Kimbrel's Work, Cubs Positioning, KB Speaks for Fans, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Kimbrel’s Work, Cubs Positioning, KB Speaks for Fans, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Little Girl got her ears pierced yesterday, which was a very cool moment for her, and also a moment for me to do some dad’ing. See, when I was 18, I got my ear pierced up on the cartilage, because I SWEAR EVERYONE WAS DOING IT. But I didn’t take care of it at all in the proper ways, constantly taking it in and out to play sports, having sometimes to kinda-sorta re-pierce it on my own, probably not cleaning it regularly as instructed, and on and on. I finally ditched the earring about six years later when I went on my first law firm interview, but some 20 years after I first got it, the scar remains. It’s hard to see because of the location, but you look, it’s there – big, awkward, purple. And now I get to point to it every day to remind The Little Girl: hey, this is what happens if you don’t take care of those ears, kid. DAD MODE.

•   The Cubs no longer have the best record in the National League, as their .667 winning percentage has been eclipsed by the Dodgers, who’ve won 8 of 10 and are up to .704. Yes, the Cubs did have a stretch where they lost five of eight, but I think everyone also expected the Dodgers, eventually, to hit up that top spot. They are just so absurdly loaded that it would’ve taken the absolute zenith of bad breaks on a game-by-game basis (or an absurd rash of injuries) for them not to be the top team in the NL by the end of September.

•   The Cubs will have a good shot at taking that number two spot, though, which would have them facing the top Wild Card team in the first round of the playoffs (i.e., the team with the best record that did not finish in the top two of its division). While that’ll leave open the possibility that the Cubs face a team with a better record than a second place division finisher, as I look at and consider the teams in the National League, I’m really not sure there’s going to be a huge on-paper difference between any of the second place or third place teams in each division, in terms of what you feel is “fair” for the postseason. Instead, you might only wish the league had stuck with its original plan to let the top teams pick who they face in the first round, because you might choose to avoid a team, for example, with a couple elite starting pitchers or a super elite bullpen.

•   Speaking of all that, there are at this point only two clubs in the entire National League you could reasonably now project are pretty unlikely to make the postseason – the Pirates and the Giants. That’s it.

•   The 2020 BN Trade Deadline Dogathon is here! Short version? We’re raising funds for Make-A-Wish by making me eat ONLY hot dogs for two days at the Trade Deadline. The more you give, the more I have to eat. I am scared, but committed. Longer explanation here. Please support a great cause at a time when these kids and their families really need it!

•   Sahadev Sharma has more on Craig Kimbrel’s turnaround, including how complicated it is to actually fix an issue even after you identify what might be causing a pitcher a problem. From the piece:

Working with pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, associate pitching coach Mike Borzello and bullpen coach Chris Young, Kimbrel has been tweaking his mechanics to get more rise on his fastball. While the data isn’t showing a significant difference in the rise on his fastball, it is getting slightly less horizontal movement and his release point has gotten slightly higher. “His hand is behind the baseball and he’s getting the ride. It’s not running across the zone,” Ross said after the win.

It’s never as simple as a pitcher just moving his arm up slightly and voila, he’s fixed. The process can be painstaking as the exact issues leading up to the lower arm slot are diagnosed and worked to be corrected.

“We always talk about release point, that consistent release point, release height, extension, all those things,” Hottovy said earlier this week. “So much of that is tied to your delivery and what happens with what we call ‘up the chain’ earlier in the delivery. The things he’s worked on and the things he’s been focused on were right. It’s just sometimes it takes time for those things to click.”

•   Just a great read if you want to really get into the nitty gritty of where Kimbrel has been and where he needs to get with the fastball and the knuckle curve, each of which are improving, but actually could still stand to be much better (historically, he gets even more rise on the fastball and more depth (less lateral movement) on the curveball – it’s not actually supposed to look like a slider at its best).

•   Ian Happ:

•   Following the shot in his wrist, Kris Bryant could return to the Cubs tonight against the White Sox. Here’s hoping that happens, and that he did get some relief from whatever discomfort he was feeling. The difference in this lineup with and without a productive Kris Bryant is substantial, even if he winds up swapping places with Happ upon his return (i.e., Happ keeps leading off, and KB hits down in the 4 to 6 range).

•   Speaking of Kris Bryant, here he is with some things Cubs fans say for Redbull:

•   Jason Heyward and his pup:

•   The combination of a summer sale plus a clearance event at Fanatics means that so much Cubs stuff is either on one sale or the other. Go here to check it all out.

•   Surely you Bulls fans saw the good news:

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.