Morning Cubs Roundup: Hendricks rebounds, Contreras locked in, and thoughts on upcoming roster cutdown

Willson Contreras (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Willson Contreras (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

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Game Recap

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.

Trust Levels

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.


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

New Rules

  • DH count: Caratini 4, Schwarber 3, Contreras 2, Kipnis 1, Phegley 1

Filed under: Morning Cubs Roundup

Comments

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  • Wow thank goodness the Cubs were facing KC as neither Ryan or Kimbrel were fooling anyone last night. Bryant saved the game the exit velocity on that last out was 102mph, that ball was smoked. Dating back to last season I believe that is 6 straight appearances in which Kimbrel has allowed at least 1 earned run. The guy needs to right himself at South Bend IMHO.

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    I'd like the Cubs have someone who can be relied on to steal a base on the roster.

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    The players cut from the 30 man roster--are they waived and if no one claims them the Cubs keep them, and is there a back and forth from the taxi squad to the main club? Why not put Kimbrel on the taxi squad while keep working with him on his arm slot--if that's the problem. He has not shown us anything. We get excited (?) when he gets a single out.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    There's a lot of confusion over roster rules, and rightfully so. It's sometimes hard enough keeping up with the nuances of 40-man considerations, and we've added several new chapters. I'll try to keep this simple:

    The current 30-man "active" roster is simply an expansion of the 26-man (formerly 25-man roster that we've known for decades) roster. There is no difference except for the additional players.

    The 40-man roster rules still apply regarding how players are optioned/DFA'd. That's a big problem with how this all structured, but that's an entirely different argument. Since there is no minor-league baseball, South Bend acts as the "minors". Any player sent to South Bend has effectively been "optioned" to the minors, like any other season. Players like Maples, who is on his last option year, can be sent back and forth as needed, the equivalent of what we know as the "Iowa shuttle".

    Kimbrel technically has two options remaining, but with 8 years of MLB service time, has the right to refuse assignment and elect free agency. In that case, the Cubs still owe his contract, and another team could (and certainly would) sign him at just the major-league minimum salary. The Cubs will not do that.

    Kimbrel could agree to be sent to South Bend to work on things. That is his choice. The difference this year, unlike any previous season where he could agree to such a demotion, is there are not real minor-league games being played. Any work he would get in South Bend would be intra-squad, simulated-type stuff he can do with the big club. I think the Cubs would prefer he work on things with the more advanced coaching and technology available with the big club than what is available at South Bend.

    I could get into the 60-man "player pool" rules, but I said I'd try to keep it simple, and it isn't. I hope that answered you questions, and I can go further if you have any more.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    There's a lot of confusion over roster rules, and rightfully so. It's sometimes hard enough keeping up with the nuances of 40-man considerations, and we've added several new chapters. I'll try to keep this simple:

    The current 30-man "active" roster is simply an expansion of the 26-man (formerly 25-man roster that we've known for decades) roster. There is no difference except for the additional players.

    The 40-man roster rules still apply regarding how players are optioned/DFA'd. That's a big problem with how this all structured, but that's an entirely different argument. Since there is no minor-league baseball, South Bend acts as the "minors". Any player sent to South Bend has effectively been "optioned" to the minors, like any other season. Players like Maples, who is on his last option year, can be sent back and forth as needed, the equivalent of what we know as the "Iowa shuttle".

    Kimbrel technically has two options remaining, but with 8 years of MLB service time, has the right to refuse assignment and elect free agency. In that case, the Cubs still owe his contract, and another team could (and certainly would) sign him at just the major-league minimum salary. The Cubs will not do that.

    Kimbrel could agree to be sent to South Bend to work on things. That is his choice. The difference this year, unlike any previous season where he could agree to such a demotion, is there are not real minor-league games being played. Any work he would get in South Bend would be intra-squad, simulated-type stuff he can do with the big club. I think the Cubs would prefer he work on things with the more advanced coaching and technology available with the big club than what is available at South Bend.

    I could get into the 60-man "player pool" rules, but I said I'd try to keep it simple, and it isn't. I hope that answered you questions, and I can go further if you have any more.

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    In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    that helps, thanks.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    You're welcome. I'm still learning myself.

    Basically, Kimbrel would have to agree to the demotion. Even if he did, I don't see the advantage without real game action. I think the work with Hottovy and the staff in Chicago is more beneficial.

    In any case, the only real reason to send him to South Bend would be to open a roster spot for a more effective reliever, and I don't know that we have one currently in South Bend. I think eventually Carraway and possibly Alzolay and/or Marquez could be summoned, but there are other relievers who would be sent down before Kimbrel.

  • David Ross is so refreshing as our manager. The team seems to have some bounce in their step.

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