chris rusin cubsI had my first of two fantasy drafts yesterday (12 team league, two keepers per team), and Yahoo says I got an A+. I’m not sure I love it quite as much as Yahoo – because I was keeping Arian Foster (3rd round) and David Wilson (7th round), I decided to reach for Drew Brees late in the first round, and Rob Gronkowski in the 4th. If Gronk doesn’t come back in September, and Foster’s injury issues continue, I could be in a heap of trouble early, despite my A+.

  • Chris Rusin’s FIP climbed slightly yesterday (from 3.80 to 3.82), but his ERA dropped dramatically following his scoreless outing, all the way down to 2.64. How’s he doing it? Well, it isn’t the old standby of luck – Rusin’s BABIP is right around normal for him (.281). Instead, his success is built largely on a couple other “lucky” factors: a huge left on base percentage (83.3%) and a very low home run/fly ball percentage (7.5%). He isn’t really striking a lot of guys out (14.4%) and his walk rate could actually stand to be better (8.9%), so it’s no surprise that the 3.82 FIP is only a hair better than average, even though his ERA looks much, much better. All in all, he’s performing a touch better than a league average starter over his 44.1 big league innings, which is certainly not an insult. A cost-controlled lefty 5th starter who is a touch better than league average? You’d take that any day of the week (well, maybe not any day, but at least the days on which he was scheduled to start). He’s firmly in the conversation for a starting job next year, but we’ll see how he closes things out.
  • The good news is that the throw off of Nate Schierholtz’s face yesterday was actually a throw off the brim of his helmet, and he’s OK from the throw. The bad news is that he tweaked his back, and was pulled from the game. It doesn’t sound like the back injury is serious, but we’ll see if he plays tonight in Los Angeles.
  • Dale Sveum told Mark Gonzales that he’s seeing some improvement in Anthony Rizzo hitting in the two-hole. Although order doesn’t really matter, Sveum says, some guys just feel more comfortable in certain spots because of the varying degrees of pressure.
  • Dale Sveum tends to trust Jeff Samardzija when he gets into sticky situations.
  • A young fan eventually got a baseball yesterday, but not before some drama. I especially like the dad who sent his kid in at the last moment to snipe the second baseball.
  • Len Kasper on the difficulty of being in the clubhouse on a losing team in August.
  • Brooks Raley is dealing with a blister at Iowa, which is of some relevance given that he’s an expected September call-up. He’ll want to be in prime pitching condition next week, and his blister isn’t expected to hold him back.
  • You probably weren’t worried, but in case you were: last week, when the Cubs placed pitching prospects Tyler Skulina and Rob Zastryzny on the DL at Kane County, it was just a matter of ending their seasons because of an innings limit, not any kind of serious injuries.
  • BN’er Chris – who wrote a fantastic history of the Chicago Cubs in ‘Beyond Bartman, Curses and Goats: 104 Reasons Why It’s Been 104 Years’  – got a very strong endorsement from Mike Klis of the Denver Post. It’s on sale right now at Amazon for just $12.80.
  • Idaho Razorback

    I’m drinking “The Rusin Kool-Aid.”

    • HCS

      Russian Kool-Aid? Involves vodka, I presume.

      • Soda Popinski

        I’m Soda Popinski and I approve this message.

  • Cedlandrum

    To be honest what you are seeing from Rusin in the Bigs is a bit like I am used to seeing in Iowa. It actually surprises me a bit. I think you are seeing the walks go up a bit because he is less likely to challenge guys in the bigs, but for the most part he is going to throw strikes. He doesn’t get hit hard, but he will give up his hits.

    I really did think he would get torched, but good for him. I hope he can keep it up.

  • On The Farm

    I feel like if Rusin could work with Maddux he would be pretty amazing.Rusin is going to make his living on the corners and knowing his opponents weaknesses.

    • Featherstone

      It’s too bad Maddux is with Texas or that he doesn’t have Maddux’s otherwordly control.

      • On The Farm

        I didn’t say he was going to have left handed Maddux control. I just said that I think he would be amazing, and what I meant by that he would go out and give you the same start over and over and over. Not necessarily dominate, but solid.

