Jose Quintana

Wrapping up a wacky week in Chicago baseball

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USA TODAY

Wrapping up a wacky week in Chicago baseball

Welcome to “Who Knew?”, a weekly roundup of fun statistical oddities and fun facts in Chicago Baseball. Every Monday, I'll dig into the previous week’s games (Monday-Sunday) to present a collection of things you may not have noticed and answers to questions you may have never thought to ask.   Let’s get started!

Double Digit Delight

Monday at Oakland, Reynaldo López recorded ten punchouts, the first 10+ K game by a White Sox pitcher this season. Prior to López, the last Sox hurler to reach double-digits was Lucas Giolito back on Sept. 3, 2016 against the Rays.

So, as it stands, the last two White Sox 10+ K games were by pitchers acquired in the same Dec. 7, 2016 trade:

Reynaldo López, Lucas Giolito & Dane Dunning acquired from Nationals for Adam Eaton.

Also interesting about the López & Giolito games – each of the last two 10+ K games by White Sox pitchers have been by righties. Prior to Giolito, each of the Sox’ previous 48 10+ K games had been by southpaws (all by Sale, Danks, Quintana and Rodón). The previous 10+ K game by a White Sox righty had been Jake Peavy April 14, 2013.

(Un)Lucky Seven?

Tuesday at Wrigley Field, Tyler Chatwood posted a rare statline:

4.2 IP, one hit, two runs, seven walks, seven strikeouts.

It was a fairly good job of damage control, all things considered. And it was the first time a Cubs pitcher posted seven-plus walks and seven-plus strikeouts since Kerry Wood did it twice – two months apart – in 2001. 

But Chatwood did it while allowing only one hit. The last time a Cubs pitcher allowed seven-plus walks and seven-plus strikeouts with one or fewer hits allowed? 

Burt Hooton’s no-hitter (with seven walks and seven strikeouts) April 16, 1972.

Go On, Yoán

Wednesday was another wild one at the Oakland Coliseum. The White Sox used 10 pitchers in a game for the first time in their 118-year history, but let’s focus on Yoán Moncada.

It was his second game in a row with a home run and a stolen base, something no White Sox player had accomplished two games in a row since Ray Durham in September 1998.

Furthermore, Moncada’s home run on Wednesday was a grand alam.  At age 22 years, 326 days, he is the youngest Sox player to hit a 4-run 4-bagger since Kevin Bell (20 years, 345 days) on June 22, 1976. But since Bell’s was an inside-the-park home run (and the first homer of his career), you could go even further back and say Moncada is the youngest Sox player to hit a grand slam over the fence since Carlos May (age 21 years, 16 days) on June 2, 1969.

Overall, he’s the fifth youngest player in White Sox history to hit a grand slam.

20 years, 198 days Johnny Callison September 26, 1959 at Detroit
20 years, 345 days        Kevin Bell   June 22, 1976 at Kansas City
21 years, 16 days   Carlos May    June 2, 1969 at Boston
22 years, 115 days      Bibb Falk May 22, 1921 vs Washington
22 years, 326 days Yoán Moncada April 18, 2018 at Oakland
22 years, 331 days    Carlos Lee May 17, 1999 vs Cleveland (off Bartolo Colón!)

Double Duty

Friday, James Shields started the game after relieving in the 14th inning of the previous game.

He was the first White Sox pitcher to start:

  • after relieving the previous game since Matt Albers on July 23, 2016
  • after relieving and finishing the previous game since Gene Nelson April 29, 1986
  • after relieving the previous game with a decision in both since Tom Seaver May 9, 1984

       (Seaver earned a Win in the completion of a 25 inning marathon prior to his win in the May 9 start) 

Thanks to STATS LLC for the Nelson/Seaver notes.

Big start for Báez

166 players have at least 15 hits this season (entering Monday, April 23).

Of those 166, here are the highest percentage of extra-base hits:

Player Hits Extra Base Hits Percent
Javier Báez 21 15 71.4 percent
A.J. Pollock  20  14 70 percent
Eric Thames  15 10 66.7 percent
Gregory Polanco      15 10 66.7 percent
Didi Gregorius  22 14 63.6 percent

The extra-base output for Báez isn’t just confined to home runs. He has seven home runs and three triples through the Cubs’ first 19 games this season.

Through the team’s first 19 games of a season:

He’s the first Cub to have three triples and three home runs since Ernie Banks (three of each) in 1964

He’s the first Cub to have three triples and six home runs since Andy Pafko (three triples, six home runs) in 1951

He’s the ONLY Cub to have three triples and seven home runs since at least 1900!

His 23 RBI is the highest total by a Cub since Billy Williams (26) in 1970

Two of a kind

On Sunday, José Quintana became the first Colombian-born pitcher to reach 1,000 career strikeouts. Next to do it will most likely be the Braves’ Julio Teherán.  But take a minute to compare the two pitchers:

José Quintana 1,004 strikeouts 59 career wins Career 3.60 ERA MLB Debut: May 7, 2012
Julio Teherán 887 strikeouts 59 career wins Career 3.60 ERA MLB Debut: May 7, 2011

Going Forward

The Cubs are 10-9 this season and have been 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, and 9-9.  Back in 2011, they continued the pattern all the way to 10-10.

That’s as far as they have ever gone, and they have been in the National League since 1876.  We’ll keep our eyes out for that. 

Until next week…

As Cubs search for rhythm, hold the declarations on this season for a while

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USA TODAY

As Cubs search for rhythm, hold the declarations on this season for a while

Jed Hoyer is right: You can't make any claims about these Cubs one way or the other.

It's too early and the weather/schedule has been far too wacky for any strong statements about who, exactly, the 2018 Cubs are. 

"I don't think you can really evaluate much so far," Hoyer said. "There's no rhythm to the season yet. The game's been played in terrible condition for the most part.

"Positively or negatively, I don't think you can draw big conclusions based on what's happened. ... There's a lot of games to be played. We'll forget this time quickly and remember what it's like to be in [Wrigley] when it's not freezing. It's been a little choppy and hard to evaluate, for sure."

You can shout "SMALL SAMPLE SIZE" from the Wrigleyville rooftops all you'd like, but that's not even why it's impossible to draw conclusions about the identity of this team.

The 8-8 Cubs have already had five postponements due to weather to start the 2018 season, including four on the recent homestand (and a makeup game on Thursday, which was originally scheduled as a travel day). The last time this franchise had five games in April called on account of weather was back in 1967 and there are still another 10 days left in the month for the weather to possibly mess with. 

This will surely go down as one of the oddest starts to a season in Cubs history, with a 17-inning game played on the second day of the year, followed by a 10-inning game the next day. The Cubs were supposed to start the campaign with six straight games, but the last contest in Cincinnati was postponed, so they got an impromptu two-day break, which was good at the time for Anthony Rizzo to rest his ailing back and the bullpen to catch their breath.

After a four-game series in Milwaukee's domed stadium in which the Cubs finally looked to be showing some rhythm, the weather reared its ugly head again.

The 11-day homestand featured four postponed games, maybe the worst weather game in Wrigley Field history (Saturday) and yet another impromptu two-day break. This week alone, the Cubs played two games in a five-day span.

All of that has led to an inconsistent product.

One day, the Cubs look like an offensive juggernaut, going 5-for-9 with runners in scoring position, chasing an opposing starter before the fifth inning and scoring in bunches, as they showed Thursday in the 8-5 win over the Cardinals.

But in half the games this year, they can't seem to buy a hit against pitchers most Cubs fans haven't even heard of.

One day, the starting rotation flashes its elite potential, only to get battered around the next night.

"We haven't pitched very well," said Jon Lester, who allowed only an unearned run across six innings Thursday. "I'm not gonna speak for hitters; I don't like to cross that line by any means. But I feel like we've had some really good offensive games and our pitching staff as a whole hasn't stepped up.

"I think things will get better if we can get some games in. You got pitchers that are going on 6, 7, 8 days rest all the time. It's hard to get in that rhythm, especially when it's cold out. It's hard to find the ball; it's hard to find that release point."

Lester isn't one for making excuses and the Cubs aren't doing that. Every team in baseball has to go through these head-scratching weather issues, but it's impossible to point to the team's starting pitching inconsistency without including the schedule caveat. 

Baseball players — and starting pitchers, in specific — are creatures of habit and yet everybody is trying to navigate this new terrain.

Kyle Hendricks is still throwing a bunch on the side during all these rain/snow-outs, but most relievers are saving their bullets. Position players are still working out and getting their time in the cages, but that doesn't help everything.

The team that set records for their defensive prowess in 2016 has been inconsistent in the field this year, though their manager has an idea why.

"When you don't play consistently, the feel, the nuance, that escapes you," Joe Maddon said. 

The same issues that plagued the Cubs during their World Series "hangover" last year still seem to be around — not coming up with the timely hit, poor situational hitting overall, too many walks from the pitching staff.

But there are also reasons for optimism.

Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell are showing development offensively and the lineup has missed its anchor (Anthony Rizzo) for almost half the season (seven games). Carl Edwards Jr. is limiting his walks and the Cubs bullpen has been the team's saving grace for the first three weeks.

The starting rotation is still iffy, but with resumes like Lester's, Kyle Hendricks', Jose Quintana's and Yu Darvish's, that figures to even out over a larger sample size.

The Cubs haven't fallen too far back in the standings (3 games behind the NL Central-leading Pittsburgh Pirates) and more importantly than anything, they've been able to stay healthy, apart from minor back issues for Rizzo and Ben Zobrist.

The weather still doesn't look great in Colorado, Cleveland or back in Chicago next week, but eventually things will warm up and the sun will come out on a regular basis.

And eventually enough games will be played — and not postponed — where statements about who the 2018 Cubs are can be identified conclusively.

It's just not that time...yet.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Cubs fans be worried about Jose Quintana or the weather?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Cubs fans be worried about Jose Quintana or the weather?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Teddy Greensten (Chicago Tribune) and Mark Grote (670 The Score) join Kap on the panel. The Cubs weather a storm on Saturday for a miraculous comeback in the muck. Should the game have even been played? Was Jose Quintana’s poor performance because of the poor weather?

Plus the guys discuss the Clint Hurdle-Javy Baez controversy as well as the hype surrounding Matt Nagy heading into his first minicamp.