Bryant's New Bat, a Peak at Good Carl, and Other Bullets

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Bryant’s New Bat, a Peak at Good Carl, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

That was a tricky day yesterday, but at least the Cubs won – and in dramatic fashion once again. I sure would be fine with a boring win today …

  • Although most of his return to form is undoubtedly driven by his own hard work, his health, and his talent having time to shine, there’s one other bit to credit in Kris Bryant’s dominant run: a new bat. Turns out, after breaking his bat in Arizona, Bryant grabbed one of those Axe Handle bats mid-AB, and then hit a homer. Stuck with it ever since:

  • Bryant is hitting .275/.423/.775 (200 wRC+) with a 60.6% hard contact rate (LOL) since switching bats, for what that’s worth.
  • It’s definitely interest to hear Bryant say that his struggles last year may have been less about the injury, itself, and more about the loss of playing time and rhythm/timing at the plate. He’s not a guy who has missed much time at all in his baseball career from when he was kid, so it probably was very challenging to deal with that disruption. At least that’s an experience he now has in his tool belt.
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
  • Speaking of Bryant, it’s a fun anniversary – remember this long wait:

  • In his first at bat yesterday, Addison Russell was greeted – to my TV-viewing ear, and that of folks in the ballpark – by more boos than cheers, marking the first time a player in that kind of a “returning from a bad thing” situation was more booed than cheered in the home park. Theo Epstein said it was appropriate and expected:

  • I still can’t get a read on this whole situation, as far as the Cubs are concerned, by the way. Which is kind of crazy after almost six months. If it is expected and appropriate that fans would be unhappy that Russell is returning, does that mean the Cubs are just dopey, cynical a-holes? Or does it further suggest they are sincere in believing that it is right for them to wear this and to help Russell/his family get to a better place? I have a hard time believing any baseball organization – even one I want to love – would be that “selfless,” but it is a little hard to square Epstein’s continued “judge us, boo us, etc.” comments with the fact that they brought Russell back at all.
  • Meanwhile, in other returns from Iowa, Carl Edwards Jr. has looked like himself in his first two outings back with the Cubs. Last night in particular he looked fantastic, and literally all he did was throw his fastball in the strike zone. Because it is 95 mph with natural cut, great late life, and good extension, the Marlins could do nothing at all with it. When he can do that – simply throw his good fastball in the zone – and pair it with his plus curveball for wipe outs when he wants, he can be an ELITE reliever. We just haven’t actually seen it in well over a year. Maybe the trip to Iowa helped him set things right? Sure could use ELITE Carl right now with Pedro Strop out.
  • And speaking of Strop being out, if last night didn’t show you clearly enough, there isn’t going to be a set “closer” in Strop’s absence. Heck, Joe Maddon was reluctant to even call Strop the “closer” in the absence of Brandon Morrow. Instead, it’ll be based on match-ups, who is well-rested, if someone gets on a role, etc. I suspect the next healthy, fully-rested save opportunity will go to Brandon Kintzler, for what it’s worth.
  • Love for Kyle Hendricks here.
  • Spring plants, security systems, and much more are your Deals of the Day today at Amazon.
  • Bears Bullets:

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.