I wish I hadn’t used that headline. Now the John Mellencamp song is stuck in my head. And not even the whole song. Just the “wild night” part again and again on a loop.
- After seeing in Luke’s Minor League Daily that Pierce Johnson had a rough outing yesterday – 4 IP, 1 K, 8(!) BB – I decided to watch a little bit of his start on MiLB.tv (which is such a wormhole, man – you can lose a morning easily). When a guy walks two batters per inning for four innings, I’m not even sure what you hope to see, but you do hope that it’s just a one-start fluke (Johnson is not really known for excessive wildness, and he is coming back from that Spring Training hamstring strain). To my untrained eye, it looked like Johnson was having issues with his release point – his fastball was frequently flying way high and way to the right (especially against lefties, as he was trying to hit that outside edge). He didn’t get some borderline calls, which doesn’t help, but there was clearly some legit wildness there. That might be a quick mechanical adjustment, and, since it’s just one start, there’s nothing really to worry about right now. Like I said, it was just such a striking line that I had to check it out.
- (And here’s where folks irrationally panic about the Cubs’ prospect woes this year. No, it hasn’t been a banner month for the top tier guys not named Bryant or Alcantara. But it is just a month, after all.)
- Neil Ramirez – who looked good in a scoreless inning this weekend, striking out Ryan Braun – sounds pretty excited about his transition to the bullpen (Tribune). Like Justin Grimm (also received from Texas in the Matt Garza trade), Ramirez’s long-term future could still be in the rotation, but, for now, he’s getting experience facing big league hitters in the Cubs’ pen. It’s a strategy that other organizations have used with great success, and, even if starting never comes, perhaps the two – among other guys – develop into dominant relievers.
- Speaking of the bullpen, it seems like Ricky Renteria suddenly trusts Wesley Wright again (Tribune), who has made six consecutive scoreless appearances. His fastball and curveball velocity have ticked up a little bit from the start of the year, so I imagine that has helped.
- Jason Hammel admits he was thinking about his no-hitter bid in the 6th inning yesterday, and says that anyone who says they aren’t thinking about it at that point is a liar. (Cubs.com) Hammel wins 10 cutting-through-the-BS points. Hammel also does not want to talk about his future with or without the Cubs right now. “It’s April.” (CSN)
- Luis Valbuena’s extreme pitch-seeing ways this year are by design, as he tells Jesse Rogers that he’s always trying to make that opposing pitcher show everything he’s got so that his teammates can benefit.
- Jake Arrieta will re-join the Cubs today in Cincinnati (Cubs.com), though it’s not yet announced when he’ll actually return to the rotation. Carlos Villanueva is still scheduled to start on Wednesday (which would be just four days of rest for Arrieta, if he made that start – though his final rehab outing was just 44 pitches).
- Jeff Samardzija’s performance this year (fantastic) once again provides the springboard to remind you that the pitcher W/L stat is worthless and misleading. (Cubs.com) Do not concern yourself with it, Mr. Samardzija. Anyone who is actually in a position to evaluate your performance and pay you accordingly (or trade for you) will put zero stock in the fact that you’ve made five great starts this year, but do not yet have a “win.”