Cubs Minor League Daily: Division Showdowns Coming This Week
This past week saw Iowa break an extended losing streak and more or less right the ship, but the damage in the standings remains. The Cubs are still under .500 at 21-26, and they are four game out of first. The good news is that the Pacific Coast League does not determine playoff teams until the very end of the year. The Cubs have a long time to make up those four games.
They have two more at home against Albuquerque to open the week, and then it is off to division foe Oklahoma City starting Tuesday. They’ll be back to face Cardinals affiliate Memphis for the weekend.
The Smokies also reside under .500 with record of 22-27, but in the case of Tennessee the impact in the standings is rather more serious. Tennessee is in a three way tie for last place in the division, trailing Jackson by nine games. Jackson’s magic number for the first half is just sixteen.
After a game against Chattanooga today and an off day on Monday (I’ll never understand why baseball teams have an off day on Memorial Day; I’d be scheduling doubleheaders on that day), it is none other than Jackson that comes to Tennessee for a five game series.
Myrtle Beach remains in second place in their division in the Carolina League, but they are keeping up with Salem. They are five games back, and that’s right about where they’ve been for a few weeks now. The end of the first half is starting to loom, though, and Salem’s magic number is currently eighteen. The Pelicans have time to close the gap, but they may need a little help to do it.
Or they can just sweep a four game set against Salem on the road this week. First they play three games in the next two days against Wilmington at home, and then it is on to Salem for a series that includes a doubleheader on Thursday. If the Pelicans are going to win the division in the first half, this series is their best chance to catch Salem.
And then we have the South Bend Cubs, a team that is playing like their major league namesakes. The Cubs have rocketed into first place in the division by three games and, with a winning percentage of .638, have the best record in the league by the same margin. Right now they aren’t just winning games, they are winning blowouts.
Lurking in second place is West Michigan, a team that is on a four game winning streak of their own, and West Michigan pays a visit to South Bend this weekend. First, though, the Cubs have to conclude a series against Lansing and then take care of business in Fort Wayne.
Triple A: Iowa Cubs
Iowa 4, Albuquerque 3 in eleven innings.
The Cubs fell behind by three in the first inning, tied it up in the seventh, and needed a little extra time to secure the win.
- Michael Wagner: 4.2 IP, 3 R (2 ER), 5 H, 2 BB, 2 K. Other than the first, Wagner was effective.
- Armando Rivero: 2 IP, 2 BB, 4 K. His ERA is down to 3.18.
- John Andreoli: 2 for 4, HR, SB, BB. That’s six homers and eleven steals.
- Willson Contreras: 1 for 4, 2B
- Logan Watkins: 3 for 5, 2B, 3B
- David Bote: 2 for 4, BB
Double A: Tennessee Smokies
Chattanooga 3, Tennessee 2
The Smokies led entering the bottom of the eighth.
- Tyler Skulina: 6 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 3 BB, 3 K
- Mark Zagunis: 1 for 3, HR, BB
- Bijan Rademacher: 1 for 3, BB. Normally an outfielder, Rademacher was at first in this one.
High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
The Pelicans were rained out.
Low A: South Bend Cubs
South Bend 17, Lansing 3
The scoring included a six run fifth inning and an eight run eighth.
- Preston Morrison: 5 IP, 3 R, 3 H, 3 BB, 6 K
- Pedro Araujo: 2 IP, 3 K
- Andrew Ely: 3 for 5, 2B, BB
- Daniel Spingola: 3 for 5, 2B, BB
- Donnie Dewees: 2 for 5, BB
- Eloy Jimenez: 2 for 5, BB.
- Eddy Martinez: 1 for 2, 3 BB. Martinez has walked ten more times in May (13) than he did in April (3).
- Ian Rice: 3 for 4, 2B, 2 HR, BB. Rice hit his homers in consecutive innings (4th and 5th).
- Sutton Whiting: 3 for 5
- The wind was blowing out to center at ten miles an hour in the South Bend game, but the Cubs scored a ton of runs even if we take that into account. In fact, they piled on so many in the eighth that they raised the ERA of Gustavo Pierre, the Lugnuts’ pitcher starting the eighth, by over four runs in just that one
gamethird of an inning.
- The home run chase within the Cubs organization could be a fun one. Right now Yasiel Balaguert, Eloy Jimenez, and Dan Vogelbach are all tied up at seven apiece, and Willson Contreras is lurking right behind them with six (as is John Andreoli). Any of those sluggers could walk away with the title when the season is over.
- Surprisingly, among those with five homers right now is Arismendy Alcantara. He is still striking out enough to be a concern (27.3%), but his ISO (.182) and his BABIP (.327) have ticked sharply upwards from his unfortunate 2015 campaign. He’s not back to level he was at in 2014 yet, but he is still someone to keep an eye on. As a switch hitter who can play all over the diamond, he’s a nice bit of depth to have stashed way in Iowa just in case the Cubs should need him for a week or two later this year.
- Surprisingly, the highlights from South Bend’s 17 run outburst fit into a 3:30 video.