Contact of Suzuki, Morel’s Dinger, Kimbrel’s Troubles, Madrigal’s and Norris’s Rehab, and Other Cubs Bullets

It turned out to be an extremely busy day for the Blackhawks, who entered Thursday with no first-round picks and left after making three first-round selections. If you missed it and are curious about the events, find our Chicago Blackhawks coverage here.

  • Seiya Suzuki, who doubled in the 9th, has yet to strike since returning from IL. That alone caused his strikeout rate to drop from 30.1% pre-injury to 27.7%. I note this not because strikeouts are “the thing to watch” with Suzuki, but rather because they definitely had become something to look out for before heading to IL. However, his discipline and contact quality are strong enough that if he ends up with a talent K rate of around 25%, he’ll likely be extremely productive on average.

  • Christopher Morel continued his recent hot streak with his 9th home run of the year:
  • Since being demoted to the roster on June 29, Morel has hit .367/.457/.867/255 wRC+. I just love that the hard contact hasn’t gone away for him – if there are peaks and valleys in walks and strikeouts, you can live with that as long as he still tears the ball up.
  • While we’re on Morel, enjoy this feature from Cubs Productions on its debut:
  • The Dodgers would already have a 19.5 game lead over the Cubs if they were in the same division.
  • Extremely wild pitch, extremely fan thrill:
  • Speaking of Craig Kimbrel, even if it was a joke in the EBS, it’s not really a joke: the Dodgers are going to have to trade for a reliever or two. Kimbrel is nothing like what the Dodgers expected of him, Daniel Hudson was lost for the year, Blake Treinen still hasn’t recovered from his shoulder issues, and now Brusdar Graterol is out of the game. last night with a rib cage problem. The Cubs are going to have a much larger market for their relievers than the Dodgers, but being the current opponent, it’s easy to think about that.
  • Nick Madrigal picked in his first rehab game in Iowa, and also did this:
  • I had to go back and watch it for myself, because I wanted to know how close it was to actually going 400ft – it was a fairly routine deep fly ball in the center, shy of the runway, and probably something like 375 feet or so. Definitely a very deep ball for Madrigal, though. Still, I really, really hope the Cubs (and Madrigal) commit to giving him a long time in Iowa to make sure he finds his footing. Bringing him back too soon, only to see him continue to struggle, could cause him far more problems than it solves.
  • Daniel Norris was also making his rehab debut and pitching a clean inning. I don’t think the Cubs can get anything meaningful in exchange for Norris no matter what happens over the next month, so I don’t anticipate them rushing to get him back anytime soon. As I type this I think back a bit: maybe they’ll bring him back, just in case he dominates for a month and the market gets deeply desperate for left-handed relievers with batting stuff . Even then, you’d be straining to recoup even a decent flyer prospect, given the overall minor league roster limit (180 total players in the US; that might be a reason to target a player still in the Dominican Summer League).
  • You may recall that Winckowski was the Red Sox rookie who was let down by the “standard” ballpark, Wrigley Field. And now he’s calling the Yankees’ standard stock when they’re without Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Judge…even though he gave up 6 earned runs and took the loss.
  • Winckowski also did this, AND HE DIDN’T EVEN PITCH:
  • Old Cub on damaged old Cub:
  • Luis sent me this screenshot and it immediately looked like art to me:
  • Ignore Spencer Strider’s point for a moment (though, dang, this dude is so impressive), and instead note what former Cubs pitcher Robert Stock pointed out about this chart:
  • Seriously. Even if you get a TONNNNN of horizontal (arm side) movement on your fastball, it really doesn’t matter. That doesn’t seem to help you much. Instead, what helps is having a ton of vertical movement, OR having a lot of cutting action. No wonder, again, that the Cubs focus so much on the four seams that (1) have a natural cutting action and (2) have a good ride (“cut-ride” fastball). It’s that big juicy dark red section on the left.

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