What You Need To Know: When a team gets really rolling, it doesn’t win every game by 10 (unless it’s 2016). A rolling team can methodically rack up wins and surge up the standings, though. That’s what the Cubs are doing at the moment. Mike Montgomery did more floating like a butterfly than stinging like a bee today, weaving in and around traffic by getting grounders when he needed them instead of flies that landed in gaps. The Cubs tallied all their runs in the first two innings in the thousand-cuts variety, with singles and sac flies and the like. They only had one extra-base hit on the day, Jason Heyward’s double in the 1st that moved Bryant to third. And just like the rest of the week pretty much, the ‘pen saw it out once Montgomery took his leave. Clean, efficient, run-of-the-mill, whatever way you want to describe “just” a win.
Next Level: Ian Happ was not here for you Schwarber-is-a-defensive-genius-now takes, as he made three diving catches, all ended innings. Perhaps the first when he came charging in would have been a normal catch more most outfielders, but his last two were gems. The first featured Happ sprinting toward the track to bail out Mike Montgomery, and the latter featured him diving toward the line to end the game and get Pedro Strop a save. Maybe the catch probabilities won’t reflect that, but they certainly looked nice and were in big spots.
Kris Bryant took the leadoff spot today, in one of those days where you’re sure Joe Maddon is just trying to entertain himself. And he went 3-for-4, so this won’t be the last time we see this. Bryant still isn’t hitting for power, but he’s getting on base so that’s how Bryant rolls.
You have to like how the Cubs can use the bottom half of the pen and still get clean innings, as Randy Rosario and Cory Mazzoni were the ones to carry it to Strop today. Neither were on the Opening Day roster. The Cubs have used eight relievers who have kept their ERAs under 3.00 and who have made five appearances or more, and they’ve also received extended, yeoman outings from Eddie Butler and Luke Farrell in extra inning efforts. These days, bullpens have to go 12-15 deep and the Cubs seem like theirs does just that. Maybe it’ll help keep the ‘pen rested while the starters are still being a bit wonky.
Heyward continued his nice work with two hits, both to the opposite field. This has been a thing of mine with Heyward, in that he hasn’t stayed inside the ball in the past couple seasons and thus we’ve gotten our astronomical amount of grounders to second. Going to left field means he’s saying inside, and the homer on Wednesday is another data point that shows he can get around when he does. Encouraging, yes.
Top WPA Play: Heyward’s double in the first that set the Cubs up with runners on 2nd and 3rd with no out in the first (+.106).
Bottom WPA Play: Mercer’s leadoff double in the 7th against Mazzoni (-.086).
Lead photo courtesy Kamil Krzaczynski—USA Today Sports