Hill Climbing in the Flatlands

Expecting to see the enigmatic Rich Hill make a not so triumphant return to the scene of some of his finest professional work, I headed to the ballpark last night planning to call it a night whenever he did.

He only lasted five innings but I stayed for a sixth when it was assigned to Scott Eyre.

The battery in the starting lineup was Hill squared, and after three innings it was hard to say whose arm was more impressive, the left of Rich or the right of Koyie. At that point Rich had fanned three but Koyie had thrown out a man stealing and picked another off of second.

For the record, Rich Hill allowed seven hits and two runs while walking one and striking out five on the night. I had him for 47 strikes among his 78 pitches, but left with other less quantifiable impressions of his work.

Hill's misses weren't close. The 'balls' he threw were so flagrant that the batter was rarely tempted by them.

So in love is he with his buxom curveball that he was even throwing it on the majority of his warmups between innings.

His mind still seems to wander. Where does it go? Despite his catcher's best efforts to protect him from himself, [Rich] Hill allowed Tacoma's catcher to steal third practically standing up after a fifth-inning double. Consequently the infield had to draw in [the score at the time was 1-0, Rainiers] and it cost a run when the batter burped a faux base hit over the shortstop's head that landed just beyond the seam of infield dirt and outfield grass.

The other run Hill allowed came on a first-inning homer by a left-handed hitter who came in at a .400+ clip versus southpaws. Sandwiched between two swinging strikeouts, it was both well-struck and windblown to the opposite field.

Hill's windup has always seemed too elaborate and flamboyant to me and it still does. The number of things that could go wrong exceed his margin for error.

He took the loss in a 5-2 game. Among the seven hits he permitted were three doubles and the homer, all of them hit on the button.

As for Eyre, he fanned a lefty, gave up a homer to a rightie [Mike Kinkade, bless him, who, as an I-Cub last year pulled off a straight steal of home to upstage the tired, 'Famous Chicken' one night in Des Moines], popped up a lefty, gave up a ringing double to a rightie and, finally, fanned a rightie to end his inning.

CRUMBS: Glad to see AZ Phil's post on Micah Hoffpauir's status; nothing in the I-Cub media notes last night about his return...PESKY REDHEAD UPDATE - After last night's 'ofer' Matt Murton now has 78 plate appearances this year between Des Moines and Chicago without an extra-base hit...Eric Patterson has been activated from the DL but didn't play last night...the team continues to be 'uniform' in wearing their pants tucked just below the knees; Eyre's pajamas were the conspicuous and lone exception...ex-big leaguer Hector Carrasco has also joined the team's bullpen...Sam Fuld's thumb has finally healed to the point of regular playing time. Last night he had a double the other way and got thrown out stealing third...Jake Fox came out of his slump on the recent road trip through California. He had four doubles in a game against Sacramento, tying a club record...just happened to notice while waiting for last night's game to begin that the Salt Lake Bees [Angels] are off to a 25-5 start in the PCL, reminiscent of the '84 Tigers' break from the gate. We'll see if their losses have reached double digits by the time they make their only trip of the season to Des Moines in early August...I hope to check out Kevin Hart's start tomorrow in a scheduled matinee...MW

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Comments

Hill was mostly throwing fastballs in his start vs the Cardinals, so I'm thinking that they decided he needed to work on controlling his curve.

The sooner he gets this figured out and we can have a rotation of Z, Lilly, Dempster, Hill and Gallagher, the better. 

I hate to be mean, but has anybody ever heard Hill try to talk in an interview? Once he gets past the basic Nuke LaLouche quotes (http://thinkersandjokers.com/thinker.php?id=1944) he's pretty much toast.

Well he did attend college at Michigan. What do you expect? :)

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  • Agreed. I was not including Fowler or Heyward.

    I'm just not a fan of 2016 Coghlan.....

