Minor League Reliever Debuts and a Multi-Inning Discussion and Other Bullets

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Minor League Reliever Debuts and a Multi-Inning Discussion and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

cubs-bullpenJust one Cubs game in the last three and a half days, and it was a stinker. Please play a good one today, Cubs.

  • Carl Edwards, Jr. made his AAA Iowa debut last night after his weekend promotion and it … did not go well. Perhaps showing some of the nerves associated with the promotion and being so close to the big leagues, Edwards’ command and control were frighteningly absent. Edwards didn’t just walk three guys in his inning of work, he really walked them. The balls were nowhere near the plate, and Edwards was visibly rattled. That said, he got through the inning with some groundouts, and I wouldn’t take much of anything away from the outing. We know Edwards does battle command issues – that’s especially been the case since he moved to the bullpen – and you combine that with the nerves of a new gig, and that’s the kind of outing you get. If he repeats it several more times in the early going at Iowa, then maybe you get a little nervous. For what it’s worth, the raw stuff looked as good as ever, with so much late movement on his fastball that catcher Rafael Lopez was clearly, himself, adjusting to receiving Edwards’ pitches.
  • Interesting and random from that Iowa game: Armando Rivero, the 27-year-old Cuban righty who dominated last year and who many were hoping would already be in the big league pen by now, pitched two innings last night for the first time this year. In four of his last five outings, he’s gone more than one inning (and he’s been fantastic), which suggests the Cubs are transitioning him to a multi-inning role. I find that particularly interesting in light of the way Edwards has been used mostly as a multi-inning reliever, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s something the Cubs are toying with.
  • I actually went on about this kind of thing on Twitter yesterday before Rivero’s outing:

  • Make sense? The idea is that you’re limiting the number of times the opponent gets to see your pitchers in a given game (which, in theory, increases effectiveness dramatically), and keeping everyone fresh, while not stretching the bullpen too badly (because relievers are going more than one inning). If you’ve got guys who can go more than one inning as a reliever – that is a special skill that has fallen by the wayside in recent years, as it’s not as easy as people think to come in from the pen, pitch an inning, sit down, pitch another (very different mindset) – then the only hurdle to employing this strategy is getting all the other pitchers on board. With this front office and this coaching staff, I like the chances at buying in, especially if we’re looking more toward 2016 as the year the Cubs might try something like this. (Keep in mind, this is all just my own speculation/wish-casting.)
  • Another relief prospect made his new-level debut last night – also going multiple innings, nudge nudge – with Tayler Scott throwing three scoreless for the Tennessee Smokies. Scott, 22, was a raw, over-slot guy the Cubs took out of South Africa (by way of high school in Arizona) back in 2011. He never quite got there as a starting pitcher – too many balls in play – and was converted to the bullpen at High-A this season and suddenly he started dominating and missing bats and walking fewer guys (BB rate dropped from 8.8% as a starter at High-A to 6.7% as a reliever; K rate increased from 13.3% to 30.3%(!)). As we look ahead to future Cubs relievers internally, this is a guy to watch, especially if he really takes to this multi-inning role.
  • Joe Maddon heaps some praise on Junior Lake (CSN). Indeed, what we observed through the offseason has proven to be the case, with Lake changing his approach at the plate so dramatically as to be almost unrecognizable from the guy he was last year. The only question is whether some of his natural power will return now that he’s moved toward a much more patient approach. Without any semblance of power whatsoever (his current ISO is just .067, and it was .042 at AAA), I’m not sure Lake can make it as more than an up-and-down 5th outfielder type.
  • Add another to the list – former Cubs manager Dale Sveum (now free to speak his mind) agrees that the unique Cubs schedule, featuring a disproportionate number of day games and odd start times, is a disadvantage for the Cubs (ESPN). Remember: the opponents have to adjust to it once or twice a year for their visit to Wrigley. The Cubs have to do it constantly all season.
  • The Cubs were cheering on the Blackhawks last night:

  • Given the height, the presence of Miguel Montero and David Ross elsewhere in the picture, and the fact that I don’t see him, I wonder if the guy in the catcher’s mask in the back is actually Anthony Rizzo.

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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.