Can he pitch, though?

We’ve all seen this question get asked in some iteration or another. The Cubs have prospect bats in spades, their position player minor league talent list is obscene. But, who’s gonna pitch tho? With Jeff Samardzija gone there seems to be a lack of pitching both at the major league level and in the minor leagues. Let’s review the arms I deem worthy of reviewing and see if that’s the case.

Jake Arrieta – He’s been magnificent for the Cubs so far. Heading into his start on Friday Arrieta has a 28.3 percent strikeout rate to a 6.8 percent walk rate in 70.2 innings of work. On Friday he showcased the entire arsenal and pitched a solid and efficient game using a deep mix of fastball/sinker-slider-curveball. He got 8 whiffs on the slider and showcased a huge part of why he’s been so successful in 2014. Command and inconsistency has been an issue in the past; he’s going to have to repeat his mechanics and remain consistent with his command and pith mix this year. He’s using his slider a ton this year which is concerning with pitchers going down with the frequency they’ve been going down in 2014.

Can he pitch tho? I’m going to open this up with a caveat, all pitchers are injury risks and that will hold true throughout this write up. He has a changeup he shows every so often, I’d like to see a bit more than that and more emphasis on the sinker. That said, yeah I think he’s in the rotation when the Cubs are ready to compete.

 Travis Wood – Ah Travis, darling of 2013 and enigma of 2014. He’s added strikeouts, walks and hits to his rate numbers. He has a really weird home/road split as he’s almost 3 runs better at home than he is on the road. He has a 6.05 ERA on the road and a 3.08 ERA at home. That’s, weird. Wood survives on pitch location and sequencing. He’s a high 4 starter that can give you solid 3 performance for long stretches when he’s right. I’ve touted Wood along with Jose Quintana and Mark Buehrle as pitching savants. Wood still has that in him, and unfortunately his profile is prone to years like this one.

Can he pitch tho – Yes, and I do believe he rights the ship and is on the next Cubs contender. Wood is athletic, fields his position, and he can handle the bat. That’s valuable in the NL and it only augments his value. He can pitch, you guys.

Edwin Jackson – Edwin has been a FIP darling since putting on a Cubs uniform. The peripheral numbers say that he should be much better than this, but he isn’t. Jackson’s contract looks as bad in year two as it did in year one. The stuff is there, but the command has left him and he’s getting hit now. Whatever the reason, it’s just not working with Jackson.

Can he pitch tho – Yes, but I doubt he’s on the next Cubs contender. Jed Hoyer and company seem to like the command/control profile a lot and Jackson doesn’t fit that mold. On the other hand, I didn't think Juan Uribe would win two rings as a starting shortstop and I thought Barry Zito would never be relevant in a Giants uniform in the playoffs. Oops.

Dallas Beeler – You’re going to notice a similar type when reading through these blurbs. The Cubs seem to have a style in pitcher that they actively scout out and pursue. Beeler is a command control type guy who can locate and if you squint and forget what Roy Halladay’s stuff looks like he kinda sorta looks like Roy Halladay from a delivery / arm slot perspective. The Halladay comp is beyond unfair to the kid, so let’s move past that and concentrate on who Beeler is. I think he’s a fringe guy with a 4 starter ceiling. He doesn’t have an out pitch, a true swing and miss offering that he can go to when he’s in trouble. He has a nice skillset, one that can play at the major league level, but ultimately he relies on people getting themselves out.

Can he pitch tho? Yeah a little bit. I don’t think he’s in the rotation when the Cubs are competing but he’ll have a major league career of some sort.

Tsuyoshi Wada – The first I heard of Wada he was reported to have a baseball in the 88 MPH range and possess a, you guessed it, command and control profile. He’s a short lefty who popped 92 a few times in his July 8 start against the Reds. He throws the kitchen sink out there, his slider is ok, the curve is meh and he does have a good change which is vital for a lefty. Ultimately, his handedness will buy him looks but he’s fringe for me.

Can he pitch tho – Might be an up and down guy for a first division team. Doesn’t have bullpen stuff, he’s a fringe 5 starter for me. I don’t think he’s in the Cubs rotation when they plan to win.

