The Maybe-Kinda Velocity Plan, Arrieta's Day, Bullpen Usage, and Other Bullets

Social Navigation

The Maybe-Kinda Velocity Plan, Arrieta’s Day, Bullpen Usage, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

If you celebrate the holiday, I hope you’re having a lovely Easter with your family and friends. We’re fresh off of Easter egg hunt number one, and on our way to number two. And yet I can’t get these kids to actually eat eggs.

  • Joe Maddon implied that the Cubs’ starters’ velocity being down across the board right now is somewhat by design (CSN), as he’d like to see them focused on command right now before ramping up the velocity as the year goes in, in part because that command is so critical, and also because it could be another long year. It was the theory we offered to explain what was otherwise a strange and potentially concerning phenomenon, and it remains to be seen just how much of this is truly intentional, and how much is incidental.
  • Jake Arrieta once again looked good yesterday, with excellent movement and good command (each two of the homers he gave up – Francisco Cervelli and Starling Marte – were essentially routine fly balls that got out thanks to the conditions/ballpark). If you evaluated only with your eyes, and the hitters’ reactions, you’d say it was another very good Arrieta performance. I do feel obligated to mention, though, that his velocity was down even further, averaging a mere 91.5 mph on his sinker and four-seamer, and those numbers were at or under 90mph in his final two innings of work. It’s simply not something we’re accustomed to seeing from Arrieta, but if he’s hitting his spots and still has his movement, well, he’s still going to be very successful. It’s just that, as we know, plus velocity is a very good thing – all else equal – because it reduces your margin for error. You’re more likely to get away with a 95mph mistake than a 90mph mistake. This remains something to keep an eye on for all Cubs pitchers.
  • Much more here at CSN from Joe Maddon, including his belief that the velocity will tick back up for Arrieta, but the focus right now is good mechanics and strong command (which, so far, big check and check).
  • As for the bullpen decisions yesterday, I saw Joe Maddon getting a lot of grief for sticking with Brian Duensing as long as he did, but the thing you’ve got to remember about the early part of the season is that the Cubs, and the manager, have to figure out what they have in certain guys. And the only way to do that is to give them game action. Sometimes, unfortunately, that’s going to lead to ugly losses, but it’s information that has – for several years running now – allowed the Cubs to construct *and properly utilize* an elite bullpen by the time the season is heading down the stretch. Of course you HOPE you can get this information in April, May, and June without incurring a loss because of it, but sometimes that’s what happens.
  • As for Pedro Strop, shrug. He hung a slider to the wrong guy and Andrew McCutchen didn’t miss. It happens sometimes. In that situation, Strop is an elite strikeout reliever AND an elite groundball reliever. That was a fine spot for him. He just didn’t make his pitch. The guy has consistently been excellent in his time with the Cubs, and he gets a whole lot of leash from me. (Really look at his numbers – they’re the same level of excellent in almost every way each of the past three years – it’s uncanny.)
  • With very little time for the players to become acclimated to changes at Wrigley Field before games there actually began, Buster Olney points out the information they’re only now gleaning after a handful of games, including: the new brick walls where the bullpens used to be leave open a great potential for an infielder to come running into them while tracking a foul ball (so padding could be added), and the plexiglass that covers the bullpens in the outfield could create strong ricochets that bounce balls off them like they’ve been “launched by a trampoline.” That could be improved in the future, since the difference between a ball hitting a trampoline and an ivy-covered wall is about as extreme as it gets. We could be in for an adventurous highlight at some point.
  • The Royals have an off-day on Monday, which means former Cubs Travis Wood, Jorge Soler, and Jason Hammel can come to Wrigley Field to get their World Series rings that day (
  • If you remember the “Henry Strong” story, the young Cubs fan got to the ballpark yesterday, where he met Anthony Rizzo (
  • Carlos Martinez had an insane day yesterday, netting 11 strikeouts and 8 walks against the Yankees. Despite a 37-pitch first inning, and obvious issues throughout the day, Mike Matheny allowed his ace to throw 118 pitches. Given that Martinez was pumping over 100mph in the World Baseball Classic, and if his manager is going to hang him out there like this in April, it’s extremely difficult to see Martinez staying healthy and maximally effective throughout this season.
  • Well that’s just fantastic:

  • A cool feature at Wrigley Field, with Luis catching a shot of Jake Arrieta’s many grips:

  • On Jackie Robinson Day, the Dodgers unveiled a new statue at Dodger Stadium:

  • Zack Cozart will definitely keep up this pace:


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.