Thompson is the Latest Bullpen Question, Hendricks and Taillon, Around the Central, and Other Cubs Bullets
Just listened to a long podcast on William of Ockham, from whom Occam’s Razor was derived (500 years after William’s death). Turns out, the famous principle – colloquially stated as something like, all else equal, the simplest explanation is usually correct – is neither what William actually wrote or described, nor is it even what the later evolution of his work actually landed on. It’s not even spelled correctly! The whole thing is actually about preferring hypotheses that require the fewest assumptions, which is a related, but pretty clearly distinct, concept.
I will … probably still use the term as we generally understand it today, though. I’ll just know and accept that I’m wrong.
- Keegan Thompson had another rough one last night. This time it wasn’t the walks that bit him, but some juicy fat meatballs that got smoked. He got just one whiff on his 21 pitches, and just one called strike. The Nationals were all over him. Together with his last couple outings, where the control was a problem, this stretch has me thinking back to how he wasn’t quite right in Spring Training. I wonder if he ever got quite right, or if he just had a couple outings early in the season where things briefly clicked, he looked good, and we all kind of mentally disregarded there being any real issue.
- I’m not sure if this is going to rise to the level of Thompson needing an option down to Iowa to work out kinks, but I do know that you can’t have a multi-inning, high-leverage arm performing like he is – 18.2% K rate, 18.2% BB rate, 40.5% hard contact rate, 41.5% GB rate. The sample (15.1 IP) is small enough that it doesn’t give you long-term concerns, but the performance under the hood right now is ugly, and it’s too risky to keep relying on Thompson for key innings. Michael Fulmer got bounced to low-leverage for less. The Cubs seem to have been able to work with him in that role, so maybe it can work with Thompson, too.
- The Iowa Cubs were rained out last night (probably a blessing in terms of certain bats going off again at the same time the big league club was failing in important spots), which means that Kyle Hendricks couldn’t make his scheduled rehab start. That’ll come tonight instead (Montemurro). This time around, you’d like to see a competitive outing from Hendricks, who could push up into the 60 to 70+ pitch range. If he does that successfully, then it’s possible he could return to the big league team for his next start, or perhaps after one more outing.
- Meanwhile, Jameson Taillon’s bullpen session – which was actually a simulated game – went well:
- Now, I understand that David Ross has already said that Taillon won’t be starting on Thursday, and I also understand that a 45-pitch simulated game might be more taxing than a typical bullpen session. But it’s a bummer that the Cubs are going to have to go with a fill-in starter tomorrow (Nick Neidert?) when Taillon is already this close to being stretched out and is, apparently, not likely to need a rehab start. The Cubs have had two fill-in starts so far – Javier Assad and Caleb Kilian – and both were losses. Taillon is kinda important.
- If all goes to plan, then, the Cubs could have two starting pitchers arriving within the next week or two. Absent another injury, you would speculate that Hayden Wesneski would be the odd man out for now, but we’ll get there when we actually get there. More on Wesneski’s latest start soon.
- With Ryan Borucki DFA’d, the Cubs are back to no lefties in the bullpen. It hasn’t been a specific issue, though you definitely want Brandon Hughes back as soon as possible (mostly because he’s really good, not just because he’s a lefty). Hughes was put on the Injured List with knee inflammation six days ago, so he’s out at least another nine days. Thankfully, there is hope that it’ll be another minimum stint (Tribune), as the Cubs continue to work with him to manage the knee swelling (which dates all the way back to a 2015 knee surgery). From the sound of things, it’s been unpredictable from outing to outing when the knee was going to swell up, which causes instability. The Cubs are hoping a big knee brace between outings and more strength work can reduce recurrences of the issue. In the meantime, it’s just gonna be touch and go. Hopefully Hughes is able to throw some bullpens over the next week and be in line to return when his IL stint is up.
- Dan Szymborski looks at whether the Pirates are “real” at this point, and the analytical answer comes down to something like, no, they’re not this real, but yes, they can be average enough from here to compete in the NL Central. My main takeaway is that the Cubs can win this dang division.
- Christian Yelich is hitting .224/.314/.346/84 wRC+, and is still owed $130 million through 2028. The Brewers are likely to have to make a very hard decision in the years ahead about benching him as their many young outfield prospects arrive.
- Sticking to the NL Central, I really wish the Cubs had won a few more games over the last week so I could enjoy more SCardenfreude:
- Old friend Steven Brault is becoming an outfielder in the Atlantic League. The 31-year-old lefty did hit quite a bit in college and even had success doing it in the minor leagues. You never know!
- Random yikes:
Drew Smyly is Riding His “Uniquely Bad” Pitches and Stellar Defense to An Incredible Start to the Season
What to Expect When You’re Expecting Miguel Amaya, Who Has Been Around Forever And Still Might Be a Mystery
Mancini is Hot, Swanson is Tough, Bullpen is Taking Shape, Prospect is Getting Healthy, and Other Cubs Bullets