Injury Updates, Suzuki’s Ridiculous Bat, Ortega, Swarmer, Bryant, and Other Cubs Notes

There is still just so much sadness from the events on the 4th. And a lot of feelings of helplessness. Tough to shake, in part because I don’t *want* to just shake this away, but I don’t know what to do with the feelings.

So I baseball …

  • If you missed the Willson Contreras update, it is indeed similar to what he felt back in May when he took himself proactively out of a game (and missed a few days resting). David Ross told Meghan Montemurro that it was Contreras being smart and “very precautious.” It’s a day-to-day situation. Like I said before, the Cubs have a strong incentive to (1) be mega cautious before putting Contreras back in there, and (2) be very cagey about exactly how bad things may or may not be. We mostly just have to wait until he’s actually back in the lineup and producing.
  • I expect Contreras, when he does return, will continue to see a whole lot of time at DH up to the Trade Deadline. The Cubs will be minimizing risk, and trying to keep the bat afloat as much as possible. Which is not to say the Cubs could exclusively DH him for a month and not worry about the blowback on the trade market. Sure, an acquiring team knows it is getting Contreras more for his bat than his glove, but they’re still going to want to know there are no physical issues with him catching a whole lot of games down the stretch and deep into the postseason.
  • And the Kyle Hendricks update is that, yes, he was pulled last night because of a recurrence of the shoulder discomfort that bothered him last month (he sat down for a couple weeks to rest it). He didn’t sound too worried in his post-game comments – “It’s one of those things where you can grind through it. It’s really uncomfortable, but you can just keep going. It’s not going to blow up on you or anything” – but there’s going to be an MRI nevertheless (NBCSC).
  • If Hendricks winds up hitting the IL, it could be that the Cubs just maneuver the rotation a bit to have Marcus Stroman “take” Hendricks’ spot, but because there are no off-days ahead, and because Alec Mills was just re-injured , they may still have to get at least one fill-in start regardless of Stroman. We could see any of Matt Swarmer, Mark Leiter Jr., or Caleb Kilian get a start over the next week+.
  • I still can’t believe Seiya Suzuki took THIS pitch out of the park:
  • That is special bat control right there, to say nothing of the power. That doesn’t mean Suzuki won’t have more valleys, or will definitely be a superstar. But I will tell you that not many batters in the world can do that with a 92 mph pitch inside their own batter’s box. You kinda shouldn’t even be able to do it. Also, fun fact:
  • Another fun fact – might even be funner:
  • In two games since his return, Seiya Suzuki has raised his season slash line from .245/.344/.432/113 wRC+ to .257/.349/.473/125 wRC+. Strikeout rate down from 30.1% to 28.5%. That says a lot about how great his two games have been, but also about how little game action he has.
  • Rafael Ortega, who is pre-arbitration and can play all over the outfield, is now hitting .267/.363/.403/116 wRC+ on the year, after hitting .291/.360/.463/120 wRC+ last year. Sure seems valuable to me this month …
  • Matt Swarmer cruised for two innings in relief of Kyle Hendricks, and then came out and walked the bases loaded on just 13 pitches (kudos to Rowan Wick for coming into that mess and cleaning it up). So what the heck happened? Well, obviously control problems popped up, yes! But also, if you go back and look at the zone, he started getting bizarrely squeezed that inning, with no fewer than four pitches that easily could’ve/should’ve been called strikes and weren’t. Not sure how it would’ve gone if the pitches had been called correctly. Outside of that inning, Swarmer has been almost exactly as we thought he could be in this multi-inning relief role: very good! He’s got a 2.35 ERA and a strikeout rate near 30% as a reliever. The only blemish is the walk rate (14.7%), though that’s almost entirely because of that one inning (3 of his 5 walks as a reliever!).
  • If you had July 5 for Kris Bryant’s first homer with the Rockies, you win the prize. Also, I wouldn’t have believed you.
  • Maybe Bryant winds up having a good season when all is said and done, but some already projected him to not age all that well … so if he were to have a down season in his first year of that mega deal, a year when the Rockies aren’t even competitive anyway … it could all just get so ugly in the years ahead. Hopefully not. Maybe just go on a Coors Field homer binge soon.
  • It’s an exhibition game, so I don’t really care either way:
  • Holy crap, what a change in such a short time:
  • The Chicago Cubs face the Dodgers in Los Angeles for a four-game set starting tomorrow night.

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