        And yeah the whole thing about Maddux not working for the Cubs and working for Texas was kind of the reason I pointed out that it would be awesome if he *could* work with Maddux. If Greg worked for the Cubs he would already be working with our pitchers (duh).

    • jt

      Rusin mentioned in an interview that when Maddux roved the minors for The Cubs he was shown by the HOF’er how to locate his cutter in and out but shifting the position of his feet as if he was facing an imaginary pole. Rusin seemed to think that was major.

      • On The Farm

        Yeah I saw that too, that’s why I wondered if he had even more time to work with him it would be good for his career as he could have someone giving him advice as he tries to figure out the MLB.

  • Spriggs

    He is starting to remind me of Moyer a little. I am definitely not expecting this to continue for long though.

  • Edwin

    After his first big league impression, and based on how he’s pitched most of his minor league career, I don’t think Chris Rusin is legit, at least until he gets a large enough sample size of innings to make a better determination of his true talent level. To me, he’s still basically a 7th starter/bullpen guy at this point.

  • bob

    Soft tossing lefties have been eating the Cubs for breakfast for years. It’s nice to see one having some success on our side for a change. If he continues, I’d be more than happy with him in our rotation for the next few years. In fact, our starters right now make it look like the build to contention could start next year with some shrewd building of the lineup. Of course there is a LOT of building needed…but a couple of good pieces to hold the places so that we don’t have to bring the kids up all at once could work nicely. Then as the kids naturally progress, we can bring the next one in and flip his predecessor to back-fill the bench and bullpen. I know patience is hard, but this seems like the way the plan is working out, and I like it so far, even with the two years of pain we’ve suffered.

  • Rich H

    I like Rusin but patiently waiting for the day that these type players get squeezed out by guys that have more upside. Not saying that we do not need him now but when that 40 man spot is a competition between Rusin and Edwards, Maples, Johnson or Underwoods of the world it is a no contest.

    • On The Farm

      If Rusin continues how he is pitching their will always be room for him on a 40 man. The Michael Bowdens, Eduardo Sanchezs, and Trey McNutts are the ones that would need to be worried.

  • pete

    Having witnessed his best years, I always hope that when I see a successful lefty in the Cubs minors with no fastball to speak of and who would be a 25 year old rookie, I always hope that he is the next John Tudor. Does not ever seem to happen though.

  • Chef Brian

    I’d like to believe we are seeing the natural maturation of alot of our young ball players. He is finally starting to “get it” I think and hopefully he can maintain this improved performance. I’ll reserve judgement for a la
    rger sample size.

  • ETS

    That’s a pretty cool endorsement for Chris. Congrats!

  • jt

    Rusin’s OPS against for 2013 is 0.683. His OPS against for 2013 3rd time through the order is 0.793.
    Rusin has not yet faced an opponent twice this year.
    Does the crafty wear off as time goes by and hitters have a chance to see him?

  • Clark Addison

    Rusin even looks like Moyer.

    I like his ability to strand runners. He bends but doesn’t break, unlike pitchers who get that deer in the headlights look with runners on base. Frank Castillo and Calvin Schiraldi come most readily to mind.

    In yesterday’s game he matched Cashner pitch for pitch. And Cashner looks like a monster.

  • cubchymyst

    The Cubs already have a few potential starters going into next season. Besides the 3 lock in starters, Jackson, Samardzija, and Wood, the Cubs have Villanueva, Rusin, Arrieta, Cabrera, and Grimm who could compete for the 4/5 rotation spot. It looks like we already know who could potentially be the Cubs 6, 7, and 8 starters will be next year. It wouldn’t surprise me if the FO brings in another starter on a Feldmann like deal as well. If the offense improves next year the Cubs could certainly flirt with 0.500 in 2014.

    • willis

      If Arrieta finishes strong, I think he gets the lead for the 5 spot in the rotation. I don’t think Rusin or Grimm will last, and Cabrera could get in there, but the way his season has finished, relieving and struggling a little, I think he needs more time. So I would love for them to try and get a TOR in a trade or ink a 3/4 type to plug into the rotation.

