Hoerner's D at Short, Wick's Velocity, Kimbrel Facing Bryant, Hendricks, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Hoerner’s D at Short, Wick’s Velocity, Kimbrel Facing Bryant, Hendricks, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The weather just wanted to make sure we got that classic feeling of Opening Day, and then an off-day. So we’ll try again today for Game Number Two.

•   The Cubs are eagerly pumping up Nico Hoerner’s ability to stick at shortstop, and I will certainly remain open to it (maybe Andrelton Simmons becomes more of a 20% starter and a late-inning defense guy (with Hoerner sliding over to second)). Here’s Jed Hoyer, via Cubs.com:

The Cubs noticed a difference in that aspect of Hoerner’s game throughout the spring.

“The arm strength is really impressive,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said. “That’s always been something that at shortstop, ‘Oh, he doesn’t have the strongest arm.’ But I think he’s really showed off good arm strength. That jump throw was really impressive.

“He’s a great athlete. I think he can do it. I think he really wants the opportunity, which I love, and we’re going to give it to him.”

Hoyer noted that Hoerner will have more “runway” at the start of the season, given that veteran Andrelton Simmons is on the injured list with a right shoulder issue.

•   Of course, given the time Hoerner has, himself, missed due to various injuries in his career, the Cubs will want to make sure they’re giving Hoerner appropriate rest, too, even if he breaks out and shows great D at short.

•   I’ve seen and heard a lot of understandable chatter about Rowan Wick’s velocity being down in his season debut – he averaged 93 mph, and at one point touched 91 mph on what was logged as a fastball (wonder if that one was an attempted cutter, though) – and I wanted to dig in a little. So, he was down about 1.5 mph from his velocities that were logged in Spring Training, which is not good, HOWEVER, basically every single pitcher in the game on Thursday was down about 1 mph or so from where they were charted in Spring Training. It was brutally cold, so it makes sense to me. Moreover, he touched 94.4 mph on his hottest fastball, and that’s what he averaged last year on the four-seamer. So, very cold, first outing of the year, and a guy who tends to climb throughout the year – the velocity doesn’t concern me yet.

•   What *IS* something to keep an eye on is that Wick threw nearly 20 pitches and didn’t get a single whiff. It’s one outing, first of the year, cold, yada yada. Wick has never been a HUGE swinging strike guy actually (11-ish percent for his career), which is part of what would make you a little nervous about him being a closer – he relies on a lot of crummy contact for his success, and sometimes that bites you in a tight-late situation. Still, it just seems like he’s been a guy who, when he’s right, he sets guys up with early strikes and then gets his few whiffs when they matter most (i.e., despite the low whiff rate, he has a strikeout rate that is typically in the high-20s).

•   Craig Kimbrel, a Dodger, striking out Kris Bryant, a Rockie, to close out a win – it’s messing with my brain:

•   On the day, Kimbrel got the save with a couple strikeouts, though he did give up a couple hits and a run. He was set up by three dominant innings from Brusdar Graterol, Blake Treinen, and Daniel Hudson. That Dodgers bullpen is, once again, absurd. Lineup, too. The rotation is great, too, though you might not call it “absurd.” So good luck, other NL West teams!

•   Bryant doubled and walked in his Rockies debut, by the way, so it was basically a fine showing. Weird, though. This is all just weird.

•   If you’re locating your fastball down and then you can throw this thing, I mean, the batter has NO chance:

•   I still can’t get over how sneaky excellent that Hendricks outing was. Nearly half of the swings he got on the day resulted in whiffs.

•   So, motion tracking is getting really good. This stick guy actually LOOKS like Javy Báez:

•   Speaking of Javy Báez, who won it in walk-off fashion for the Tigers yesterday, and also made an incredible play in the field, he is already easy to miss:

•   That is not how you want your Opening Day start to go:

•   New Seiya Suzuki gear over at Obvious Shirts:

•   This really is quite a throw:


•   Ben Joyce did it again:

•   Roblox, belts, 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.