Lilly Shines in Peoria
While the big league club was once again taking its lumps, a beacon of hope in the name of Ted Lilly was shining in Peoria, making his final rehab start before (likely) rejoining the team on Saturday in Milwaukee. By my unofficial count, Lilly threw 89 pitches (63 for strikes) over 7 solid innings, leading the Chiefs to a 2-1 victory over the Burlington Bees.
Not only did Lilly pitch well, mixing pitches and speeds with ease, but he contributed at the plate as well. This was a bit odd, as the Midwest League uses a DH, but apparently that was waived for the Chiefs on this night. Lilly got a solid basehit to left center his first time up, and was then thrown out trying to steal 2nd (???). Your guess is as good as mine as to why he was trying to steal a base, but he gets bonus points for his great Pete Rose head-first slide. In his 2nd AB, he drew a 4-pitch walk. Fear Ted Lilly at the plate?
The following is his inning by inning linescore. Note that in his first 15 pitches or so he threw almost exclusively fastballs, and eventually one got squared up...
1st Inning - BB, K(FB), 3B (off wall in LC), K looking (great curve), K (Curve) - 23 pitches.
2nd Inning - K(FB), 1B (LF), F3, pickoff @ 1st - 8 pitches
3rd Inning - F7, 4-3, 1B (LC), F9 - 12 pitches
4th Inning - F8, F4, E4 (bobbled), F8 - 13 pitches
5th Inning - K (3 straight curves - batter was never close), F9, 6-3 - 10 pitches
6th Inning - K (FB), K (CB), K (CB) - 12 pitches
7th Inning - K (FB), F3, 6-3 - 11 pitches
Lilly got stronger as the game went on, and while the radar gun work at O'Brien Field was shaky, it was working enough for me to note that he got his fastball up as high as 91, and his curve was sitting in the 67-75 range. He looked good, and the big league club could definitely use the help. In other Peoria Chiefs news, Hak-Ju Lee impressed both in the field and on the basepaths. Lee, a consensus top-10 prospect for the Cubs, made a couple very nice plays at short, ranging into the hole and showing off a nice arm. His delivery does have a little bit of a hitch in it, but it seems to work for him. On the basepaths, Lee stole 2nd and 3rd twice, for 4 SB total on the game. He was getting great jumps and showing blazing speed. He's definitely one to keep an eye on this year.