Rizzo, Hendo, Nico, Kimbro, Tepero, Actual Serious Stuff, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Rizzo, Hendo, Nico, Kimbro, Tepero, Actual Serious Stuff, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I’ve gotta read another book. What a sad sentence that is. But I read so much all day that I rarely find compelling the idea of thereafter ALSO sitting to read a book when I could instead be re-binging ‘The Sopranos.’ Still, having finished Stephen King’s ’11/22/63′ a few weeks ago (good, long read that took me about six months extremely piecemeal style), I should have another book to work on. So I picked up Ray Bradbury’s ‘The Martian Chronicles,’ which is one of those classics I kept hearing about. I figure I’ll chip away at it over the next month or so between innings at night … or at least between episodes of ‘The Sopranos.’

•   The plan for Anthony Rizzo is to take some live BP today against real pitching, so this is the big test for tomorrow’s game against the Twins (Cubs.com). David Ross said Rizzo was feeling good yesterday. Opening Day is not yet ruled out.

•   Given how good Kyle Hendricks’ curveball looked this week – so much sharper than before, and thrown with so much confidence – it’s not a surprise to learn via Jordan Bastian that the spin rate on the curve in his Sunday performance was among the best of his last couple years. We don’t have the data, but my guess is that the spin *efficiency* was also way up there for him (i.e., the extent to which the spin rate is actually contributing to movement (spin, alone, doesn’t necessarily get you nasty movement if you don’t have the axis just right)).

•   As I noted in the write-up last night, I was not impressed by Craig Kimbrel’s outing, as his velocity was still way down (for him), he was leaving the fastball middle-middle frequently, he didn’t throw any changeups, and he didn’t even have the massive beard going anymore:

•   I get that Kimbrel had the problematic ramp-up last year and then dealt with injuries. And I get that he got handed the same kind of problematic ramp-up this year. I’m not *mad* at the guy (or even necessarily the Cubs) if he struggles. But I think David Ross is going to need to be primed to pull the plug VERY QUICKLY this season if Kimbrel is sitting 95 mph out of the gate and can’t locate his fastball at the top or bottom of the zone.

•   Ross didn’t say too much about Kimbrel after the game, but noted that it’s not quite there (NBCSC): “Craig’s still getting on top of the baseball. I think he figured some things out. He’s still battling that release point a little bit, but the ball was coming out well.”

•   Meanwhile, on a brighter bullpen note, Ryan Tepera threw five sliders among his 11 pitches last night … and every single slider generated a swing and miss. It was a nasty, nasty pitch last night. In recent years, Tepera almost never throws his slider, instead favoring a cutter to pair with his fastball. But, uh, that pitch I was seeing last night? It was ridiculous. If he’s figured something out with that slider, he’s going to rack up a lot of strikeouts. I think he’s making the bullpen.

•   Nico Hoerner saw time last night at second base, shortstop, and center field. A nod to the possibility that he could be deployed in a super utility way this year? David Ross: “We’ve got to be prepared for anything this season. We’ve got a lot of flexibility in this roster and we’ve got to take advantage of it, especially in a season like this.” (Bastian)

•   Rumors that suggest the Cubs *might* finally soon be signing third round pick Jordan Nwogu. Fingers crossed, and we’ll jump on it when it actually comes down.

•   Some members of the Giants, and their manager Gabe Kapler, kneeled as a silent protest of racial injustice and police brutality last night. That, alone, is notable – but perhaps even more notable is that MLB shared the video and replied to comments about it:

•   The Giants also had coach Alyssa Nakken head over to first base last night:


•   Running shoes, pressure washers, and chargers (woo hoo) are among your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

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.