Taillon Better Than the Line, Madrigal's Error, Hendricks, Birdsell's Debut, Kilian, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Taillon Better Than the Line, Madrigal’s Error, Hendricks, Birdsell’s Debut, Kilian, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The kiddos enjoyed their Easter egg hunting so much that The Little Girl wound up setting one up for me later in the day. Boy do I stink at finding eggs. It was a lot of fun, though.

  • Get you someone who loves you as much as the Cubs love losing the Sunday game in a weekend series where they took the first two. I swear that’s been their model for years now, even when the team was very good. Someone needs to do a research project on it and figure out what’s going on. They’ve gotta have one of the bottom five Sunday records in baseball over the last decade.
  • It’ll get lumped in with his first meh start with the Cubs, but Jameson Taillon was actually much better this time out. If the defense hadn’t made mistakes behind him – cannot happen! – he goes six+ and allows just a run or two. Taillon struck out seven and walked just one, gave up mostly crummy contact, and filled up the strike zone. That was actually more or less what you’d expect from a Taillon start as your mid-rotation guy. You hope for more on the run side, of course, but that’s the baseline.
  • Speaking of the mistakes behind him, though, the error on Nick Madrigal was a pretty tough one. You do have to give him an error because he made an errant throw that allowed a runner to take an extra base, but actually watch the play. He made a diving stop, while nearly simultaneously making an incredible tag:

  • Again, you do have to give Madrigal the error there – and, yes, make a better throw – but if it wasn’t for his effort in the first place, that might’ve been a double anyway. And I’m not exactly a homer for Nick Madrigal defense, so I’m just being honest.
  • David Ross on the play (The Athletic): “I thought it was a good effort. It took him to his backhand and dove at him. If he tags him there, it feels like a great play. Good effort, just rushed the throw, when you’re hopping up like that, sailed on him a little bit. Seen that a couple times in spring training any time he’s gotta rush. Just gotta make sure we get that thing a little bit lower and let those guys pick it out.”
  • Kyle Hendricks threw live BP at the end of last week, and will throw a normal bullpen session today in Arizona (Cubs.com). He’s gotta be getting somewhat close to an appearance in an extended spring training game, or intrasquad game.
  • This is not “important,” but it’s fun to think about: the Cubs have no home run celebration right now, unlike many other clubs out there (a crown, a jacket, or a fake interview like they’ve done before), and Ian Happ says it has to be organic (Tribune). Maybe it won’t happen. But, I’m just saying, whatever happens in the dugout, they need to bring back the bullpen dancing! Why is that not happening?! Someone get on the horn with the relievers and sell them on the idea.
  • Cubs 5th round pick Brandon Birdsell made his pro debut yesterday for the South Bend Cubs, a High-A assignment for a fresh draft pick. At first I thought that was probably just a nod to his relative seniority (Birdsell just turned 23), but then I remembered that he actually didn’t pitch THAT much in college thanks to rotator cuff issues and Tommy John surgery just before college. When he did pitch, he was dominant (Texas Tech), and MLB Pipeline had described him as a top three round talent based on his pitches (but the Cubs got him in the 5th because of the injury concerns). Although he was the 4th pitcher drafted by the Cubs in 2022, the guys ahead of him – Cade Horton (limited college experience), Jackson Ferris (high school arm), and Nazier Mulé (high school arm, Tommy John surgery) – are all likely further away from a rapid ascent up the ladder. I should probably be paying more attention to Birdsell.
  • Anyway, Birdsell’s debut was three hitless innings, with a couple walks and four strikeouts. He’s got a FUNKY short-arm delivery:
  • Caleb Kilian’s second start this year was much better than his first disastrous outing, but it was still mixed: 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 1 K. On the one hand, he was touching 97-98 mph and getting a lot of bad contact. On the other hand, he walked the first batter of the inning – on just four or five pitches – in three of his four innings of work. That’s weird! And bad! I can’t wrap my head around Kilian having transformed from a command-control guy into a dude with loud stuff but who has no idea where it’s going.
  • The Mallory Swanson injury was a bad one, unfortunately: a torn patellar tendon, which could put her World Cup chances in jeopardy this summer. Mallory’s husband, Dansby, played this weekend for the Cubs, not necessarily knowing the full extent of his wife’s injury. From David Ross: “Kept asking him if he was all right. He said, ‘Yeah, it’s time to go to work.’ He’s professional but also played with a lot on his mind and in his heart. It’s just who he is. He loves to be out there, to compete with his teammates, but he’s also a family man and a religious man and gives his all on everything he does.”

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.