Willson Contreras hit his 5th home run of the season and his second in as many days. He was 1-4 on the night with a walk, a couple of runs scored, an RBI and two strikeouts. Albert Almora was 2-4 with his 10th double of the season. He also scored a run. Dan Vogelbach was 1-2 with 2 walks. Arismendy Alcantara was 2-4 with a strikeout and Kristopher Negron was 2-4.
Rob Zastryzny threw 7 inning, allowed 5 hits and 2 runs. He walked 3 and struckout 5. That was Zastryzny’s first AAA start. In AA he threw 54.2 innings, struckout just under 7 per 9 and walked about 3.3. His ERA was 4.28 and his FIP was 4.39. Zastryzny struggled last season when he was promoted to AA and while he wasn’t lights out this season, he had improved enough . He had thrown a combined 115.1 innings in AA. The biggest difference this time around was his ability to stick around games. He threw 60.2 innings last year in 14 starts and 54.2 this year in just 9 starts.
Several years ago the Cubs new front office gave out a contract to a Cuban pitcher who simply put was not all that great in Cuba. They gave him a decent amount of money and an MLB roster spot. A year or two later he was removed from the roster because he sucked, but Gerardo Concepcion doesn’t think he’s done yet. He’s been outstanding this year in relief. Keep in mind we’re talking small samples, but everything about his numbers is better. He threw another clean inning last night with a strikeout
Back in 2012 after the Cubs signed him, he was striking out under 5 batters per 9 innings. And he was walking well over 5 per 9. Ignoring the walks entirely, which were a huge problem, the strikeout rate like that was never going to be good enough to even get through the minor leagues. It wasn’t. He hung around the lower levels and even rookie league and then all of a sudden in 2014 at A ball he struckout 8.2 per 9. He walked 3.2 per 9. It was only 41.2 innings though. At A+ after the promotion, same thing. Back at A+ last year to start the season in 12.2 innings he had an even better strikeout rate, though a walk rate that was not pretty. Promoted to Tennessee he struckout 7.1 in 31.2 innings, but walked 8.2. So again, we could forget about Concepcion. Not so fast. In 2016 back at Tennessee he struckout 8.7 per 9 and walked 2.0 per 9 in 17.2 innings. He’s thrown under 8 innings at AAA, but the strikeout rate is decent. He’s still only 24 years old. We need to see how he continues to do at AAA, but the Cubs may have a decent enough LOOGY or even 8th inning guy in the future after all. I’ll take that. I contend it was still a terrible contract. I mean, if all you’re going to get is a LOOGY or 8th inning guy 5 or 6 years down the road, what’s the point? Still, the contract is signed so hopefully this improvement is legitimate.
Rashad Crawford, Gioskar Amaya and cleanup hitter Yasiel Balaguer did not have a good night. They were each 0-6 with a couple strikeouts. Gleyber Torres was 2-6 with a double, run scored and two strikeouts. Ian Happ was 3-6 with a home run (5), a couple runs scored and driven in and a strikeout.
Trevor Clifton got the start and threw 5.2 innings, allowed 4 hits and no runs. He walked 3 and struckout 4. Clifton was a 12th round pick in the 2013 draft. The 6-4 righty has struckout a lot of batters this season. His K/9 is over 10 and his BB/9 is under 4. He’s also allowed only 1 home run on the season. Clifton is still only 21 years old (just turned 21 two weeks ago) so the Cubs aren’t going to rush this guy, but here’s to hoping he can continue striking out batters at a high rate. The organization needs some starters like that.
Jordan Minch allowed 2 runs in an inning, but Daury Torrez and James Farris combined for 6.1 innings and allowed only 3 hits and a walk. They each struckout 3. Ryan McNeil picked up the save while pitching the 14th inning. He allowed a hit and struckout 2.
Eloy Jimenez was 1-4 with his 7th home run of the season. He’s not long for South Bend at his current rate. Donnie Dewees was 1-4 with a strikeout. Andrew Ely led off the game and was 2-3 with a couple of doubles and a walk. Jesse Hodges was 0-3 with a walk and a run scored.
This is Hodges’s second attempt at A ball. Last year he was just OK. He walked in 8.2% of his PA and struckout in 25.3% of them. He hit .238/.316/.363 with a .320 wOBA and 99 wRC+. Only 84 PA so far, the 22 year old has walked in 13.1% of his PA and cut his strikeouts down to 17.9%. His ISO has been cut in half in doing so, but his overall line doesn’t care. He’s hit .329/.417/.397 with a .392 wOBA and 150 wRC+. His BABIP is .414 so much of his current performance is driven by luck, but some of it seems genuine.
Justin Stelle started for the Cubs and threw 5.2 innings. He allowed 4 hits and 5 walks. He gave up 3 runs and a home run and struckout only 1. Steele was a 5th round pick by the Cubs in 2014 and signed for $1 million. He’s only 20 right now, though he turns 21 on July 11th. The 6-1 lefty had a very good season last year in short-season ball and a good debut (only 18.2 innings) in 2014 in rookie league. He’s struckout a ton of batters so far this year, but has walked a ton too. His ERA is 6.49, but his FIP is 3.52.