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

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

Chicago Cubs

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:

  • Count it up, Javy:


  • Re-sharing my season opening take:

  • In the Bears world, Jordan Howard is gone:

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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.