Coleman & Deep Threat Deep Six Round Rock
The Iowa Cubs swept the Round Rock Express last night behind the strong starting pitching of Casey Coleman in the opener and Jeff Samardzija in the nightcap.
Coleman retired the last 21 men he faced after the first two got hits in going the route [PCL doubleheader games last only seven innings].
Samardzija ran his record to 5-0 with five scoreless innings in game two. It was his second straight start after pitching out of the I-Cub bullpen since his demotion from Chicago in April. His return to the rotation was brought about by the brief promotion of Mitch Atkins who's now been returned to Iowa in exchange for John Grabow.
So now what happens with one of the highest paid players in MiLB? He's thrown 30 innings on this go 'round in Des Moines to the tune of a 1.80 ERA and a sparkling .154 BAA. But he's surrendered more walks than hits [19/16 respectively]. Granted, it's a very limited basis for comparison, but most of his splits are better in his two starts, which span a mere nine innings, than in his 21 IP out of the pen.
There are more intriguing prospects than spots in the rotation right now. Jay Jackson took a no-hitter deep into a recent start. Thomas Diamond has been very solid all year. Coleman has been more good than bad. Atkins is back. Samardzija remains as enigmatic as ever. And then there's reliable old strike-thrower J.R. Mathes and the possibility of a Randy Wells demotion to enable the return of Tom Gorzellany to the Chicago rotation, either as a replacement for a traded Ted Lilly or to showcase himself as a hunk of trade bait.
Speaking of trade prospects, if Derek Lee gets moved, would the Cubs let Micah Hoffpauir man first base for at least the rest of this summer? He's still hitting only .227 but has somehow managed to produce 39 runs while becoming the all-time leading doubler in I-Cub franchise history. Whenever and however Lee departs, I for one vote for the acquisition of a young replacement as opposed to the transfer of Soriano to that post. A hop in receipt of throws from across the infield would cost the Cubs a lot of putouts on bang-bang plays.