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I am very happy to see that Ohio is already moving to a new vaccination phase on Thursday (anyone over 50 years old – that’s a big jump), and while I won’t qualify in that tier, it is nice to see things moving along.
• Among the Cubs who have yet to appear this Spring, outfielder Jake Marisnick, slowed by a calf injury, is expected to be the team’s primary fourth outfielder. So you’d like to see him getting some at bats before too long. David Ross says the plan is for Marisnick to debut this weekend, or by Monday at the latest (NBC). For a position player, a couple weeks of spring at bats should be enough.
• Kyle Ryan is also yet to debut after being a late arriver due to the COVID protocols. He should be throwing live BP soon (NBC), but as a guy on a split contract, he might be due to open the season in the minor leagues (well, the alt site) initially anyway. Rex Brothers has looked awfully good so far, and it’s certainly possible the Cubs will want him to be the second lefty in the bullpen to open the season anyway. I’m still not sure Stitched Chicago Cubs Jerseys what’s up with Brad Wieck, who missed most of last season with a hamstring injury, and also has yet to appear in a game. He has a minor league option left, so, like Ryan, he might not be making the team to open the season anyway.
• Cubs starting pitchers so far this spring, via Cubs.com: “Cubs starters have combined to allow just one run on eight hits in 16 innings through eight Cactus League games this spring. The group has combined for 13 strikeouts against five walks.” Trevor Williams, who was solid his first time out, makes spring start number two today.
• Trevor Megill was getting a lot of attention last Spring Training as a very good relief prospect who got squeezed out of San Diego’s roster crunch, whom the Cubs snagged in the Rule 5 Draft, and whom the Cubs were working with on a new knuckle curveball. But then COVID hit. Upon the resumption of spring/summer training, the Cubs decided to waive Megill, and he went unclaimed as a Rule 5 guy (with Rule 5 restrictions, that makes sense). Then the Cubs had to work a trade with the Padres to keep Megill, which they did. So anyway, that is all to say, it’s been a really weird couple of years for a guy who was definitely considered a quality relief prospect in 2019, so we shouldn’t ignore him this year, just because he’s a 27-year-old relief prospect who hasn’t made it to the big leagues yet. Once he reaches the big leagues (if he reaches the big leagues), and is then added to the 40-man roster, he’ll have three options years, too.
• I bring all that up because he appeared in yesterday’s game, and was throwing 97-99 mph, according to Arizona Phil (who had him at just 95-97 mph at this time last year(!)). The broadcast has been lacking velos so far, but that does kind match the eye test. Megill was clearly emphasizing the fastball yesterday, trying to locate down at the knees with his exaggerated, over-the-top delivery (which makes him look REALLY weird at a whopping 6’8″). I presume that is the idea with his fastball: since it’s going to be coming from such a high place anyway (he’s tall!), and since he’s got that over-the-top delivery (the release point is even higher!), the Cubs maybe want him to locate down, because then the plane change is so extreme for a batter who probably almost never sees pitches like that. And if it’s coming in at 99mph and he’s got a hammer knuckle curve, too? The Cubs have clearly had success in making relievers into guys who do weird, extreme things. I think that’s the idea with Megill.
• I don’t care how you pull it off or whether it’s the regular season or Spring Training: I love when a team steals home. Obviously a STRAIGHT steal of home (incredibly rare at this point) is the holy grail of fun baserunning moments, but when El Mago does it on an extra throw, it’s still pretty darn fun. Yesterday’s wasn’t QUITE El Mago level but it was still fun, with Alfonso Rivas going on the double steal: