Good and Happy KB, Megill's Eye-Opening Debut, Concerns on Happ, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Good and Happy KB, Megill’s Eye-Opening Debut, Concerns on Happ, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Oh, I’ll get into the Zach Davies stuff in a bit, but I gotta psyche myself up to it. Lots to say. Let me hit the other stuff here, though …

•   For example, let’s enjoy a great Trevor Megill big league debut to dream on. The giant 2019 Rule 5 pick (that is to say, he’s a giant dude who was a Rule 5 pick, not that he was picked from the Giants or that the pick was, itself, large) never got a chance to pitch in the bigs with the Cubs last year, but they were able to hang onto him via a trade with the Padres and then some roster maneuvering. The Cubs liked that he was a big guy with a unique delivery, and they helped him develop a knuckle curve that was reportedly looking really good last year when he was able to pitch. In Spring Training, he was also showing a massive velocity spike (from mid-90s up to upper-90s), and it was very easy to see why the Cubs had efforted to keep him in the organization.

•   Interestingly, it was a slider that was pairing well with the fastball last night to generate whiffs, rather than that hard knuckle curve. Based on just one outing – so be careful! – Megill’s spin rate was nuts, too. His four-seamer had a spin rate that would be in the top 30-40 among all pitchers who’ve thrown 50 pitches this year (right there alongside Justin Steele!), his curveball would be top 20, and his slider would be top 15. *eyes*

•   Your concerns – generally – with a huge dude who uses a unique delivery and maxes out is that repeating his mechanics will be extremely challenging. So you worry about control issues, particularly as the velo and spin get way up there (there’s a reason so few pitchers can actually work at those extremes), and you also worry about health with all those long levers. So, even though he was available originally because of a unique roster crunch situation on the Padres, it’s not as if he was ever a sure thing, despite the huge upside. I don’t want to fall into the trap of saying he’s clearly and immediately going to be A GUY simply because he can do some unique and impressive things. But his development in the Cubs organization has been eye-popping, and he looked eye-popping last night, which helps explain why he was the guy who got the call yesterday despite requiring an addition to the 40-man roster. The Cubs clearly expect he will be, at a minimum, an up-down guy throughout this year, and given the bullpen depth, that’s a compliment.

•   Kris Bryant’s grand slam last night helped push his season line up to .289/.375/.618 with a 165 wRC+, and there’s very little flukey in the peripherals. His expected stats suggest the power is probably a little higher than he’s “earned” (the homer last night was a good example, being that it was a 40-degree fly ball that is a fly out 79% of the time), but they aren’t THAT far off. Moreover, the strikeout rate is 8% better than league average, the walk rate is 17% better than league average, and his BABIP is 30 points LOWER than his career average! This is not a lucky situation. Bryant has just flat out been fan-freaking-tastic so far.

•   It was, by the way, Bryant’s 6th career grand slam and his 6th homer of his season, and it also moved him up the Cubs list:

•   Rare emotion from Bryant while rounding the bases:

•   This fan was EXTREMELY STOKED to see Kris Bryant’s grand slam, and I can relate:

•   Yes, I’m concerned about Ian Happ at this point, but not because the numbers are ugly (that’s waved away pretty easily by just 87 plate appearances, and a few rockets that could’ve fallen for hits and changed the line completely). Instead, I’m concerned by what SEEMS to be an increased passivity lately and a contact rate that’s definitely trending down. Right now, he’s at the lowest swing rate of his career. He’s making good contact generally, but he’s staring at a ton of strikes and swinging through a ton of other strikes. Those, to me, are concerning things. And when I see him take a 1-2 fastball right down the middle last night … I worry that there’s too much thinking going on. That’s just an observation from the outside, and I don’t know what’s actually going on in a guy’s head. I just know I don’t want to see anything spiral after a rough start, and now seeing him already getting bumped down the batting order.

•   The last time players were hitting like this, the league lowered the mound (and then a few years later added the DH in the AL):

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.