Wesneski as a Velo Guy, Fulmer as a Closer, Heyward as a Dodger, Beer Bats at Wrigley, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Wesneski as a Velo Guy, Fulmer as a Closer, Heyward as a Dodger, Beer Bats at Wrigley, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Is it just me or is everyone everywhere sick right now? Count me among them. It’s particularly annoying because I was just sick about a month ago, and I’m usually good for only about one sickness a year. I ALREADY PAID MY DUES!

  • Hayden Wesneski touched 97 mph on the stadium gun yesterday, which is NUTS, and he suggested after the game that not only was it legit, but it’s not the hardest he’s thrown this spring (Marquee): “That was sick. That was sick. That’s one of the things I’m really happy about. That’s not the hardest I’ve thrown. It’s one of those things where, we’re just trying to get back to top-end speed. I think we’re getting there. It’s cool to see the velo just to know you have it. But it’s not everything. If I would’ve touched, 99, but I didn’t get the out first, I think I would be upset than I am throwing 97 and getting outs.”
  • I’m not even sure how to regard that information, because it’s potentially so major. Wesneski sat 93 mph with his fastball last year, and would very occasionally touch 95 mph. He doesn’t have great movement on his fastball, so without premium velocity, that’s been the biggest question about whether he can be a mid-rotation (or better) guy, or just a back-end arm. A super-elite slider is a great start, but it can get you only so far. But if Wesneski can sit 95 mph and touch 97 mph with the fastball? Even without great movement, that probably makes all of his other pitches play up further, and definitely makes you start thinking this is a front-end guy. I’ll want to actually see that velocity show up in the regular season, and be held through starts, before I totally buy in that he’s “at that level” now. But the fact that he did it yesterday, and the gun apparently wasn’t hot, has me like whoa …
  • As an aside on Wesneski: his slider moves like a sweeper, but you’ve probably noticed it’s never been called a sweeper. The broadcast yesterday explained that it’s because he doesn’t use a sweeper grip to throw his slider – that’s just how his slider naturally moves. So he might have an even more sweeper-ier slider than most, but it won’t be categorized as a sweeper, since he’s not throwing it as a sweeper. Obviously all pitches have gradations and can start to blend together, but that’s gonna be slightly weird territory. It doesn’t “matter,” but we’ll just have to careful in how we discuss.
  • Jason Heyward has been told he made the Dodgers’ roster, so hey, good for him. I hope he has a solid bounceback season. The small good news for the Cubs is that the Dodgers now pay the Major League minimum for Heyward – $720,000 – which is subtracted from what the Cubs owe him this year. So they get a little savings! Repurpose it, Cubs!

“The expectation is that Michael Fulmer will likely be the closer at least to start the season. David Ross only has a few seasons under his belt, none of them very normal, but he’s shown a propensity to not name a closer (outside of when he has someone obvious like Craig Kimbrel) but still give the bulk of the responsibility to one person. So Fulmer may not be given the title by Ross, but he almost certainly will be the one to rack up saves early in the season. If he looks good in the role, expect Ross to continue to lean on him in save situations.

Fulmer has been strong this spring. His velocity has continually ticked up with each outing, a normal progression for most pitchers at this time of year, but still good to see, especially considering he’s already sitting around where he did last summer. His new slider is looking strong, helping him miss more bats and he’s adjusted his cutter slightly to pair well with the sweeper.”

  • Lord I hope we’re not talking about Fulmer as an excellent trade piece come July. I mean, it’d be good if the Cubs had that in the back pocket as a back-up plan, but I want to instead be thinking about Fulmer is going to be awesome for the Cubs down the stretch, and wondering if he’s been so dominant as to justify a Qualifying Offer. That’s the kind of enormous season it would be fun to see from him. All season. With the Cubs. No trades.
  • The Cubs announced some of their new foods and features at Wrigley Field for this season, including Small Cheval available in the bleachers (heck yes!). But the biggest announcement is that the Cubs will have a BEER BAT at Wrigley this year!!! All I know is I better get mine early and often in the season, because I’m not sure how long the idea will last.
  • MLB has been putting out ad spots on its new rules, and I would say they are a mixed bag. A couple examples:
  • This one is good, though, with old friend Dan Vogelbach having some self-effacing fun:
  • This would fit better with a prospect post, but just in case I’m not able to get to that today, I wanted to make sure to share. Rachel Folden is great, and the Cubs have TWO minor league league hitting coordinators (her and Steven Pollakov) who are viewed as stars:
  • Heads up on some classic film stock:

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.