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yoanner negrinI was travelling a bit yesterday, but I did catch all of Kyuji Fujikawa’s appearance against the Reds. Something looked a bit off as Fujikawa reached his 30th, 31st, 32nd, etc. pitches of the outing. And, on his final pitch to Joey Votto, he clearly looked uncomfortable and pointed to the dugout. That almost never happens, and means he was really feeling something. I cringed, knowing that he’d just come back from missing almost a month with a forearm strain.

Fujikawa is going to be evaluated in Chicago today, but the expectation is that he’ll hit the DL again, hopefully with just a minor flare-up of the same forearm issue. The injury, and the timing, really suck because Fujikawa has been excellent this year for the Cubs. It’s easy to focus on the 5.25 ERA and the early outings where he struggled (and was probably hurt), but, since returning from the DL in early May, Fujikawa has given up exactly one earned run. He has a 1.17 ERA over that 7.2 inning stretch, during which he’s struck out 10 and walked just one (Votto, yesterday, when he was hurting).

Even if you don’t want to play the pick-and-choose game, the overall results have been very good so far. Fujikawa sports a 28% strikeout rate and a 4% walk rate, each of which is excellent. His .323 BABIP and 58.8% LOB% probably have as much to do with that 5.25 ERA as anything. His FIP and xFIP are just 2.81 and 2.91, respectively. It’s all a small sample – 12 innings pitched – but, so far, Fujikawa has been great. And it’s hard to ignore that the bullpen – concededly with the emergence of Kevin Gregg – has been much better since early May when Fujikawa returned.

So, yeah, the injury sucks.

Assuming Fujikawa does indeed go to the disabled list again, the Cubs will have an interesting choice to make with his bullpen replacement. They recently picked up upside reliever Eduardo Sanchez off of waivers from the Cardinals, and he’s already on the 40-man. But the Cubs have an open 40-man spot, so they could opt to give a non-40-man reliever at AAA a shot. For example, Blake Parker, who was up with the Cubs briefly last year, has a 2.16 ERA in 16.2 innings of work to go with a very nice 1.020 WHIP and a 12.4 K/9. But he’s also giving up 5.4 walks per nine, which could get you torched in the big leagues.

There’s also Zach Putnam, a 25-year-old righty with a nice pedigree and good numbers this year (3.26 ERA, 1.345 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 over 19.1 innings of work). The Cubs got a good luck at Putnam this Spring, as he was one of the finalists for a bullpen job. He had command issues late in the Spring, though, and that led to the Cubs actually removing him from the 40-man roster. Are they ready to put him back on? Maybe.

Although I wouldn’t have any beef with Sanchez, Parker, or Putnam getting the call, the guy I’d like to see is Yoanner Negrin. The 29-year-old righty is tearing up the PCL with a 2.73 ERA and 11.5 K/9 over 33 innings of relief work. He’s walking just 2.7 per 9, and is frequently mentioned by observers as one of the better pitchers on the Iowa Cubs. Negrin’s age is interesting, given that you’d usually be highly suspicious of a 29-year-old who has only just reached AAA and is having success. Howeva, Negrin was only just signed by the Cubs out of Cuba in 2011 (terms unknown (to me)). In 2012, he pitched mostly in Mexico as a starter, presumably while adjusting to life out of Cuba. He immediately came to AAA this year (after a look-see there late in 2012), and he’s dominated out of the pen. It seems to me that, if there’s a time to see what he could offer at the big league level, it’s now – or at least in the second half of this season, after the expected purge.*

The Cubs signed Negrin for a reason, and he’s done nothing so far to suggest that he absolutely couldn’t be a successful arm in the big leagues. Why not give him a shot? What have the Cubs got to lose? He isn’t getting any younger.

*It’s worth noting that Negrin started yesterday for Iowa, throwing 4.1 innings. It’s possible the Cubs are going to try and stretch him back out as a starter. We’ll see.

  • fromthemitten

    Casey Coleman might be another intriguing option he’s been dealing recently according to Luke’s reports

  • nkniacc13

    Id like to see Negrin or Sanchez

  • The Dude Abides

    30+ plus pitches isn’t the smartest move you could make, maybe Sveum will remember this the next time…

  • macpete22

    I think you meant Blake, not Blaker

  • Blublud

    Negrin has to be the choice here. I don’t think there is much more he can do in the minors. With his age, there is also no need to wait longer.

  • another JP

    It’s a toss-up between Negrin and Parker, Negrin more of a starter/long-relief guy.

  • Cedlandrum

    Tommy birch saying Sanchez not in iowa anymore.

  • Die hard

    Moving around deck chairs on a sinking ship useless unless first throw captain overboard and bring in somebody who knows how to handle players— Sveum shown enough to conclude he’s a bullpen coach at best

  • Crazyhorse

    Kyuji has beeen a bad investment for the money he is being paid. One can cherry pick his stats all day. His sample size is small , his DL stints are not vs time played.

    • Alex

      He struggled early on and has been great since the DL stint…or did I misread those 2 paragraphs above? And he is a rookie, adjusting to a new country and culture, but I guess that’s no big deal.

  • Melrosepad

    I think Negrin started because it was the second game of a double-header and he has started before. He had pitched 2 innings on the 23rd then had the 4.1 inning start yesterday on the 26th. My guess is he continues in relief, just needed an extra starter for a day due to the two games.

  • #1lahairfan

    There were some rumors that they were going to stretch Bowden, Negrin, and Cabrera out, but so far the only one that is working as a starter is Cabrera.

  • RoughRiider

    Per Marty Pevey “Eduardo Sanchez is not with the team”. He has been removed from the Iowa roster. Likely headed to Chicago to fill the spot when Fujikawa is placed on the DL.

  • North Side Irish

    Bruce Miles ‏@BruceMiles2112 3m
    Looks like Burnett will join #Cubs 25-man roster as replacement for Fujikawa

  • North Side Irish

    Chicago Cubs ‏@Cubs 1m
    Last year, Burnett was 4-4 with 10 holds and a 3.53 ERA in a career-high 67 relief appearances for the Twins.

  • North Side Irish

    Paul Sullivan ‏@PWSullivan 2m
    Burnett to replace Fujikawa, who told Japanese media he felt something snap in elbow. http://trib.in/ZatifJ

    Sounds promising!

    • MichiganGoat

      Face meet F-in Palm…

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