Suzuki's Contact, Morel's Dinger, Kimbrel's Troubles, Madrigal's and Norris's Rehab, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Suzuki’s Contact, Morel’s Dinger, Kimbrel’s Troubles, Madrigal’s and Norris’s Rehab, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

It wound up being an extremely busy day for the Blackhawks, who’d entered Thursday with zero first round picks, and left it having made three first round selections. If you missed any of it and are curious about the happenings, catch up with our Chicago Blackhawks coverage here.

  • Seiya Suzuki, who doubled in the 9th, has not struck out yet since returning from the IL. That alone has dropped his strikeout rate from a pre-injury 30.1% to 27.7%. I note it not because strikeouts are “the thing to watch” with Suzuki, but instead because they had definitely become something to watch before he went on the IL. His discipline and contact quality are both strong enough, though, that if he winds up with a true-talent K rate in the 25% range, he’s likely going to be extremely productive on average.
  • Christopher Morel continued his recent hot streak with his 9th homer of the year:
  • Since being moved down in the lineup on June 29, Morel has hit .367/.457/.867/255 wRC+. I just love that the hard contact hasn’t gone away for him – if there are peaks and valleys in the walks and strikeouts, you can live with that as long as he is still ripping the ball.
  • While we’re on Morel, enjoy this Cubs Productions feature on his debut:
  • The Dodgers would have a 19.5-game lead on the Cubs already if they were in the same division.
  • Extremely wild pitch, extremely fan flinch:
  • Speaking of Craig Kimbrel, although it was a joke in the EBS, it’s not actually a joke: the Dodgers are gonna need to trade for a reliever or two. Kimbrel has been nothing near what the Dodgers need him to be, Daniel Hudson has been lost for the year, Blake Treinen still isn’t back yet from his shoulder issues, and now Brusdar Graterol left last night’s game with a rib cage issue. The Cubs are going to have a much wider market for their relievers than just the Dodgers, but since they’re the current opponent, it’s easy for it to come to mind.
  • Nick Madrigal singled in his first rehab game at Iowa, and also did this:
  • I had to go back and watch it for myself, because I wanted to know just how close it was to actually going 400 feet – it was a pretty routine deep fly ball to center, shy of the track, and probably something like 375 feet or so. Certainly a very deep fly ball for Madrigal, though. Nevertheless, I really, really hope the Cubs (and Madrigal) are committed to giving him a long time at Iowa to make sure he’s found his footing. Bringing him back up too soon, only to see him continue to struggle, could cause way more problems for him than it solves.
  • Daniel Norris was also making his rehab debut, and threw a clean inning. I don’t think the Cubs can get anything meaningful in trade for Norris no matter what happens over the next month, so I don’t anticipate they will be rushing to get him back quickly. As I type that, I rethink it a bit: maybe they will hurry him back, juuuuust in case he dominates for a month and the market gets deeply desperate for lefty relievers with strikeout stuff. Even then, you’d be stretched to get back even a decent flier prospect, given the overall minor league roster limit (180 total players stateside; maybe that would be a reason to target a player still in the Dominican Summer League).
  • This freaking guy:
  • You may recall, Winckowski is the Red Sox rookie who was underwhelmed by “stock standard” ballpark, Wrigley Field. And now he’s calling the Yankees lineup stock standard when they don’t have Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Judge … even though he gave up 6 earned runs and took the loss.
  • Winckowski also did this, AND HE DIDN’T EVEN THROW A PITCH:
  • Former Cub on former Cub damage:
  • Luis sent me this screencap and it immediately looked like art to me:
  • Ignore the Spencer Strider point for a moment (though, dang, that dude is so impressive), and instead notice what former Cubs pitcher Robert Stock pointed out about this chart:
  • Seriously. Even if you get a TONNNNN of horizontal (arm-side) movement on your fastball, it really doesn’t matter. Just doesn’t seem to help you much. Instead, what helps is having a ton of vertical movement, OR having a lot of cutting action. No surprise, again, that the Cubs focus so much on four-seamers that (1) have natural cutting action, and (2) have good ride (“cut-ride” fastball). It’s that big, juicy, dark red section on the left.


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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.