee slugger just missed tying Roger Maris last night.
For similar reasons, some Yankees’ ticket prices have ballooned to $4,000 or more on the secondary market. I will not provide a link to those usury sites, you’re smart enough to investigate for yourself.
Nobody wants to give up the record tater to Judge, least of all the Red Sox, but he still leads in all Triple Crown categories after a three-walk night against Boston.
One of Judge and Shohei Ohtani will miss out on winning the AL MVP. Here are the 10 best seasons by non-winners in league history.
Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley is the fastest pitcher alive.
A 31-year-old career minor league catcher in the Rays system was one of the driving forces behind unionizing minor league players.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Kyle Bradish – The Baltimore starter fell one out shy of a complete game, blaming the Astros with 10 strikeouts in 8.2 innings while upstaging Justin Verlander in the process.
- Wesneski – But of course. He fanned Jack Suwinski, Zack Collins, and Jason Delay on nine pitches in the bottom of the 5th inning.
- Kolten Wong – The Brewers infielder helped Milwaukee keep its postseason hopes alive with three home runs against the Reds. He’s no Seiya Suzuki, that’s for sure!
Apropos of Nothing
Lars Nootbaar will never make the Top Three. He’s a Cardinal with a name that sounds like something out of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, and that’s just too much for me. “So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
Only Bill Veeck could successfully promote failure. What a showman.
Today In 1949: Eliminated from the American League pennant race, Bill Veeck and the Cleveland Indians hold a mock funeral to bury their ‘48 World Series flag in CF! #MLB #Baseball #Guardians #History pic.twitter.com/VMjcPu6pOw
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) September 23, 2022
Friday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears’ passing attack has been woeful, but it might just be a matter of looking in the mirror and then taking advantage of what defenses are giving them. Justin Fields, Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet, and Byron Pringle need to execute better. And Getsy needs to take some chances, too.
- Getsy said he thought he had a reasonable game plan to beat the Packers.
- Head coach Matt Eberflus said the Bears are working tirelessly this week to fix their tackling issues.
- Notice anything different about Amazon’s Thursday Night Football telecast last night? There were zero beer commercials.
- This week the sun began to set before 7 PM. The next time we’ll get a post-7 PM sunset will be in March 2023—basically half a year from now. By Sunday we will officially have more dark hours than light ones. But it could be worse, and it will be in December. The sun will set at 4:19 PM on the last day of Autumn.
After the premiere of a Jeff Garlin-less The Goldbergs, here’s a look back at other series that killed off main characters after behind-the-scenes scandals. Word of caution: the link is a slideshow, but at least it’s one without annoying advertisements.
They Said It
- “It’s crazy. You start thinking about it about the seventh, eighth pitch, then on the ninth pitch, you’ve got to let it rip and make it happen. I’ve been a part of one in college (at Sam Houston State) but this one is a lot different.” – Wesneski
- “When [the triceps strain] happened, it wasn’t like, ‘Dang, I’m hurt. I’m going to miss a lot of time. That’s not how it felt when it happened. … There are always going to be things playing how I play that are going to pop up. There’s going to be day-to-day stuff for every player but especially playing in the middle of the field, and if you do strain something, you want to do it trying to make a diving play and having a close play at first. No regrets [about] that, I was prepared to play. I felt good physically and it was unfortunate, but you move on.” – Hoerner
- “I had big goals this year and those goals didn’t come to fruition. But at the end of the day, I want to be the best player I can be and that’s going to come from developing. There’s still some stuff I need to learn. I’m going to be able to bridge that gap a lot sooner with the more at-bats that I get and the more experience that I learn from the guys that are around me and being in the playing environment.” – Davis
Friday Walk-Up Song
It’s been a minute since I’ve featured the Grateful Dead in this space.