Guest Pitchers Aboard for Hoffpauired Win Streak
Micah Hoffpauir was activated a week ago and the Iowa Cubs haven't lost since. In the last two games alone he's driven in more runs than the pesky redhead has in 23. Yesterday he manned a post in right-field, possibly as a Plan B in the event of a failed Jim Edmonds experiment.
Meanwhile Kevin Hart was 'stretched out' from 67 pitches in his previous start all the way to 68 yesterday; from 3.2 innings all the way to four.
Hart's stuff is overpowering at this level. Yesterday he allowed only two hits [one a windblown, first inning homer] and a walk while whiffing six. Command and efficiency remain the objectives. It took him 51 pitches to get the first six outs, five of which were strikeouts; only 16 to get the next six, only one of which was a 'K'.
I cannot account for the fact that he wasn't allowed to at least start the fifth and build on his previous workload, especially given that he seemed to be finding a groove in the third and fourth.
All told he threw a first pitch stike to nine of the 15 hitters he faced and retired all nine of them.
Pitching coach Mike Mason paid Hart a very brief visit on the mound in the second inning after his 41st pitch. He must have said something like, 'fucq k's' because Hart's work was more to the point afterwards.
Sean Marshall's start on this stand was ordinary and little more than a workout. He threw 63 pitches while going four innings on May 12 and allowed a couple ER's while walking two and striking out three as he converts back from reliever to starter mode.
As for Rich Hill, he's walked five and fanned 13 over the course of 11 innings spanning his two starts for the I-Cubs. Nothing new here; great stuff, poor command, questionable intensity level...
After getting off to a chilly start compared to last year's club which both entertained fans here in Des Moines AND contributed mightily to the success in Chicago, the I-Cubs now seem poised to again play a key organizational role come summer.
Whether that role is as a supplier of trade bait or reinforcements in Chicago remains to be seen.
The word here is that Chicago ordered Hoffpauir's move from 1B to right. Yesterday he made a nice leaping grab to end the second inning when the opposing pitcher was the first to put a ball in play versus Hart.
CRUMBS: The pesky redhead's chronic bout of extra-baselessness finally came to an end on Sunday when he doubled to right after nearly a hundred plate appearances. He followed that with a two-double game on Monday before reverting to singularity in yesterday's 5-2 win [Hoffpauir drove in all five with a three-run homer and a double]...Mike Burns is a 30-year-old journeyman who was 4-9 a year ago for the Pawsox in the Boston system, but he has fanned 34 and walked only six while swinging between the rotation and the bullpen here this year...will be interesting to see if Felix pouts when he comes back in the wake of Edmonds' acquisition; last year when he was sent down he arrived in time to play a night game on the same day he got the bad news...since Hoffpauir joined the team they have outscored opponents 42-15 during their seven-game win streak...MW
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?