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diamondbacks logoThe Cubs beat the Diamondbacks last night in an exhibition game at Chase Field, which is hopefully a sign that they’re really gearing up for the season. “Exhibition” is less fake than “Cactus” right?

  • Edwin Jackson was in a groove last night, needing only 47 pitches to go four scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit, no walks, and struck out two. Do that next week, Edwin.
  • The guys who followed Jackson were as interesting for their identities as their results, given that the Cubs have not officially decided on the bullpen, although there are only enough relievers left in camp to fill up the expected 12 spots on the pitching staff (translation: guys other than those in big league camp are still under consideration). Pedro Strop and Jose Veras got in their usual work, with Veras finally putting together a shut-down 9th (I tend to think that’s all he needed – big league ballpark, save situation, shut it down. Strop struggled, which we’ll see from time to time this year. He’s a dominant pitcher, but he’ll have his bouts of Marmolade.
  • Lefty Zac Rosscup got in two innings of work, which was particularly interesting, as he’s typically viewed as a future LOOGY. He gave up one hit, one walk, and struck out two. Is he under consideration at this point? Would the Cubs carry three lefties? Or is James Russell still on the block?
  • Hector Rondon got an inning, and, although he gave up two hits and a walk, he did not give up a run. I tend to think he’s got a job at this point, given the stuff and the second half performance last year. But he did have a Spring ERA in excess of 8. But that was inflated by an unsustainable HR rate.
  • Armando Rivero got to face a couple batters, walking one and striking one out. Meaningful? I’m not so sure. I still think he probably needs a little time in the minors, but he could see the big league pen at some point this year, and he could eventually be quite good.
  • On the offensive side, there’s not a ton interesting to share (within the preseason context, that is). Ryan Sweeney seems to be turning it on at the right time, as he had another couple hits. Junior Lake took a walk, but also struck out once. Nate Schierholtz had a couple hits, and Darwin Barney took a couple walks. Mike Olt singled and struck out twice. It was enough to win, given the pitching, but it was modest.
  • In case you’re wondering, the Diamondbacks stuck with regulars until the last couple innings, and the pitchers used were all regulars.
  • Spoda17

    Brett, I know you talked about this last year, but everyone should read the quotes from Villanueva in the CSN article. That dude is just awesome. I totally see him as a coach and then manager in the future. Good dude.

  • The Real Wrigley

    Rondon’s spring HR rate, actually, is very sustainable. Especially if he continues to leave belt high fastballs over the center of the plate.
    That’s my problem with advanced stats. Sometimes, what “shouldn’t happen”, or “won’t continue to be the trend”, actually, is exactly what will happen…and keep happening.
    Sometimes, guys just aren’t that good.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      If that is true, then who are these pitchers that sustain such high HR:FB ratios? One would think that the data would have revealed that HR:FB ratios are an actual trait of pitchers (the way that FB:GB ratios are) at this point.

      • The Real Wrigley

        I believe you know where my point lies. Let’s just see what happens with Rondon. Do good pitchers give up that many HRs, in that few innings? Of course not.
        But, maybe he’s not that good, huh?

        • Ivy Walls

          think so?

        • DocPeterWimsey

          The issue is, does he give up too many FB? If he were giving up FB without giving up HR, then we should still be worried: regression works in both directions, after all, and his HF:FB ration will regress up or down to expectation. His FB rate, however, might be unacceptably high.

          • The Real Wrigley

            I hear what you’re saying.

      • hogie

        I would imagine guys that have a naturally huge HR:FB ratio don’t last long enough to obtain much revealing data.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Such pitchers don’t last long in professional baseball, not MLB: they wouldn’t get out of A ball. (They probably simply don’t get signed.)

          The issue is flyballs: you expect a certain proportion of them to go out. The biggest factor at that point is the ballpark: the proportion going out in Petco is lower than the proportion going out in Philly or Cinci. The flux that individual pitchers show from one year to the next basically follows a classic binomial distribution with the effect of their home park being the most important factor.

          (Note that this has absolutely nothing to do with HR:FB ratios for batters: that is a real trait, although you still see considerable binomial fluctuation sample sizes as small as a single season of baseball.)

  • Pat

    Veras was ok. He did allow a couple of base runners, but managed to get out of it.

  • ssckelley

    Strop has great stuff, he threw an awesome slider to strikeout Chavez. All he needs is better control.

  • Ivy Walls

    Going with three lefties goes back to Piniella and how he handled bullpens of both Cincinnati where he won a WS and then his 116 win season with Seattle. In those cases Piniella believed and used a bullpen that had 3 lefties and 4 righties. I once recall when he was manager of the Cubs during the off season commenting to a sports writer (who I won’t mention but who was much more of a writer than someone who knew sports) that “when you get into the bullpen the whole game is situation matchups, not chess but checkers.”

    I always recall that metaphor, in that you are bringing the game down to the final three outs with your best situational pitcher while eliminating the opposing sides offensive options.

    If the Cubs go with three lefties sometime this season it could provide benefits. Russell is not a LOOGY but he is an accomplished middle reliever regardless of R/L hitter. Wright’s career shows he is more effective to a degree against LH batters, but again he was not an exclusive LOOGY. If down the road Cubs solidify their rotation thru July and it holds pretty healthy then here is their in game identity.

    Bonafacio/Kalish/Lake/Castro scratch a run through speed on bases
    Rizzo/Olt/Schierholtz/Castillo power other runs

    If the rotation can provide quality starts where they have held until relieved and the bullpen becomes the strength of the club and not over taxed by non quality starts this team will compete around .500. Getting a third lefty in the pen would/could do this along with a dominating nasty Vizcaino/Strop/Grimm fireballing and a crafty closer in Veres.

    • dAn

      Russell is (or should be) a LOOGY. He makes the average opposing RH hitter look like Babe Ruth. The fact that he has been used in other roles should not blind us to the fact that he fits best as a LOOGY.

  • Diehardthefirst

    3 runs per game may again be the norm this year which is fine if pitching dominates

  • http://BN Sacko

    Jackson’s Spring reminds me a little of last year. Better I believe but either he is brilliant or he’s what the %#*!

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    Rosscup should not be seen as just a future lefty specialist or one out guy. His stuff plays well against right handed batters and he had quite a bit of success against them with Tennessee.

    It’s possibly that his vs RH success will erode in the majors to such an extent that he forced to lefty specialist only status, but I have my severe doubts that will be the case.

    http://minorleaguecentral.com/player?pid=573127&split=3000

    • dAn

      I agree about Rosscup–he’s the one LH bullpen guy the Cubs have who could be something more than a LOOGY. But he needs to tidy up his command and he would probably benefit from another three months or so in Des Moines.

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