Results tagged ‘ Hector Rondon ’
I’m not even mad. Taijuan Walker put on a pitching clinic last night in what had to be the fastest spring training game in the History of ever. The Cubs couldn’t do much of anything against the young right-hander, and they could only manage six hits in the 3-2 loss. Travis Wood wasn’t terrible, he just couldn’t keep up in the five innings he worked. Wood gave up three runs on five hits, while walking two, and striking out three, his spring ERA sits at 4.19 which is fine. The pen did some work last night, Pedro Strop, Phil Coke, and Hector Rondon combined to work three scoreless innings, giving up one hit while walking two, and striking out four.
You would think a five run lead with Jake Arrieta on the mound would be safe, it almost wasn’t. The Dodgers knocked around Arrieta in the second inning as they scored four times to cut a five run deficit to one. To Arrieta’s credit he battled and was able to work four innings, giving up said four runs on seven hits while walking two, and striking out five. The bullpen did the job today as C.J. Edwards, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, and Joe Ortiz combined to work five scoreless innings, giving up five hits while walking one, and striking out four.
A lot of good swings from the Cubs today as they pounded out thirteen hits while scoring seven times. Chris Coghlan made some loud noises with his bat, he finished the day 1-for-3 with a two-run blast, three RBI, and a run scored. Jorge Soler, and Albert Almora both continued their strong springs this afternoon with two hits each. Almora finished the day 2-for-3 with two doubles, two RBI, and two runs scored, he’s now hitting .353 on the spring. After starting the spring 1-8-1, the Cubs have now won six of seven, and are playing all around better baseball.
In his first chance to impress the new Cubs staff Edwin Jackson was underwhelming to say the least. It was the same old story for Edwin as he couldn’t pitch around mistakes behind him, or mistakes of his own (one error). When it was all said and done Jackson gave up four runs, unearned, in two innings of work, sure they were unearned but he played a big role in that. The better news from the day was Kyle Hendricks throwing the ball very well, and Mike Olt continuing to have the best at bats of any Cubs player so far this Spring. Olt was 1-for-1 on the day with his second spring dinger, an opposite field blast, and a walk which brings his spring total to three in just ten plate appearances. It wasn’t all bad on the mound, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, C.J. Edwards, and Justin Grimm worked a total of four scoreless innings, giving up two hits, no walks, while striking out six.
One of the many bright spots from last year was Hector Rondon, a guy the Cubs essentially got for free (rule 5 draft pick). There was some speculation heading into camp that newly acquired reliever Jason Motte would challenge the incumbent Rondon for the spot, not a chance Maddon says. “He did close last year, didn’t he?” Maddon said “I ended my sentence.” Maddon had more sentences, “Mr. Rondon looks like he’s going to be pretty darn good here, but from my perspective, it’s about high leverage situations. I like to be able to match up. Matchups aren’t necessarily left on left or right on right. Today’s game presents a lot of reverse split-pitchers or neutral guys.
That’s a typical Joe Maddon quote. Match ups, different situations, who has been good, who hasn’t, Joe Maddon 101. I do like hearing that Maddon is committing, as much as he can, to Rondon right off the bat, leave nothing to the imagination and get it out of the way early. There really is no good reason not to, Rondon has absolutely earned the chance to close this upcoming season. Last year saw Rondon explode onto the scene as the Cubs closer, he appeared in 64 games and registered 29 saves. Rondon’s command was outstanding and his velocity was reaching high nineties late in the season as he seemed to get stronger. The 26-year-old had a 4.20 K/BB ratio while sporting a tasty 2.26 FIP, and a 1.5 fWAR, if he comes anywhere close to those numbers this year….yikes.
I think other guys will get chances this year, maybe more so than usual but that’s just Joe Maddon, right now there is no mistaking who the 9th inning guy is.
Solid pitching? Check. Just enough hitting? Check.
It seems simple, but the Cubs have played some solid baseball over the past 90 games (45-45 before tonight), and they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down with their latest win in Cincinnati tonight, their fourth straight. Travis Wood found his 2013 magic against his former employer, he worked six scoreless innings, giving up just two hits, while walking one, and striking out five. The Cubs pen shut, no, slammed the door once again, as Neil Ramirez, Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon were lights out. Wood picked up his eighth win of the season, and Rondon registered his 22nd save of the year.
