Opening Day Afterglow, Brach’s Velo, Maples’ Nasty, Bryant’s Elevation, and Other Bullets

I could choose to be very annoyed about the off-day right after Opening Day, which means there is no Cubs baseball today. Or I could choose to be very happy that the start of this season is 48 straight hours of enjoying the Cubs being undefeated.

I guess I’ll just enjoy a recap of yesterday’s win. And Other Bullets …

  • How much of a comfort was it to see Brad Brach sitting 93 mph with his fastball yesterday? No, that’s not where you hope he tops out this year – he’s more of a 94/95 guy – but when the stories this spring were all about him sitting 89 mph (and the gun never seemed to be on when he was pitching … ), and we knew he lost weight due to an offseason case of mono … yeah, I was nervous. I’m still nervous, but that velocity helps calm me a bit, as did the overall performance. Looked solid.
  • The Cubs’ bullpen is full for now, but there will be plenty of turnover throughout the season, and one of the guys who’ll get plenty of run is Dillon Maples. It was fun to read this eyes-on scouting report at Baseball America, from a former pro scout who pretty clearly had no previous familiarity with Maples when he watched him in a Spring Training game. He absolutely nails Maples’ crazy stuff and tantalizing upside. Here’s a snippet: “Maples faced only four batters and gave up a really solid hit to Rockies prospect Colton Welker, but besides that one mistake he struck out two Rockies hitters with an electric 95-97 mph fastball and complimented that with a late and big breaking cutter from 88-92 mph. His slider had similar shape to the cutter and just a touch lower velocity from 83-87 mph. It’s possible that I have misidentified the slider and cutter at the upper 80s velocity—but if so, that’s a good thing. If I’m having trouble identifying it, imagine how the batter standing 60 feet, 6 inches away is feeling.” Maples, of course, throws a disgusting slider that he can play around with (hence the scout’s inability to peg what kind of pitch it was), and it becomes easy to forget just how good the fastball can be on its own when he commands it.
  • Confirming the expected: Kyle Hendricks will open the Cubs’ series in Atlanta after this Rangers series. Presumably, he’ll be followed by Jose Quintana, but that’s not yet official – the off-days allow the Cubs a little maneuvering if they want to try for different match-ups in the coming weeks.
  • Javy Baez homered twice yesterday, but he actually came just a few feet short and foul of a third homer down the right field line. With three, he would have become the Tuffy Rhodes of a new generation:
  • And Kris Bryant actually could have easily had two homers:
  • If the crosswind isn’t as stiff as it was, that’s a moonshot homer to left, no question about it. Then again, his homer to right maybe doesn’t go out if the wind is blowing hard in the other direction, so … mostly it’s just good to see that he elevated two balls with PLENTY of authority. That shoulder is feeling just fine.
  • (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

  • Ouch. This takes me back to Opening Night 2015, when Wrigley Field was under serious construction and the bleachers were closed:
  • You very much do not have to click on this and read it – I just wanted to share the lulz:
  • The Cubs are still popular in jersey sales, with three of the top 15 players in baseball:
  • In a perfectly-timed twist (or perhaps they planned it this way … ), the official MLB Shop is 25% off all orders today, so you could pick yourself up one of those jerseys (or something else) for a healthy discount.
  • Count it up, Javy:
  • https://www.instagram.com/p/Bvlxp02AHoI/

  • OMG I MUST SECURE A FLIGHT TO MYRTLE BEACH IMMEDIATELY:
  • Re-sharing my season opening take:
  • In the Bears world, Jordan Howard is gone:
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

    more cubs news

    Pre-Gamin’: Cubs at Brewers (6:40 CT) – Lineups, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

    CUBS LINEUP — Although the Cubs wound up scoring six runs last night, it took then 10 innings to get there, having scored just one run in regulation. They also struck out 14(!) times overall, so I don't think they're...

    Jed Hoyer Speaks: Offense, Offense, Offense, Offense

    Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer headed up to Milwaukee this week to be with the team and spoke with the media. You can see his comments here, here, here, and here, among other places, and also this...

    MLBits: Negro League Stats Join MLB Record Books, From Waiver Claim to Record Holder, More

    Major League Baseball has finally decided to acknowledge and incorporate Negro Leagues statistics into its records, more than 77 years after Jackie Robinson made history by breaking baseball’s color barrier. More on that decision in today's MLB Notes. MLB Has...

    Father-Daughter Dance? Nah … How About a Game of Catch to ‘Go Cubs Go!’

    I do not have a daughter. But if I ever do - and if she wants to do this on her wedding day - I will absolutely be here for it. I mean, how many more times can we listen...

