Kimbrel's Velo, Love for Bryant, and Other Bullets

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Kimbrel’s Velo, Love for Bryant, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I say it every year, but it’s true: doing the “normal” posts during the Blogathon are the hardest part. I’m trying to focus on making things fun and crazy and covering all the rumors, so it’s hard to step out of that brain and into Bullets mode. Here goes the first of TWO Bullets during the Blogathon …

  • I still think we’re in the phase of his season (not the overall season) where we can say Craig Kimbrel is “ramping up,” and all that stuff where you’re attempting to comfort your mind. But I also think we’re getting close to the point where, if it’s going to happen – normal command, normal velocity – it’s going to happen pretty soon. If it doesn’t, then this might just be what he is for the rest of the season and then he’ll get a normal offseason to prepare for 2020. This was always part of the risk in signing a guy in Kimbrel’s situation, and was definitely factored into his price tag.
  • All that said, Kimbrel is 31, and saw his average fastball velocity decline last year, so some fall off would not be shocking (though relievers can often maintain premium velocity deeper into their 30s than starters). Here’s how Jordan Bastian discussed the issue in his latest inbox, with quotes from Joe Maddon:

“‘I’m still of the ilk that he needs just more time,’ Maddon said Sunday. ‘He’s still working through some mechanical things with himself and just purely arm strength.’

Maddon also opined that this recent stretch of outings — Kimbrel’s average fastball readings on Tuesday (94.7 mph) and Saturday (94.8 mph) were his lowest single-game rates over the past five seasons — could be similar to a ‘dead arm’ phase experienced by some pitchers in Spring Training.

The Cubs can at least be optimistic if they look to last season as a blueprint. Kimbrel averaged 96.8 mph in June, but then saw his average velocity continue to rise to 98.3 mph by September. So, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that — as Maddon is hoping — Kimbrel will look more like his usual self by the stretch run.”

  • In advance of tonight’s series opener against the Cubs, the Cardinals have optioned struggling outfielder Harrison Bader to AAA, and will call up outfielder Lane Thomas in his place. Eventually, that spot will go to Marcell Ozuna when he’s ready to be activated.
  • In praise of Kris Bryant:

  • Been waiting for this guy, an over slot college bat who can play all over the infield, to really put it all together this year, and it may have clicked:

  • More prospect notes coming from Bryan.
  • Michael is still weird, and still awesome:

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.