Smyly's Contact, Schwindel's Improvement, Kilian's Plan, Pinango's Smashes, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Smyly’s Contact, Schwindel’s Improvement, Kilian’s Plan, Pinango’s Smashes, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Went down a REALLY weird rabbit hole this morning on recursive islands and lakes (i.e., islands inside lakes inside islands inside lakes … ). Earth is wild, man.

•   Drew Smyly correctly surmised that he once again managed contact well last night – there were a couple rockets in the three-run third inning, but outside of that, it was all crappy contact – but sometimes even crappy contact will find holes, especially if the defense is not a full strength. “I might pull some of my hair out tonight,” Smyly said after the 4-3 loss to the D-backs at Chase Field. “That’s just baseball. Sometimes you don’t get the results you want …. I don’t think they hit a ball hard after the third inning. They just kept kind of fisting it into the holes. There’s really not much I can do about it.”

•   I am still liking what I’ve seen from Smyly this year. He’s gotta be a back-half of the rotation guy, but he keeps the ball down (and everything moves down), he throws strikes, and I think the ability to manage contact is legit. As we’ve seen with this profile, sometimes that means you’re gonna have rough games because the balls fall in, but overall, it’s perfectly solid.

•   It’s not just a small sample, it’s a MINUSCULE sample, but I’ll take any encouragement I can find on Frank Schwindel:

•   I’m still not sure he can avoid being sent down eventually this year to get in the work the Cubs were sure he needed, but if Schwindel keeps putting together good plate appearances that end in hard contact, it’s possible everyone will be able to tell themselves that the 12 hours of being “sent down” jolted things loose or something. The next position player to return from the IL is probably going to be Andrelton Simmons, but it’s possible he might just take Nico Hoerner’s spot on the roster if Hoerner needs to go on the IL. Marcus Stroman and David Robertson – on whom we’ve gotten zero updates – will hopefully return good to go from the COVID IL soon, and it’s not a lock that the Cubs will send out two pitchers at that time. So it’s possible that’s when Schwindel would get squeezed again, but I kinda doubt it.

•   Speaking of Schwindel trying to work through his mechanical issues, a good profile on the Cubs’ hitting coach tandem:

•   On hitting coaches more generally, Nico Hoerner reminds us of all they’re trying to work on/with (Sun-Times): “I think it’s one of the hardest jobs in the sport. A ton of respect for the hitting coaches I’ve been with, because all of us hitters are a little crazy in our own ways. And just knowing timing, knowing what guys can take on in certain times, and knowing that there’s a difference between what’s going on right now and where you’re going to be in a couple of months, all those factors, it’s incredibly hard to balance.”

•   And speaking of hitting coach Greg Brown, here’s what he said about Schwindel (Cubs.com): “Frank, his first 100 at-bats didn’t go probably as planned. But that [near grand slam] was a great at-bat to start his next 100 at-bats. I think you saw that spill over into the next day – there’s no doubt about it …. His BP [Friday], you’re just seeing the ball come off the bat better. He’s using the whole field. That way, he can go back to being a good hitter instead of having to chase hits. That’s an important distinction.”

•   If you’re looking for a mini, portable grill for your warm weather needs, there’s one 40% off at Amazon today. #ad

•   The Cubs’ minor league teams keep winning, if not the big team. Another good night from Caleb Kilian, by the way:

•   Obviously the Cubs are still being very cautious with his usage so far, and since he’s Rule 5 eligible after the season, you definitely wonder if there is something close to a “plan” in place to have him take some second half starts if there are suddenly some trade-related openings in the rotation.

•   Speaking of which, I’d be curious to see the development plan for Kilian, because I suspect he’s just too polished at this point to be consistently challenged by Triple-A hitters, but it’s not like he doesn’t still have pitches he can work on. In other words, for a guy like Kilian, are you less interested – right now – in seeing him have “success” in these games, and more interested in seeing him work on specific things in advance of the big leagues? Almost like this is a kind of Spring Training for him? I’m just wondering out loud. And to be sure, prospects always have developmental focuses at any given time – it’s never just about getting results – but I wonder if that’s especially true in a situation where you already know, for sure, that a guy can consistently get the results at Triple-A. Everything the Cubs do with Kilian this year has to be with a specific focus on setting him up to be a full-time member of the rotation in 2023.

•   Another bit of minor league love, with outfield prospect Yohendrick Pinango – the guy for whom the singular question is whether he’ll get enough loft to hit for power – homered twice last night, including a grand slam. They were both freaking rockets:

•   The Fergie statue is coming:

 

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A post shared by Fergie Jenkins (@fergiejenkins)

•   This is freaking me out:

•   This was a pretty obnoxious play by Josh Donaldson, but also some credit to the umpire for not only getting that call right – and quickly – but also diffusing the potential for escalation:

•   Luis had some fun with this one:



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.