Shelby Miller's Role, Rex Brothers in the Pen, No Cubs Get Award Love, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Shelby Miller’s Role, Rex Brothers in the Pen, No Cubs Get Award Love, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Made the mistake of getting a couple dozen Krispy Kreme yesterday. I say mistake not because they aren’t amazing, but instead because I cannot stop myself from eating so many of them (ditto the rest of the family). Those 24 donuts will not survive the weekend. They might not even make it to Sunday.

•   The reveal that Adbert Alzolay has an option year left could wind up meaning a whole lot for Shelby Miller, not necessarily because he’d directly replace Alzolay in the rotation – that fifth starter job might still go to Alec Mills – but because Miller is most likely going to fill a swing role if he makes the team, and that will require a roster spot … which might be temporarily vacated by a guy who would have otherwise been in that swing role to open the season (Alzolay). Nothing is yet decided on Miller – or Alzolay, for that matter – but The Athletic has reported that he has an opt-out on his minor league deal at some point in April, so he’s going to need to make the team on Opening Day or soon thereafter anyway, if the Cubs want to keep him. Based on how he’s looked, the Cubs will want to keep him.

•   So, then, let’s say he does make the team to open the season. What’s his role going to look like? David Ross told it’s a range of possibilities: “Shelby’s throwing the ball great. He’s on the radar,” Ross said. “I’ve talked to him about being a swing guy. I’ve talked to him about one inning. I’ve talked to him about multiple innings. And I’ve talked to him about starting. I think that’s a huge value that he brings to our team.” Notably, Miller’s last several outings have come in relief in what looked like a pure one-inning role. If I had to guess, the Cubs wanted to see what he would look like as that type, knowing he’d most likely open the season in the bullpen if he makes the team. In a one-inning role, Miller can pump mid-to-upper 90s at this point, and pair it with his big curveball and new slider. I kinda want to see how he’d look starting, but I understand that the opening might not be there right now.

•   Assuming the Cubs carry a second lefty in the bullpen to open the season, it’s going to be Rex Brothers at this point. I say that not because Brad Wieck labored a bit last night, and maybe not even because he still has an option left. Instead, I say it because (1) Brothers has the best stuff of any of the fringe bullpen options (call it tied with Dillon Maples), (2) Brothers has had top-tier big league success in the past, (3) Brothers has had that success when he’s simply able to throw strikes, and (4) right now, Brothers is on a roll throwing strikes. So you, in my opinion, you just have to ride that while it’s working. David Ross would seem to agree ( “He’s done nothing but prove that he belongs in the big leagues,” Ross said. “He’s mentally where he needs to be. He’s mentally tough. He’s put his struggles behind him, I truly believe, and is ready to impact our ballclub in a great way.”

•   Using the ZiPS projection system, Dan Szymborski handicapped the AL and NL MVP and Cy Young races, and there are no Cubs to be found anywhere. The bottom of the MVP pack in the NL is showing up with a 0.7% chance of winning the MVP, which means guys like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javy Báez, et al are even lower than that. Not entirely unreasonable when you think about the superstar power in the NL and about just how hugely those guys would have to bounce back to get serious MVP consideration in 2021 (even Christian Yelich is at only 1.1%, 16th on the list). Juan Soto sits at the top at 11.1%, followed by Ronald Acuña, Jr. at 6.7%. Cody Bellinger (5.1%), Fernando Tatis, Jr. (4.6%), Mookie Betts (3.6%), Marcell Ozuna (3.6%), and Corey Seager (3.1%) are the other guys above three percent.

•   As for the pitching, no Cubs show up above 2.0%, which is where the list cuts off (15th, German Marquez). Kyle Hendricks is the only guy you would realistically consider here, and projection systems never like him, despite the fact that he has previously finished 3rd and 9th in Cy Young voting. Jacob deGrom rightly comes in way ahead of the pack at 13.4%, with Trevor Bauer next at 8.6%, and Max Scherzer at 7.0%.

•   Toys, games, and a huge discount on the Fire tablet are among the Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

•   If you didn’t see, Eloy Jimenez will miss most or all of this season, and oof:

•   The drop there is particularly sizable not solely because Jimenez was projected to be so great with the bat, but also because the options behind him are not even replacement level. I really expect the White Sox to take a run at someone like Mike Tauchman, who probably won’t make the Yankees, is out of options, and at least has the upside of being a passable regular. The White Sox did not do themselves any favors by creating so much DH depth that they have to play one DH at first base and another in the outfield, and then they lost the outfielder to an injury.

•   It was an enormous day for the Bulls yesterday, who remade the roster at the trade deadline, and are pushing way in for the next two years (and maybe even the rest of this season). Catch up with our Bulls coverage.

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.