Blake Parker Getting Some Bullpen Love (James Russell Not) and Other Bullets

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Blake Parker Getting Some Bullpen Love (James Russell Not) and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

james russell cubsTune in for your Blogathon announcement tomorrow. I’m very excited to share the details with you, so I hope you’ll check it out.

  • Reliever Blake Parker got his first big league save last night after recording a million of them in the minors. The 28-year-old has had a long road to this point, reaching AAA just two years after he was drafted back in 2006, and then bouncing around at the upper levels of the minors for three years before getting his shot with the Cubs last year … only to succumb to a stress reaction in his elbow (a la Matt Garza). He was lights out at AAA early this year, so he’s getting another shot.
  • Speaking of which, Dale Sveum was very complimentary of his fill-in closer, and even suggested that Parker could be the new guy at the end if Kevin Gregg is traded in July. “It’d be tough to replace [Gregg],” Sveum told the media, per “He’s done a great job. I guess maybe you could look at [Blake] Parker because he’s done it in Triple-A if those things come to light. You’ve got to use somebody. It’ll be a wait and see situation …. I’m not making an effort of it, [Parker has] just kind of earned it …. He’s done it in Triple-A and his velocity is back. He’s developed a split-finger fastball that’s helped him at this level. He’s deserved to be one of those guys later in innings when we’re winning ballgames.” Now if only someone would ask him why his Twitter handle is “@BlaekParker.”
  • This “James Russell is 0 for 5 in save opportunities” narrative is getting on my nerves. You see it everywhere after he had a rough outing on Friday. The point of saying it is to imply that, despite his obvious success this year, he has blown every single save opportunity he’s received. Stop for a moment. Think about that. Has Russell even been giving five traditional save opportunities? Was Friday’s? No, and no. The blown save stat is complete garbage for non-closers, because, when they enter a game in the later innings (not the 9th) with a lead, they do not have the opportunity to record a save. They have the opportunity to record a “hold,” a stat that virtually no one discusses (and its utility is questionable, as is the “save,” frankly). So, in terms of “save” versus “blown save,” every time Russell enters a game in the 7th or 8th with the lead, he can *only* record a “blown save.” It’s just a silly point to keep making over and over. Russell has a 2.53 ERA, a 1.188 WHIP, and a 3.00 K/BB ratio. Those are the stats that matter.
  • Ryan Sweeney hurt his ribs last night, crashing into the wall to make a catch (Cubs center fielders: don’t make this a thing). Although X-rays were negative, the Cubs are still evaluating the extent of the injury. Hopefully it’s just a bruise, but, either way, I’d expect Sweeney – who’s been awesome – to miss a little time.
  • Cubs pitching prospect Paul Blackburn continues to get the love, this time in the form of a profile on Of particular note, since being drafted in the first round (compensatory) last year, the former high school star has packed on 30 pounds. Assuming it’s all muscle and you know how to handle it in your delivery, that’s definitely going to help him.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.