A Pitching Update
A few days back, I took a look at the pitching staff as a whole, and I'm sorry to say Wood and Mitre didn't fair too well. These were the grades that each pitcher deserved given their early season performances (or lack thereof), but I have a feeling that these grades are going to start ticking upward in the next third of a season (and hopefully beyond).
Wood threw on the side yesterday and apparently feels no pain or discomfort today. From all the reports I have heard, none of them involved either a right arm falling off or explosions of the shoulder/elbow region. This is all very good news unless you are firmly Anti-Kerry. And for all the Anti-Kerrys out there (Isn't that a sign of the Apocalypse? The Anti-Kerrys will walk the earth?), I offer you this:
Remember that we are not trading out Mark Prior for Kerry Wood. Wood is going to be replacing Koronka, and no matter how much a want to root for the lefty with the wacky name, Koronka isn't a third of the pitcher that Wood can be...when healthy. And that is the key, isn't it. Wood hasn't been health all season, and that has been reflected in both his performance and service time. Both have been less than impressive. But if Wood is truly healthy, then I see no reason why he couldn't return to his previous self.
Now, the Cubs have been paying a lot of lip service regarding Wood's new, improved mechanics. Guess what! (what?) He threw while looking in a mirror! (A Mirror! Brilliant!). I really hope that Wood has resolved some of his mechanical issues, but he has always given off a stink of uncoachableness (that is totally a word, I swear) and I have concerns as to Wood's ability to apply these mechanical improvements in a game situation. But we will see...and hope...and pray.
Now that the simulated game has gone so well, the Cubs have to decide on whether they want to send Wood to the minors for some much needed rehab or throw him back out there for another simulated game. While I'm sure he wants to get into a real game situation, my money is on the simulated game as he needs to build up some simulated confidence and improve his simulated arm strength, which is so essential for a pitcher like Wood (alright, I'll say it: "a simulated pitcher like Wood"). Once Wood (if Wood?) makes it back, we just have to wait out the expect return of Prior, but until then, the man is...
Mitre. I have never been so shocked to see a win flag as yesterday. As I rode my bike home from the train, I kept craning my head (although with a definite sense of fear) to see if the Cubs had managed the unexpected. Imagine my suprise when I saw the flying "W" atop the bleachers. Not as shocked, though, as when I got home and checked the box score to find that the Cubs had won, not on the collapse of Halladay, but rather on the back of Mitre. My surprise was then further magnified when I flipped over to Bleed Cubbie Blue to find that Mitre had allowed just two ball out of the infield! Just a tremendous performance by Mitre in a must win situation.
This was the sort of performance I have been expecting from Mitre this season after watching him dominate the Astros in his first game back to the majors. He has always struck me as having good stuff but has never had anything to show for it. I have to say, though, this perfomance raised his grade from a much-deserved C- to a solid B-. A little more of this a the Cubs will not suffer so greatly until Prior returns (in July? please?). Mitre is starting to earn my trust, but he will need a few more performances like this to earn my full confidence.
...and I'm sure that will help him sleep better at night.