Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

south bend cubs logoFor hitters, my somewhat arbitrary line at which I declare sample sizes to be large enough to be meaningful is the nice round figure of 100 plate appearances. For pitchers it is a little more vague. I don’t really have as clear a line that I wait for, but I generally stay cautious until a guy gets into the range of 20 to 25 innings pitched.

Jeremy Null now has 22.2 innings this season. He is now significantly good.

If you were reading Bleacher Nation all winter (and I’m sure you were) that name should sound familiar. He was one of the prospects I talked about in a Deep Sleepers article in early March. At that time I expected Null, the Cubs’ 15th rounder in 2014, to head to bullpen with the idea that the Cubs may try to move him up the system quickly.

Instead, Null is now the ace of the South Bend pitching rotation and has a ridiculously good line that includes 23 strikeouts, just 2 runs on 18 hits, and not one single solitary walk so far this season. His ERA is just 0.79. His WHIP also just 0.790. His strikeout to walk ratio is impossible to calculate under the laws of normal math (since we sort of can’t divide by zero).  Somewhat oddly, his GO/AO ratio (which was over 1.00 last season) is sitting at just 0.59. Given that he isn’t giving up very much hard contact at all, though, that flyball tendency isn’t likely to be a problem for a while.

Null was one of the last few players to be cut from the Bleacher Nation Top 40 Prospects List, and it looks like I probably should have left him on there. Provided he keeps pitching like this, when I re-rank the Top 40 mid-season I suspect I will have a very tough time leaving Null off the chart.

I think after another few starts in South Bend the Cubs will be looking for an opportunity to move Null up to Myrtle Beach. The Pelicans’ rotation is crowded, though, and there is actually a bit of a logjam of pitching prospects that may need some clearing before Null is really able to accelerate up the system. Those problems have ways of solving themselves, so it is only a matter of time before a minor injury somewhere up stream creates a 6’7″ hole in someone’s rotation.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa had the day off.
Tennessee – A late Chattanooga rally lead to a 3-1 Smokies loss.
Myrtle Beach – Myrtle Beach collected their tenth win of this year with this 2-1 final.
South Bend – The Cubs won a shutout, 2-0.

Performances of Note

  • [Tennessee] Felix Pena stuck out 7 over 7 innings while allowing a run on 4 hits and a 2 walks. That’s the good news. The bad news is that C.J. Edwards allowed 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks over the final 2 innings.
  • [Tennessee] Stephen Bruno stayed hot with a 2 for 4 day. Sample size is still a little small, but Bruno currently owns an OPS of .816.
  • [Tennessee] Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras, and Ryan Dent all had one hit, and in every case that one hit was a double.
  • [Tennessee] Bijan Rademacher reached on a walk and stole his first base of the season.
  • [Myrtle Beach] Jonathan Martinez started a great day of pitching for the Pelicans with a 6 inning performance that included just 2 hits and 2 strikeouts. Ben Wells gave up the lone run in his inning of work, and Gerardo Concepcion allowed just a hit and 2 walks in his 2 innings on the mound. He struck out one.
  • [Myrtle Beach] Mark Zagunis finished 2 for 3 with a walk. Billy McKinney also had 2 hits.
  • [Myrtle Beach] Now that Jacob Hannemann is a Smokie, center field for Myrtle Beach is the home of Trey Martin. Martin finished 1 for 3 with his first High A steal of the year.

  • [South Bend] Jeremy Null, he of the 0.79 ERA, struck out 6 and scattered 6 hits over 5.2 scoreless innings.
  • [South Bend] James Farris (2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K) and Jordan Minch (1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K) completed the shutout.
  • [South Bend] Gleyber Torres tripled (his first) and finished 2 for 3. His triple was the only extra base hit for the Cubs.
  • [South Bend] Jason Vosler, who finished 2 for 4, had the other multi-hit game.

Other News

  • There were plenty of headlines yesterday and this morning about the bizarre scene in Baltimore as the Orioles and White Sox played a game in an empty stadium yesterday afternoon, and many of those articles described this as a thing that had never happened before. That may be true at the major league level, but it certainly isn’t the first time for professional baseball. Just a few years ago the Iowa Cubs hosted an empty stadium game due to flood waters that were rising around the stadium. Iowa went on to win the division that year.

Keep Reading BN ...

« | »