Chicago Cubs' Kimbrel looks 'really good'

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (24) throws the ball against the Milwaukee Brewers during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, in Chicago.

    Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (24) throws the ball against the Milwaukee Brewers during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, in Chicago.

 
 
Updated 9/17/2019 7:50 PM

The best-case scenario for the Chicago Cubs is that closer Craig Kimbrel comes off the injured list Thursday night to be available for the key series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Kimbrel threw a simulated game Tuesday, firing 16 pitches with teammate Robel Garcia in the batter's box.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Normal," said manager Joe Maddon on how Kimbrel looked to him. "He looked really good, actually. Delivery was good. There was no hesitation with his arm angles. He wasn't guarding whatsoever. I thought the fastball was alive. Maybe the command of the curveball was off a bit, but the break was there. It was very encouraging. We'll wait until (Wednesday) to go to our next level, but it looked really, really good."

Kimbrel will rest Wednesday to see how responds from the simulated game. He has been on the IL, effective Sept. 2, with right-elbow inflammation.

"Fastball had some life to it," said pitching coach Tommy Hottovy. "I think he threw some really good breaking balls. A couple of them were short, but really, I thought the ball was coming out well.

"Mechanically, he wasn't guarding anything. He was getting into his lower half well. A lot of times when you're feeling for something upper-body wise, you kind of forget about your lower half and you feel for that, and it didn't look like that was the case at all."

Hottovy added that if Kimbrel isn't ready to be activated Thursday, he could pitch another simulated session.

Kintzler throws:

Setup man Brandon Kintzler has not pitched since Sept. 10 because of what the Cubs describe as a mild left-oblique strain.

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Tommy Hottovy said Kintzler played catch Tuesday.

"He's a guy, too, once the symptoms go away and he feels like he can get into that front side, then he should be ready to go," Hottovy said. "It's not like we have to build them back up. A lot of these are one-inning guys."

Making a name for himself:

One unsung member of the Cubs' bullpen has been right-hander Alec Mills, who has been up and down between the big club and Class AAA Iowa all year.

Within the space of four days this past week, Mills earned his first major-league save and first major-league win. He picked up the win in Monday's 8-2 victory over the Reds by pitching 2 innings of relief.

"Yeah, I'll take it, for sure," he said. "It's been awesome to get those out of the way, I guess you could say. Now I've just got to go out and keep pitching well."

Baez to get checked out:

Injured shortstop Javier Baez will be examined by a doctor later this homestand to determine progress in his recovery from a hairline fracture of his left thumb. Baez suffered the injury Sept. 1 and likely will miss the rest of the regular season.

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