Kyle Hendricks – Probably the most interesting guy of the recent pitcher call ups, Kyle Hendricks debuted with a shaky 1st inning where he walked two batters on eight straight pitches. He gave up three runs in the first and then settled in, showing a fastball-cambio combo that shows promise of working at the major league level. He hasn’t impressed like Beeler did stats wise, but I think Hendricks has the higher ceiling and might be the better pitcher. Oh, and Bosio loves him. I’m trusting that guy when it comes to pitchers.

Can he pitch tho – I think he can. He’s got a lot of things to work out and we’ll get a real look at him when he gets a run of starts as an audition at the major league level. I don’t know if he’s on the next Cubs contender. If his breaking ball comes around that gives him a solid 4 pitch mix of Fastball Cambio Cutter Curveball. That’s a starting pitcher starter kit.

Dan Straily – We’ve seen this profile before, I think. Slider reliant pitcher with command issues who tends to leave the ball up and get tagged for long balls sounds like a very familiar case. In any event Straily has a four pitch mix and gets overly reliant on his slider. He’s in AAA right now trying to sort his issues out. He has the stuff to be a starter but it all goes back to his command issues.

Can he pitch tho – I mean, he has good stuff, but his tendency to leave fat pitches in hittable zones is a concern, to say the least. Straily will need to cull his homer tendencies to survive at the Major League level. Bosio has worked wonders with pitchers like Straily in the recent past (see Arrieta, Jake), but it’s unfair to expect everyone to be a success story. I don’t think he’s on the next Cubs winner.

Chris Rusin – I…look. He had a minor league no hitter and it was cool and all, but he’s not a bat misser and he gets hit.  A lot. And hard.

Can he pitch tho – No.

Jen-Ho Tseng – Tseng is my favorite Cubs pitching prospect. He’s got a solid, 6’3 frame with square shoulders and a lower half that can add some good weight. There’s not much projection in the body but there’s enough to envision a starting pitcher body. He uses a ¾ delivery with some drop and drive in the lower half. Tseng features a fastball that’s 92-94 with some life, a good breaking ball that has 10-4 movement and a changeup that can develop into a major league average offering. He’s 19 and has a refined approach to pitching. I’ve seen him move the ball around all quadrants of the zone and I’ve seen him pitch backwards and out of trouble. He had an arm scare this year, so the risk is real but I REALLY like Tseng.

Can he pitch tho – Yes. God yes. Look, there will be some developmental pitfalls and his arm might fall off and we’ll never hear from him again but that’s just about all pitchers. Development isn’t linear and he’s very far away from being a major league contributor but I believe in Tseng.

CJ Edwards – Arguably the Cubs’ best pitching heading into the year, Edwards has been dealing with shoulder issues and is close to returning from them. Even so, the question marks about his frame and his ability to handle the workload have gone unanswered as of yet. He’s got a big fastball and a good curve, but he has yet to really showcase it for a full season.

Can he pitch tho – Yes, but probably as a mid rotation starter/reliever at this point. Shoulders are a legitimate scare. He has big stuff but he has to survive a starters workload for him to be legitimately considered a rotation piece of the future. He’s got the stuff, but I want to see more development from him.

Pierce Johnson – From a mechanics standpoint Johnson is a bit of a throwback. He has a full wind up and a high leg kick to go along with a ¾ delivery that looks straight out of the 80’s. Johnson has a straight fastball that he commands well to go along with a slurvy breaker and a change that I only saw twice. The new development with him is a cutter that flashed plus against Beloit. That’s a solid 4 pitch mix with command on all of his pitches.

Can he pitch tho – Yes, but he’s likely a 4 who can be like Travis Wood in that sometimes Johnson can look like a mid rotation guy. There’s not a lot of major league swig and miss stuff here, but if he’s commanding the strike zone and utilizing his stuff properly dude can fool you into thinking he’s something more. Pierce Johnson is a player.

Duane Underwood – Underwood is turning in a solid season for Kane County this year. He’s a 6’2 20 year old who has a good fastball, a promising curve and a good changeup. I’ve yet to put eyes on him this year but I’ve heard good things from people who have. Risk is extreme here.

Can he pitch tho – He’s showing a lot of positive signs this year. It’s way too early in his development to tell honestly. There’s a lot of risk and unknown with him. I’m going to waffle here and give you the lone maybe.

Paul Blackburn – Blackburn worked in the 88-91 MPH range when I saw him. Fastball had some run on it and he commands it well. He also has a loopy curve ball and flashed a decent changeup. The arm slot and spin are there for the curve to get better. Doesn’t mean that it will but it could. He’s got a limited ceiling as he’s another number 4 type with good command.

