The Rundown: Jake Arrieta Great Again, Kris Bryant Goes Oppo Again, Brewers Burned Again

Jake Arrieta hasn’t been good this year and he’s well aware of it. In fact, he’s been very forthright in sharing exactly what’s wrong with his mechanics. Sunday’s game against the heavy-hitting Brewers offered a stern test of the changes Arrieta has implemented, but the results weren’t very conclusive.

If it sounds crazy to call allowing a single run over six innings inconclusive, I get it. Looking at the stat sheet would tell you he had a great game. Those who were watching, however, saw a guy who was having trouble locating and who worked over the heart of the plate far too frequently. It felt for the most part like the Brewers were just missing pitches, which is different from Arrieta making them miss.

Arrieta continued to work middle-in to righties and up in the zone far more than you’d like to see. He was also working from a lower arm angle at times, something he’d mentioned getting away from. Then you’ve got the matter of that velocity bugaboo that has haunted Arrieta all season. He was able to touch 94 once or twice, but was largely working 91-93. That’s just not enough to blow it past major league hitters, not when your location is iffy.

Perhaps that’s simply a product of confirmation bias born of my desire to find something wrong with the former Cy Young winner. On the positive side, even the reduced velo is still enough to offset the curveball, which was working well Sunday afternoon.

A bases-loaded, no-out pickle in the 5th had all the makings of the previous situations we’ve seen go sideways on Arrieta this season, but he was able to get out of it behind some wicked sliders and a very nice changeup. While racking up 111 pitches is a sign that he was still working through a few things, issuing only one walk for the second straight outing was a sign that he’s not letting himself get completely off the rails.

Working with his full arsenal and making pitches under pressure is the sort of vintage performance we’ve not seen too often in the last year. Doing that more frequently might mean Jake Arrieta Great Again.

Bryant is right

It’s amazing to me that it took pitchers this long to force Kris Bryant to start going oppo, given how dominant he’s been against everything from the middle of the plate in. For some reason, opponents kept trying to bust Bryant inside in hopes that he’d not be able to catch up to it. Cool idea, fellas. Except that Bryant has a career 1.385 OPS to the pull field and only .606 to right.

Things are looking up for the MVP this year, however, as he implements changes he worked on in the cage this winter. The fruits of that labor have been evident early, with Bryant’s home run to right-center Sunday representing his third such dinger after hitting only one all of last season.

“If the pitchers are going to be stupid enough to try to change the way they pitch to him because he’s got a .429 batting average on pulled balls or whatever, we’re already a step ahead of them,” Mike Bryant told CI a little while back. “[W]e prepared together what the technique’s going to be to drive the ball hard into the right-center field gap…”

This isn’t a matter of looking away all the time, it’s about Bryant being more aware of how pitchers are going to try to attack him and then adjusting in kind. This is a pattern he’s followed since his prep days, one of finding a weakness and improving it before opponents can exploit it. That’s why this young man has such a high ceiling. Every time he bumps up against it, he just rebuilds it that much higher.

Forecast shenanigans

The Brewers must have spent their free Saturday afternoon sunbathing in the nude, because there were a lot of red, chapped asses on display Sunday.

In case you missed it, Milwaukee was none too pleased about an early postponement that the Cubs claim was due to an erroneous forecast that called for more rain. As we know by now, the sun burst through the clouds and provided beautiful weather from pretty much the original gametime through the rest of the day.

Not that the Cubs got to enjoy it, though, as a result of all the shade being thrown their way.

“We were a little surprised the game was called as early as it was,” said Brewers GM David Stearns. “I’m sure they had their reasons to do it. Obviously, it didn’t rain. So, from our standpoint, we would have preferred to play yesterday. I talked with some guys with the Cubs. They knew how we felt. That’s one of the earliest games I’ve ever been involved with that was called. That surprised me a little bit.”

Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell was somewhat less measured in his response to the decision to call the game.

“First time, for us, that we’ve had players treated for sunburn after a rainout,” Counsell joked.

When he wasn’t chronicling Sunday’s game, Tom Haudricourt, who covers the Brewers beat for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, devoted his time to going after the Cubs’ claim that they had a forecast of rain. And he wasn’t the only beat writer to further the conspiracy theory.

I mean, it makes sense when you think about it. Why would the Cubs want to play a Saturday afternoon game that saw people lined up to get their “Last Out” bobblehead when they could push it back to a weekday in July? Because that totally fits the narrative that they’re a money-hungry organization that always tries to squeeze every time from its fans. And we all saw how nice the weather was on Friday.

Just means the spanking the Brewers endured Sunday afternoon was that much more painful.

More news and notes

  • Ty Wright, hitting coach for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, is organizing an auction to raise funds for tornado victims near his hometown of Tyler, TX
  • Eloy Jimenez left Sunday’s game with a tweaked hammy, but it’s not considered too serious
  • Theo Epstein delivered the commencement address at his alma mater, Yale University
  • Doug Fister signs with the Angels
  • Gleyber Torres has been promoted to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after hitting .277/.363/.504 at AA
    • The Schrutes will serve as Torres’ host family and he’ll have to room with Mose
    •’s Matt Kardos was first with the announcement
      • Very interesting stuff in the rest of his Twitter timeline re: Torres
      • The young SS was recently pulled from a game after failing to run out a foul that blew fair
  • Trevor Cahill underwent an MRI after experiencing continued shoulder discomfort
  • Ladies, here’s a pretty dope Star Wars Cubs shirt
  • If you’ve got two grand just burning a hole in your pocket, you can own a pair of signed, game-worn Anthony Rizzo cleats
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