Like we said from the beginning of the blissful journey that has been the midseason signing of elite closer Craig Kimbrel, it was impossible to say precisely just how long it would take for him to join the big league team until the Cubs got their hands on him, so to speak.
There was never any question that Kimbrel had been keeping his arm in shape, nor that he was vaguely ready for a big league season – he recently threw a bullpen for interested teams, after all – but it’s hard to know exactly what that ramp-up is going to look like until he’s working with your crew.
To that end, we saw Kimbrel throwing in the bullpen at Wrigley Field last night during the game:
It's Craig Kimbrel, throwing in the bullpen as a Chicago Cub. I WILL TAKE IT!!! (via the Fox broadcast last night) pic.twitter.com/YqG5gTlhxD
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) June 9, 2019
One thing you notice? Did you see the smiles behind Kimbrel? Sure, maybe it’s wholly unrelated. Or maybe it’s because they know what they’re seeing.
In any case, Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy was impressed, and things are looking good for a timely ramp-up for Kimbrel:
Cubs PC Tommy Hottovy on Kimbrel’s first bullpen (35 pitches on Saturday): “Obviously, elite stuff.”
TH said Kimbrel was ahead of where he expected him to be, given extended layoff. Plan calls for one more bullpen in AZ. Potentially live hitters after that.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 9, 2019
Ahead of where he expected Kimbrel to be. BOI-YOI-YOI-YOI-YOING.
It’s possible Kimbrel will be facing hitters by mid-week, which would in turn raise the possibility that he could head to Iowa for a rehab/conditioning stint as soon as, like, next weekend. Which would be incredible. That would line him up for joining the Cubs at the front end of the home stand that begins with a couple games against the White Sox on June 18.
In other words, Kimbrel might be joining the Cubs with as many as 90 games left this season, and a division to win.
… and then, of course, the postseason.