The Cubs Broke Josh Hader, Prospect Talk Aplenty, Pitch Clock, and Other Cubs Bullets

The twin promotions of lefties Jordan Wicks and D.J. Herz from South Bend to Tennessee are going to be paired with moves impacting affiliates up and down the ladder, though they are almost certainly going to be the most notable among those pitching moves. Fun fact: now that those two are at Double-A, you could say that the Cubs’ three best pitching prospects – them, plus Caleb Kilian – are all in the “upper levels” of the farm system.

You can expect other promotions and movement throughout the system over the next week or two, as every move creates ripples, as some guys finally get healthy, and as the draft brings a bunch of new prospects. (If you missed the latest draft notes yesterday, catch up!)

  • When the Cubs faced the Brewers in Milwaukee on the 4th of July, Brewers closer Josh Hader had a microscopic 1.05 ERA and a 1.71 FIP. The Cubs wound up scoring on Hader both times they faced him that series, and now less than two weeks later, his ERA is 4.50 and his FIP is 3.88. That much damage in just six appearances, the last two of which have been absolute implosions. And it all started with the Cubs touching him up, so clearly, they broke him.
  • Last night’s appearance featured a walk-off grand slam off of Hader:
  • The number difference between Hader (an All-Star) and Devin Williams (not an All-Star) is pretty huge at this point:
  • Clayton Kershaw took another no-hitter (perfecto, actually) deep into a game last night, but gave up a hit in the 8th. The 34-year-old Hall of Fame lefty is back to being KERSHAW this year, posting a 2.13 ERA with peripherals to match.
  • Matt Mervis hadn’t homered in nine days, which was his longest drought in over a month, so naturally he crushed one last night:
  • Iowa Cubs closer Erich Uelmen was not fully converted to relief until midway last year, so this season is his first full year in a full-time relief role. In it, he’s seen his velocity spike, his pitches sharpen, and his strikeouts explode. pretty much everything you’d hope to see from a guy who has a couple great pitches, but just not quite enough to be a starter. His strikeout rate at Iowa is approaching 30%, and while the 12.8% walk rate is not ideal, he’s also got a groundball rate over 55%. The guys who can register a big strikeout rate AND a big groundball rate are a rare bird, and Uelmen is doing it at rates that are reminiscent of Pedro Strop at his peak.
  • Uelmen, 26, is Rule 5 eligible after this season, so it would not surprise me to see him one of the bullpen arms who comes up to the big league team after the Trade Deadline.
  • I share this play less for the Sean Newcomb stuff and more for the reminder that Jared Young periodically plays second base. He doesn’t exactly look natural there, but all he needs to be is capable for him to be a plausible future bench contributor:
  • I think Yohendrick Pinango is the hottest hitter in the system right now, which has been terribly difficult to sort out this year, because there are constantly guys going off:
  • Don’t forget that the Futures Game is tonight at 6pm CT, with Pete Crow-Armstrong representing the Cubs.
  • A reminder that pitch clock rules also state when a batter must be in the box and attentive to the pitcher (in the minors, they have to be ready to go with nine seconds remaining on the clock). So the improvements in pace we would see do NOT just impact the pitchers:
  • Happy anniversary to one of the more hilarious wardrobe non-malfunctions in baseball history – it’s a non-malfunction because he did it on purpose, even if completely absentmindedly:
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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