A Plausible Brandon Kintzler Comeback, Attacking Hitters Appropriately, and Other Bullets

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A Plausible Brandon Kintzler Comeback, Attacking Hitters Appropriately, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Little Girl and I did a daddy-daughter date night last night, and it was awesome. Burgers, dancing, games, balloons, and literal star-gazing. I know some of you have been around here since before she was born, and she turned 8 this month (her arrival marked the turning point in taking BN from hobby to full-time job). She is just so fantastic. I’m shaking my head, grinning like an idiot in this coffee shop as I type.

  • From the time he became a bullpen regular (with the Brewers) in 2013, through the 2017 season, Brandon Kintzler was an excellent reliever. He didn’t strike anyone out, but he managed contact exceptionally well, got a huge groundball rate (57.7%), didn’t give up homers (0.71 per 9), and walked nobody (5.6%). Thus, over 268.0 innings, he posted a very good 3.09 ERA, about 24% better than league average. And, by my eyes, he earned it.
  • Then 2018 happened, as Kintzler turned 34, may have been dumped on the Cubs because the Nationals thought he was a clubhouse rat, and then he was abysmal. His then 3.59 ERA with the Nationals became a 7.00 with the Cubs, his peripherals uniformly tanked, and he was utterly unusable for the Cubs at the time they needed him most. It was only 18.0 innings, but they were almost all bad, and Cubs fans have long memories for that kind of thing.
  • Still, with some distance, can we step back and at least leave open the possibility that those 18.0 innings were a blip and the nearly 300 that preceded them were the real Kintzler? It’s certainly possible. We do have to acknowledge that his velocity did dip a bit and he’ll turn 35 this year, so it’s also possible he’s just done. But he’s here, he’s going to have a decent-sized leash to win a spot in the bullpen, and he’s recently been very good. I’ll root for him.
  • I am glad Kintzler mentioned this second point:

  • Obviously, the best chance for success against a given hitter is if you attack his weaknesses *AND* you happen to be really good at doing that thing (i.e., setting him up with inside fastballs, wiping him away with a hard slider low and away). But what if his weakness is also your weakness? What if there’s something he’s mediocre against, but you’re badass doing? Then stick with what works for you. There’s a balance there.
  • (In case you were wondering about pitch mix, nah, I don’t detect a huge shift in his usage last year after coming to the Cubs – maybe a slight early uptick in slider usage, but his sinker usage was actually up, and not enough that it was clearly an intentional change. That said, his slider usage overall for 2018 was way down compared to 2017, but flat with 2016. So, yeah, I don’t really see anything here. Rather, I’ll just hope an offseason to reset and get comfortable with his new team will set Kintzler right.)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

  • I’m just saying, it *did* happen last year:

  • You’re on Candid Camera:

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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.