      • cubchymyst

        That is my thoughts as well. I am simply surprised by the number of potential starters they have. I don’t think we have seen this depth is awhile. I’d be surprised if Rusin lasts, but having him as someone who can give you a spot start every now and then is good. My predictions are; Grimm starts in AAA next year, Rusin is in AAA or 2nd lefty in the pen, Villanueva and Cabrera are in the pen, Arrieta starter and the FO brings in another starter during the off season.

        • cub2014

          Jackson v Rusin who would you take?
          I know the obvious answer, but Jackson
          could learn a little from Rusin or somebody.

    • RoughRiider

      Possability of Baker & Vizcainoas well. I assume they would be on a pitches and innings count though for the entire season.

      • On The Farm

        We wont be seeing Vizcaino anytime soon. It going to be almost two years since he last pitched professionally in the states when he comes back next season. I still think he will spend most of his time in the minors to recover his talent, and only if he is in a RP role all season will he make the big league club for September. They will just want to be extra cautious with him.

        I am not sure if the FO will bring Baker back, but if he can’t get his FB up a couple ticks I don’t see how they will bring him back. Scott Baker with a 89 MPH fastball just won’t be an effective MLB pitcher.

        • willis

          Agreed. Baker is gone and Vizcaino will be in the minors and then if called up a back end reliever. He can’t stay healthy but has electric stuff. Those thinking he’ll contribute much, especially as a starter, are setting themselves up for sadz. IF he can stay healthy, he’ll be brought along slowly and maybe he sees some time in the pen next season.

          An outside of the organziation starter is needed if we want to see improvement for this team next season.

  • cub2014

    Rusin only throws in the high 80’s but his
    little hitch (deception) probably adds 4-5
    mph on fastball. I see that he is developing
    what we used to call the screwball as a change
    up. That can be a difficult pitch for right handers
    to adjust to.

    In his last 6 starts he has 3 shut outs (SD,STL,SF)
    Only roughed up by the Dodgers. Small sample size
    but many lefties that dont throw hard have had very
    good success. Buerle among many is an example.
    We should have a better idea by end of season.

  • jt

    If a team such as KC is looking to unload an expensive top of the line hurler such as James Shields then I’d like The Cubs to consider the level of package they would deliver in such a deal. Shields has an option year left at $12M/$1M(buyout). Maybe there is another good but expensive pitcher who a team wants to unload with more years. Maybe they could get an extension negotiation period before consummating such a deal?
    Are VolgelBomb and C. Villanueva good enough to be considered prizes. Do Lake, Rusin, Vitters and Grimm really have value and do they have a future with The Cubs? I’m not sayin’ the Shields thing is viable. I’m just sayin’ that is a good place to start thinkin’.

  • Headscratchin

    Sounds like Raley needs to break out the Moises blister prevention protocol. I hear it also keeps you from nibbling on your nails while on the mound which could lead to less nibbling all around, including with your pitches. Could solve a lot issues for the lad!

  • clark addison

    Compare Rusin’s body language with men on base to Jackson’s.

    Rusin strands runners; Jackson coughs up big innings.

    • Drew7


  • William

    If we trade for a pitcher it would be David price

    • Rich H

      I could see a Shields, CC Sabathia, or Price be availiable this winter. Shields because of KC’s cheap ways, CC so the Yanks can get younger, and we all know the Price is right.
      I am just not convinced that this is the right time for Chicago to be in play for them.

  • Dougy D

    I read, ‘Beyond Bartman, Curses and Goats: 104 Reasons Why It’s Been 104 Years’. It is definitely worth checking out. Nice job Oswego Chris.

  • David Sapyta

    Go out and make a trade to Tampa Bay for David Price, they don’t have the money to sign him and we can extend him to be are number 1 with the shark and wood being number 2 and 3.

    • willis

      I think those tires will be kicked and I think there are plenty of decent pieces the cubs could offer to make Tampa listen. Something like that would be a welcomed development.

  • Mike W

    Chris Rusin reminds me of Ted Lilly. Does not dominate with power just location. Would be a nice 4th or 5th starter to go along side Travis Wood as a Lefty.