    Dusty Baylor 1 min 38 sec ago view
  • @Dusty Contreras if it's a Lester or Arrieta start. TLS is good PH too. You also forgot about Heyward, assume Fowler is CF.

    chitownmvp01 2 min 53 sec ago view
  • I expect Soler to get optioned as well when activated and Cahill to replace Grimm. It wouldn't surprise me if Coghlan and/or Soler is included in a trade.

    Maybe Coghlan is up to see if he can get on track before someone acquires him.

    This move could also be to assure that we have as much OF depth as possible to maximize Joe's ability to rest players in September once we've clinched.

    chitownmvp01 5 min 3 sec ago view
  • Maddon basically said as much...Fowler still kind of sore, they're being proactive, etc.

    Tito 7 min 17 sec ago view
  • La Stella at 2B...Baez at 3B, or vice versa. Zobrist in RF, Bryant in LF No one gets bumped.

    Dusty Baylor 15 min 34 sec ago view
  • If Coghlan is leading off, I assume Fowler is getting the day off. Who is supposed to lead off, then? Someone has to get on base for Bryant and Rizzo. Coghlan's OBP is .346 with the Cubs. Jackson's was .304. LaStella can lead off, but then he has to play second or third, and bump Zobrist or Baez.

    Unless he gets hot, Coghlan will likely change places with Soler soon.

    VirginiaPhil 17 min 9 sec ago view
  • I suspect the Cubs asked Chris Coghlan if he would accept an Optional Assignment to the minors and he refused (Coghlan has one minor league option left), so either you keep LaStella on the 25 and release Coghlan, or option LaStella to AAA for about a month and have both LaStella and Coghlan available in September-October. (As an Article XIX-A player, Coghlan must give his permission before he can be optioned to the minors, while LaStella has not accrued enough MLB Service Time to refuse an optional assignment).

    Arizona Phil 38 min 3 sec ago view
  • Given today's lineup -- maybe they just wanted an extra OF to give Dexter a few days off (i.e. day game after a night game).

    billybucks 40 min 13 sec ago view
  • Tommy LaStella has three minor leaue options left so it's no big deal to send him to Iowa, but as of right now he projects to be at 2+124 MLB Service Time by the end of the of the 2016 MLB regular season, which will place him "on the bubble" as far as being eligible for salary arbitration as a "Super Two" post-2016.

    But if he spends at least twenty days on optional assignment this season (anything less than twenty days and he will accrue a full season of MLB Service Time), he will not have enough MLB Service Time to have a chance to be a "Super Two."

    Arizona Phil 51 min 31 sec ago view
  • this will be his 4th time leading off for the cubs this season...WITH A .500 OB%! HAIL MADDON! THE PLAN (c)2016! HE HAS RISEN! #YOLO #SWAG! KONY 2012!

    crunch 59 min 7 sec ago view
  • I don't hate Coghlan as a PHer but he's leading off today which is as bad as Austin Jackson doing so last year. He doesn't even have the speed.

    johann 1 hour 48 min ago view
  • TLS has options. He will be up again in Sept, and maybe earlier.

    Rob Richardson 1 hour 58 min ago view
  • Very odd -- TLS .308/.419 in July (in 26 AB). Strange move for a team struggling to score runs. Hard to imagine Coghlan doing better than that. Maybe they like Coghlan better as a PH?

    billybucks 2 hours 9 min ago view
  • Sorry to nitpick -- but the first game wasn't a save.

    billybucks 2 hours 23 min ago view
  • Wow La Stella sent to Iowa and Coghlan brought up. I'm not a huge Stella fan but he has been hitting lately and is to me better than Coghlan. Neither are good defensively but I guess Coghlan can play the outfield allowing Bryant to stay at 3rd more where he's better.

    johann 2 hours 25 min ago view
  • Not 2nd to last but Cubs are definitely bottom of the pack in the 2nd half in oWAR and wRC+. #1 in dWAR though which is certainly a good sign for the playoffs.

    johann 2 hours 30 min ago view