Can he pitch tho – I think it’s realistic that he’s a tweener pitcher, a guy who’s up and down and fills in when you need a spot starter. He has a 4 ceiling and a lot has to go right for him to get there. I don’t think he’s on the Cubs when they contend, but he’s a pretty solid prospect in all honesty. He’s just not a great one.

Daury Torrez – This is a tough one to figure. Daury Torrez is a tall, skinny Dominican with a good fastball, a solid change and a developing, sweeping breaking ball. He works out of a low ¾ delivery. The fastball operates in the mid 90’s and it has some life to it, but the command isn’t there. I suspect that he’s learning control right now and just throwing strikes as they are working on his command throughout the year. The fastball flashed some nice fade and it work well in tandem with the fastball. The curveball is a work in progress, it’s a show me pitch at this point but if he makes some tweaks it can be a major league average pitch.

Can he pitch tho – It depends on a few factors. Torrez is very far away both in age and development. If he starts to hit the black with his 94 mph fastball that has some nice wiggle to it, everything plays up. If he can similarly pitch through his breaking ball better, he’s a major league starter. Those are big ifs though. I think he can pitch, I think he has an outside shot at being on the Cubs when they’re winning. Might be as a reliever, though.

Rob Zastryzny – I saw Zastryzny in a backfields game during spring training where he took advantage of inexperienced hitters. He showed a solid fastball-change tandem and an ok breaking ball that looked like it wanted to be more. He’s had his issues at High A Daytona. The strikeouts are there but he’s getting hit a lot. I liked the velo (92 MPH) and life he showed on his fastball in the spring, but without much of a curve (it only flashed) it becomes difficult to turn over lineups efficiently. I don’t know if that’s the case in High A but I speculate that it might be.

Can he pitch tho – He’s 22 and he’s shown some promise. It’s unlikely that he makes it as a reliever as his second best pitch is the change and well, I can’t think of many fastball-changeup relievers. Can you? He has the arm slot for the curve to get better. It all depends on that pitch for him. I’m giving him an outside chance, but it’s unlikely he’s in the Cubs rotation when they’re ready.

Corey Black – He’s a short right hander with a high effort delivery and a really good fastball. He’s got a curve and a slider and has been known to drop a change from time to time. Considering the frame, the delivery and the repertoire, I think we know where this is going.

Can he pitch tho – Black has had a really good season this year, but I think he’s a reliever. He’ll get to the major leagues, but his ceiling is limited.

Tyler Skulina – Ahhh Skulina. I kinda pumped Skulina up in the preseason based on size and reports out of instructs. I was wrong here. Skulina has a starting pitcher frame. He’s 6’5 and listed at 255 lbs. It makes his 88 MPH fastball very unsatisfying. He leaks energy all throughout his delivery and does not maximize his size. He’s got bad command, a nothing fastball and the breaking pitches are pedestrian at best.

Can he pitch tho – No.

Jake Stinnett – Didn’t add the draftees here, haven’t seen enough of them to give you a reasonable assessment on their abilities. Stinnett is a name that people keep telling me to remember, though. He outdueled Carlos Rodon in college when they faced each other. He has a heavy fastball and works in the low to mid 90’s which works well off his slider.

Can he pitch tho – Don’t know.

So, what’s the Cubs rotation look like in my mind’s eye? That’s a question that has different answers depending on what time frame you’re asking about. I can see:

1 – Open

2 – Jake Arrieta

3 – Travis Wood

4 – Edwin Jackson

5 – Kyle Hendricks

For next year, pending what they decide to do before the break. Down the line? Who knows. I can only tell you who I think will make it to the major leagues and a loose estimate of their ETAs. The Cubs do not have an ace in the making in their system. Not a lot of teams do. They don’t have a solid #2 in the making in their system. Again, not a lot of teams do. What they have is equity. As a front office they’ve shown an ability to acquire pitching and return value on said pitching with a relatively high degree of success.

This isn’t to assume that they’ll just go out there and find an ace, that’s an irresponsible assumption. Rather, what I’m saying is that I trust Jed Hoyer and company to find a solid top of the rotation arm and acquire it however they see fit. This is the hard part. This is where self-scouting comes into play and they’ll have to be right in who they trade away over the next few years.

