The Importance and Value of Optional Relievers, Alzolay’s Non-Curveball, Morel Still Kind, and Other Cubs Bullets

Oh my. Vince Gilligan and Rhea Seahorn working collectively on one other challenge… I’m not going to have the ability to wait the 2 years or nevertheless dang lengthy it takes to truly produce the factor.

  • Up and down is one of the best ways to explain rookie reliever Erich Uelmen’s season to this point with the Cubs AND his doable position with the Cubs in 2023, neither of which I imply as an insult:
  • Uelmen, 26, one of the various breakout relievers for the Cubs’ farm system the previous few years, has posted a 4.76 ERA (about 10% under common) in his first 22.2 massive league innings. The overwhelming majority of that increase to the ERA, nevertheless, comes from simply two outings – three-run affairs in every of his two appearances in Toronto final month. They nonetheless depend, of course. But it is price declaring that Uelmen has been scoreless in 13 of his 20 appearances, and has allowed a couple of run simply thrice. Up and down sounds about proper.
  • I believe that half of the explanation Uelmen has gotten a lot massive league motion within the second half, along with having what LOOKS like a stable massive league sinker and slider mixture, is as a result of he was on the fence for the Cubs in addition to being a man they wish to carry on the 40-man roster all offseason in anticipation of his position in 2023. If he does survive the offseason, Uelmen figures to be within the aid combine, both immediately, or as wanted all through the season. The Cubs need as a lot time as doable with him for improvement and analysis.
  • Optional relievers – guys who’re big-league-caliber, however who nonetheless have minor league choices remaining (I name them up-down guys) – are such a vital half of having the absolute best bullpen. Sometimes, you will want to maneuver guys round to optimize utilization, relaxation, efficiency, and so forth. And if you happen to do not wish to consistently threat shedding gamers from the group, you want to have the ability to possibility some guys up and down (till and except they set up themselves) – it is simply the fact of the game. I believe that is all of the extra vital in a world the place groups are restricted to 13 pitchers on the roster, whole. Injuries to your “core” relievers are going to occur, and you want stable (even when barely under league common, although hopefully higher!) pitchers to have the ability to come up briefly to fill in, and then be optioned again down when essential. Good groups want extra helpful relievers than they’ll really roster.
  • So that’s to say, guys like Uelmen, Michael Rucker, Manny Rodriguez, Jeremiah Estrada, Mark Leiter Jr. … they’ll all be a really helpful element of a profitable bullpen, even when they are not “up” with the large league crew always. I’m simply completely satisfied that the Cubs are going to enter the offseason with so many guys, internally, to guage for these 40-man spots. Better to have too many than too few, even when the circumstances are going to result in some stunning guys getting waived, and some prospects being left unprotected from the Rule 5 Draft.
  • I may inform there have been some classification points on Adbert Alzolay’s pitches this 12 months, however I believed possibly it was some of his curveballs being known as sliders, because it LOOKED like he was utilizing his curveball much more this 12 months, albeit a brand new tighter, increased -velo one Well, there is a level at which a tighter, higher-velo curveball is definitely only a slider:
  • So it is a bit of bit of a tomato-tomahto scenario, as a result of Alzolay is utilizing a brand new pitch, it is only a completely different slider, not a distinct curveball (despite the fact that it has rather a lot of curveball-like properties). In both case, it is a actually nice-looking pitch to this point, and if he can command each varieties – a slider that strikes form of like a knuckle curve, and a slider that has extra of a sweeper form – that is going to provide him all of the extra probability of succeeding towards lefties, the place he hadn’t been discovering a lot success final 12 months together with his sinker-slider combo (and I can solely guess the sensation for the changeup simply by no means got here). His main manner of attacking lefties final 12 months was the cutter, a minimum of late within the 12 months, however we have not seen it a lot to this point in his two 2022 outings.
  • Christopher Morel, nonetheless on the market being superior with followers:
  • Oof, that is awkward: it seems the Giants’ director of pitching, Brian Bannister, has not been capable of work in individual with Giants pitchers all season as a result of league’s vaccine necessities for workers (he selected to not be vaccinated). I’m certain he is nonetheless been capable of assist remotely, however geez – are you able to think about not having the director of pitching on your total group be capable to bodily observe and work with, you already know, the precise pitchers?! What a self-inflicted aggressive drawback for a company that in any other case was all about getting each teaching edge they might get. It’s TBD whether or not the vaccine requirement will keep in place for subsequent season (I’ve gotta consider the Giants are betting it will not, and they in any other case worth Bannister a lot that they felt they needed to preserve him). Glad the Cubs did not should cope with something fairly like this.
  • This man … and he is teammates with that different man(!):

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