Sunday brunch blog: Rizzo and Lake

Sunday brunch blog: Rizzo and Lake

Posted by Bruce on Sun, 09/22/2013 - 12:57

Cubs manager Dale Sveum talked about a couple of the young players on the team this morning: Anthony Rizzo and Junior Lake. Rizzo is completing his first full year in the big leagues after coming up in June 2012 and having success. This year, it’s been a mixed bag.

“I think you have to analyze it in a way that we know how the game works and it’s his first time ever playing every single day in the big leagues,” Sveum said. “It’s his first time with the pressure of hitting third every single day, for the most part anyway. The 22 homers, 75, possibly 75 RBI for a second-year player isn’t the end of the world.

“If you look back when you take a second year player, would you take 20-something homers and 80 RBI? We’ve put him in a tough situation being a young player, a second-year player. His defense has been as good as anybody’s in the game. The learning process of that is out of the way, too. I think we forget everybody is going to have their bad year or whatever and you get through it, especially at a young age. ‘Wow, I’ve been there before, I know how to get out of it, I understand the process.’

“You analyze the year, and it’s not as bad as everybody makes it out to be.”

Rizzo takes a line of .231/.323/.417 into today’s game. He has 22 home runs, 77 RBI, 74 walks and 122 strikeouts. His wOBA is .324. The OPS is .741. The OPS-plus is 100. The BABIP is .256.

Last year, Rizzo had a line of .285/.342/.463. He had 15 homers at the big-league level, 48 RBI, 27 walks and 62 strikeouts. The wOBA was .349. The OPS was .805. The OPS-plus was 115. The BABIP was .310.

As far as Lake goes, he’s at .305/.346/.459 with 6 homers, 16 RBI, 10 walks and 59 strikeouts since coming up right after the all-star break.

Sveum was asked what Lake needs to work on.

“Not being so aggressive at the plate and cutting down on two strikes,” he said. “The willingness to drive the ball up the middle and hit the outfield grass with men in scoring position. The learning process is still going on for the outfield. He just doesn’t have enough reps. He just needs a lot more reps, whether it’s winter ball or spring training and all to just see balls off the bat. You can take all the fungoes you want in t he outfield. It’s just n ot the same as flyballs off the bat.

“He’s learning the process at the big leagues. Obviously hitting .300 in the big leagues and doing some good things at the plate and learning at the same time that these guys can pitch to a scouting report and how do I change and adjust to what they’re doing to me. All those things start happening in the big leagues to where you have to start making adjustments as well.”

Once again, we enter a day where the Braves’ magic number to clinch the NL East is 1. The second-place Washington Nationals are playing a doubleheader at home against Miami after last night’s game got rained out.

From the game notes: Rizzo has 62 extra-base hits, the most for a Cubs left-handed hitter since Corey Patterson had 63 in 2004. Rizzo’s 62 extra-base hits rank tied for fifth among NL hitters … With a win today, starting pitcher Edwin Jackson would match Travis Wood for the team lead with 9 victories. Jackson has a chance to lead the team in both wins and losses, and that would mark the third straight year a Cubs pitcher did that. Jeff Samardzija went 9-13 last year, and Ryan Dempster was 10-14 in 2011 … Pedro Strop became the fifth Cubs pitcher to record a save, when he nailed down Saturday’s victory. He joined Kevin Gregg (32), Kyuji Fujikawa (2), Carlos Marmol (2) and Blake Parker (1). The Cubs have gotten saves from five pitchers for the first time since 2008, when Kerry Wood (34), Marmol (7), Bob Howry (1), Sean Marshall (1) and Samardzija (1) did it.

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