But, they have options. Both internally and externally.

Filed under: Analysis

Comments

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  • 1 - Lester

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    Maybe. Situations can change drastically, Lester can be moved to a contender and maybe they resign him. Too fluid to predict right now.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    Can't believe you didn't even entertain the idea that they will try to stretch Neil Ramirez out and give him a chance to start.

  • Call me old fashioned but I sure wish we had more "swing and miss" pitchers down there. Eventually there are always homestands where the weather is consistently high 80's/low 90's and the wind takes all balls towards Evanston and/or Lake Michigan? That's when finess guys become scary. Vizcaino??

  • "I can’t think of many right handed fastball-changeup relievers. Can you?"

    Good thing Zastryzny is a LHP.

  • In reply to Shawonometer:

    Typo, it was fixed

  • In reply to Shawonometer:

    Keith Foulke and Trevor Hoffman

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    Great article! I've said it before,but it bares repeating. If Travis Wood is your 4th starter, you have a good rotation. If Travis Wood is your 5th starter, you have a great rotation.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I agree wood as a number #4, arrieta as a number #2, hendricks as a number #5. Lester as a long term piece and someone like Hammel on a short term deal (because there are potential starters coming from the minors to eventually fill that spot). That would be a very good rotation.

    That also means Jackson will need to go, hopefully he gets hot and the Yankees overpay for him!!!

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I'd be happy if they take him

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    That rotation looks pretty bleak. I'm betting Straily becomes close to Arietta II. Guys who come in 4th in ROY voting don't forget how to pitch.
    And now that there are systems way worse than ours and MLB teams as bad or worse, some of these guys look like trade candy: rusin, wada, Hendricks, beeler, black can all be added to a package for someone lower down but better.

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    In reply to SKMD:

    We can't bank anything on Straily; the A's would not have included him if they thought he could help them this year, but he can't. There's a problem there, starting with the very large velocity drop since last year.

    As I write this, he is getting knocked around a bit in Iowa, with 4 BBs, a HBP, and WP already through 3 1/3 innings.

    Hopefully Bosio can work some magic, but Straily has issues right now

  • The question should be not whether they can pitch, but rather, whether they can adapt and make adjustments.

    When I saw Skulina in April his fastball (88-89) was iffy, his curve was from a totally different motion, and his changeup was non-existent. When I saw him last Sunday in Clinton, he wasn't the same pitcher (and neither was Tseng that day). His fastball sat 89-91 in the first three innings, touched 92 regularly by the 4th inning, and 93 once in the fifth. His curveball was devastating that day. He stayed on top of it and it came from the same arm slot as his fastball unlike in April. It came in around 79 and his changeup, which he used quite frequently, came in at 83. That's a nice three speed differential. Not to make excuses, but it was kept quiet that he has had tendonitis in his plant leg knee most of the first part of the year and it affected his velocity. Hopefully, that issue is past and he gets it back up to 93 regularly like he was at Kent State.

  • Great stuff, Mauricio. Here is my take on a few guys...

    I like Zastryzny. I think if he can develop an average breaking ball that it will work really well with his good change up and solid 92 velo. Given that he will face mostly RH hitters, I think FB command and the change is paramount for him and he can get away with an average breaker.

    Not a huge fan of Black, lots of effort me and he has been inefficient despite the good numbers. He's a bullpen guy for me.

    I am going to hold off on Skulina, as I haven't seen him since last year. He has said to have had a knee injury that some think has led to the loss of velo, but it is concerning that he has been rather inconsistent since his college days. There is a reason a guy with his size and arm strength fell to the 4th round.

    Torrez is interesting but he's a one pitch guy right now. His fastball movement is good and when he commands it, he breaks bats and creates weak contact, long way to go.

    Blackburn is looking more like a 5th starter. The velo spike seems to have been an aberration -- or at least it hasn't been there since he missed a few starts at Boise. Still like him, but he's no longer a top 10 guy for me.

    Underwood is interesting. Good arm speed out of an easy, athletic delivery. Command improving, esp. with FB, but breaking ball remains inconsistent.

    One last thing...and interesting guy at Boise: Trevor Clifton. Got this from a scout,

    "Clifton has the velocity, but needed to tweak some aspects of his mechanics as he has elevated arm action with a bit of torque in the arm. He had a decent break and the hands + strength to project. There is a lot to like about him if he can clean up that load in his delivery. "

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Interesting on Clifton, I'll keep an eye on him.

