The Iowa Cubs won the first extra inning game of the 2018 minor league season, so far as I can tell. There were other extra innings games, but the Cubs’ game was the first to finish. That means the Iowa Cubs are the first team to win a minor league game victimized by the terrible, horrible, pointless rule that puts a runner on second at the start of the inning for absolutely no rational purpose whatsoever.
One side effect of this pointless change was in clear evidence. For both teams, the runner at second was a relief pitcher. And when you think about it, that makes sense. When you double switch, you put the pitcher into the last slot in the order that batted (unless that slot happens to be one of your really good hitters). The last batter in the previous inning becomes the base runner at second in the extra inning. Given that teams are very likely to double switch late in tie games in games played under NL rules, we’d expect to see a lot of relief pitchers being called on to run the bases.
But not just run the bases. They will be the base runner in scoring position in a tie game. The guy who will, very plausibly, have to be involved in a play at the plate at some point. Unfortunately, I’d be willing to wager substantial amounts that most relief pitchers are not great base runners. So this rule, among the other bad side effects, is going to put inexperienced base runners as the go ahead run in extra innings. I’d like to think that this won’t result in a single injury, but I’m not that optimistic. At best it is going to result in some ugly looking baseball.
But at least the Cubs won the game. And Duane Underwood, their relief pitcher/baserunner, had a relatively easy trip around the bags and did not get hurt. Bad rule, good outcome:
- Jen-Ho Tseng: 5 IP, 2 R, 7 H, 1 BB, 7 K
- Randy Rosario: 2 IP, and a line of zeroes
- David Bote: 1 for 3, 2B
- Jacob Hannemann: 1 for 4, SB
- Game Two
- Michael Roth: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K
- Rob Zastryzny: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 K
- Stephen Bruno: 1 for 2, 2B
- David Bote: 1 for 3, HR
- Trevor Clifton: 5.1 IP, 3 R, 4 H, 3 BB, 4 K
- Jake Stinnett: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 2 K
- Eddy Martinez: 1 for 2, 2 BB
- Ian Rice: 1 for 3, BB
- Trey Martin: 1 for 3, BB
- Keegan Thompson: 5 IP, 6 R (5 ER), 8 H, 4 K
- Casey Bloomquist: 2 IP, 1 H, 3 K
- Chad Hockin: 2 IP, and a line of zeroes
- P.J. Higgins: 2 for 4
- Andruw Monasterio: 2 for 3
- Aramis Ademan: 1 for 3
- Tyler Thomas: 5 IP, 3 R (1 ER), 4 H, 1 BB, 3 K
- Jared Young: 1 for 4, 2B
- Brandon Hughes: 2 for 2, SB, 2 BB
- Yeiler Peguero: 2 for 4
- Bailey Clark will be working in relief, at least to start the season. He has good stuff, but also has control issues. He may move to the rotation later in the season, but given the crowded pitching situation in the low minors, he also may not.
- Myrtle Beach’s very young middle infield combo of Aramis Ademan (the Cubs best offensive prospect) and Andruw Monasterio combined to go 3 for 6 and scored both the Pelicans’ runs.
- Rob Zastryzny opens the season in relief. Either the Cubs think he can be stretched out quickly if necessary, or they are not expecting to use him as an emergency starter in Chicago this year. They have plenty of emergency starters without him; his fastest path back to the majors likely is as a reliever.
- Reminder: player links are in flux right now while I work on a new way to link to FanGraphs. Early in the season the player stats don’t mean much anyway (sample size problems). Hopefully I’ll have something working before we get into meaningful numbers.
- The Bleacher Nation Top 40 continued yesterday. We are up to prospect number 23 (Cory Abbott) and will cross over the halfway point soon. It’s a lot of words about a lot of prospects!