Justin Grimm as a Dominant Reliever and Other Bullets

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Justin Grimm as a Dominant Reliever and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

justin grimm featureA little over three years ago, The Little Girl had tubes put in her ears. Not really a big deal, in terms of procedures, but it was a big deal for me as a new father (she wasn’t even 10 months yet at the time), and it was a big deal for me as someone who was sharing a little more of his life here at BN. I remember talking a lot on here about her constant ear infections and sleepless nights, and it was helpful to have a space to put down those thoughts, even if it was totally self-indulgent (and, again, in the pantheon of potential child problems, hers were relatively minor). I was adjusting to a new life in so many ways at that time, and I associate in my mind the period of seeing that, yes, BN can be a full-time job for me with the period when we finally came out of the woods with The Little Girl’s interminable bouts of sickness. It all kind of came together around this time three years ago.

Today, The Little Girl is having those tubes taken out. They seem to be causing more trouble than they’re helping these days, and they never fell out on their own. So, here I am again, sharing the information with you both as a content warning (I’ll be out for a chunk of the morning, though you shouldn’t notice much difference in posting volume), and as a reminder to myself of that time three years ago.

  • The CCO’s Rob Wiler has an interview with John Baker, which is a fun read. The former Cubs catcher (wonder what he’s going to do this year?), had a lot of great things to say about Cubs pitchers, including very high praise for Kyle Hendricks, as well as Dallas Beeler, in particular (relative to what you hear, anyway). Baker believes that Hector Rondon was and is the best fit as the team’s closer, and could see Justin Grimm as a starter.
  • That last one is interesting to me, because obviously that’s something we discussed around here at length at this time last year and in the early part of the season. Given his pitch mix and previous success as a starter, you could understand wanting to see if Grimm could still make it in the rotation. By the end of the year, though, I was leaning pretty hard the other way. Grimm’s fastball had so much life out of the pen (everything played up, actually) and his slider and curve became such nasty weapons. If you want the picture of a guy who suddenly starts to dominate after being moved to the bullpen, that’s what it looks like: velocity up, a pitch or two eliminated, and the effectiveness of the remaining pitches ticks up. That was all especially true in August and September, which makes me want to see if he really figured some things out through the transition process, and if he can be that guy for a full year. Maybe Grimm could still be an effective starter, but, for now, and for this team as constructed, there’s probably more upside to the Cubs in letting him be a dominant reliever. (From July 25 on, Grimm posted a 1.75 ERA, 1.53 FIP, and 2.50 xFIP over 25.2 innings, while striking out 28.9% of the batters he faced and walking just 3.1%. That is ridiculously dominant. Do not sleep on him when you talk about the Cubs’ bullpen upside.)
  • Ryan Braun, 31, is coming off back-to-back sub-2 WAR seasons, which followed two straight above-7 WAR seasons (wow, he was good). There are a variety of injury and suspension reasons for the down years, but, if the Brewers want to have any hope of competing in 2015 (which, if you’re a Cubs fan, you obviously really don’t want to see that – it’s going to be hard enough topping either or both of the Cardinals and Pirates), they’re going to need a huge bounceback from Braun. He was dealing with a thumb issue last year, and apparently had a “somewhat experimental procedure” done this offseason to alleviate the issue, which may have been successful (Tom Haudricourt). I guess we’ll see.
  • Bryan LaHair is back in the States after a couple years in Japan. The former Cubs first baseman (and April 2012 MVP) has signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox (Boston Globe). I thought the Cubs were supposed to be the ones signing all of the former Red Sox players?
  • A hat tip to BN’er Fahey for pointing this Crawfish Boxes post on Dexter Fowler’s defense from early last season – they were immediately suspicious of the metrics that indicated he was a horrible center fielder. Obviously the potential for fan bias caveat applies, but it’s interesting to read the Astros fan perspective on Fowler’s defense last year.
  • Reminder: there’s a deal going on at the BN store for free shipping on everything right now. Just use the code LOVE4ALL when you checkout.
  • You should click “like” on the BN Facebook page so that you, too, can experience pithy bits like this:

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Author: Brett Taylor

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