Butler's Battle, Crummy Conditions, Heyward's Return, and Other Bullets

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Butler’s Battle, Crummy Conditions, Heyward’s Return, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

In recent weeks/months (since the season started, I expect), I’ve started to do a very poor job of carving out family time on the weekends. On a given game day, even on the weekend, there’s so much you can do around here in the run up to a game, and then there’s covering the game, that a day can slip away with only passing interactions with the family. That’s not going to work for me.

I’m going to start holding myself accountable for ensuring I’m getting enough stuff out there for you folks on the weekend, but not spending so much time BN’ing that it’s just another work day. It’ll start with trying to be more efficient in the weekend Bullets …

  • Jason Heyward is expected back today, which means it’s decision time for the Cubs’ front office and Joe Maddon both on the roster, and on who plays when and where. The Cubs could opt to send Ian Happ back to Iowa for regular starts (or could keep him up and give him regular starts, while sitting Ben Zobrist, Javy Baez, Albert Almora, and Kyle Schwarber more often), or they could drop back down to seven relievers. It’s most likely, though, that if the Cubs opt to keep Happ, you’ll see one of Tommy La Stella or Albert Almora heading to AAA Iowa for the time being. It would probably be La Stella, despite the fact that he’s been nearly perfect at the plate in his complementary role. He wouldn’t be down forever, of course.
  • I am still very intrigued by Eddie Butler, but his start yesterday was very disappointing. I don’t just mean the results, I mean the way it all played out. With his natural movement, wide pitch variety, and good velocity, he’s a rare guy that – especially on a cold and wind-blowing-in day – you almost literally want to see him just chucking it at the heart of the strike zone. If they consistently make hard contact, then so be it (despite everything, he got 11 whiffs on the day!). To me, it looked like Butler and the Cubs were far too slow to adjust to the fact that it was a tight strike zone, and Butler was not going to be able to dot the corners (he later said he couldn’t get a feel for the ball, and I’m sure the extremely cold conditions didn’t help). I could be mistaken, but at no point did it look like he was trying to pound the zone (wherever in the zone) – instead, it looked like he was still trying to command to precise locations, and that’s what he was unable to do. Here’s hoping this was a one-time issue due to the conditions, and improved feel helps him next time out.
  • As expected, by the way, Butler’s velocity was WAY down from his much warmer, more adrenaline-y performance in St. Louis, where he was hitting 96-97 mph. This time out, he was sitting at just 93 mph, and touching 94 mph. (The probably-down-a-click Wrigley Field gun figures into that, too. Don’t misread me: this is not a bullet where I’m levying concern about Butler’s velocity.)
  • One thing I should say in fairness: had Butler gotten a couple close calls in the first inning, he probably throws only about 20 pitches, warms up a bit instead of staying out there for 40 pitches freezing, and maybe the whole thing goes differently. He was especially crushed by the fact that the bottom of the strike zone was about six inches higher than it was supposed to be.
  • The conditions yesterday were better suited for an animated sea adventure of some kind:
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • Something crazy from the series finale against the Reds, if you didn’t see it live:

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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.