The Cubs pitchers are the subject for this round of Sunday news and notes....
A lot of talk is going to turn to the trade deadline soon and Jeff Samardzija heads the list in terms of trade value. The hard-throwing RHP is having his best season yet with a 1.62 ERA, 2.87 FIP, and 2.80 BB/9IP -- all career lows and ranking him among the tp 20 pitchers in baseball and, depending on what the Rays decide to do with David Price, the best starting pitcher expected to be available on the trade market.
Buster Olney writes about his tremendous trade value. He writes,
The Cubs need high-end pitching to match the strong collection of position players they are developing, and rival officials are already taking deep breaths and preparing for an extremely high asking price whenever they start conversations about Samardzija.
Given that there might be only one comparable pitcher in the market this summer -- David Price would be the No. 1 starter available, if the Rays choose to go that route -- the Cubs will be justified in setting a very high bar for Samardzjia. It will be a seller’s market.
“All it takes is one team saying yes,” one GM said.
Olney also uses the Garza trade as a reference, saying the Cubs should get at least that much value. And given he has an extra year of cost control and the comp pick that goes with it -- and then add that many evaluators believe he is better than Garza was at this time last year -- he should bring back even more.
“So you have an idea of just how expensive it will be,” one evaluator said.
Yes. Very, according to Olney.
We've had a couple of posts here on Edwin Jackson before the season started, one by contributor Adam Brown and another by guest poster by Joe Piscopo (@Joe_MLB_MAN), "The Case for an Edwin Jackson Rebound." Both recognized some of the bad luck Jackson has had, and the latter was more optimistic that he could bounce back this season. After 3 good starts, include yesterday's brilliant outing, Jackson appears to be doing exactly that. In fact, his current FIP of 3.02 would easily be a career best if he can maintain that for a full season. Jackson's K rate is at a career high 8.12 per 9 IP (21.4%) and he is already at 1.2 WAR this year after being just 2.0 WAR all of last season. ZiPS now projects him to have a typical Edwin Jackson year at 10-12 with a 3.93 ERA, which would be a 3 WAR season. This is the Edwin Jackson the Cubs thought they were signing last year. And given the way Cubs season is going, he may become a legit trading candidate. A big chunk of Edwin Jackson's contract was paid up front and he now will cost a team around half his original contract ($27M for 2 1/2 years) by the trade deadline.
As good as Samardzija has been, you have to wonder if some teams might be interested in the cheaper prospect return and extra year of cost control Jackson offers. His numbers have been just a notch below Samardzija's this season.
Short and long term closer options
Hector Rondon is having an outstanding season and has taken over the closer role with Jose Veras on the DL. Rondon has saved 4 games and posted a 1.40 ERA -- and his 1.73 FIP indicates that good start hasn't been a fluke. Rondon has consistently maintained the velocity he showed late last season (averaging about 95 but topping out at 97-98) while improving his slider. His cutter gives him a good third optio/n. He has upped his K rate to 10.24 per 9 IP while lowering his walk rate to a solid 2.79 per 9 IP.
But Jose Veras looked impressive in his return. Could he get his old job back? Manager Rick Renteria addressed the subject, though he did not give a direct answer,
"Those are situations he's pitched in before; it's not foreign to him," Renteria said of late-inning work. "We want him to continue to build as much confidence as he possibly can and [Friday] was an opportunity that we had for him, and we used him. In the end, as it evolves and how he continues to perform will dictate how we move forward."
I think you can gradually work Veras back to a high leverage role, but Veras' trade value aside, you have to stick with Rondon in that closer role.
Meanwhile, Arodys Vizcaino looms. He has pitched 13 innings over 2 levels, walking 4 and striking out 17 while allowing hitters to bat just .159 against him. It is only 4 IP, but his FIP in AA is less than zero.
Chris Crawford of ESPN rates him as the #1 future closer option in a fantasy baseball article,
His fastball sits in the 94-96 mph range, occasionally touching 98 with explosive life to the pitch. He complements that with a power curveball with solid spin and quality depth and a changeup that keeps hitters honest. Chicago will be mindful to keep his workload to a reasonable limit, but with his stuff, it wouldn't be a surprise if he was closing games for the Cubs as soon as this season.
By the end of the year, the Cubs may be able to shorten games to 6 innings with a formidable trio of Neil Ramirez/Hector Rondon/Arodys Vizcaino providing the late inning hammer.
Filed under: News and Notes