    Jordan Wicks’ Latest Rehab Start, the Plan Going Forward, and the Impact on Ben Brown

    [ankin_law] Although Ben Brown's incredible performance (and general awesomeness) makes this conversation a tiny bit trickier, I don't want to lose sight of how important it is to get Jordan Wicks back in the Chicago Cubs rotation. Not only did...

    Ben Brown’s Incredible Night and Incredible Run of Outings

    Ben Brown's Major League debut was not successful in any way that you could tell by looking at the box score: 1.2 IP, 6 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 1 K. But if you were watching that game against the...

    Cubs Farm Report | May 29, 2024: Tough Day Overall, Shaw and Hernández Go Yard, More

    A trio of losses in the system yesterday, without a ton of top performances. It happens sometimes. That and more in today's Cubs Farm Report. Cubs Farm Report | May 29, 2024 Triple-A Iowa Cubs The Iowa Cubs were defeated...

    Negro Leagues Statistics Are Now Integrated Into the MLB Record Books

    After announcing a few years ago that MLB would officially recognize the Negro Leagues as a "Major League" and part of Major League Baseball, the league is now incorporating the statistics as part of the official MLB record: https://twitter.com/Russ_Dorsey1/status/1795590429074915725 https://twitter.com/HaroldRKuntz3/status/1795832922458792340...

    The Compound Podcast (With Bonus Cubs Players) … LIVE in Chicago!

    Seeing as Ian Happ was one of the heroes of last night's desperately needed win over the Milwaukee Brewers — and seeing as how Zack Short can't hurt us anymore — I thought today was a good today to share...

    Vazquez Heads Up, Someone Balks Up, Bellinger Gets Up, Estrada Blows Up, and Other Cubs Bullets

    (Yes. Ben Brown. Yes. Yes. Yes. YES. He will be discussed separately, because wow. That was a very good night.) How about the incredible 10th inning heads-up baserunning from Luis Vazquez, who hasn't exactly had a lot of opportunities to...

    Latest News

    The Bears Have *TWO* of the NFL’s Best Offensive Tackles

    Following the Chicago Bears offensive line over the years has been a bumpy ride. But perhaps we are starting to see some smooth sailing now that the current administration has made efforts to build out that part of the team....

    Mariners vs. Astros: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

    Logan Gilbert will take the ball for the Seattle Mariners (30-26) when they host starting pitcher Spencer Arrighetti and the Houston Astros (24-31) on Thursday, with first pitch at 4:10 PM ET.Keep reading to see how to watch the Seattle-Houston...

    A DJ Moore Extension is Going to be Spicy and Pricy

    DJ Moore won't be a free agent until *AFTER* the 2025 season. But it's never too early to explore a potential extension. In case you missed it, the Houston Texans signed wide receiver Nico Collins to an extension. Patrick wrote...

    Enjoy Illinois 300 Odds: I’m Berry Excited about this Top 10 at Gateway

    The green flag is almost here for the NASCAR Cup Series' Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway! This 300-mile thriller on the challenging 1.25-mile oval promises intense competition and strategic battles. But before the engines roar to life,...

    Brewers vs. Cubs: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

    The Milwaukee Brewers (31-23), with Colin Rea on the mound, host the Chicago Cubs (28-27) who will counter with Jameson Taillon, at 1:10 PM ET on Thursday.The article below will provide you with everything you need to watch Milwaukee take...

    Twins vs. Royals: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

    Chris Paddack will take the mound for the Minnesota Twins (30-24) when they host starting pitcher Brady Singer and the Kansas City Royals (34-22) on Thursday, with first pitch at 1:10 PM ET.Find out how to watch the Minnesota-Kansas City...

    Best MLB Prop Bets Today, May 29, 2024

    The MLB's 16-game schedule today should provide some fireworks. The matchups include the Boston Red Sox playing the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.MLB prop bets for today's games are available, so if you're interested in placing a...

    Wednesday’s WNBA Picks and Predictions – May 29

    Today's WNBA slate has three quality competitions on the docket. Among those games is the Las Vegas Aces playing the Minnesota Lynx.Below you'll discover WNBA picks and predictions for each and every contest on today's slate.WNBA picks todayAtlanta Dream at...

    Toronto Raptors 2024 NBA Mock Draft: Ware To Begin

    Toronto Raptors 2024 NBA Mock Draft - The NBA is changing it up this year with a revamped draft format for the 2024 season. This year's 78th annual draft will be spread over two nights, a first since the league standardized the draft to two...

    Charges Against Scottie Scheffler Officially Dropped

    And thus ends one of the strangest stories in sports over the last decade. A little less than two weeks after the world's best golfer Scottie Scheffler was detained by police just hours before his Round 2 tee time of...

    more cubs news