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Cubs Minor League Daily: Starting Pitcher Seth Frankoff Producing For Iowa

Cubs Minor Leagues and Prospects

On November 7 of last year Seth Frankoff left the Dodgers organization and declared free agency. Nine days he later he was a Cub. Eventually, an Iowa Cub, to be exact. He’s been a fixture in the Iowa rotation since mid-April, and this 6’5″ right hander has been pitching pretty well. That said, he does have some weirdness to his stat line.


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Frankoff ticks all the boxes for a quality back of the rotation depth option. Batters are hitting just .186 off him, he strikes out more than a batter an inning, does not walk too many (2.78 BB/9), and gets plenty of grounders (1.68 GO/AO). That leads to a very respectable ERA of 3.28. His FIP, though, is 5.28, and his xFIP 3.91. So, what’s going on here?

Without getting into the math, FIP can be thought of as what a pitcher’s ERA should be based on factors that are immune to the defense: walks allowed, strikeouts, home runs allowed, etc. xFIP does the same thing, but it changes the way home runs allowed are handled. FIP uses reality, while xFIP adjusts the real numbers based on expected rates of fly balls turning into home runs. In other words, FIP takes defense out of the equation, and xFIP takes small ballparks, windy days, low outfield fences, and bad fly ball luck out of the equation.

As you can now guess, Frankoff has a very strange HR/FB rate for a guy who does a nice job getting ground balls. Through 35 innings, his HR/FB was a stunning 21.9%. He had a HR/9 of 1.77. Did I mention he was a good groundball pitcher? Very strange.


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I’m not entirely sure what is going on here. It may be that when he misses, he misses with batting practice pitches. It may be that he has been the victim of some bad fly ball luck. Whatever the case, that HR/FB seems very like to drop precipitously. But even before it drops, based on how he has performed so far, I would be intrigued if Frankoff got the call to Chicago for spot starter or long relief duty should the need arise.

Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Reno 2, Iowa 1
This was one of Frankoff’s best games this season.

Double A: Tennessee Smokies

The Smokies had the day off.

High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans

The Pelicans were rained out.

Low A: South Bend Cubs
South Bend 4, Bowling Green 1 in ten innings
A three run rally in the top of the tenth put the game away.

Other Notes

  • Prior to last night, Frankoff had allowed at least one home run in five straight starts. Four of those five came on the road.

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  • Tyler Peyton has appeared in just two games now, and in a total of only 5.2 innings of relief. He has already struck out 8, has yet to allow a walk, and has allowed just three hits in those scoreless innings. Peyton was the 29th round pick for the Cubs in 2016, and while 5.2 innings do not tell us much, he is certainly someone to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

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Luke Blaize

Luke Blaize is the Minor League Editor at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @ltblaize.