A handful of bullpen-related updates and items …
- I loved new Cubs reliever Yoervis Medina’s two-inning appearance last night. Lost in the shuffle because of Wada and the offense, and because he didn’t strike anyone out, Medina simply came in and did exactly what you’d want a guy to do in that situation: pounded the zone with fastballs, hitting his spots, and getting contact. Brooks had his fastball at 93-94mph, by the way, which is still solidly down from where it was in his very good two years with the Mariners (95-96mph). We’ll see if that holds, if he’s learned to be successful without the plus-plus velocity, or whether he’s working on something mechanically to get the velocity back. Physically, he’s an imposing dude, and I can easily see how the stuff could be fantastic.
- Medina replaced Zac Rosscup on the roster and in the bullpen, as Rosscup heads to the DL with shoulder inflammation. Joe Maddon said he did not anticipate an elongated absence for Rosscup, but we’ll see (CSN). The problem Rosscup might face is that, by the time he’s ready to return, it’s conceivable that the Cubs will be ready to stick to eight or even seven relievers, and other guys may have emerged. Rosscup had been struggling the last month and a half, posting a 6.57 ERA, a 6.59 FIP, and a 4.90 xFIP over his last 16 appearances.
- Neil Ramirez made his first minor league rehab appearance last night, pitching a 1-2-3 frame for the Tennessee Smokies (all balls in play). I haven’t seen reports on his velocity yet, but that’s where you’d get your biggest clue on how he was feeling. The sharp, biting slider paired with a mid-90s fastball is what helped him break out last year. For now, health is the most important thing, and you’d like to see him sent back out there in two days.
- Also in that Smokies game, Pierce Johnson threw five strong innings. He’s another guy you should keep on your radar for a potential impact in the big league bullpen before the year is up. As a guy who has to be added to the 40-man roster after the season anyway, and a guy who is right there on the cusp of big league readiness (if he could just stay healthy – so many non-arm injuries), there’s no reason he couldn’t come up and help in the pen if the Cubs wanted to give him a look later in the year. Most of that is ditto on guys like Carl Edwards, Jr., Corey Black, and Armando Rivero, by the way.