A's Rough Up Cubs Cuban Connection at Papago Park
Rob Whitenack (rehabbing from June 2011 TJS) threw two innings (27 pitches) of shutout ball with three strikeouts, but Cuban southpaws Gerardo Concepcion and Frank del Valle allowed a combined seven runs on 10 hits, five walks, a HBP, and two wild pitches over the next six innings, as the Athletics defeated the Cubs 7-4 in Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #2 (AKA “Connie Mack Field”) at the Papago Sports Complex in Phoenix, AZ.
After throwing three innings of shutout ball and looking like a major league veteran in his EXST debut last Monday versus the Brewers (when he threw 75% strikes and kept the opposing hitters off-balance by effectively mixing-up his pitches), Concepcion showed today what happens when he pitches from behind in the count and has to throw a fastball over the plate.
He had an excellent first inning of work, striking out the side (including the first two hitters on six pitches), but then began to pitch from behind starting with his second inning, eventually allowing six hits (including three wall-banger doubles), and even walking the bases loaded at one point.
Concepcion's strength is throwing strikes (especially "strike one") and then working the hitter, so when he struggles with his command (as he did in his later innings today) he can get nailed, and it isn't pretty.
Here is the abridged box score from the game (Cubs players only):
1. Shawon Dunston, Jr, CF: 1-4 (1B, 4-6 FC, F-9, L-4, SB)
2. Anthony Giansanti, DH #1: 0-4 (K, K, F-8, P-3)
3. Dan Vogelbach, 1B: 1-3 (BB, K, 2B, 4-3)
4. Jeimer Candelario, 3B-DH: 1-3 (1-3, 2B, 5-3, R)
5. Xavier Batista RF-DH: 1-3 (F-8, 1B, L-3, RBI)
6. Wilson Contreras, DH-C: 1-3 (3-U, 5-4-3 DP, 2B, R)
7. Danny Lockhart, 2B: 2-3 (1B, K, 2B, R)
8. Wilfredo Petit, C-DH: 0-2 (F-7, 6-3, BB)
9. Carlos Penalver, SS: 0-3 (K, 4-3, 5-4 FC, R)
10. Garrett Schlecht, LF: 2-3 (1B, K, 1B, RBI)
11a. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FIRST TIME THRU BATTING ORDER
11b. Delbis Arcila, RF: 1-2 (K, 1B, RBI)
12a. SLOT WAS SKIPPED FIRST TIME THRU BATTING ORDER
12b. Mark Malave, 3B: 0-2 (6-3, 3-1)
1. Rob Whitenack: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 27 pitches (20 strikes), 2/1 GO/FO
2. Gerardo Concepcion: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R (5 ER), 3 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 1 BALK, 69 pitches (41 strikes), 1/4 GO/FO
3. Frank del Valle: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 77 pitches (36 strikes), 2/2 GO/FO
4. Roderik Pichardo: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 17 pitches (10 strikes), 0/3 GO/FO
CUBS ERRORS: 2
1. SS Carlos Penalver - E-6 (overthrow to 1st base on infield single allowed batter-runner to advance to 2nd base)
2. C Wilson Contreras - E-2 (errant pick-off attempt at 1st base allowed base-runner to advance to 2nd base)
CUBS CATCHERS DEFENSE:
1. Wilfredo Petit: 0-1 CS
2. Wilson Contreras 0-1 CS, 1 E (see above)
WEATHER: Partly cloudy and VERY breezy with temperatures in the 60’s
I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.
I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.
They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?
He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.
What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.
(All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)
Lester will probably be all right.
I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.
I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.
Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?
He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.
But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.
The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.
Yup. Thanks Q
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTNekUcY-XM
I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.
O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.
Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.
I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.
You don't think he's improved? He looks completely different out there than he did when he first came up. The last I checked his K rate was in the low 20% range - 22-23 or so. When he came up it was 40%+.
To me, what is scary about him if I'm the other guy is that he IS learning the strike zone. This guy could easily be the MVP someday.