Bulls

Word on the Street: Bad news bears?

Word on the Street: Bad news bears?

Monday, Sept. 19, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Bad news bears?

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and ex-fianc Kristin Cavallari might be on better terms than we thought. After Cavallari tweeted her fans to watch Dancing with the Stars, Cutler sent a message right back that read Good luck babe. Her response involved a smiley face.

I dont know about you, but I typically stay away from terms of endearment and smiley faces with an ex (@JayCutler6, @KristinCav)

Illinis Brown earns conference award

Illini linebacker Jonathan Brown showed just how much hes matured since last season. After recording just half a sack as a freshman, the sophomore earned Mondays Big Ten defensive player of the week award. Its the first time an Illini has won the award since December 2010. (ChicagoTribune)

Barkley isnt making friends in Miami

A lockout sure isnt enough to keep Charles Barkley from expressing his opinion of LeBron James. Last Friday, Barkley stated on an ESPN2 show that King James needs to lighten up and stop taking himself so seriously. Perhaps former NBA legends can share some words of wisdom? Well see if any offseason arguing comes of this (ProBasketballTalk)

Kane steps up his game

Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane says hes ready to take his on-ice talents to another level. As he prepares for his fifth NHL season, the 22-year-old works to put himself at the very top of the league. (ChicagoTribune)

Bank of Kobe

Kobe Bryant has offered to loan money to NBA players as long as the lockout continues. Hes been very involved in meetings with the league and has stepped up to help those who make less money and dont have as much cushion room if the paychecks stop. Talk about good karma points! (ProBasketballTalk)

Judge says Richmond isnt going anywhere

Jereme Richmonds request to leave the state for basketball training has once again been denied by a Lake County judge. The former Illini was arrested Aug. 8 after threatening an ex-girlfriend and her family. In the meantime, Richmond will take online classes and train for a possible future with the NBA. (ChicagoTribune)

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

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USA TODAY

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

If you haven't heard, Neil Funk is cutting 20 road games from his 2018-19 Bulls' play-by-play schedule.

Friday, the Bulls announced that Adam Amin, Andy Demetra and Kyle Draper will fill in for Funk for the first five of those games.

Amin, a play-by-play commentator for ESPN, will games on Oct. 22 against the Mavericks and Nov. 14 against the Celtics. He grew up in Addison, resides in Chicago and also does play-by-play for Bears preseason games.

Demetra is from Oak Brook and currently is the play-by-play broadcaster for Georgia Tech basketball and football. He will call games on Oct. 26 against the Hornets and Oct. 27 against the Hawks. He has previous play-by-play experience with the SEC Network, Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports South.

Draper will call the Bulls' Nov. 7 game against the Pelicans. He is the Celtics' pregame and postgame host for NBC Sports Boston and an occasional play-by-play annoucer and sideline reporter for the Celtics.

The Bulls said they will continue providing updates on substitute broadcasters as they are scheduled.

2019 encore for Jesse Chavez?

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USA TODAY

2019 encore for Jesse Chavez?

On July 15, Brandon Morrow recorded his 22nd save of the season with a scoreless inning in San Diego. It wound up being the last time he pitched in a game for the Cubs in 2018. 

Four days later, during the All-Star break, the Cubs made a move to bolster their bullpen, acquiring Jesse Chavez from the Rangers in exchange for minor league hurler Tyler Thomas. It wasn’t even the biggest trade they’d make with the Rangers that month – a little over a week later they dealt for Cole Hamels. 

Despite pitching nearly half the innings, Chavez was almost as valuable as Hamels.

2018 with Cubs IP fWAR
Jesse Chavez 39.0 1.1
Cole Hamels 76.1 1.5

Chavez made his Cubs debut on July 21; from July 21 through the end of the season, 187 pitchers tossed at least 30 innings. 185 of them had a higher ERA than Chavez, while 184 of them allowed more baserunners per 9 innings.

Best ERA, July 21-end of season

(minimum 30 innings) IP ERA
Blake Treinen 32.1 0.56
Jesse Chavez 39.0 1.15
Blake Snell 61.2 1.17
Trevor Bauer 35.0 1.29
Trevor Williams 71.2 1.38
Robert Stock 36.0 1.50

Fewest baserunners per 9 innings, July 32-end of season

(minimum 30 innings) IP BR/9 IP
Blake Treinen 32.1 5.85
Blake Snell 61.2 7.15
Jesse Chavez 39.0 7.15
Jacob deGrom 93.2 7.49
Scott Oberg 30.2 7.63
Josh Hader 33.1 7.83

But how did Chavez transform into one of Joe Maddon’s best bullpen arms down the stretch?  According to Chavez, his own transformation started on Mother’s Day.

Chavez entered a game in Houston with a 5.48 ERA in a dozen appearances, but pitched three innings with no hits, no walks and four strikeouts. From that point through the end of the season, he posted a 1.70 ERA and 0.892 WHIP. 

Chavez points to a change in arm slot which resulted in better consistency and a slight jump in velocity. A glance at his release point charts show that consistency, and he added roughly one mile an hour to his fastball.

"It's kept me more consistent in the zone," Chavez said. "Things have been sharper, velocity has been a lot sharper. I was huffing and puffing trying to get a 92 (mph fastball) out there and it wasn't coming.

"Next thing you know, I dropped it and it's right there, and I'm like, 'something's wrong here.' But I just took it and ran with it."

Jesse Chavez 2018 four-seam fastball velocity

  Average Max
Prior to May 13 92.6 mph 94.6 mph
May 13 on 93.6 mph 95.7 mph

Can Chavez be valuable in 2019?  The 35-year old reliever posted the best ERA (2.55), WHIP (1.059) and walk rate (4.5% - nearly two percent better than his previous best) in 2018, and he continued to get better as the season went on. 

He’s a former starter who can pitch multiple innings if needed, and that’s a valuable thing - especially for a manager like Joe Maddon, who uses his pitchers in a variety of ways. It’s unlikely he’ll have a second consecutive career year.

But he’ll likely be well worth the price tag; he only made $1 million in 2018, and even with a slight raise he should be very affordable. There’s definitely room in Maddon’s bullpen for a pitcher like Chavez.