Launch angle shows Bryant tweak is working

Cubs third baseman wanted swing to be more flat this season

Launch angle shows Bryant tweak is working

CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant isn't just thinking about what a pitcher's repertoire is these days. He's also studying his own launch angle.

"I committed to making a swing-thought change to be more flat with my swing," the Cubs third baseman said Sunday. "Last year, I was worse in terms of fouling pitches off. I told myself I didn't want to do that and I wanted to hit the pitches in the strike zone."

With the help of hitting coach John Mallee, Bryant added some more drills in his routine.

"You get into all these numbers in terms of launch angle and stuff, and I think my launch angle this year has definitely gone down from last year," Bryant said. "That shows my swing has made a change."

The launch angle is the angle of the ball as it comes off the bat. According to Statcast™, the launch angle of Bryant's home run on Saturday, for example, was 31.77 degrees. He strives to be between 25 and 30 degrees. The average launch angle of his five homers this season is 29.43 degrees.

Statcast: Bryant's 420-ft. blast

Cubs manager Joe Maddon has noticed a difference in Bryant's swing, and he said the change plus a better understanding of how to approach at-bats with two strikes in the count should result in better numbers for Bryant.

All Bryant knows is he did enough Saturday to hit the ball into the left-field bleachers despite a 20-mph wind.

"I was sitting there at third base, like, 'I don't think anybody's going to hit a homer today,'" said Bryant. "I've got to say that to myself more often. That was surprising to me."

Worth noting

• Sunday was to be a day of rest for both closer Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop. The two relievers have been busy, and Maddon said he has to be careful not to overwork them, especially Strop.

"Strop is such a horse and so good, he's your go-to guy against righties or lefties," Maddon said of the right-hander, who has appeared in three of the past four games.

Miguel Montero, sidelined with lower back tightness, hit in the batting cages Sunday, and he passed all the tests. The plan is to have him hit again on Monday. Montero is eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday.

Matt Szczur, on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, was able to hit in the batting cage on Sunday as well and is making progress. He is eligible to come off the DL May 18.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.