Crazy Like [a] Fox
The Iowa Cubs will play their 2009 home opener tonight after completing a 5-3 road trip with an 8-7 win yesterday in Albuquerque.
Early on the story is the booming bat of Jake Fox, who's filling the shoes of Micah Hoffpauir and then some. So far he's hitting a robust .516 with a video game OPS of 1.676. Extrapolations of Fox's torrid start over a season's course, always fun in April, lead to some numbers of federally stimulating proportions. Were he to maintain his soul-sold-to-the-devil paces and NOT be recalled, Fox would rack up, for instance, 70 homers, 280 R'sBI and, gulp, 595 total bases.
I can't wait to get to the ballpark tonight and see how his road show plays in Des Moines.
Jake isn't the only Fox off to a fast start. Chad has racked up four straight scoreless outings out of the bullpen and recorded a save in yesterday's win.
Jose Ascanio is transitioning nicely from relief work to the rotation with two scoreless starts, each lasting four innings, as he stretches out to higher pitch counts. Ascanio has issued just one walk against eight strikeouts.
Jeff Samardzija had a lackluster two-inning stint out of the pen in the season opener but followed that with four shutout frames in his first start of the year later on the trip. He'll start again over the weekend and I plan to be there for a good look. He says he's throwing three sorts of fastballs now, along with his slider and a changeup that's the big work in progress. Samardzija reports throwing it several times in his last outing for strikes and says it's coming along. He threw 62 pitches last time out and will be rationed to about 75 on Saturday night en route to a routine workload in excess of 100.
Mitch Atkins has struggled in his two starts thus far, allowing 15 hits and 14 runs in just nine innings.
At the plate, CF Sam Fuld has played the best supporting role behind leading man Fox out of the leadoff spot.
April 17th sounds just about right for a midwest opening night and, sure enough, it looks like the I-Cubs have caught a break from the weatherman for a change. Afternoon highs in the low 70's are expected to give way to a comfortable evening. Unlike Ascanio and Samardzija, I think I have a good shot at going the distance my first time out...MW
In all seriousness the Cubs have the fewest amount of games played in the NL which means they're gonna be facing quite the grind later on including 24 games in a row at the end of June and beginning of July so I hope he does get a few days off.
Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.