    Underwood is a big x factor.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    Indeed, I would have expected that you would say that Clifton and Underwood both have #2 ceilings. Hopefully that comes to fruitition to help the minor league pitching.

    Also, what aboutJosh Conway and Ryan McNeil? Conway seems a possible #2 and McNeil a #3 or #4? Obviously, as with Underwood and Clifton, it is all "possibly" due to limited work.

    Here's hoping Stinnett, Sands, Steele, Cease and Norwood produce at least 1 TOR and 1 #2.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Been trying to follow Clifton closely this year. The kid definitely has "it" has far as pitching goes. It's early but he's the type of guy that is really easy to get excited about. A young with a lot of upside, imo....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Agreed, Upside but a long way to go. Worth watching.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I saw Skulina last Sunday in Clinton. Looked much better than he did in April. he was tipping his curveball by slowing the arm action and not staying on top. This time, he was a totally different pitcher. He hit 92 regularly in the fourth after being 88-90 in 1-3. In the 5th, he hit 93 a couple of times. He stayed on top of his curve and had it at 76-79 and his changeup came in at 83 regularly. He looked sharp.

  • In reply to historyrat:

    Thanks for the first hand report.

  • Wasn't Trevor Hoffman a fastball - change up reliever? And a pretty good one at that...

  • In reply to ErnieB:

    That's one hall of fame level talent. Z isn't a hall of fame level talent. Point is there aren't many, not there are none.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    Paul Remlinger made a nice career out of getting right is out with that change.

  • Eric Gagne is another one that comes to mind. You're correct, there aren't many.

  • In reply to ErnieB:

    yeah and the ones that did all had ridiculous changeups. Actually I kinda like this thought exercise, I might continue it.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    Keith Foulke

  • fb_avatar

    Good artcile and follow-on comments by John. Cliff Notes: We have some promising guys, but in terms of TOR talent, the system is bare right now. TOR is a very tough get, but we don't have it.

    I am a little disappointed by the early returns on the 2013 draft class of pitching. After Bryant, we pretty much went all pitching, and to this point noone has really emerged. Zastryzny has been merely OK, everyone else fairly disappointing, or hurt. It would be unreasonable to expect all or most of those guys to pan out, but one or two would be nice....hopefully 2014 works out better.

  • Thanks, Mauricio. However, I was wondering what the take on Paniagua is.

  • My favorites out of those pitchers are Tseng and Underwood. Tseng has TOR stuff and Underwood is just a tick below him.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    What do you think of Jefferson Mejia?

  • Will N. Ramirez be the be the next Samardzija? Bullpen to ace?

  • In reply to Welch24:

    Ramirez is one of my favorite pieces in last year's trade. Love his stuff still think he can he can start.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KGallo:

    He has the stuff, but would his arm hold-up in a starter's role? I thought there was some doubt about that.

    If Ramirez can start, it would be worth a shot, because we have guys to take his place in the bullpen

  • In reply to Zonk:

    It's always been more the the consistency of his Command then his endurance.

  • fb_avatar

    What do you guys think of Erik Jokisch?

  • fb_avatar

    Great article! I disagree only with the idea that Edwin Jackson can pitch. Peripheral numbers (in my opinion) only matter in the minors or for young up and coming players in the majors. Eventually, you have to look at the real time results and he doesn't have them. I hope you are right and he is gone somehow. Hopefully, its not in a "Milton Bradley" type trade.

  • fb_avatar

    I think these are realistic projections, nothing too pie in the sky. I wish I knew more about the Edwards situation and whether the Cubs are being overcautious or if there was/is reason for big concern. Since he's never really been hit hard I still think there is No. 2 potential there if he can stay healthy. But he sure is looking like a reliever at this point.

    I don't know what is going on with Vizcaino with him getting hit so hard lately, but is it now completely out of the question that he could make the transition to starter? And what about Ramirez? He might be the best bet to make that switch.

    Otherwise, I think this article underscores why the Cubs need to sign Lester or Scherzer and trade for somebody like a Zack Wheeler.

  • I agree with the media in large on this one. Not really any guys that make you jump up and down, but we have a lot of 4-5 type starters, but some guys come out of nowhere.

