Truly Elite Fastballing, Cubs International Spending, Addison Russell, Eddy Julio Martinez, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Truly Elite Fastballing, Cubs International Spending, Addison Russell, Eddy Julio Martinez, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Big Ten football is back this weekend, which I’m sure is making a lot of fans very happy. I can tell you here in the Columbus area, the enthusiasm for the return of the Ohio State Buckeyes is almost unbelievably muted. Football Saturdays around here are typically absurd, with the Buckeyes being THE thing people are talking about, decked out in gear for, planning their days around, etc. This year, almost none of that. People will watch and cheer, I have no doubt. But without the ability to commune over the sport, so much of the energy just isn’t there. It’s the right thing to do right now, but boy does it make me sad to see.

•   The Dodgers beat the Rays 6-2 in Game Three of the World Series last night, with Walker Buehler absolutely dominating:

•   I know Buehler has other great pitches, too, but that four-seam fastball is just … it’s eye-popping when you watch him. It’s one of those fastballs that absolutely explodes in the final third of its trip to home plate. You want to see what “late life” looks like? It’s Walker Buehler’s four-seamer. I think the reason it looks so much like that is because it’s vertical drop is like nothing, and his spin rate AND efficiency must be insane (his fastball spin rate is 97th percentile at Statcast, no surprise). Oh, and I just checked his vertical movement at Statcast AFTER I typed that sentence, and sure enough, it’s 26% better than league average. And then I just checked at Brooks, and his four-seamer vertical is insane: 11 freaking inches (as in, it appears to the batter to “rise” by countering the natural arc of gravity by 10+ inches). For comparison, the best pitchers I could come up with off the top of my head to check against were Yu Darvish and Gerrit Cole, and they were both about 10 inches. Buehler’s fastball is truly special.

•   The Dodgers lead the series 2-1, and Game 4 is tonight at 7pm CT. Julio Urias faces Ryan Yarbrough.

•   The final IFA spending pool totals are in for the expanded, now closed, 2019-2020 period. The Cubs had one of the smaller pools, but they spent every last dime of it on their three big prospects (Ronnier Quintero (top 10 in the class), Kevin Made (top 20 in the class), and Brayan Altuve (top 50 in the class)). From there, they signed 31 prospects to small bonuses that don’t count against the pool. Quintero and Made are participating in state-side instructional ball already, and I hope Altuve will get to participate in instructs in the DR.

•   Eddy Julio Martinez is raking in Mexico right now. A big-time bonus baby out of Cuba for the Cubs five years ago, the bat just hasn’t taken that step that we hoped it could. But he’s only 25, so … maybe time for a breakout:

•   In former Cubs playing internationally, it hasn’t gone well for Addison Russell:

•   Russell, who is no doubt hoping to return to MLB next year, is hitting just .250/.312/.333 over 63 games in the KBO. If the glove isn’t top tier, then he’s not even a starter in Korea (hence him being removed from the lineup, apparently). A combination of so many reasons – and a swift decline that started before his suspension for domestic violence – but Russell has just been a colossal bust given his prospect standing. He turns 27 in January, but I have no idea where he goes from here, as the minor league offers weren’t lining up even last year. Maybe a team will give him a pass for the pandemic year and decide, with cost containment in mind, that it’s worth bringing him to Spring Training on a minor league deal. Pretty hard to see a meaningful career resurrection at this point, though.

(Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)

•   The sale runs through Sunday, so don’t miss out:

•   Random, but cheers:

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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.