Assad's Successful-ish Start and Future Role, Madrigal's Hits, Old Friends, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Assad’s Successful-ish Start and Future Role, Madrigal’s Hits, Old Friends, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The recent sale of a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle for $12.6 million got me wondering: If you could have any one sports collectible – pick anything you want – what would it be? Maybe it’s too easy to just say, whatever is the most valuable, so maybe something that you’re picking just because YOU want it, not because you could sell it for a ton?

  • Javier Assad did it again last night, getting tremendous results over his 5.0 innings of work, but not necessarily putting the whole package together. Tellingly, Assad did not record a strikeout until the final out of his appearance. He wasn’t really getting a ton of ground balls, the average exit velocity was 92.7 mph, the BABIP was .222, and he walked a couple. Going five scoreless in that situation was probably pretty darn fortunate. Sorry to rain on the results parade.
  • THAT SAID, you can see a capable depth starter there or even maybe a back-end starter. At least a guy who could be an up-down starter, shuttled up from Iowa next year as needed. I see two usable fastballs, paired with FOUR other pitches that very occasionally flash plus: cutter, slider, curveball, changeup. That kind of pitch diversity allows you to create a pretty high floor as a depth guy, even if the upside is limited by the fastballs and/or command and/or control. Speaking of that last one, so far in his two starts, the biggest issue I’ve seen from Assad are the completely non-competitive balls out of his hand – pitches that the batter can just immediately ignore, and pitches that routinely move Assad into a disadvantageous count. Can’t have that if you’re already skewing toward being a pitch-to-contact guy without stellar command.
  • Leaving it on a happy note, because I like Assad’s energy and, again, I do see the bones of a useful big league pitcher there – two fun facts from the start of his Cubs career:
  • Nick Madrigal had another three-hit game last night, his fourth this month after just one prior to August. His numbers this month – since his return from the IL – have taken a dip lately, but they are also still solid and feel a little more sustainable: .303/.384/.342/112 wRC+, .333 BABIP, 9.2% BB, 8.0% K. That might be a range that’s realistic for him, probably with a slightly lower BB and also lower K. Recall, we’ve had some concerns about whether Madrigal is actually hitting better this month, or if he just happens to be getting better results.
  • This was expected/hoped for Miguel Amaya, but it’s great to see confirmed:
  • Old friend Craig Kimbrel ran into trouble once again last night with the Dodgers, and had to be bailed out in the 10th inning by more-recently-old-friend Chris Martin. Overall, Kimbrel’s results continue to be below average (for any reliever, let alone a theoretical closer), but his peripherals continue to be pretty not terrible. He’s going to be quite an attractive reclamation project for teams this offseason, and given that the Cubs (1) will have a need/desire for at least one back-end veteran reliever, (2) generally have success with veteran relievers, and (3) are the last place where Kimbrel had elite success, well, I’m gonna keep banging the drum that getting back together for 2023 makes a lot of sense. (Assuming it’s a bargain deal, I mean. If there’s some team out there willing to roll the dice on a $10 million deal for Kimbrel or whatever that’s a totally different story.)
  • Similarly, Josh Hader – if he winds up non-tendered by the Padres or shopped in advance of a pricey tender – is going to be some team’s big reclamation project. I tend to think he’s going to cost a lot more than Kimbrel, though, since his disintegration is much more brief and he’s quite a bit younger.
  • The old friend mentions up there got me curious to do a quick check on the two who’d really been struggling this year. Kris Bryant, when healthy, has really bounced back, and is now hitting .306/.376/.475/125 wRC+ for the Rockies (with a 14.9% strikeout rate, wut?!). Javy Báez is still struggling, though, hitting just .225/.269/.367/81 wRC+. Oh, and Anthony Rizzo is still definitely having success with the Yankees, at .223/.336/.485/134 wRC+. Note that Rizzo can decline his $16 million player option for 2023 and become a free agent again after this season.
  • I have no idea how the Brewers weren’t playing the Phillies for this moment, as Nick Castellanos hit a deep drive to left field:
  • Oooooooof. Meanwhile, the Brewers were, in fact, playing the Pirates, and came back late for a walk-off win. Fine, whatever. What was most interesting, though, was the absurdity of Oneil Cruz, even against Corbin Burnes:

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.