Joe Nathan's Solid Debut and an Increasingly Crowded Bullpen and Other Bullets

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Joe Nathan’s Solid Debut and an Increasingly Crowded Bullpen and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

joe nathan cubsAll right, I’m gonna try and hustle through the Bullets while there’s a lull in the Cubs-Chapman rumor swirl (actually, I’ve now updated and tweeted several times since starting these Bullets … )

  • After seeing Joe Nathan’s comments about his appearance yesterday, I’m even more encouraged by the outing. For those who weren’t watching, the short version is this: for the first 2.5 batters (about 12 pitches or so), Nathan’s pitches were flat and not well-located. Then, halfway through Ryan Braun’s at bat, it was like a switch clicked, and the slider looked sharp, the fastball picked up a little tail, and everything was well-located. Naturally, then, after allowing the first two batters to reach, Nathan struck out the side:

  • Oh, yes, but the Nathan comments: you can read them here at and here at the Tribune, but Nathan emphasized that he was too high energy at the start, and once he settled himself, the pitches came back to him. So, when the story the pitcher tells squares so perfectly with what I saw on the pitches, I’m encouraged. It’s just one outing, but there’s a chance the Cubs have added a nice middle reliever here, and one with a whole lot of experience and wisdom (and work ethic) to impart. If Nathan does establish himself as a piece in the pen, and if the Cubs do finish this trade for Chapman, then they’ve suddenly got a glut of quality relievers, including those two, plus Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Mike Montgomery, Travis Wood, Carl Edwards Jr., and Justin Grimm. Other considerations: Clayton Richard is still around, though he might be out if Chapman arrives, and I’m not sure he’s going to be leaned on at this point anymore anyway. Brian Matusz is looking good at Iowa. Trevor Cahill is rehabbing. Adam Warren will probably go in the Chapman deal.
  • Also, that was just a huge moment in the game. Second and third with nobody out, and the Brewers already up 4-1, it would have been very easy for a run or two to score there even if Nathan completes the inning cleanly (with a couple fly balls, for example). If that happens, the game probably plays out differently.
  • Addison Russell’s status for today’s opener against the White Sox is in question after he left yesterday’s game with a bruised heel he suffered the day before on a foul ball ( With the DH in play these next two days, you’d love for Russell to not have to sit out, leaving the Cubs with as many DH options as possible (instead of having to slide Javy Baez into shortstop, and then move others accordingly). You’d also just love to have Russell in the lineup, because the dude is really hitting lately.
  • Dexter Fowler is expected to play today after getting yesterday off with “general soreness” ( Joe Maddon said it wasn’t the hamstring bothering Fowler, who just came back from missing a month with a hamstring strain. It was just general soreness. I take that to mean it was basically a rest day for Fowler, as he’s coming back from injury.
  • An EXTREMELY enjoyable read from Jon Greenberg on how the White Sox almost acquired Jake Arrieta for Jesse Crain shortly before the Cubs actually pulled it off. Because Crain’s shoulder started barking, it didn’t happen, and the rest is history. But the questions it prompts! Would Arrieta have become ARRIETA on the White Sox? What would the Cubs have done differently in 2014 and 2015 if they hadn’t had him? Just how hugely different could this roster have been, after you follow all the ripples out?
  • Woes in the Pirates’ rotation continue, as top prospect Tyler Glasnow is headed to the DL with shoulder soreness.
  • Michael’s got your highlights from around baseball right here.
  • $120 for a signed Willson Contreras bat on Amazon.

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.