    In truth, the coming pitching staff will be built through trades and free agency. This is almost certain unless we must suffer through a couple more losing years.

  • Jackson is plain depressing.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to wastrel:

    Edwin is a pros pro.....serving up a batting practice HR to his favorite pitcher. Mike minor

    I wonder if Baez and Bryant bombs are going to fly out of the park like that!!!!! That was impressive Mrs Jackson

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Yup.....can he pitch? Yes, very poorly

  • Edwin Jackson just plain suxs.

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    I think Epstoyer needs to implement the Ejax exit strategy. His presence actually prevents me from wanting to watch games.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to cubsdude74:

    Yup....I tuned in hoping to see Wada pitch but nope, it was Edwin.

    Wind blowing out doesn't help but most of the hits off Edwin were lasers.

  • fb_avatar

    Can we just give him away! Don't care if we get anything back, he just keeps bringing the team down and we are paying him to do so?? Just dump him and bring up a youngster, at then there will be some gain there, experience, and who knows, might even get a win, sure more that what Edwin will ever give us!

  • No, cannot just give EJax away.
    Terrible idea. Must get at least a PB & J sandwich for him. Too much? OK - a bag of peanuts.
    Alright, enough. We'll throw in the peanuts.

  • I don't like EJax either. He couldn't even eat a few innings today. But here's what I don't get. Clearly, the AB to J Upton was a key AB of the game. If you get him out, Cubs probably still feel like they're in the game, only down 3, still early, and the wind is blowing out. However, give up 2-3 more runs there, and the game seems out of hand. So why bring in Carlos there? He hasn't been fooling anyone in months. The Upton AB was (IMO) a high leverage AB. Why not bring in someone good? Maybe a ground ball pitcher like Schlitter? If the game gets out of hand, you can always bring in Carlos to pitch last 3-4 innings. But if the game gets away there, we're sunk.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to ErnieB:

    But he didn't get Upton. Woulda, shoulda, coulda all day long if you must. Edwin Jackson is just plain killing the good mojo feeling this club is working on for this season. I had really hoped that at least he was a guy that could eat innings until we were ready to compete. But now I fear he hurts this team more than he helps!

  • fb_avatar

    still don't want to trade Ejax if a deal comes along, Zonk?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SKMD:

    I'm not going to defend E-Jax's performance today...he certainly stunk. And I wouldn't defend his performance either for the season. I'm with you there.

    Trading him now is still not the right call. The rest of the league can see the same thing.....it would simply be a salary dump. If we were in the thick of a pennant race, I would dump him tomorrow, but we are not...we are in the position of needing to maximize the assets we have, good and bad, and that means sucking it up and seeing if we can turn E-Jax around.

    If he's hopeless, then sure, dump him, but that would be a DFA

  • I kind of lost interest when the answer for "Can Jackson pitch?" was 'yes'. No offense. "Yes, once, a while ago,' would have been more succinct.

  • RE: Ahhh Skulina. I kinda pumped Skulina up in the preseason based on size and reports out of instructs. I was wrong here. Skulina has a starting pitcher frame. He’s 6’5 and listed at 255 lbs. It makes his 88 MPH fastball very unsatisfying. "

    This is just completely wrong.

    “Sometimes he’s a little erratic,” Cougars manager Mark Johnson said. “You’ve seen it. He’ll walk two or three guys and then get a jam shot and a double play. It’s not always pretty, but when he has to make pitches, he makes pitches.

    “That’s the bottom line. He has the stuff to dominate. You saw it with the no-hitter and you see it in his numbers. It’s definitely there. It’s a matter of harnessing it a little bit more.”

    When you have the repertoire that Skulina has, you can escape trouble.

    His fastball can touch the upper 90s and his slider is a plus pitch. He also has a still-developing changeup and curveball.

    “That’s the privilege of having good stuff,” Cougars pitching coach David Rosario said. “You’re going to be able to get away with stuff when you have those kinds of pitches. He has that.”

    Skulina hasn’t even been entirely healthy has he has put together his solid campaign. He is suffering from some tendinitis in his left knee, which is the knee he lands on. That has sapped his fastball velocity of late and caused him to get a two-week break from starting.

    “I’m just battling through it and keep competing on the mound,” Skulina said. “My body is probably making adjustments without me even knowing it to take the pain away. I’d like to be around 92, 93 consistently. It’s been around 88, 89, 90 lately.

