On the surface, little changed with Justin Grimm's skills from 2015 to 2016. The biggest difference, however, came with a surge in his hard-hit rate, which jumped from 30.9 percent in 2015 to 36.8 percent last season. He also generated groundballs at a lower clip, which with the aforementioned increase in hard contact drove a 66-point spike in BABIP. One possible explanation is the reduced velocity on his fastball, which slipped from 95.2 mph in 2015 to 94.2 mph. Just one year after beating his FIP (3.11) by more than a run with his ERA (1.99), Grimm underperformed his mark (3.28) with a 4.10 ERA in 2016. Fortunately, he seemed to figure things out in the second half, closing out the year with a 2.42 ERA and 31:8 K:BB over 22.1 innings down the stretch. With 12 of his 68 appearances in 2016 taking place in the eighth inning or later in tied or one-run games, Grimm is unlikely to find his way into save opportunities as a member of the Cubs.
Grimm (1-0) recorded his first win of the season Tuesday against the Brewers. He pitched a scoreless sixth inning with two strikeouts. The Cubs only got 3.2 innings from starter Brett Anderson, so they needed a pick-me-up from guys like Brian Duensing and Grimm. Grimm did his part by pitching a perfect top of the sixth inning, and then the Cubs scored four times in the bottom half to take the lead.
Grimm recorded his first hold of the season in Monday's win over the Dodgers by pitching a perfect seventh inning. Grimm certainly didn't enter a clean game, as two walks by Carl Edwards and a catcher's interference from Willson Contreras loaded the bases with no outs to start the inning. Grimm retired Joc Pederson on a shallow flyball, then induced a double-play grounder from pinch-hitter Andrew Toles. Grimm isn't in the mix for saves right now, but he could snag some more holds as a valuable member of Chicago's middle-relief corps.
Grimm made his first appearance of the season in Friday's loss to the Brewers, recording one out and allowing one hit. The right-hander had missed the beginning of the season due to personal matters, but should see regular relief appearances now that he's back in the bullpen. Grimm allowed a two-out single to Hernan Perez before getting Manny Pina to fly out, ending his season debut. He'll be aiming to improve upon his 4.10 ERA from last season.
Grimm, who missed the season opener due to a death in his family, is expected to be available for Tuesday's game against the Cardinals, Jesse Rogers of ESPN 1000 reports. Grimm's ERA jumped to 4.10 in 2016 on the heels of an impressive 1.99 ERA across his 2015 campaign, though his K/9 was higher than 11 in each season. He'll look to continue striking batters out at an impressive clip in the upcoming season while returning his ERA closer to his 2015 level.
Grimm and the Cubs avoided arbitration on Friday with a $1.825 million deal, Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball reports. Grim registered a 4.10 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 52.2 innings for the world champions in 2016, a significant step back from his scary 2015 season. He'll get a pay raise of around a half million dollars for his troubles in his second round of arbitration.
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