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It was a bit of a rocky start for Kyle Hendricks. He struggled with his command and wasn't consistenly executing his pitches. It was a troubling reminder of his previous outing. But Hendricks seemed to settle in as the night went on, so hopefully he's resolved whatever mechanical issue caused the slight hiccup and he can get back to his Opening Day form soon.
Willson Contreras is locked in. It seems he is seeing the ball well, and every time he makes contact it is LOUD. His four hard hit balls matched the total of the rest of the lineup combined.
His exit velos: 95.0, 103.0, 105.5 (HR), 108.5
Countdown To Cut Down
- MLB announced yesterday that rosters will need to be reduced to 28 on Thursday, but in a new wrinkle to combat the issues with the availability of players rosters will remain at 28 for the remainder of the year, including the postseason. Rosters will not need to be trimmed to 26 at any point this season.
- In addition, the taxi squad has been expanded from 3 to 5. At least one catcher will still be required as part of the group.
- What does that mean for the Cubs? My guess is that Josh Phegley will remain with the team the remainder of the season. It has been my belief all along that the cutdown from 30 to 28 will involve only some of the extra pitchers in the bullpen. Now that rosters will not need to be trimmed to 26 at any point this season the extra bench player should remain safe.
- As for those relievers that may be affected? Judging by the "last in, first out" theory Justin Steele and Colin Rea would be the two most likely to go on Thursday. But keep in mind, they were replacements for the injured Brad Wieck and James Norwood. Judging by how Wieck was throwing (his velo was down about 2-3 mph from last year) some time in South Bend is likely whenever he comes off the IL. Norwood could still factor in with Chicago however. He offers a power arm, which is in short supply in the pen at the moment. The Cubs may want to give him another opportunity, so Dan Winkler, Duane Underwood Jr. and Rex Brothers need to pitch well in the interim. There is also the looming return of Jose Quintana later this month which will push yet another arm off the roster.
- My guess for the taxi squad: Jose Lobaton, Hernan Perez, Colin Rea, with some combo of Derek Dietrich, Ryan LaMarre, Ian Miller and Jharel Cotton filling out the remainder. You do not want to stick prospects on the traveling taxi squad, as those players are better off playing in South Bend. Think of the taxi squad as the veteran AAAA players the Cubs typically keep around in Iowa during each season. Rea and Cotton are the only members of the 40-man roster from that group so they are the most likely players to ever be elevated from the taxi squad. Even if one of the Cubs catchers becomes unavailable, the presence of Phegley (and Schwarber) means the Cubs would be unlikely to make room for Lobaton unless a situation strikes like the Braves had on opening day when both their catchers were in the testing protocol.
Jeremy Jeffress looked as good as he has all season. His velo was 92-93, his splitter was nasty, and he threw quality strikes.
I'm going to take a slight bit of positivity from Craig Kimbrel's outing. The velo (96-97) was still there. I do believe his release point was slightly better and he was at least throwing strikes. His fastball even generated a couple of whiffs. The big issue I still see, and is likely related to his lower arm slot, is Kimbrel has been unable get his fastball elevated in the zone. He's either low in the zone or missing above. A big part of Kimbrel's success comes from throwing 4-seam fastballs at the letters. He's been incapable of doing that so far this year.
Not only is the lower arm slot changing the shape of Craig Kimbrel's pitches, and perhaps giving hitters a better look at the ball out of his hand, but it has also affected his ability to elevate his fastball.
L: 2017 R: 2020 pic.twitter.com/IxdkB4ijRr
— Michael Ernst (@mj_ernst) August 5, 2020
High leverage: Jeffress, Wick, Ryan, Sadler?
Trending in right direction: Sadler?, Tepera, Winkler, Brothers?, Underwood Jr.?
There's hope: Brothers?, Underwood Jr. ?, Steele
Break glass: Rea
Need a 3(5?)+ run cushion: Kimbrel
- DH count: Caratini 4, Schwarber 3, Contreras 2, Kipnis 1, Phegley 1
Filed under: Morning Cubs Roundup