Back here at Wrigley Field to welcome Ozzie Guillen, Big Z and the Miami Marlins. Carlos Zambrano will not pitch in this series. He was the winning pitcher Monday night as the Marlins beat the Nationals 5-3. Speaking of pitching, it seems a certainty that Ryan Dempster and perhaps Matt Garza will be traded before the July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline.
So then what? The Cubs have had a pretty good thing going lately with the entire pitching staff. In the team’s last five games, the Cubs have posted a 1.23 ERA, with the starters having a 1.13 ERA and the relievers checking in at 1.50.
When and if Dempster and Garza are traded, somebody will have to fill those rotation spots. My friend Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus tweeted, “Does it matter?” when asked who might fill those spots. Well somebody is going to have to pitch, so let’s take a look at some of the candidates. Some are realistic, some are not, but we’ll hit as many as we can:
--Chris Volstad. He is tonight’s scheduled starter for Class AAA Iowa, where he is 2-3 with a 5.13 ERA and a WHIP of 1.50. Volstad has had two unsuccessful stints with the big club, going 0-7 with a 7.94 ERA. What he has going for him is that he’s on the 40-man roster, which stands at 40.
--Casey Coleman. Casey has been up this year, going 0-1 with a 7.32 ERA. He’s back in Iowa’s rotation. For the I-Cubs, Coleman is 2-3 with a 3.43 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. In 42 innings at Iowa, Coleman has allowed 32 hits while walking 19 and striking out 36. He’s also on the 40-man.
--Rodrigo Lopez. The man former manager Mike Quade called “Lopey” took the loss last night for Iowa, which lost 6-1 to New Orleans. Lopez worked 5 innings, giving up 12 hits and 4 runs. He’s 2-5 with a 4.83 ERA. He is not on the 40-man, having been outrighted earlier this year after pitching in April for the Cubs.
--Randy Wells. Can’t see this one happening. Wells also was outrighted off the 40-man after being DFA’d in late June. At Iowa, he’s 3-3 with a 7.89 ERA and a WHIP of 1.67.
--Chris Rusin. Rusin, a lefty, was a nonroster invitee to spring training. He was a fourth-round pick in 2009 out of the University of Kentucky. At Iowa, he is 7-6 with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP. In 99 innings, he’s given up 101 hits while walking 38 and striking out 58.
--Brooks Raley. Another lefty, Raley is 4-5 with a 3.57 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP at Iowa. In 58 innings, he has given up 58 hits while walking 18 and striking out 44. He was a sixth-rounder in 2009 out of Texas A&M.
--Nick Struck. The Cubs’ minor-league pitcher of the month for June, Struck is at Class AA Tennessee, where he is 10-8 with a 3.34 ERA and a WHIP of 1.23. In 105 innings heading into tonight’s start against Jackson, he has given up 96 hits while walking 33 and striking out 87. He could be a sleeper. Struck was a 39th-rounder in 2009 out of Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Ore. He tossed a no-hitter for Class A Peoria in 2010.
--Dallas Beeler. A right-hander, Beeler is 4-6 with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP at Tennessee. In 100.2 innings, he has given up 129 hits while walking 31 and striking out 47. Beeler was a 41st rounder in 2010 out of Oral Roberts University and Seminole State College. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009 but recovered quickly.
--Eric Jokisch. I’m intrigued by this guy. A lefty, Jokisch is 5-1 with a 2.77 ERA and a WHIP of 1.01 at Tennessee. In 55.1 innings, he has given up 36 hits while walking 20 and striking out 24. Jokisch was an 11-rounder in 2010 out of Northwestern. He’s from Virginia, Ill. “He can really pitch,” said Oneri Fleita, the Cubs’ VP for player personnel. “He’s a smart, athletic kid and a hard worker.”
A couple of notes before we get to the games. The Cubs indeed are giving Trey McNutt a shot in the bullpen at Tennessee. “Give it a different look and see what happens,” Oneri said. McNutt, once a fast-tracker, had blister problems last season and could not put it together as a starter this season.
Down at Class A Daytona, another onetime fast-tracker, Rob Whitenack, is on the comeback trail from Tommy John surgery last year. He’s at 0-4 with a 6.25 ERA. Let’s give it some time and see what happens.
We referenced Iowa’s game above. Third baseman Josh Vitters extended his hitting streak to 15 games by going 1-for-4. He is 18-for-54 in July and is at .300. Local boy Jim Adduci, out of Evergreen Park by way of Canada, has hit safely in all five games he’s played at Iowa since his promotion from Tennessee.
Tennessee fell 10-8 to Jackson. Ty’Relle Harris worked 2.2 innings in getting no decision. He gave up 7 hits and 6 runs, 5 earned. Jae-Hoon Ha hit his fourth homer, and Michael Brenly also hit his fourth. Justin Bour recorded his 100th hit of the season, going 3-for-5. Logan Watkins recorded his 27th multihit game, going 3-for-6 with a double and a stolen base.
Daytona lost to Charlotte 5-3. Converted outfielder Kyler Burke took the loss, going 6 innings and giving up 9 hits and 4 runs. The lefty is 1-3 with a 4.15 ERA. Rebel Ridling (.300) was 2-for-4 with a double. Matt Szczur was 2-for-4.
Peoria (A) beat Bowling Green 8-3. Starling Peralta got the win going 5 innings of 5-hit shutout ball. He’s 3-4 with a 2.81 ERA. Javier Baez, last year’s first-rounder, extended his hit streak to 12 games, going 1-for-3 with 2 RBI (21). He is 21-for-54 with 4 homers in July. Baez was named Midwest League player of the week for July 9-15. Paul Hoilman was 3-for-4.
Boise (A) got a walk-off homer from Jeimer Candelario in the ninth to beat Yakima 6-5. Jose Arias worked 5 innings, giving up 4 hits and 3 runs. He’s 2-0 with a 2.94 ERA. Outfielder Trey Martin was named Northwest League player of the week for July 9-15. He has 2 homers and 7 RBI during the week with four multihit games. Martin was a 13th-rounder last year.
Rehabbing Lendy Castillo started for Mesa (Rookie) in an 11-8 win over the Athletics. Castillo, who has been on the big club’s DL since May 16, worked 3 innings, giving up 2 hits and no runs. Shawon Dunston Jr. hit his first homer.