    “I just need to get it up there a little bit more. It will come eventually.”

    Rosario knows that even if it’s subconscious, the knee is preventing Skulina from letting it rip at full speed.

    “When you have a knee problem on the front side, you’re going to be a little bit afraid to land and put all that weight on the front leg and let the ball go,” Rosario said. “It’s tough for him to deal with all of that at the same time he’s throwing. I saw him up to 95, 96 last year.”

    The outing on May 17 is still surreal to Skulina. It was the eighth no-hitter in the Cougars’ history, and a snapshot of what Skulina can do when everything is working for him.

    LINK: http://couriernews.suntimes.com/2014/07/01/minor-league-baseball-cougars-feel-incredible-hulking-tyler-skulina-mound/

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I saw that outing, I've seen a lot of Skulina. He has a long arm swing and the stuff is not impressive. I saw him last 2/3 of an inning recently and I saw his start this past Saturday. I stand by everything that I said.

  • “Sometimes he’s a little erratic,” Cougars manager Mark Johnson said. “You’ve seen it. He’ll walk two or three guys and then get a jam shot and a double play. It’s not always pretty, but when he has to make pitches, he makes pitches.

    “That’s the bottom line. He has the stuff to dominate. You saw it with the no-hitter and you see it in his numbers. It’s definitely there. It’s a matter of harnessing it a little bit more.”

    When you have the repertoire that Skulina has, you can escape trouble.

    His fastball can touch the upper 90s and his slider is a plus pitch. He also has a still-developing changeup and curveball.

    “That’s the privilege of having good stuff,” Cougars pitching coach David Rosario said. “You’re going to be able to get away with stuff when you have those kinds of pitches. He has that.”

    Skulina hasn’t even been entirely healthy has he has put together his solid campaign. He is suffering from some tendinitis in his left knee, which is the knee he lands on. That has sapped his fastball velocity of late and caused him to get a two-week break from starting.

    “I’m just battling through it and keep competing on the mound,” Skulina said. “My body is probably making adjustments without me even knowing it to take the pain away. I’d like to be around 92, 93 consistently. It’s been around 88, 89, 90 lately.

    “I just need to get it up there a little bit more. It will come eventually.”

    Rosario knows that even if it’s subconscious, the knee is preventing Skulina from letting it rip at full speed.

    “When you have a knee problem on the front side, you’re going to be a little bit afraid to land and put all that weight on the front leg and let the ball go,” Rosario said. “It’s tough for him to deal with all of that at the same time he’s throwing. I saw him up to 95, 96 last year.”

    The outing on May 17 is still surreal to Skulina. It was the eighth no-hitter in the Cougars’ history, and a snapshot of what Skulina can do when everything is working for him.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    In other words you are wrong Mauricio. Skulina does not throw 88, his manager says He can throw mid to upper 90's and has a plus slider. He got hurt and is having trouble with the knee this year, is that so hard to understand? I don't get why you guys just refuse to acknowledge this fact?

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    The Cubs also signed Skulina in the 4th round just last year and gave him double the slot value, which is a good indication of what they think of him, so to give up on him because he is dealing with tendinitis in his knee just completely unfair and not good information in my opinion.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I don't have a horse in this race, but I seem to remember a post from Mauricio a few weeks back (or maybe months back) saying that the biggest concern with Skulina was a variance in arm slot between his fastball and breaking pitches. If that is the case, it would stand to reason that Skulina can get away with that now with great numbers, but is expected to get hammered as he moves up the ranks.

  • In reply to MKE cubs:

    No, Mauricio specifically said that he is much lower on him because his FB is 88 MPH. It's not, as the above article indicates he can rip it at 95-96 but is dealing with a knee issue. It's also why his slider is probably losing some bite right now...and yet he is still pitching decent, learning to spot his FB, spot his slider, and developing his curve & changeup. When he heals up in the offseason, he will come back next year throwing mid-90's with a 4 pitch mix, 2 of which are plus pitches (FB, Slider), that's a stud and the Cubs seem to think so as well.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Just saw Skulina last night. 88 MPH all night.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    He is still dealing with the knee!!!! That story was from July 1st! So you don't trust his pitching coach, his manager, and the Cubs organization even though I showed you plain as day that he is still suffering from knee tendinitis and that is why he has lost velocity recently. Wow.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I think we've acknowledged the injury, but I don't think we can blame all this struggles on the knee. He's had some of the same issues he's had since his college days. I like Skulina and I think he will be better when healthy, but he has work to do beyond that as well.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    http://couriernews.suntimes.com/2014/07/01/minor-league-baseball-cougars-feel-incredible-hulking-tyler-skulina-mound/

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Sorry for the double post, i thought t got caught in the spam filter.

