Climbing the Standings, Scoreless Bullpen, Thompson's Streak, Kimbrel's Milestone, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Climbing the Standings, Scoreless Bullpen, Thompson’s Streak, Kimbrel’s Milestone, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Sorry for the later Cubs Bullets today, but breaking down all the 40-man roster stuff in the wake of Nico Hoerner’s injury gobbled up a lot of time. Oh, and then when I was halfway through these Bullets, the Cubs signed Dee Strange-Gordon. It’s been a whirlwind already today.

OK, though, there are other things to discuss …

•   Including the Cubs’ nice comeback win last night, which leaves them 14-7 in the month of May, and tied in the loss column with the Cardinals atop the NL Central standings (they were 5.0 back at the start of the month). That’s right, it’s May 26, and I’m already talking about “the loss column.” I do it partly tongue-in-cheek, but it’s also just nice to see that the Cubs could legit be in first place in the Central when the calendar flips to June. Not only did that seem unlikely to many folks in the offseason, it seemed downright illogical back in April. We know that there’s still plenty of time for things to turn sufficiently sour that there’s a selloff in July, but right now, I want to see the Cubs win. Just keep winning, and then figure out what’s up when the time comes (including whether the Cubs can realistically keep winning on into August, September, and October with this rotation … ).

•   The bullpen continues to dominate, though, with yet another scoreless group outing. The last time the bullpen – anyone in the bullpen – gave up a run was May 15 in that crazy game against the Tigers. That was ALMOST TWO WEEKS AGO. Obviously the bullpen won’t keep THIS up forever, but it’s just such a good group, and there’s still so much interesting depth behind it at Iowa (even with a bunch of guys on the IL).

•   And then there were two: Aroldis Chapman gave up a run this week, so the last two pitchers standing with a 0.00 ERA (min 10 innings) are Keegan Thompson and Kendall Graveman. The latter is now on the COVID list, so Thompson is gonna have to stay scoreless for a while to win the race!

•   Also:

•   That save last night was the 358th of his career for Craig Kimbrel, who is now tied with Troy Percival for 11th all-time. He pitched around a rocket double to open the 9th, and Michael was wondering something (which the data confirmed):

•   Something to keep an eye on, but keep in mind: The numbers are still pretty low, and they started out artificially low, so regression was expected. His 18.9% hard contact rate this year is 12th best in baseball among all pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched. We’ll see if this becomes a more noticeable trend and keeps climbing, but obviously Kimbrel is otherwise pitching very, very well. When you’re striking out 42.3% of the batters you face (and walking only 10.3%), you’re gonna get away with a little more firm contact.

•   Despite the rash of injuries elsewhere, it sounds like Willson Contreras is going to be OK after that fastball to the wrist. David Ross said Contreras took swings yesterday and tested things out, and as long as he still feels fine this morning, he’ll start tonight behind the plate (The Athletic). That’s good, since Contreras is possibly the most irreplaceable of anyone on the roster:


•   More background on Kohl Stewart, who is pitching well in the Iowa Cubs rotation right now, and who could easily be the “next man up” when the Cubs need another starting pitcher:

•   Brennen Davis homered in that crazy South Bend game last night, and his swing is just so smooth:

•   Davis is technically on a rehab assignment with the High-A South Bend Cubs (he was hit by a pitch in the head shortly before Spring Training was to end), so he’ll head to Double-A Tennessee at some point. Through three games, he looks too advanced for High-A, which is pretty fun given that he has played only 50 games at Low-A back in 2019.

•   In addition to dropping Dee Strange-Gordon (picked up by the Cubs this morning), the Brewers also DFA’d and traded Billy McKinney to the Mets. A little less marginal depth for Milwaukee today.

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.