Is Kimbrel's (Unused) Changeup Actually Causing His Problems? And Other Cubs Bullets

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Is Kimbrel’s (Unused) Changeup Actually Causing His Problems? And Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

We haven’t gone to a place to do a family activity since March, so I’ll say up front that going to the pool together yesterday for a couple hours was awesome. The kids had a blast, I felt human for a moment, and the setup there felt really safe. The only problem? Because it’s been so long and was so fresh and exciting, I forgot to do something obvious: apply sunscreen to myself. I am burrrrrnnnnneddddd up.

•   I found this comment from David Ross on Craig Kimbrel’s struggles to be *extremely* interesting:

•   As we’ve discussed, Kimbrel has been working on the changeup for years, with apparently more emphasis this year in an attempt to take the stress off his fastball’s decline in velocity (a good changeup, paired with the curveball, would “speed up” the batter a bit even if the fastball is 95-96 instead of 98-99). He has yet to actually deploy it in games, though. So, I mean, if his work on the changeup is negatively impacting his arm slot on his other pitches, then get tf rid of it asap.

•   Speaking of which, the more data we accumulate this year, the more we can see just how off Kimbrel has been. His release point is so very off this year – far lower than usual *AND* more lateral – and even more concerning, he’s releasing his fastball and curveball from two totally different spots:

•   Not only is that suggestive of his mechanics being out-of-whack, as he and the Cubs have said, it’s also a pretty easy way for batters to know whether they’re about to get a curveball or a fastball! No wonder batters have been so completely and easily able to spit on the curveball and sit on the fastball. They can simply diagnose the pitch at release while staying focused on only a particular zone. Thus, if it’s a fastball in that zone, they swing (hence the OUTRAGEOUS exit velocities), and if it is anything else at all, they take. And since Kimbrel’s command has been poor, that process turns out very well for them.

•   This, of course, is easier noted than fixed. Maybe there’s a physical reason for the problems here. Maybe fixing the release point issue costs him even more velocity or movement. Maybe fixing the release point issue means he can’t throw strikes at all. Beats me. But the next time he has a good or bad outing, this is the stuff I’ll be checking.

•   Heads up: the Eero wi-fi system is on a big sale at Amazon right now, so if you’ve been considering a mesh system, check it out. #ad

•   If you missed the update last night, the Cardinals did have an additional positive test this weekend, outfielder Lane Thomas, who apparently did have direct exposure to one of the new positives from Friday:

•   Also note that second part in there: two of the members of the Cardinals were sick enough that they needed to get some treatment at the hospital (they weren’t admitted, but still).

•   One bright spot for the Cardinals is that they might soon get some players back from the outbreak, even before they missed any games:

•   The Cubs bullpen has improved! I mean, you know that anecdotally from tracking the games, but it’s true by the numbers:

•   … of course, a 7.30 ERA is still comically bad, which underscores how rough things were in that first week. Imagine being 10-3 with a 7.30 bullpen ERA. Oh, and one of those three losses was a starting pitcher implosion. Pretty remarkable.

•   Eep:

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.