Strop's Successful Return, Kimbrel's Stellar Run, Báez's Big Play, COVID Updates, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Strop’s Successful Return, Kimbrel’s Stellar Run, Báez’s Big Play, COVID Updates, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

For me, one persistent and lingering effect of having had COVID is that I’m getting headaches very easily. Often I wake up with them, and that did not happen to me pre-COVID. I think my whole body just got so out of its normal feel and routine and whatever (and my sleep has definitely been impacted), that I’m having trouble getting back on a rhythm. And since everything is connected throughout your back and shoulders and neck and head, I can’t break the cycle. I’m going to get some massage work done to try to see if that changes things. It’s not a horrible situation, so don’t get me wrong. But it does suck.

•   Pedro Strop returned to the Cubs, officially, last night with a scoreless inning pitched, and a nasty slider strikeout to end his frame:

•   “It feels amazing,” said Strop, per NBC. “When I was jogging to the mound I got some goosebumps. It’s been a long time since I got that kind of feeling. It’s always special to wear that uniform.” What happens when the rest of the relievers are ready to return from the COVID list? It remains to be seen. Strop would need a 40-man roster spot (and, obviously, a bullpen spot) to stick around. He looked like a big league pitcher last night, with great movement on his cutter and his slider, and a boatload of groundballs. The fastball velocity was only 92-93 mph, which is probably not where it would need to be for him to be a setup option, but with all the groundballs he’s always gotten, there is still a role for him. And that velo might tick up.

•   The Cubs will have to be careful not to lean on Craig Kimbrel too heavily now that he’s looking like a beast:

•   Kimbrel is up to 13 straight scoreless appearances, a streak that will end at some point, and I’ll urge you not to freak if/when it does. The guy looks fantastic. That includes last night, when he issued his first walk during that stretch. Yup: until last night, Kimbrel had not walked a batter in 12 straight appearances. Oh, and that walk came on a 3-2 count, and one of the balls was actually in the strike zone, according to Statcast.

•   So far, none of the absent Cubs (four on the COVID list (Brandon Workman, Dan Winkler, Jason Adam, Matt Duffy), and one scratched last night (Kyle Hendricks)) has tested positive for COVID-19. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t still happen, but that’s the status as of last night after the game. It all feels very touch and go, but if the Cubs can get through today’s game, and then have no positive tests today or tomorrow on the off-day, maybe things can resume normality on Friday?

•   As for the two coaches who are out after testing positive for COVID, David Ross thought it was important to communicate that each was already in the vaccination process (but tested positive before full immunity kicked in), each recommends getting the vaccine, and each believes they are doing well because they’d already started the vaccination process (The Athletic).

•   If you were wondering why Ildemaro Vargas got the call to replace Matt Duffy yesterday instead of Nico Hoerner, it was a pretty simple explanation from the Cubs: Vargas, a part of the taxi squad, was physically there in Milwaukee (NBC). Hoerner wasn’t. That’s the point of the taxi squad this year, to replace last-minute roster move needs. Hoerner has been playing games in South Bend at the alt site.

•   This all-out, stellar play by Javy Báez came one batter before a Luis Urias home run:


•   A little more on Justin Steele’s impressive debut:

•   Let me suggest to those (non-Cubs-fans) who now think they have the first dang clue about Willson Contreras because they saw a couple pitches … this is Willson Contreras:

•   This seems not good:

•   Learning toys, sunscreen, humidifiers, bathroom linens, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

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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.