The I-Cubs had 9 hits and only a run. The run was the result of a Willson Contreras home run, his fourth. Contreras was 1-3 with that home run and also a walk and 2 strikeouts. The only other notable offensive performance was Arismendy Alcantara who was 2-3 with a couple of singles.
There’s been a lot of complaining about why Tim Federowicz is still on the Cubs roster and why Neil Ramirez was DFA’d. I’d a curious move even if one things Contreras isn’t ready for MLB. The only thing I might offer is that it’s unlikely Contreras would play much at the MLB level so giving him regular playing time is more important. That still doesn’t explain why they’d prefer to lose a potentially valuable reliever just to keep a third catcher on the roster. Unless the Cubs are worried about Miguel Montero‘s health. That’s really the only explanation that makes sense there.
Arismendy Alcantara made the big league team in 2015 out of spring training, but wasn’t around for long. He was pretty terrible and was sent down. He was then terrible at Iowa all season long and while he’s been better this season, he still hasn’t been very good. He’s hitting only .241/.307/.423 with a .326 wOBA and 95 wRC+.
Stephen Fife got the start and threw 4 innings and allowed 2 hits and no runs. He walked none and struckout 5. C.J. Edwards Jr. pitched the 9th and walked a batter while striking out the side.
Edwards has been pretty good so far. Not including last night, he’s thrown 15.1 innings, and struckout nearly 13 batters per 9. He’s also walked almost 5 (4.7). His ERA is 2.35 and his FIP is 2.41. He can strike a lot of batters out, but he’s going to give up a lot of free passes.
Chesny Young keeps hitting. He was 3-6 with a double. If Alcantara continues to struggle, it won’t be long before Young replaces him in Iowa. It may not be long no matter what.
Penalver is a 22 year old shortstop who hasn’t done much with the bat this year or in the past. So far this season he’s hitting .221/.290/.307 with a .282 wOBA and 72 wRC+. He had a 61 wRC+ last season in High A and a 55 wRC+ the season before that in A ball. He’s had only two decent stops along the way. The first was the very first action he saw as a professional in rookie league back in 2011. He hit .272/.364/.341 with a wOBA of .358 and a 112 wRC+. In 2013 he he hit .261/.338/.359 (.338 wOBA, 108 wRC+).
Brad Markey threw 6 innings, allowed 5 hits, 2 walks and 2 runs. He struckout 4 and allowed 1 home run. Starling Peralta threw 3 innings of shutout ball and struckout 2.
A few years ago a lot of prospects liked what they saw out of then starting pitcher Starling Peralta. Even in rookie league in 2010 Peralta showed good command. He walked fewer than 3 per 9 (2.77) and struckout 8.54 per 9. In short-season rookie league he followed that up with 2.25 BB/9 and 9.64 K/9. That was a combined 15 starts for an 18 year old. Then in 2011 in A ball his strikeout rate dropped considerably and by 2013 he was in the bullpen. He didn’t take to it right away and still doesn’t strike many batters out. Last season in 54.1 innings, he somehow managed to find a way to strikeout only 4.31 batters per 9. It really doesn’t matter how many batters he walked. That’s not good enough. This year so far it’s 6.23 so there’s that.
Rashad Crawford went 2-4 with a home run and a triple. He drove in 2 and struckout once. Ian Happ was 1-3 with two strikeouts. The Pelicans had only two other hits. Cael Brockmeyer and Shawon Dunston Jr. were both 1-3 with a double.
Crawford was picked in the 11th round (344 overall) of the 2012 draft. He’s currently 22 years old and plays CF. He was a well below average hitter prior to 2015. He had a wRC+ of 58, 70 and 87 in 2012, 2013 and 2014. At South Bend in 2015 he started to put up some respectable numbers. He hit .280/.322/.382 with a wOBA of .328 and wRC+ of 105. He walked in only 5.1% of his plate appearances, but had shown the ability to walk earlier in his career. His strikeout rate was rather high at 23%. This year he’s hitting .259/.370/.417 with a wOBA of .369 and wRC+ of 127. He’s walked in 14% of his PA and struckout in 21.7%. His ISO is up to .157. It remains to be seen if he can maintain that level of patience, but if he can, he could be a solid addition to an already deep pool of talent in CF.
Zach Hodges threw 7 innings, allowed 5 hits and a run. He walked 1, struckout 3 and allowed a home run. Hedges was a 26th round pick in 2014 and is 23 years old. He had a brief, but impressive debut season in 2014 in rookie league. In 19.2 innings he struckout nearly 30% of the batters he faced and walked only 2.5% of them. In 23 starts last year and 132 innings, his strikeout rate wasn’t even half of that 28.4%. It was only 14.1% or 5.45 per 9. This year for the Pelicans he’s thrown 39.2 innings and struckout 6.81 per 9 and walked 2.5. His ERA is 2.95 and his FIP is 3.30.
Eloy Jimenez had a fantastic game again. He was 3-4 with a double and a walk. If you care about such things, he also drove in a run. Andrew Ely led off for the Cubs and played 2nd base. He was 2-4 with a double and a walk. P.J. Higgins was 2-3 with a double and two walks.
I talked about two of these players yesterday so I’ll write a bit about Ely today. Ely was drafted in the 32nd round of the 2014 draft. He’s already 23 years old so that’s a little old for the league he’s in. He began the year at South Bend and in 42 games (162 PA), he struggled a lot. He hit only .196/.235/.294 with a wOBA of what the fuck and a wRC+ of are you kidding me? He was sent back down to short season A level when their season began and he hit really well. He had a 134 wRC+, but at 22 years old then it’s tough to take those numbers too seriously. Back at South Bend he’s doing very well this year: .313/.375/.420 (.376 wOBA, 140 wRC+).
Carson Sands got his 5th win of the season against no losses. He threw 7 innings, allowed 5 hits and 3 runs. He walked 2 and struckout 3. Sands was a 4th round pick in 2014 (109th overall) and signed for $1.1 million. The Cubs spent way over slot on this one. Unfortunately, he’s another one of the Cubs starting pitchers who just can’t strike anybody out. After his initial 19 inning debut in which he struckout over a batter per inning, he’s really struggled with striking batters out. It was 6.44 per 9 last year in 57.1 innings and this season at South Bend it’s 5.04 per 9 against a 3.86 walk rate. His ERA and FIP have been good, but that kind of strikeout rate just isn’t going to work as a starting pitcher at the MLB level. He’s young enough that we can still see some improvement here, but we need to see a lot of improvement.
I think the type of amateur hitter the front office has targeted has been really good, but I’m not so sure about the pitchers. I know they’ve spent more heavily on the position player side so we shouldn’t expect to see a balance there, but the Cubs just don’t have any top of the rotation candidates in my opinion. That’s troubling.