The Family got to visit with The Grandparents yesterday like “normal” for the first time in over a year. I can’t tell you how nice and important and bucket-filling it was to just go into my parents’ house, let the kids run around like animals, eat some home-cookin’ together at the table, go outside and hunt for Easter Eggs, and just do a completely carefree afternoon. It absolutely sucks that it got to that point over the past year, but being able to do it now? That’s why we all got vaccinated (the three other adults fully, me through dose one (but also, I had COVID earlier this year, so I’m rocking all kinds of immunity types)). I just want to live life again, without having to worry about who might get sick or who might be offended or whatever. Just get the dang shots, and then go live your life.
• You’d love to have swept the Pirates in the opening series – that’s pretty much going to be the theme whenever any team plays the Pirates this year – but, having dropped the first game in particularly ugly fashion, it was nice to see the Cubs take care of business and win the second two. I have to remind myself, even if the Cubs were a whopping 75% favorite in each individual game (crazy high for baseball), they’d still net out to only a 42% chance of sweeping the series. The outcome was solid. And now they’ve gotta beat a much better team in the Brewers, starting tonight.
• Seeing and hearing this video, from within the crowd, just feels like another one of those steps back toward getting to where we all want to be:
— MBDChicago (@MBDChicago) April 4, 2021
• Through three games – just three games, Brett, calm yourself! – Kris Bryant has looked really good. Consider this bit from Sahadev Sharma: “Last season, Bryant had just 16 balls hit at 99 mph or faster. So far through three games, Bryant already has four balls hit that hard, including all three of his hits. He drove a home run to dead center on Saturday, pulled a double Sunday afternoon, but perhaps most impressive was a rocket single the other way that drove in the Cubs’ first run.”
• That oppo single – 107.5 mph off the bat – was a really interesting one, but it’s not like it was in a spot where you’d typically see Bryant go the other way, given the nature of his swing:
• Sure looked good, though, and tracked well:
Kris Bryant’s first inning RBI single was his hardest hit ball to the opposite field since a home run on May 21, 2017, according to Statcast.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) April 4, 2021
• More from Bryan here – make sure you’re following him on Twitter! All kinds of great stuff – I would say “all of the above” sounds about right, especially with three very sinker-heavy starters taking the mound:
Whether a product of a) personnel, b) weather, c) strategy or d) all of the above, the Cubs threw A LOT of sinkers in their first series.
The most in baseball by a significant margin. pic.twitter.com/qNILvhsk72
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) April 5, 2021
• Through two early-season appearances, Craig Kimbrel has looked mighty good, not just in the results, but in his mechanics:
Clearly the release point was heading in the wrong direction and hitters were picking everything up very early. At least so far it looks like he's found the slot that he was at in his prime.
— Cooper (@RushingBaseball) April 5, 2021
• You may recall that last year, when the season opened and Kimbrel was struggling terribly in large part because hitters could clearly pick up his curveball early (remember when no one swung at it for like 20 curveballs in a row?), and because he wasn’t throwing it in the strike zone. At that time, you could see in the data that his release point was way off, so it wasn’t hard to connected those dots – together with things he and the Cubs had said – and conclude that his mechanics were mucked up. So the Cubs sat him down for a week to continue working it out, and he came back for most of August and September a completely different pitcher (i.e, one of the best relievers in baseball). The improvement, it seems, is continuing, and he’s very happy about it.
View this post on Instagram
• David Ross on Kimbrel (670 The Score): “Craig is in a good place right now. He is throwing strikes and getting good carry on his pitches. The ball is being thrown above the barrel, and you see a lot of foul balls. That tells me his ball is being thrown in the right place, and he is getting his secondary pitch over. Those are keys for him.”
• Gallagher Way – aka, the park next to Wrigley Field – is finally coming back:
Cubs will be opening Gallagher Way to public Monday morning for first time since the 2020 shutdown. Will still be blocked off for ticket holders only shortly before and during all home games. pic.twitter.com/LiGi0qpTW9
— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) April 4, 2021
• The Nationals’ season will officially begin on Tuesday against the Braves. With the Nationals missing a group of players – including Jon Lester and Kyle Schwarber – because of COVID issues, they will have to bring up a bunch of players to fill in this week:
The #Nationals are adding RHP Kyle McGowin, LHP Sam Clay, C Tres Barrera, INF Luis García and OF Yadiel Hernandez for the season opener tomorrow, sources tell @TheAthletic. Expecting more to replace those in quarantine/isolation. Should be able to see all at midday workout later.
— Maria Torres (@maria_torres3) April 5, 2021
• Move the mound back to second base:
Hearing that Reds RHP Hunter Greene has touched 105 mph while working in the leadup to the MiLB season. At the MLB level, only two pitchers have been documented to have touched 105–Aroldis Chapman and Jordan Hicks.
(Argument can be made to add Nolan Ryan to that MLB list).
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) April 5, 2021
• I kid, but Theo Epstein did sell me on the idea that it’s time to move the mound back at least a little bit.
• Fun fact about the Shohei Ohtani homer last night:
Last 3 times a starting pitcher homered in the first inning
Shohei Ohtani tonight vs White Sox
Carlos Zambrano Sept 17, 2006 vs Reds
Carlos Zambrano July 2, 2006 vs White Sox
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 5, 2021
• Now just consider the guy as a pitcher, purely. He can perfectly tunnel 101 mph with a 92 mph ridiculous splitter as a *starting* pitcher:
• Ohtani is a free agent after the 2023 season, and I hope the Cubs have already started making deposits in the Sign Shohei For The Love Of God Fund.