  • Very interesting article. It does not look to bright down the road with arms. We will have to go out and trade or sign 2-3 arms.
    I would be curious if we have a future closer in the mix.

  • Ramirez, Rondon are both solid possibilities. Vizcaino & Rivero are close and have the stuff to be closers....and if C.J. Edwards doesn't start in the long run if his frame can't handle it, then with his stuff he could be the Cubs version of Mariano Rivera in the dynasty years....a shutdown closer, but he could still very well end up a starter.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I think Edwards has a frame like Pedro Martinez.

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I can see that........maybe a little like a combo of Ramon Martinez and Pedro ?

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Given he's had TJ already, I expect the F.O. to be very careful about Rondon. Maybe think Shark. This is his first time as a closer. Let's give it at least this year and next.

    Mauricio or John?? Thoughts?? Are they leery of both Ramirez and Rondon holding up as starters??

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    We are talking about closers, where did you get starters from?

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    My answer was to the question above me to WTNY where he asked about closers and I clearly said closers in my answer.

  • Jackson, the pitcher who rebounds... Lol.

    I am sorry, i know i shouldn't start this again, but anyone who was betting on ejax rebounding has to admit they were wrong.

    I am really anti-jackson. Anyone in AAA can give you 3-5 innings with 3-5 ER...

    Move him to the pen.

  • In reply to Csanad:

    I admit I was wrong. He's getting into Marmol territory for me - dragging down the team. Get him outta here.

  • Off-thread topic...Interesting night in the minors as most of the top prospects are out.

    Iowa has a double header and Baez and Bryant are both out (I assume at the futures game).

    Soler gets the night off in Tennessee, but pinch hits (with a double, unsurprisingly, as its his 9th double of 17 AA hits). He then is pinch run for....the strategy appears to be giving him about every 3rd or 4th game off totally off except for a pinch hitting possibility.

    Almora gets the night off in Daytona. He has cooled off lately and this may just be a rest day.

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    Get rid of "to the pen" and you nailed it. Move him.

  • In reply to Robert Fluegel:

    Nobody's gonna take hi, unless cubs eat salary. He can still pitch 1 or 2 decent innings before the wheels start to fall off. Would be a better (albeit more expensive) longman than Villanueva

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    This is off subject but I was wondering if anyone here knows if and what network is carring the Future Games tomorrow?

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    In reply to RClax3:

    MLB network at 4 pm Central. Kinda of sets up perfect as World Cup final and Cubs game should be over.

  • Off topic... A nice recap of an interesting game Friday at Kane County.

    http://couriernews.suntimes.com/2014/07/12/baseball-ben-carhart-revs-home-run-engine-cougars-win-beloit/

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    Love to see you continue to discount Black. One thing I have learned about him is that he feeds off of people that say he can't make it, which why I am sure that he will. He continues to succeed while you continue to doubt that he will be a starter. Which starter between Black, Johnson, and Edwards continues to perform and take the ball every time out????

  • In reply to Richard Madsen:

    I basically said he's a major league pitcher that can possibly pitch in high leverage situations. I fail to see how that's me counting him out.

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    I hope the FO continues to be smart in acquiring SP from other teams in trade and FA.

    We have shutdown relief pitching for days and days IMO, but not many starters. Black, CJ, Viz can all be elite RP, but I don't see starters.

    I like Tseng and maybe Clifton. I hope they can develop.

    I hope Pierce woks out, cause everyone else is probably 3-4 years away. The current draft class kids might be more.

    I think Underwood is a tease. He will occasionally strike out 8 in 4 innings but I think he would be very lucky to become a poor man's EJax.

  • You forgot about Eric Jokisch. Kid can pitch, getting better.

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    I agree on Jokisch. Great article. I would love for them to get rid of Edwin Jackson. They have lots of guys to try out now. Would like to see what Fujikawa can do in relief. How's Edwards doing?

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