Spring Training Miscellany: Velazquez Walks It Off for the Cubs with a No-Doubter! (And Some Other Less Happy Stuff)
Hey! It’s a spring training walk-off homer! I will take it and enjoy it! Cubs beat the Padres 5-2.
Nelson Velazquez, freshly returned from the World Baseball Classic, gives the Cubs the win with a no-doubt blast:
- Yan Gomes also brought his bat today:
- Justin Steele was rather wild today (walking five through his first couple innings), and although he got through three innings allowing just the one run, you’ll want to see him locking down the command a little better his next time out (which is likely to be his final spring outing, and could come on the back fields). It’s kinda pointless to fret this close to the start of the regular season, but it would dishonest not to say that Steele hasn’t quite looked right all spring. Maybe it won’t matter when the bell rings – we’ve seen it before – but he falls into that relatively small group of pitchers who have not looked like themselves.
- Speaking of that group. Your Keegan Thompson velocity check from Bryan, who is at the park today, and it’s not good:
- Pretty fair to guess that the 90-91 is the fastball (super duper low for Thompson in a pure relief role – he sat 93-94 mph last year as a starter and multi-inning guy), and the 86-88 is the cutter, which is also quite low for him (sat 90 mph last year). What’s particularly concerning – albeit anecdotal, since we only get periodic velocity reports – is that these velocities have not seemed to trend north as the spring has gone on, even accounting for Thompson’s delayed spring debut.
- So where do the Cubs go from here? Well, if it’s an injury-related delay in ramping up, that is one kind of concern, but there is no indication whatsoever from Cubs that it’s that. So you’re left with wondering whether it’s just a matter of him being behind, which would not a huge concern (but if it’s that, why no increase yet?). If, on the other hand, the issue is mechanical – which can absolutely cost a guy a few mph on his fastball – well, that might require optioning him to Iowa open the year to work on it. I’m not sure you can justify parking him in the bullpen in any kind of role at these numbers, especially when you know it means something is off.
- Nick Burdi pitched a 1-2-3 inning, and I’m going to leap to a conclusion here from having watched him this spring: his velocity appears to have ticked down as the spring has gone on, from about the 100 mph range to the 97 mph range, but I’m thinking it’s intentional. His command has dramatically improved from his first few outings, and I suspect there has been an emphasis on locating 97 mph instead of just chucking 100 mph (for now). The secondaries all look really good, too, and I increasingly think we should start considering Burdi in that Sanders, Estrada, Leeper, Correa, etc. group of hard-throwing righty relievers at Iowa who could get the call in-season at any time.
- A really scary scene as a pitch got away from Michael Fulmer and hit Austin Nola in the face:
- You hope that the blood was just incidental to an abrasion, and that his helmet slightly reduced the impact.
Taillon and Meatball Swings, Burdi and Estrada, Wesneski and Hendricks, Umpshows, and Other Cubs Bullets