Normally I’d wait until he picked up a few more innings before putting Maples under the microscope again, but he’s moving up the system so fast now I’m afraid if I wait much longer it will be Brett or Michael doing that writeup when Maples gets the call to Chicago.
The right-hander has pitched 12.2 innings with Iowa now, and he has an ERA of 2.84, allowed just five walks, and struck out 21. Batters are somehow managing to hit .205 off him. And his groundball rate is up to a jaw dropping 71.4%. Now, just imagine what a 71.4% groundball rate would look like in Chicago with (when they’re healthy and playing like they can) one of the best infield defenses in baseball behind him.
You may not have to imagine much longer. The big story in those numbers is the walks; Maples has cut his walk rate in half as compared to his Tennessee numbers. He now has a healthy 3.09 BB/9. That figure, along with his 15.43 K/9 and that insanely crazy high groundball rate, will play in the majors just fine. At this point, provided he stays healthy, I think you can go ahead and put Maples down to be a part of the 2018 Chicago bullpen.
As for 2017, I do think he’ll come up in September at the latest, but I’m not sure how much he’ll pitch. Historically the Cubs very rarely push a pitcher, minor league or otherwise, past a year over year innings increase of more than about 30. Building up an arm to handle more innings takes time, and if you just rush all those innings onto an arm in a hurry injuries can result. The year over year limits are fairly normal, and generally a good idea.
Maples is up to 57.2 innings now, and he pitched 32 last season. At most I see the Cubs giving him another ten innings this season, maybe one or two more if he gets a few super easy innings in there, but that’s it. And that does not leave Maples a lot of innings with which to contribute in September.
That said, the Cubs do make exceptions. If Maples comes up and immediately becomes a key part of the bullpen as the team heads into the playoffs, then the innings limits go out the window and we just hope for the best. We saw that in 2015 when the Cubs stepped Jake Arrieta from 156.2 innings all the way to 229 in a single season.
Regardless of how much he pitches, I think we can safely expect Maples to arrive in Chicago in a matter of weeks, and hopefully stay there for a very long time.
- Rob Zastryzny: 5 IP, 3 R, 1 BB, 5 K
- Dillon Maples: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K
- John Andreoli: 1 for 2, 2B, 2 BB, 2 SB
- Taylor Davis: 1 for 4, HR
- Jacob Hannemann: 2 for 4, 2 2B
Double A: Tennessee Smokies
The Smokies were rained out.
- Kyle Miller: 5 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 2 K
- Marc Huberman: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB
- Tommy Thorpe: 1.1 IP, 1 BB, 3 K
- Scott Effross: 1 IP and a line of zeroes.
- Jesse Hodges: 0 for 1, 3 BB
- Tyler Pearson: 1 for 3, HR
- Connor Myers: 2 for 3, 2B
- Jose Paulino: 7 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 6 K
- Wyatt Short: 2 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 2 K
- Aramis Ademan: 1 for 4
- Austin Upshaw: 1 for 3
- Cory Abbott: 3 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 K
- Enrique De Los Rios: 5 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 4 K
- Manuel Rodriguez: 2 IP, 2 K
- Jake Steffens: 2 IP, 1 H
- Jared Young: 2 for 5, 2B
- Gustavo Polanco: 2 for 4, 2B
- Rafael Narea: 2 for 4
- Brailyn Marquez: 4.1 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 1 BB, 6 K
- Peyton Remy: 1.2 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 3 K
- Jeffrey Passantino: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K
- Jeffrey Baez: 1 for 4, 2B
- Nelson Velazquez: 1 for 3, HR, BB
- Zastryzny gave up all three runs on homers, but other than that he did not pitch badly. And one of those homers was to a guy we know can destroy baseballs – Jorge Soler (he had two bombs on the day).
- Jeffrey Baez, on rehab assignment in Arizona, had two outfield assists from right field last night, and both of them were at third base.