What Might Have Been: A Review of Spot Start Options
If you ask the average Cub fan what they thought of the latest performance from Big Z (referring to the Robert-DeNiro-as-Al-Capone-in-The-Untouchables-style murder of the Gatorade dispenser, not the 6.2 innings pitched), I think by and large you'll hear the same thing from most of the folks you talk to.
It was worth it.
Many writers following the team, even some of those at this very website, have claimed that the Cubs lack a clubhouse leader--they lack fire. If you'd like to call it "immaturity" rather than "leadership," that's most certainly your prerogative. But I myself would rather have a group of guys on my team get pissed about losing eight in a row, as opposed to sitting around moping about the fact.
(One more thing about the Untouchables--now that I'm watching the clip, Z even looks like DeNiro from the movie. Wild!)
Of course, it's much easier to accept the punishment doled out by MLB disciplinarian Bob Watson (the Cubs' newest BFF, obvs) when your team can avoid having to call up a spot starter from the Triple A affiliate.
As soon as Z went nuts, I worried about our spot start options. The first thing I did was to visit the Iowa Cubs' website to check out the stats of our Triple A starters. I wondered what kind of success we were having down there (if any), and who would be the likeliest call-up in the event that a spot starter was needed.
As it turns out, that spot start won't be necessary. However, having looked at the stats, I thought y'all might be interested in a quick review of the options down in Iowa in case we end up needing somebody. From what I can see, it looks like there are three names that would likely make Lou's short list if a spot start was needed.
In no particular order:
Strengths: There's a reason the Shark is considered a top Cubs prospect. He's got solid stuff, and he relies primarily on a mid-nineties fastball. He might be able to help the big league club today even, but the higher-ups want Jeff to develop his three other pitches: the slider, the change-up, and the splitter.
Weaknesses: There's work to be done on those other pitches for Jeff. He's given up seven walks in his last 16.2 innings pitched for the Iowa team, and has a 4.04 ERA so far this season in Triple A. He probably isn't too far off from making the bigs, but he might not be ready quite yet.
Strengths: Kevin had an excellent spring. He racked up tons of strikeouts, didn't walk people, and generally was just pretty damn smooth. I thought he had a legitimate shot at making the big league club out of Mesa, but the options and Rule 5 issues facing the team prevented Hart from flying to Chicago rather than Des Moines.
Weaknesses: Hart would probably be considered a better option for a spot start later in the season after he's stretched out more. Hart was being used as a reliever up until recently; he only has 14 innings to his name as a starter this year. On the bright side, he's got 15 strikeouts in those 14 innings, as opposed to just three walks and six hits. Nice.
Lastly, a dark horse:
Strengths: Lots of good numbers for this guy. He's got a 2.89 ERA in 53 innings pitched, and a 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He's succeeding in the minor leagues for sure.
Weaknesses: While the number of strikeouts Mathes has racked up is good relative to his walks total, it's not all that great relative to the number of innings he's pitched. J.R. has just 20 strikeouts in his 53 innings. He's not exactly overpowering hitters, but maybe he could continue to get ground outs in the major leagues.
And there you have it--a short look at a few of the Cubs' Triple A options. If you know something I don't, I'd ask that you add to the knowledge pool by commenting on what I've got here to help us all out.