Cubs

In process of retooling bullpen, Cubs have reportedly shown interest in Brandon Kintzler

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USA TODAY

In process of retooling bullpen, Cubs have reportedly shown interest in Brandon Kintzler

A guy Cubs hitters saw in the playoffs this year might be a candidate to join the North Side bullpen.

According to a report from Jon Morosi, the Cubs have shown interest in free-agent reliever Brandon Kintzler.

The Cubs just saw Kintzler in their National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals, the 33-year-old righty appearing in three games during that five-game series. They tagged him for a couple runs over his 3.1 innings of work, scoring a run apiece in Games 3 and 5.

Cubs fans might also remember Kintzler as a longtime Milwaukee Brewer. He pitched for the Cubs' I-94 rivals for six seasons before heading to the Minnesota Twins ahead of the 2016 campaign. He was dealt from the Twins to the Nationals at the July 31 trade deadline earlier this year.

Kintzler worked as the Twins' closer in 2016 and 2017, picking up 45 saves and finishing 77 games. In the last two seasons with the Twins and Nationals, he posted a 3.08 ERA in 125.2 innings of work. His best season in Milwaukee came back in 2013, when he had a career-best 2.69 ERA in a career-high 77 innings.

The Cubs are in the process of retooling their bullpen, though as of right now, it's unknown how things will look come Opening Day. Most notably, closer Wade Davis is on the free-agent market. So too is Brian Duensing. The Cubs opted not to tender a 2018 contract to Hector Rondon last week. And they have considered Brandon Morrow, one of the most prominent free-agent relievers, an option to close.

According to ESPN's Jesse Rogers, the Cubs were interested in a pair of relievers who signed with teams this week: Miles Mikolas, who went to the St. Louis Cardinals, and Mike Minor, who signed with the Texas Rangers.

As for guys who figure to be in the mix, the Cubs added free-agent reliever Dario Alvarez last week. Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. remain under contract, as does Mike Montgomery, who might or might not wind up in the starting rotation. Contracts were tendered to Justin Grimm and Justin Wilson.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist ready for robot umps?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist ready for robot umps?

Nick Friedell, Jordan Bernfield and Jay Cohen join Chuck Garfien on the panel.  Jose Quintana gets rocked early by the Brewers while Yu Darvish throws a successful sim game. Meanwhile, Ben Zobrist makes a pitch for robot umps… right in the home plate umpire’s face.

Plus Roquan Smith is finally at Bears practice.  Will his 29-day holdout put more pressure on the first round pick?  

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: 

Quintana's script against Brewers flipped

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USA TODAY

Quintana's script against Brewers flipped

Before this afternoon's game against the Brewers, Jose Quintana had a 0.95 ERA against them, but thanks to some first-inning longballs, that changed quickly. Milwaukee, on their way to a 7-0 win at Wrigley Field, had sort of stumbled in to this two game series thanks to shaky bullpen performances against the Padres and Braves in their previous two series, and given Quintana's past success against them, it didn't appear likely going into the game that things would change.
 
It took all of two pitches for Lorenzo Cain to homer to left, and then later in the first inning, for Ryan Braun to do the same with a two-run shot that gave the Brewers a quick 3-0 lead. Braun, who before today's game was hitting .143 without even an extra base hit against Quintana, ultimately homered twice.
 
"Everything he’s thrown me, he’s had success with," Braun said of Quintana. "Everything he’s shown me had worked for him."
 
As a team, the Brewers were hitting just .202 against Quintana, so they knew scoring opportunities would be at a premium.
 
"A guy as good as him isn’t going to make many mistakes, so any mistakes he does make you have to take advantage of," Braun said. "He’s had so much success against us, the odds were we were going to find a way to score a couple runs, we were able to do that against him today."
 
In the first inning, Cain homered in the first on a fastball left too far in the zone, and Braun on a curveball that didn't break away from the sweet spot. Braun's second homer came on a 75 mph curveball after Quintana fell behind in the count 2-0.
 
Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin said that going into the game, he was thinking about how much his offense has struggled against Quintana, but seeing them score so early eased the pressure on him and allowed him to work with his slider and fastball a little more aggressively.
 
"A couple of big-time players stepped up in the first inning, and I mean, yea, we've really struggled against this guy," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of the first-inning success against Quintana. "You put up three runs in the first inning with two homers, it flips the script pretty fast."
 
With the onus off of Chacin, he was better able to throw seven scoreless innings on the way to his sixth decision in his last seven starts. Today's was an especially important win for Milwaukee, who entered this week's short series three games behind the Cubs. Brewers players differed on whether or not they'd call it a must-win, however.
 
"We have six more after these against the Cubs, but I feel like any game is must-win right now," Chacin said.
 
Braun, who has seen firsthand how much games in August and September can change the course of what had been a successful season, called it a little differently.
 
"It’s pretty close to a must-win. If we want to stay in the division race, I think we had to win one of two, ideally you gotta win both," Braun said. "These guys are really good, you obviously didn’t want to leave here down five games."
 
Against the packed crowd of 40,441 Tuesday, Braun said that he enjoys the atmosphere at Wrigley as the opponent.
 
"I’ve always enjoyed playing here. As a competitor, there’s no more enjoyable atmosphere to play in than this. The more hostile the environment is, the more enjoyable it is as a competitor. This place is always packed, it’s always loud. It’s a very challenging place to win," Braun said.
 
Even with another win tomorrow, the Brewers will still remain a game behind the Cubs, but Braun said that he is thankful to be playing in meaningful games at this point in the season regardless. After tomorrow, the Cubs and Brewers play two series in the first half at September, one at Miller Park and one at Wrigley Field.