Cubs

Suzuki's plate discipline as advertised early on

Cubs

The biggest highlight of Seiya Suzuki’s first few games with the Cubs traveled 412 feet and landed halfway up the left-center field bleachers at Wrigley Field.

But perhaps the most impressive thing about his young big-league career is when he doesn't swing the bat at all.

Through four games, Suzuki has swung and missed three times across 73 pitches (17 plate appearances).

On his other 16 swings, he's hit nine foul balls, a sacrifice fly, a fly out, two base hits and three home runs — including two on Tuesday.

He's struck out five times, four looking, including looking at three straight pitches in his final at-bat Sunday in a 5-4 loss.

“He's done great,” Cubs manager David Ross said Sunday. “He knows his zone and is staying committed to that. There’s not a lot of even flinching at borderline pitches.

“He’s also struck out looking a couple of times, which tells you how committed he is to his zone, which is nice. He’s not going to chase. If he can stay right there, I think he'll continue to learn these pitchers, learn the environment and continue on the path he's on.”

Suzuki's reputation in Japan’s NPB was having significant power and good plate discipline. Four games is a small sample size, and he will need more time to acclimate to big-league pitching. He pointed out over the weekend the difference in pitch sequencing in MLB and the NPB.

 

“I feel like I’m still trying to find the perfect balance in my at-bats and just trying out different things every day,” Suzuki said Sunday through interpreter Toy Matsushita. “I feel like I’m not quite there yet in terms of adjustments.”

Then again, he’s looked calm at the plate so far, and he’s already faced some of the National League’s best pitchers. Milwaukee ran out reigning Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta against the Cubs.

After the Cubs’ Opening Day win, Suzuki said he’s never seen a pitch with as much power and movement as Burnes’ cutter. He walked and hit a single off the Brewers ace.

"You don't know what's going on inside, but he is as calm as could be, it seemed like," Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks said on Opening Day. "Taking the right pitches, great approach, getting to the next guy, taking his walks and putting good swings on good pitches.

"I was super, super impressed just with his demeanor and his approach, how he took his at-bats, all of it."

The season is only a few games old, but Suzuki has made a good first impression.

“He can rake,” Stroman said Sunday. “I think he’s going to be someone who you know is going to give you a quality at-bat each and every time.

“[He’s] someone who I think is going to bring a little fear into opposing pitching staffs, and someone who is going to be a main dude in that top three, top four part of the lineup for years to come.”

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