Baseball Talk for a Minute, Kimbrel's Good Night, Bullpen Taking Shape? And Other Cubs Bullets

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Baseball Talk for a Minute, Kimbrel’s Good Night, Bullpen Taking Shape? And Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

For reasons both public-mental-health-oriented, and also completely selfish, I’d like to have a set of Bullets this morning that set aside COVID-19 for a minute. Thankfully, there was a Cubs game late last night, so let’s talk about that before any kind of delay is put in place.

  • The Cubs beat the Padres late in this one, which was a well-pitched affair on both sides, but it wasn’t until all the Cubs regulars came out in the 7th inning that the reserves put up a three spot. Yu Darvish got in his 70 pitches, and although he battled some wildness, he isn’t a guy that you’d worried about right now. Heck, he was still successful in his three innings of work anyway. More on Darvish later.
  • Alec Mills pitched purely in relief in this one, taking over an inning from Darvish and getting three outs. As expected, and absent any last-minute changes, Mills will be in the bullpen to open the season, swinging between short-term innings, longer-term relief outings, and spot starts. It’s such a critical role, and best of luck to Mills.
  • Craig Kimbrel had his first wholly successful inning of the spring. He was once again sitting in that 94-96 mph range (still not a concern in isolation), but the fastball was commanded better and the knuckle-curve was wiping guys out. If it weren’t for a catcher’s interference and an infield dribbler that turned into a hit momentarily, Kimbrel would’ve just had a clean inning. All good.
  • One thing to watch on Kimbrel – is his fastball getting too much arm-side run? For a high-spin guy, I’d think he’d want more rise than run. No data for Spring Training; this clip just made me think about it:

  • Looking at his Brooks data, it appears his horizontal movement last year was normal, but his vertical movement definitely dropped (i.e., less rise). We have been focusing on the velocity, but this is definitely something else to watch, because you need a guy like Kimbrel to be able to maximize his spin efficiency if the velo isn’t going to be 99 mph.
  • Casey Sadler pitched two quick scoreless innings, and Ryan Tepera got the save as they each try to win a job in the bullpen. They recently came in for love from David Ross and Theo Epstein. I think it should not go unnoticed that they appeared in a game that featured only Darvish (roster lock), Kimbrel (lock), Mills (lock), and Jeremy Jeffress (lock). If I were those two, I’d be feeling pretty good about being included in this group and that I pitched well.
  • Jim Deshaies lightning round:

  • Elsewhere, another injury coming for Cardinals lefty Brett Cecil, who will ultimately provide nothing (OK, marginal value the first year) on his huge four-year deal (remember that?):


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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.