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That sinking feeling: Cubs’ Brandon Kintzler ‘getting back to what I do best’

MESA, Ariz. – Cubs reliever Brandon Kintzler has a lot of appreciation for new pitching coach Tommy Hottovy – who used the chance to be in Las Vegas for the Winter Meetings in December to go watch Kintzler throw at his nearby home.

“He said he was going to be in town, and I said, `Well, I’m going to be playing catch if you want to come out.’ I didn’t think he actually would. But he Uber’d his way over,” Kintzler said. “I was impressed.”

As for Hottovy’s affection for deep dives into data and the Cubs’ finely detailed system for sequencing pitches and attacking hitters, maybe not so much.

“It can be helpful. It can also go the other way if it’s too much for you,” said Kintzler, a sinkerball pitcher who tried to “fit in” and learn the Cubs’ system last summer after being traded from the Nationals. “It just depends on who you are.”

Kintzler had a 7.00 ERA in 25 appearances for the Cubs after a trade from the Nats last summer.

He wound up with a terrible finish to his season: 14 earned runs in 18 innings (7.00) and a WHIP of 2.00 as he got away from his sinker at times, in part in an effort to please.

This season it’s about “getting back to what I do best,” said Kintzler, who exercised his $5 million side of a mutual option for 2019 after the Cubs declined their $10 million side.

Kintzler supporters in Hottovy and manager Joe Maddon.

“They just said we want you to get back to what you do best, and that’s powering your sinker in there,” said Kintzler, who was an All-Star closer for the Twins in 2016. “So no more thought process about any scouting reports or analytics.

“I’ve always been a `Let’s just see what happens’ kind of guy,” he added of his attack approach. “If I get back to that I think we’ll be all right.”