Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Just Past a Third of the Way Through: Pitching Review

Now with 90% less stats!

If you missed the hitting review, it is available here.

The pitching staff has been so good of late, I don't think there is much reason to hem and haw over the numbers and try to figure out who will get better or worse. The entire staff is pretty awesome and now that LaTroy has left, there is no whipping boy. That being said (and probably could have been said in one line), I present to you my pitching staff report card.

Carlos Zambrano (4-3, 2.94 ERA, 79.2 IP, 75K, 31 W, Opp. Batting: .188)

Holy crap has Carlos been good recently (blinks in amazement). He's averaging almost a strikout per inning, opponents are all hitting like pre-Neifi! Neifi off of him, and he is really scary on the mound (grr). I don't know what to say about Carlos that hasn't already been said (but that won't stop me). He did struggle early this season with his control and his emotions, and it was getting him into some trouble. In April, he struggle to a 4.31 ERA, but he excelled in May, posting a 2.40 ERA despite Instant Messenger related injuries (which, as we all know, are the worst). If he continues this pace he will end up somewhere above the A range (alpha, maybe?), but April counts, and so I'm going to have to take that into consideration: Grade: A- (soon to be A)

Glendon Rusch (5-1, 1.96 ERA, 55 IP, 40 K, 24 W, Opp. Batting: .247)

I think I should have graded Rusch first as I think I used up all my superlatives on Big Z. Rusch has been all everything. You want relief? Hey, I got your relief right here. You need a starter? Yeah, I can start start, how about a 4 hit shutout. And what seems most amazing is that he is finally finding his control and seems to be settling in. For most of April he seemed to be working a constant tight rope act and always came out on top. Now he's starting to really dominate. Me likey. The answer to this one is obvious: Grade: A.

Mark Prior (4-1, 2.93 ERA, 58.1 IP, 62 K, 18 W, Opp Batting: .194)

When Mark has been healthy he has been the Cubs' second best pitcher...when healthy. The problem is, he hasn't managed to stay healthy. Of course, for once it isn't his fault. If Dusty had just pulled him earlier, he wouldn't have gotten hit by that line drive (kidding). But, facts are facts, and he is going to miss 1/3 of the season. So, despite Mark have only one bad game all season and being super awesome, I just can't give him an A. Grade: A-

Kerry Wood (1-1, 6.15 ERA, 26.1 IP, 33 K, 14 W, Opp. Batting:.277)

Um...he sure strikes out a lot of people. I mean, relative to the number of innings he pitches. Which is not many. On the plus side, I hear he is working on his mechanics...again. And may throw a simulated game...at some point. But let's not put a time table on this. It has been a very frustrating season for Kerry and for his fan base (which is certainly dwindling). Grade: D-

Greg Maddux (4-3, 4.12 ERA, 74.1 IP, 45 K, 12 W, Opp Batting: .275)

Steady Eddie. Even Steven. etc, etc. While the rest of the Cubs' staff has been jumping all over the place (you know, to the DL & back), Maddux has remained remarkable consistent. And I would argue that this consistency has definite value. A pitcher who will never have a 3 1/3 inning outing in which the bullpen gets over-worked is something that every rotation needs. He's old, he's getting chubby, but he still has control and will still win games and that's why we like him. Go Maddux. Grade: B+

Sergio Mitre (0-1, 6.88 ERA, 17 IP, 6 K, 5 W, Opp Batting: .282)

Other than a good Houston game (and come on, that was Houston), Sergio has seemed completely over-matched this season. And it is too bad, because I want to like Sergio. But baseball is a game of results, and Mitre is not getting them. I think what he didn't realize is that, when he fills in for Wood, he doesn't have to pitch like Wood. That being said, there is lots of time to improve. I would say he should do the improving in AAA, but I'm at a loss for who would replace him. Grade: D+

John Koronka (1-0, 5.40, 5 IP, 4 K, 3 W, Opp. Batting .286)

Koronka seems to have boarderline major league stuff, but he did hold his own in his first start, and may have been nervous, thus making him look worse than he really is. He starts today and hopefully he can earn himself an A. Grade: Incomplete

Ryan Dempster (2-3, 4.73 ERA, 45.2 IP, 46 K, 24 W, 6 saves)

There are really two pitchers: Starter Dempster and Closer Dempster. Starter Dempster does not receive a very high grade, but Closer Dempster is every Cub fan's new best friend. He has only blown one save in his first 7 chances (that's an 87.5% success rate!) and has looked impressive in most of those chances. Lots of ground balls, lots of strikeouts, and fewer walks. I'm going to look past Starter Dempster and give the grade to Closer Dempster: Grade: A-

Rest of Bullpen -

Pre-Latroy - Hey, how about blowing another save? Who cares if the starter just went 7 innings of 1 hit ball, go ahead and blow the lead anyway. Oh, and by the way, you suck. Grade: C-

Post LaTroy - Geez, what a difference a trade makes. All of a sudden everyone has a role and is excelling in said role. Dempster closes, Wuertz & Ohman set up, and then there is the slew of middle relievers. All doing well, all making me happy. Let's hope they keep it up. Grade: A-

So that just about sums it up. As you can see, I'm pretty happy with the pitching staff, and especially with the way they've been pitching recently. Just wait until Prior gets back. It gives Cub Fans a reason to look foward to the All-Star break (other than Neifi! & Derrek combining on a double play).

The only part of the team to evaluate are the managers, Field and General. But I will leave that for another day (and probably another writer).

Leah

Great post!

I agree on all, especially Kerry Wood. I have not seen anything out of him this season so far that leaves me any hope. it's always a nail biter when he's up on the mound.

Kurt

I have a feeling that if Wood comes back healthy, he'll be amazing.

If he comes back healthy.

kjk

yes great post! it's amazing how quickly things turned around. let's hope they don't turn back just as fast.

James

Kerry couldn't possibly be worse than Koronka, so it makes us a little bit better at least...

When evaluating a pitching staff, you can't do so without evaluating Dusty and Hendry. Hendry had to sign them and Dusty's the one in control of how they get used.

Dusty gets a big fat F becuase Rusch and Dempster would have A plusses if they had just switched roles from the start of the season and the whole Hawkins debacle and ruining Chad Fox.

Hendry gets a big fat F for not standing up to his boneheaded manager and making him start Rusch and close with Dempster... ok he gets a C+ for having traded Hawkins for two quality arms who might help the Cubs in the near future. In reality, we should label his grade as incomplete because there's still work to be done, if the Cubbies are going to keep a hold on a playoff spot.

JFCubFan

Give Mitre a break - Doesn't he deserve at least a C after todays game? 15 GB to ZERO FB!!! Shutout!?!

If you recall, it was Zambrano on 4/20 of this year who shut out the Cardinals with 14 GB to ZERO FB at that one.

That, my friend, is a dominant pitching performance, with hopefully more in Senor Mitre's future.

How about a B?

JFCubFan

Oops, the Cardinals scored one run in that game, which the Cubs won 3-1 (this is the game Nomar ripped his stomach apart). So Mitre's performance today was even more impressive than Zambrano's that day!

James

Yes this was the most impressive performance by a Cubs pitcher this season, especially given the circumstances of fighting off a three-game sweep to open up a homestand and facing the best pitcher in the AL East.

But grading is based off past performance, not future expectations... and I'm sure this performance will weigh heavily in the next grading

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