The Rundown: Kimbrel Looks Dominant, Trade Rumors Heating Up, Happ Keeps Hitting, Brennaman in Hot Water

Putting everything aside that happened between the Cardinals and Cubs yesterday and throughout the five-game series, the best development of the week has to be the reemergence of reliever Craig Kimbrel. For a guy whose mechanics have been out of whack for pretty much the entirety of his Cubs career, the struggling closer sure has looked vintage lately. In yesterday’s 4-2 win over St. Louis, Kimbrel was positively dominant.

All of a sudden, a bullpen that features a back end of Rowan Wick, Jeremy Jeffress and Kimbrel in whatever order David Ross chooses to deploy them, looks pretty pretty darned formidable. If you add strikeout machine Ryan Tepera to the mix, the Cubs genuinely look like they can lock down any game in which they enter the 7th inning with a lead. Kimbrel is the key, though.

Maybe it was just a matter of the relievers getting some work in, or maybe pitching coach Tommy Hottovy has finally convinced his 2020 regiment to be a little more aggressive in the zone. Regardless, the ‘pen has looked outstanding as of late in situations where they’ve been asked to maintain a lead and close out a game.

The Cubs bullpen now seems to be a strength, keep those fingers crossed, and who’d have thought we’d ever say that?

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

White Sox manager Rick Renteria, possibly to his outfielders, and on the QT of course: “Whatever you do, don’t let Eloy Jiménez field anything.”

How About That!

Longtime Reds’ television broadcaster Thom Brennaman’s future is in doubt after the play-by-play veteran was heard using a homophobic slur on a hot mic during yesterday’s game.

Reds players showed support for the LGBTQ community after Brenneman’s disgusting comment.

Based on credible rumors and a healthy dose of informed speculation, Bleacher Report analyzes some of the juiciest trade rumors making the rounds, including a suggestion that the Orioles will trade reliever Mychal Givens to the Cubs for Brailyn Marquez. Go ahead and laugh…I did. Seems like Baltimore would need to sweeten that deal just a little.

The reactions across baseball regarding the grand slam Fernando Tatis Jr. hit the other night suggest that times are indeed changing ($) and the old school purists are nothing more than a few cranky voices staving off irrelevancy.

The 21-year-old Tatis is currently leading the majors in home runs, RBI, stolen bases and runs scored, and is on pace for an historic season.

The Padres are one of baseball’s most talented young teams. Manny Machado hit a walk-off grand slam for the Friars yesterday, the team’s third bases-loaded tater in as many games.

At 8-17, the Angels are off to their worst start in history. I would think that doesn’t bother Joe Maddon too much, who probably sees the short season as a chance to evaluate his squad ahead of the 2021 campaign. You have to feel for Mike Trout, though.

Reds starter Trevor Bauer tried to wear cleats that said “Free Joe Kelly” in support of the suspended Dodgers pitcher, but MLB nixed that pretty quickly.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  1. Kyle Tucker – The Houston outfielder had a 4-for-5 night that included a home run and a pair of triples as the Astros overwhelmed the Rockies 13-6. Tucker finished the night with four RBI.
  2. Johnny Cueto – For teams looking for a decent starter at the trade deadline, Cueto might be an option. He flashed a bit of his former dominant self in San Francisco’s 7-2 win over the Angels. The Giants righty earned his second win of the season with eight punchouts in 5.2 innings.
  3. Craig Kimbrel – Considering his recent struggles, Kimbrel really deserves to be recognized for earning his first save of 2020.

Sliding Into Home

I’d like to thank COVID-19 for reintroducing me to something I haven’t done in decades.

Have you ever just jumped in the car and cruised your favorite streets or destinations for no particular reason other than to listen to some good music and do a little soul searching? Gas is cheap these days, and for me, the northbound drive over Hoan Bridge into Milwaukee proper, past the Summerfest Grounds and Art Museum, alongside the lagoons at Veteran’s Parkway, on to Bradford Beach, continuing to North Point and into Shorewood, is one of the most scenic drives in America.

Listening to Ben Folds and Dave Matthews while driving at twilight almost made the trip perfect, but then I saw actual surfers hitting the 3-4 foot breaks on Lake Michigan at North Beach and it was pure heaven. At that time, the sunset makes it look like there are diamonds floating on the water. I arrived home just in time to see Bote give the Cubs the lead in the second game.

Extra Innings

The Cubs get Luis Robert, Tim Anderson, Jiménez, and the rest of the White Sox in a three-game set that starts at Wrigley Field on Friday. Expect a lot of energy from both teams.

They Said It

  • “[Kimbrel] is still getting there. But tonight was a nice time for him. He’s been trending in the right direction. This guy, I’ve said it all along, he’s going to be a big part of our bullpen and be part of our success if we are going to do what we want to do in this season. You see it.” – David Ross
  • “I feel pretty good right now. Everything feels pretty under control. I feel like I can throw the ball where I want or somewhere close to where I want. When that happens, everything kind of falls into place. The last couple outings have looked good, but I’m looking to do a lot more than three scoreless outings.” – Craig Kimbrel

Thursday Walk Up Song

I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – This one’s for you, Dirty Craig.

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