Not Mark Prior

GAME 51 PREVIEW CHICAGO CUBS (26-24) at LOS ANGELES DODGERS (26-25) Dodger Stadium, 9.10pm CT, TV: ESPN2, FSN2
SP Derrek Lowe SP *John Koronka
SS #Neifi Perez SS #Cesar Izturis
3B #Enrique Wilson 3B Antonio Perez
1B Derrek Lee CF *JD Drew
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 2B Jeff Kent
2B *Todd Walker 1B Olmedo Saenz
CF *Corey Patterson RF Jayson Werth
LF Todd Hollandsworth C Jason Phillips
C Michael Barrett LF Mike Edwards
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
The Cubs' system is chock-a-block with pitching. Yet filling in today for the Mark Prior as the Cubs try to run the streak to a season-high six with a first sweep of the Dodgers in LA for a decade will be a real non-prospect making his major league debut. Koronka's not yet 25, but he's already into the eighth season of a minor league career over which he has a 4.41 ERA. If that doesn't say it all for his talent, his fastball doesn't reach the nineties, and his only quality off-speed offering is his changeup. The Cubs' decision to add him to the 40-man roster last November was then at best rather bizarre. Their decision to actually use him in a major-league game today probably borders on capitulation (of course, now that I've forecast him getting tatooed left, right and centre, watch for him throwing shutout ball). Strangely the decision makes some sense though. Besides Sergio Mitre, of all our prospects only Angel Guzman and Jerome Williams are refined enough to comfortably handle the jump to the majors. The diagnosis on Guzman though is a strained right forearm, and at best he'll only throw his first pitches since the spring in a few days' time. Jerome Williams meanwhile has struggled terribly of late, and the decision to place him for a while at Iowa, where he last night threw six solid innings (2 runs on 8 hits, 1 crushed home run that was only just fair, no walks and 4 strikeouts), is entirely the correct one in my view - he needs some confidence running through his veins again. Behind Guzman and Williams lies a whole host of talent, led by Renyel Pinto, Ricky Nolasco and Rich Hill from West Tennessee. Calling them up would though represent really throwing them in at the deep end, sink or swim, since not one of the three has a successful inning at Triple-A under their belt. Is that the wisest way to treat prospects? It's debatable. Of the more experienced options, the Cubs' decision to leave Todd Wellemeyer and Ryan Dempster, who've both started games this year, in the bullpen where they seem to have found a groove is probably wise. Though he only throws in the mid-eighties, Raul Valdez, signed out of the Dominican Republic last year, throws a wide variety of pitches at a wide variety of speeds from the left side, but he would be going on short rest today and he'd require someone being kicked off the forty. Jon Leicester meanwhile started a previous emergency start, but he was roughed up a bit by the Mets in that game and he's lost Dusty's faith. And that really leaves just Koronk-urgh. It's not ideal, but for today, it'll have to do. Hopefully the offence shows up, hopefully Valdez or Leicester can start next time around, and hopefully Mark Prior gets well soon. Roll on, Cubbies, roll on. [UPDATE Rob G.] I'm going to try and do a running diary of the game (twins permitting), updating every half inning or so.
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Comments

Enrique Wilson at 3rd, batting 2nd.

I think I just threw up in my mouth...

No word yet on who got sent down????

It was Leicester.

Dear John Hill,

Calling them up would though represent really throwing them in at the deep end, sink or swim, since not one of the three has a successful inning at Triple-A under their belt.

Renyel Pinto was pretty good in AAA last season, save the first start.

If my eyes did not just deceive (watching GameCenter), Latroy just gave up a grand slam in relief in the 8th. Poor guy.

stupid ChiSox... lose already... I am missing the Cubs game!!!!!! stupid CSN+ for allowing no extra time. stupid black out rules... ARG!

On the plus side, ESPN's Sox coverage is offering a breath of fresh air, what with the best color man in the biz working the mic and all.

cant get ESPN Sox or Cubs because of black out rules... and this ChiSox post game stuff just wont end! aaaaaaahhh!

FINALLY

steve stone is a jackass i never like him all that much.

"could the cubs win without prior, sure, will they, i dont know but...."

can you stand anyone who talks like that?

" how are the sox winning you say, wellitsy wellitsy wellitsy, lets take a looksie"

From thescout.com

On Monday, Koronka threw from the bullpen mound at Dodger Stadium but left before the game began. It was the first time the southpaw had ever attended a major league game.

I'm sorry. Please tell me I'm reading this wrong. This kind has been a professional baseball player for 8 years and has never attended a major league BASEBALL GAME?!?!?!

This is just too nuts....

dlee makes me happy

Ienpw--
"Renyel Pinto was pretty good in AAA last season, save the first start."

I don't have the game log on him, but his overall numbers are Iowa last year were...

2 GS, 9.1 IP, 9 H, 2 HR, 8 BB, 9 K, 7.71 ERA

Ewww. His numbers there this year...

6 GS, 22.2 IP, 31 H, 3 HR, 24 BB, 24 K, 9.53 ERA

And Nolasco's there last year...

9 GS, 40.2 IP, 68 H, 7 HR, 16 BB, 28 K, 9.30 ERA

And, when I published the statement "not one [of the three] has a successful inning at Triple-A under their belt", Rich Hill had yet to appear at Triple-A. However, he made his debut there last night (against the best offensive team in the PCL no less)..

6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 HR, 2 BB, 14 K, 5.40 ERA (4 ER)

Holy Cow! The last Cub to make his Iowa debut and strikeout double-digits was Mark Prior. Hill fell just short of the Iowa franchise record of 16 held by Vida Blue! Now that's some esteemed company!

Hill has never had any trouble striking a lot of people out though. What he did have trouble doing was striking a lot of people out while not walking just about everyone he didn't strike out. And there you have that. Just two walks, I think that's the best thing about last night's performance. He was according to someone that was at the game absolutely dealing, really attacking hitters and getting ahead in counts, and keeping them clueless at to whether they could expect the big hook or the heater (as many strikeouts were on the fastball as the curve). One of the walks was on 3-2 count, the other was a four-pitch lead-off walk in the sixth.

After that walk he allowed a very hit hard hit double off the wall (2nd, 3rd, no outs). He got a popout, but an RBI groundout to second followed, and the next batter absolutely crushed a fastball to deep, deep left, and that's the only real blackmark on his night. He left with two outs and a runner on first in the seventh, and an incompetent bullpen allowed the inherited runner to score.

Here's Hill's last nine starts (eight at West Tenn)...

55 IP, 32 H, 5 HR, 17 BB, 95 K, 2.13 ERA

That deserves a wolf whistle.

Let me put it this way, Rich Hill is going to be in Chicago before too long.

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