What You Need to Know: The Cubs’ end of the battery, Jen-Ho Tseng was making his first start in the big leagues, and thus, the Cubs gave up some runs in early parts of the game. Thankfully, the offense did their job to overcome the deficit and complete the sweep of the empty shell of the Mets. The North Siders scored 14-plus runs in consecutive games for the first time since July 20-July 21, 2003.
Next Level: Just like we drew it up three years ago, a Cubs key international signing from the 2013 class has arrived in the bigs to help the contending club in 2017. But it is neither Eloy Jimenez nor Gleyber Torres, both of whom the Cubs traded for established major-league assets over the past two summers. In the shadow of the aforementioned juggernauts, the Taipei native built up a solid career throughout the minor league ladder, receiving not only one, but two organizational Minor League Pitcher of the Year honoraries, in 2014 and 2017. In fact, Tseng was in town to receive the award when he was notified of tonight’s start by Joe Maddon.
According to various scouting reports, Tseng’s fastball is fringy at best, but he locates it well. His best weapon is a changeup that can be plus at times, to go with a tight curve. Hmm…. apparently “Jen-ho Tseng” is the Taiwanese term for “Kyle Hendricks”.
For more trivia, Tseng starred in the 2013 WBC at the age of 19, making him one of the youngest players who ever participated in the history of the tournament. Speaking of his adolescence, at 22 years and 345 days old, the righty became the youngest Cubs hurler to appear in a big-league game since they traded Sean Gallagher to the A’s for Rich Harden in 2008.
In his major-league debut, he looked nervous early on, and he struggled to show the impeccable command. However, he ended up throwing 45 of his 70 pitches for strikes, and punched out six in just three innings of work. The problem was his being susceptible to give up hard contact, as eight of 10 batted balls against him recorded by Statcast were at 90 mph or harder, with five of them at harder than 99 mph. Though, to my eye, he’s earned another shot. If the Cubs are thinking the same, he might make another start after the NL Central is all set.
Top Play (WPA): In a game full of hard-hit balls (12 of them had a triple-digit exit velocity), the most crucial play came on a two-foot dribbler off the bat of Taylor Davis. The cue-shot, which was hit too weakly for Statcast to record, caused a throwing error by Travis d’Arnaud and scored Javy Baez while advancing Jason Heyward to third and Davis himself to second (.157). It was also the first career base hit for Davis. Congrats, Taylor, you’ll never forget this moment.
Bottom Play (WPA): Dominic Smith led off the top of the fourth with a homer (-.115). d’Arnaud followed with another round-tripper, but the Mets wouldn’t score another run until the ninth.
Lead photo courtesy Kamil Krzaczynski—USA Today Sports