Rich Hill Sharp in Final Spring Training Outing
While the rest of his teammates spent the weekend in Las Vegas before heading back to Chicago for Opening Day, Rich Hill remained in Arizona and made his final Spring Training tune-up start versus the Angels' Salt Lake AAA club at the Diablo Park minor league complex in Tempe this morning.
Hill struggled with his control a bit in the 1st and 3rd innings (he walked a batter to load the bases in the bottom of the 3rd and then hit a batter to force-in a run), but he also retired the side in order in the 2nd, 4th, and 5th innings, including the last eight men he faced.
With a mandate from Larry Rothschild to throw between 80 and 90 pitches, Hill ended up throwing exactly 80 pitches (22-14-23-10-11 in innings 1-2-3-4-5, including 50 strikes and 30 balls).
In his five innings of work, the left-hander allowed one run (earned) on three hits, with two walks, four strikeouts, and a HBP, with a 6/5 GB/FB.
As for the game itself, the Iowa Cubs, playing their final Spring Training game before heading back east, defeated the Salt Lake Bees 6-3, as Micah Hoffpauir crushed a two-run tie-breaking HR over the right-centerfield fence to give the Cubs a lead they never relinquished.
Facing Angels top pitching prospect Nick Adenhart and four relievers, the I-Cubs banged-out 14 hits, as Hoffpauir went 2-5 with the two-run homer and two runs scored, Casey McGehee went 3-4 with a walk and three RBI on two doubles and a single, Jake Fox went 4-5 (all four singles) with two runs scored, 2B Eric Patterson went 2-4 with a walk, and RF Josh Kroeger went 3-5 with an RBI triple and a run scored.
On the negative side, CF Andres Torres went 0-5 with three K, SS Andres Blanco went 0-4 with two K and a GIDP, and catcher Koyie Hill went 0-3 with a K.
The I-Cubs three lefty relievers followed Hill to the mound, with mixed results. While Neal Cotts and Geoff Jones each struck out the side in their one inning of work (and Cotts was especially impressive), Les Walrond gave up two runs on three hits, a walk, and HBP in his two innings, with the second inning being the really bad one, after he had retired the side 1-2-3 in his first inning of work.
With Rich Hill having bumped him out of his scheduled start in the AAA game, LHP J. R. Mathes got the start for AA Tennessee on an adjacent field and had a solid outing, although I do not have the exact numbers since I was mainly watching Rich Hill and the I-Cubs.
With Hill getting his final Spring Training start today, he appears to be on a schedule to start the fifth game of the season next Saturday afternoon versus the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field.
Here is Rich Hill's abridged game log from today's game:
single (then stolen base)
single (runner on 2nd advances to 3rd)
HBP (forcing in a run)
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.