Lots of stuff to get to today, including a look at Matt Garza, some draft notes and a minor-league roundup with a nice performance by lefty Chris Rusin at Iowa. Getting some emails, and the Cubs are getting criticized here and there for their rainout policy. If you had tickets for last night's rainout, the only date you can redeem them for is Thursday's makeup. This is fan-unfriendly in a big way. Why not let fans exchange them for their game of their choice in September, availability permitting? I can't blame the fans here.
Here is the lineup tonight against the Nats, with Blake DeWitt replacing Aramis Ramirez, who was a late scratch because of lower-back spasms:
Garza is 5-8 with a 3.78 ERA and a WHIP of 1.30. The BABIP is .307. As we've charted before, his repertoire has changed significantly from last year at Tampa as he perhaps tries to adjust to Wrigley Field. During the early work today, the wind was howling out at the park. According to fangraphs.com, Garza's fastball percentage has dropped from 71.5 last year to 53 this year. The slider percentage has gone from 14 to 22.9. The changeup rate has gone from 5.5 to 12.5.
“I know that his soft game is important,” said manager Mike Quade. “It’s been very important for him. I believe he’s a smart guy who likes to win and get people out. He’s made the adjustments necessary to do that. As good as his fastball is, his changeup and his slider are pretty darn good. He’s mixed and matched, I think, real well.”
The other day, fangraphs.com had rankings of NL pitchers. The piece was written by Dan Wade:
Wade ranks 'em like this:
Pyramids of Giza
For what it's worth, the next Cubs pitcher mentioned is two notches down, in "The Expansive Suburban Mall." Ryan Dempster is there. Carlos Zambrano is down several more, in "The Abandoned Factory." Randy Wells is down in "The Un-kempt Lean-to."
Hearing all kinds of draft chatter, including talk that No. 1 draft pick Javier Baez is getting close to signing. You've seen some of the tweets related on the last blog. The deadline is Aug. 15. Again, we've been given no indication by the Cubs. In fairness to the Cubs, they’re in a tough spot with MLB’s rules on teams signing “over-slot” picks. You’ll see a flurry of upper-round signings between now and next Monday.
Rodrigo Lopez starts tomorrow’s game. Quade says he’s “committed to him right now.” We’ll see if that changes if Lopez has another shaky start.
Class AAA Iowa picked up 15 hits in an 8-0 win over Sacramento. Lefty Chris Rusin worked 7 shutout innings, giving up 6 hits while walking none and striking out 11. Rusin was a fourth-rounder in 2009 out of Kentucky. He became Kentucky's first first-team all-SEC pitcher since former Cubs draft pick Scott Downs in 1997. Between Tennessee and Iowa this year, Rusin is 5-3 with a 3.55 ERA. He's pitched 106.1 innings and given up 110 hits while walking 20 and striking out 76.
"I knew when I was locating my pitches in the first inning, and it continued throughout the game," Rusin told the Des Moines Register. "I kept my fastball low, kept them off balance and let my defense work for me."
Catcher Chris Robinson has this to say to the paper about Rusin: "When you have a guy who is on like that, and he's throwing four pitches for strikes, it's like a video game. It's fun. Like you can throw anything, on any count. He was throwing his cutter to both sides of the plate, throwing his fastball and sinker to both sides of the plate. That's a good-hitting ballclub."
Brett Jackson was the DH. He was 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. He has hit safely in seven of eight. His average is at .297. Bryan LaHair hit his league-leading 30th homer. He has 81 RBI. Lou Montanez was 3-for-4. Robinson had 3 hits.
Class AA Tennessee got rained out. The Smokies play two today.
Class A Daytona fell 2-1 in 10 innings to Clearwater. Jeffry Antigua got a no-decision. He worked 6.1 innings, giving up 4 hits and 1 run while walking two and striking out eight. Newcomer Abner Abreu (.333) recorded a team-high 3 hits, going 3-for-4 with a triple.
Peoria (A) won its fourth straight, beating Cedar Rapids 8-2. Frank Del Valle got the win, working 5.2 innings, giving up 3 hits and 1 run while walking no one and striking out two. Richard Jones hit his 20th homer. He had 3 RBI, giving him a team-high 79. Arismendy Alcantara had the fourth multi-hit game in his last five games, going 3-for-3. Taiwan Easterling (.313) went 2-for-4 with a double. He has hit safely in eight of his last nine games.
Boise (A) lost 3-2 to Tri-City. Ben Wells took the loss as he went 5.2 innings, giving up 5 hits and 3 runs. Former outfielder Kyler Burke allowed 1 hit while striking out three in 2.1 scoreless innings of relief, lowering his ERA from 3.25 to 3.00.
Mesa (Rookie) beat the Dodgers 2-1. Jin-Young Kim improved to 2-0 and his ERA remains 0.00 as he worked 5 innings of shutout ball, giving up 5 hits while walking one and striking out five.