Thompson’s Secondaries, Sampson’s Role, Girardi’s Arrival, Padres’ Drama, and Other Cubs Bullets

The return-to-school adjustment … I suppose I forget that, since The Wife is a teacher, it’s all four non-Bretts in our house that are doing the return. It doesn’t make the adjustment hardest on me, of course, but it does feel pretty weird. My entire day instantly looks completely different in four different ways.

  • Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele are both scheduled to start in this weekend’s series against the Brewers, though we’re getting pretty close to Wade Miley’s return, and a disruption of the current five-man rotation.
  • Stray note on Keegan Thompson’s pitch mix from Eno Sarris: “Keegan Thompson’s slider is his best pitch by Stuff+, and he’s trying to throw it more, but it’s his worst pitch by Location+, so that’s why he hasn’t gone to it more; his fastball has okay shape (95 Stuff+) and command (99 Location+), but he’s been relying on it too much and it would be better news to see him throw the slider, cutter, and curve more often instead of less often.” Your nastiest pitch isn’t always your best pitch if you can’t locate it consistently. Good reminder there, and probably why Thompson almost never throws his slider. Sounds like that could be an opportunity for Thompson in the offseason: slider location work.
  • Also worth noting: Thompson is extremely four-seamer and cutter heavy (again, presumably because they are the pitches he has the most comfort locating), but those are also the pitches he gets hit the hardest on. Consider that the four-seamer this year has a whopping .381 xwOBA against, and that’s the pitch he throws more than half the time. So let me broaden that offseason work: more comfort with all the secondaries. Something to watch in his start today.
  • If Thompson (or Justin Steele) isn’t moved to the bullpen or skipped when Wade Miley returns, it’s possible Adrian Sampson is the one who goes into the bullpen:
  • That would still potentially be useful for information-gathering purposes since Sampson’s most likely role on the 2023 Cubs, if he makes it through the offseason on the 40-man, is as a swing pitcher. He looked good and solid again yesterday, as he has most of the year, and as we get closer and closer to the end of the season, it gets harder for me to say he’s a guy the Cubs should obviously remove from the 40-man. He’s older (30), yes, and he doesn’t have the kind of past success that makes you believe what he’s doing now is real. But he’s up to 12 outings (59.0 innings) of good results and good peripherals, plus he often looks really good by the eye test, too.
  • As usual, I land on: I just want to keep seeing Sampson pitch the rest of the way and I hope the decision is a lot more clear by early October.
  • Joe Girardi, who has joined Marquee since being let go by the Phillies, is in the booth today:
  • Here’s a name you haven’t heard in a while: Michael Hermosillo is starting a rehab assignment in Arizona. The 27-year-old outfielder, who’d come into this season with a real chance to emerge as a part-time outfielder on the big league team (or more if his 2021 Triple-A breakout continued at the big league level). Unfortunately he almost immediately suffered a severe quad strain that has kept him out since the first week of May, and now there’s very little time left for him to clearly demonstrate much. Just a bummer for him after the injury late in 2021 mucked things up, and then obviously the pandemic in 2020.
  • As a guy who has missed so much time, and without minor league options remaining, it’s going to be pretty tough for any team to justify carrying Hermosillo on the 40-man roster all offseason, and he might wind up having to sign the best minor league deal he can get. The Cubs are so full up on depth outfield options already for 2023 that I’m not sure his best path to big league playing time is going to be with the Cubs. But, hey, it’s only August, so no need to close the door now. Let’s see how the rehab goes, and then if he does come back to the big league team, how he looks. At his best, Hermosillo is a very good defender with a lot of power and speed, who has always crushed lefties, at a minimum.
  • Speaking of outfielders on that ACL team who are rehabbing, Brennen Davis is still looking for his first hit this week, and I’m still reminding myself that his time in the ACL is just about physically getting his body ready to play in “real” games. The Complex League ends next week, so the Cubs will at that point have to make a decision about whether to send Davis back to Triple-A, or whether he needs to face lower-level pitching for a while longer to keep ramping up.
  • Big sale day at the MLB Shop:
  • Jon Heyman makes a good point about where Fernando Tatis Jr. finds himself now that he and his family have pushed the tough-to-believe ringworm story. If it’s true that he intentionally used PEDs, then he should have instead just come out immediately and said something like, “I felt so bad about being away from my team that I tried to take a shortcut to speeding up the recovery of my body to get back on the field more quickly. It was wrong, I made a mistake, and I’m sorry.” That might in fact be the truth, too. Yes, it would be a black mark – he’s got that anyway now – but at least he’d have some more support and understanding from SOME corners. How often do you think about the fact that Starling Marte juiced early in his career? Basically never, right? There’s a reason for that.
  • Speaking of things not going well for the Padres:
  • It doesn’t feel as satisfying when this stuff happens to Hader now that he’s not on the Brewers, of course. As for the Padres, they are now 6-9 since the Trade Deadline. They have been, by far, the splashiest transaction team going on eight years now (remember that first Craig Kimbrel trade? the three-team Wil Myers/Trea Turner deal? that kinda kicked this whole era off), and since then they have six losing seasons, and zero playoff wins. The Padres have been great at continuing to stock young talent, but impossibly bad at translating it into big league wins.
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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