Bryant's Most Special All-Star Nod, Rotation Optimism Without Hamels, Love for La Stella, and Other Bullets

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Bryant’s Most Special All-Star Nod, Rotation Optimism Without Hamels, Love for La Stella, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

How’s this for a Monday-morning kicker: I’m officially on PEDs.

So, I’ve intermittently mentioned some challenges around the Taylor Family household right now – thanks again for understanding any of my absences, which you’ve hopefully barely even noticed – and although I still am not going to talk about several of them (hoo baby we got a lot going on … ), I do want to share one of them with you. Gents, brace yourselves.

As many of you may remember, I had a vasectomy about two and a half years go. Unfortunately, like a catcher who declines to wear a cup and takes a foul ball to the man bag, I had a complication that resulted in a hematoma (uncontrolled bleeding), which was almost comically painful, and took six months to eventually fade away. It was a party down there, let me tell you.

Since then, for reasons I thought were entirely tied to life-long anxiety issues and external challenges in our life, I have had a variety of mild physical and mental health problems to deal with. Except, surprise! It turns out that, while those issues are undoubtedly still present and a factor, I also have extremely low testosterone, likely caused by the unhappy explosion in my undercarriage. Awesome!

Coming full circle, then, I am now on a testosterone gel supplement thing that will hopefully stabilize those levels into a more normal range, which could help with a whole lot of the crap I’ve been dealing with. I have been suspended for 80 games and am no longer eligible for the postseason, but I think the tradeoff will be worth it. I’m pretty crummy at the dish anyway.

  • Kris Bryant is the Cubs’ third All-Star this year, and it’s his first selection since 2016, which is kinda wild when you think about it. He isn’t satisfied, but he sees this as the most special selection ( “I don’t know if it’s satisfying. I’ve never been satisfied with how I’ve played baseball in my life. I’m always striving for more. But, I guess it’s just a nice reward to come into this year and kind of put some of the other stuff to rest and just go out there and play baseball. This is the most special one I’ve had so far. And that means a lot.”
  • Obviously Bryant dealt with shoulder issues for most of 2018, and thus coming back this year with an All-Star-caliber performance is understandably very special. I also tend to think he’s only going to get better in the second half.
  • I’m late to this from Jesse Rogers, but it’s a must-read on how pitchers deal with “losing” a particular pitch. Really interesting takes from the pitchers themselves, who view the situation sometimes VERY differently. Cole Hamels talks about just having to pitch through it until you “find” the feel for that pitch again. Jose Quintana talks about scrapping it that day and just going with what is working. Kyle Hendricks likes to use his warm-up pitches to check back in on the feel to see if it’s back or not.
  • Speaking of Hendricks, woo hoo he’s back on Tuesday. Assuming he’s full systems go, that should help mitigate the loss of Cole Hamels (MRI on his side pending today) a little bit, together with the addition of Adbert Alzolay. Don’t get me wrong, I have no happiness that the Cubs lost their most effective starting pitcher for an extended period of time. But I do think – with the All-Star break in the middle – it’s possible the Cubs won’t be TOO grievously harmed by Hamels’ absence. And who knows? Maybe Alzolay rocks, and maybe Hamels gets some time to rest up the arm for the second half?
  • Great deals at Amazon today, including MacBook Pros, wireless ear buds, and KitchenAid mixers.
  • Auto read (even as Hultzen is currently on the IL with a groin injury):

  • And our latest podcast at The Athletic:

  • The Reds announcers have long been the worst part of that organization, and once again, they weren’t exactly covering themselves in glory:

  • West called this a strike:

  • All the congrats in the world to Tommy La Stella, man:

  • I still have mixed feelings about the trade that sent him away. The now 30-year-old is hitting .304/.356/.500 with a 131 wRC+ and 16 homers, but that breakout was absolutely not going to happen with the Cubs, who would not give him regular starts at second base because of his glove and did not see the bat justifying the defense (do with that information what you will, and criticize the player evaluation as appropriate). It’s also fair to note that, going all the way back to May 17, La Stella has hit .305/.333/.425 with a 106 wRC+. Certainly solid – much better than what the Cubs have done at second base! – but not quite a level where you have regrets.
  • Oh, I suppose I’ll have to write about this soon:

  • NBA free agency is off and running at a frenetic pace, completely unlike MLB – and financially unlike MLB, too:

  • Speaking of free agency, the Bulls have made two notable additions already:

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.