Taillon’s Short Debut, New Cubs Bats, Iowa Cubs Sweep, Kilian’s Rough Outing, and Other Cubs Bullets
I have not tweaked my back for a long time. Maybe 12 months. Then yesterday, bringing in some boxes from the porch, with no particular reason or warning: tweak. Not terrible, but just enough that I knew immediately my next several days were going to be all about very carefully navigating the recovery process.
- It would be very silly to say the Cubs have to sweep this week’s Reds series, as you can never expect that. But, uh, let’s just say the schedule over the next 70 days is NOT THAT KIND. So the Cubs are going to need to win as many of the few “easier” games as possible if they intend to be considered “competitive” by the trade deadline, and not unload again.
- Gonna get into some bullpen thoughts later, but let’s talk about Jameson Taillon’s very short debut. In his post-game comments, Cubs manager David Ross said that Taillon just wasn’t looking as sharp as he expected, so he wasn’t getting a chance to mix all of his pitches (I wonder if that’s a comment on the fact that he went so cutter heavy, and also didn’t use his new sweeper at all). Based on how Taillon was looking, that’s why Ross wanted to go to the bullpen early. So there are no concerns with Taillon, in terms of arm health or mechanics.
- Taillon sounded a similar tone (Marquee): “I wish the results would have been a little better,” Taillon said. “Command was a little shaky, kind of falling behind in counts and stuff, getting them in hitters counts. But overall, I felt fine. I don’t think I need to go change anything drastic, just have better command next start.” He’s a veteran with enough of a track record that I can give plenty of grace for a not-quite-sharp debut outing with a new team. I don’t like it, but I don’t think there’s enough there yet to worry or anything like that. He doesn’t seem like a guy who’ll have too many outings where he throws just 37 of 63 pitches for strikes. That’s not his game.
- On the (VERY!) early offensive struggles for all the new guys except for Dansby Swanson, David Ross said this (Cubs.com): “Everybody’s trying to get in rhythm. Hitting, in general, is going to come and go. I know the new guys probably want to put a lot of pressure on themselves to perform.” Here’s hoping not. And here’s hoping a trip to Great American can help. Going hitless in a single series – as Cody Bellinger and Eric Hosmer did, for example – generally would stand out only when it’s the first series of the year.
- As for Swanson, though, you can’t really imagine a better first series with the Cubs: 13 PAs, 7 H, 1 BB, 1 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, and a series of sterling defensive plays. The secret was being ice cold in the spring, and saving it all for the regular season. Clearly.
- The Iowa Cubs won again yesterday, completing a sweep of the Guardians’ Triple-A club to open the season. The good news is that the offense hummed once again, with guys like Christopher Morel and Nelson Velazquez putting together huge days and trying to bang back down the door, and the bullpen once again showing so much quality depth.
- The bad news is that Caleb Kilian posted this line: 2.1 IP, 8 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 4 HR. I’m told the wind was howling out, which was a factor in the homers, but I also saw in the Statcast data that his pitch location was a total Jackson Pollock painting of zero command, and that out of 33 swings he got just 3 whiffs. Clearly, he was off, in addition to the wind thing. It’s just the first outing of the year, but given that the whole problem last year was disintegrated control, and that the whole focus this year was just getting back to being more of a command/control guy, it’s a big concern. It’s easy to say that you just want to throw strikes – Kilian did throw a lot of strikes yesterday – but if guys are hammering your poorly-located strikes in advantageous counts, then it’s just not going to work.
- Just three days until our live even at HVAC in Wrigleyville! Panel Q&As, live music, food, and drink – get your ticket here!
- The stated goal was to get Seiya Suzuki into some game action this weekend, which I presume meant extended spring training. It’s possible it instead meant intrasquad or simulated or something else kinda off the books, so to speak, because I don’t see Suzuki mentioned in Arizona Phil’s write-ups of the extended spring training games this weekend. We’ll see if Suzuki winds up playing for an affiliate sometime later this week.
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