Hernandez Extends Hit Streak to 15, Kim Throws Blanks
Marco Hernandez extended his hitting streak to 15 games and Jin-Young Kim threw five shutout innings, as the AZL Cubs edged the AZL Dodgers 2-1 in Arizona League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.
Hernandez is hitting 426/453/639 with four doubles, three triples, a HR and 16 RBI, with only six strikeouts in 65 PA over the course of the 15-game hit streak, and is hitting 354/391/497 for the season. The 18-year old Dominican leads the AZL in RBI, and is tied for 3rd in the league in doubles. And (not too surprisingly) Hernandez was in the middle of the Cubs two-run 4th today, looping a single to CF that advanced Gioskar Amaya (who is hitting 366/401/486) to 3rd base with no outs. Both Amaya and Hernandez scored later in the inning.
Kim received a reported $850K bonus (equivalent to "2nd round money") when he signed with the Cubs as a 17-year old out of South Korea last year, and after struggling at AZ Instructs (7.20 ERA & 1.30 WHIP) last fall and at Extended Spring Training (4.91 ERA & 1.68 WHIP) and at Boise (7.66 & 2.15 WHIP) earlier this year, the 19-year old right-hander has (finally) put together a couple of decent outings, throwing 8.1 IP of shutout ball for the AZL Cubs. He allowed five hits and a walk in his five innings (61 pitches - 45 strikes, 3/5 GO/FO) today, and probably could have thrown at least another couple of innings, but there is a limit of 75 pitches or five innings (whichever comes first) for pitchers in the AZL.
18-year old RHP James Pugliese (Cubs 2011 18th round draft pick out of Mercer CC in New Jersey) piggy-backed with Kim, and threw three shutout innings of one-hit ball with no walks and four strikeouts (48 pitches - 30 strikes). Pugliesse is the guy with the max-effort extreme over-the-top delivery that would seem best-suited for a pitcher working out of the bullpen.
RHP Yilver Sanchez pitched the 9th and picked up the save. The 21-year old Dominican did allow a two-out RBI double before recording the final out, but only because the Cubs defensively-challenged 2B-SS combo (Brian Inoa & Gioskar Amaya) failed to turn what should have been a game-ending DP on the previous AB. Working as the AZL Cubs primary closer since getting sent-down from Boise, Sanchez now has a 3/22 BB/K in 15.0 IP for the AZL Cubs.
FWIW, the AZL Cubs currently trail the AZL Giants by 4-1/2 games in the AZL East, but have a 1-1/2 game lead over the AZL Athletics, the AZL Indians and the AZL Reds in the Wild Card race. (The three division winners and the 2nd-place team with the best record qualify for the AZL playoffs).
Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.
Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.
He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.