Stretching Out Pitchers for the Cubs for a Variety of Reasons and Other Bullets

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Stretching Out Pitchers for the Cubs for a Variety of Reasons and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

clayton richard cubsWell, you did it. I made an offer yesterday that if we cleared the $6,000 threshold in the BN Blogathon fundraiser for Make-A-Wish, I’d let my family destroy me with water-related things, and they did. They had a lot of fun. I … was happy to support a great cause. The video comes later today.

Thank you so much for your support, and a reminder: from here on out, I’ll tack an hour onto the Blogathon at the Trade Deadline for every additional $1,000 we raise.

  • Lefty Brian Matusz made his AA debut yesterday for the Tennessee Smokies – you may recall that, after the Cubs got him on a minor league deal, he headed to Arizona to start stretching out – and it was very solid. In 3.1 innings of work, Matusz allowed an earned run on two hits and two walks, but he struck out six. Sure, it’s AA and he’s a former (very good at times) Major League pitcher, but as the Cubs try to stretch him back out, that seems like a good start. The Cubs have very little upper level starting depth, and, even with Adam Warren up as the sixth starter, the odds that a oh-god-no need develops at some point in the next few months is pretty high. It just happens. In that event, if the Cubs aren’t able to pull of a trade (or if it develops long after the Cubs’ window to pull off a trade closes), they’ll want to have several options around, just in case.
  • From the very day the Orioles discarded him, I liked Matusz for the Cubs … but as a lefty for the bullpen. As a starter? I have more questions, especially when you remember that the Cubs need another lefty in the bullpen. But, either way, if he’s fixed mechanical issues or scrapped/improved a pitch, maybe he’ll be effective no matter how he’s used – and maybe that usage will be more creative than a typical “starter” or “reliever”. Maybe Matusz gets stretched out and starts a couple “bullpen games”. Or maybe he winds up a super utility pitcher in August and September a la Trevor Cahill and Clayton Richard last year. Those guys were starting in the minors almost right up to the moment they joined the Cubs’ bullpen.
  • Speaking of Richard and how he came to be a useful piece in the Cubs’ pen last year, he, too, is getting stretched out in the minor leagues while rehabbing (he threw 3.0 innings in that same Smokies game). Once again, the Cubs will want to have some starting-capable depth just in case a need pops up. But, and all credit to Luke for this idea, it’s also possible that the Cubs are trying to replicate whatever it was last year that allowed Richard to succeed in the Cubs’ pen after he’d been starting for most of the season. That might sound crazy to you, but maybe it just helped something click in the right way.
  • Of his first inning homer last night off of Chris Sale, Kris Bryant said he had planned to take the first pitch, but his dad advised him to be ready for a first-pitch fastball ( He was.
  • The AL wound up taking the game, though. I did an Enhanced Box Score for the game, if you missed it in the wee hours.
  • On the strength of a ridiculous start to the 2012 season (and a BABIP that approached .500), Bryan LaHair was an All-Star for the Chicago Cubs. Since that moment, he’s left MLB, played in Japan, had a wrist injury, tried to make the Indians in Spring Training in 2014, tried to come back in the minor leagues, and then wound up in the independent Atlantic League, where, at 33 years old, he’s an All-Star again. There’s a great read at SI on LaHair’s journey. A fun aside from the story about what it’s like in independent ball, and about the passion for the game you can find there: the director of player personnel for LaHair’s team is also the closer.
  • The fine folks at Beergraphs – an aptly-named offshoot of FanGraphs – are having a meet-up on Thursday (tomorrow evening) at the Rocking Horse in Chicago, and a bunch of Chicago writers will be there. Including me! If you’re around and want to rub elbows with some totally cool nerds, come on over.
  • Ooh, ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy for under $20 on Amazon today.
  • The Cubs will be performing a new drill at Wrigley Field on Thursday, and it’s not baseball-related. According to DNAinfo, it’ll be an “active shooter” drill, to prepare for emergency situations. Sign of the times, unfortunately, but good on the Cubs for making an effort. May it never, ever, ever be necessary to employ.
  • The most GIF-able moment in the All-Star Game, and #AtCubs hooked us up:

  • Fun stuff:

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.