Offensively the Cubs got started in the first, and that was all they needed. Anthony Rizzo hit an absolute bomb off of Cy Young candidate Johnny Cueto in the first, it was his 30th home run of the season, that’s impressive. Starlin Castro returned from the bereavement list tonight, and picked up right where he left off, he went 2-for-4 in the win. Arismendy Alcantara joined the fun late, as he blasted a two-run shot to give the Cubs some insurance in the seventh.
Get ready for Jorge Soler, he debuts tomorrow!
Note: Anthony Rizzo left the game late with some back tightness, he should be fine.
The Cubs did a lot of things well today, hitting with runners in scoring position was not one of them. The Cubs registered nine hits, took five walks, but were a paltry 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, and left eleven men on base. Solid performances up and down the Cubs pitching staff as well, only allowing one run on four hits.
At the Plate:
- Emilio Bonifacio did well out of the lead off spot today going 2-for-4 with two singles and a stolen base.
- Anthony Rizzo has had a hot start to the spring, he continued that today as he went 2-for-3 with two singles. Rizzo is now five for his last seven, and is hitting .500 in Cactus League play.
- Mike Olt, Logan Watkins, Albert Almora, and Darwin Barney all had one hit in the loss. Almora got the start in center, and Olt started at third, both went 1-for-3.
On the Mound:
- Travis Wood was brilliant today, much like he was all of last year. Wood worked three scoreless innings giving up one hit while striking out three.
- Justin Grimm took the loss as he struggled a bit in the inning he worked. Grimm gave up one run on two hits while walking one, and striking out one.
- Hector Rondon, Chang-Yong Lim, Marcus Hatley, and Tommy Hottovy combined to work four scoreless innings, giving up only one hit while walking one, and striking out three (each pitcher tossed one inning).
Off and not exactly running for the Cubs as they fell to the Diamondbacks this afternoon 5-2 in their Cactus League opener. The star of the show today was the debut of new Cubs Park in Mesa, by everyone’s account it is the best Spring facility there is for the players and fans.
- Jeff Samardzija got the start and was a little too amped up as he walked the first batter of the game on four straight pitches. Samardzija settled down after that, and had a rather solid spring debut against a stout Diamondbacks lineup. Shark worked two scoreless innings giving up two hits while walking one, and striking out two.
- Starlin Castro looked really good at the plate on a day when Cubs hitters were anything but comfortable. On the day, the Cubs had five hits as a team, Castro ended with two of them. He finished the day 2-for-2 with a double, and an RBI.
- Two of the newest members of the Cubs bullpen struggled today, as both Wesley Wright, and Jose Veras were beat up. Wright, who took the loss, worked one inning giving up three runs on two hits while striking out three. Veras worked an inning, giving up two runs on two hits while walking one and striking out one.
- Hector Rondon, and Justin Grimm impressed out of the bullpen today. Grimm touched 97 on the gun while working a scoreless inning. Rondon also worked a scoreless inning, and struck out the side in doing so.
The Cubs will travel to Tempe tomorrow afternoon to take on the Angels beginning at 2:05 PM CST.
Finally, Spring Training is about to begin. The Cubs open their brand new facility in Mesa, and the 2014 Spring schedule tomorrow afternoon against the Diamondbacks. Jeff Samardzija gets the start amid trade rumors that are still swirling given the perceived stalled contract negotiations between him and the Cubs. The Cubs will be opposed by Bronson Arroyo and a power laden D-Backs lineup that was bolstered in the off-season with the acquisition of Mark Trumbo who will play LF for Arizona tomorrow.
Here are the lineups, and the extra pitchers that both teams will be carrying. For the image impaired that are reading, the Cubs plan to use Wesley Wright, Alberto Cabrera, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, Blake Parker, Hector Rondon, and Jose Veras in addition to Shark. The game begins at 2:00 PM CST, and will be televised (!) on WGN.
Carlos Villanueva made his return to the rotation this afternoon and was good but was on a pitch limit, so the Cubs needed a real big effort from their pitchers, and they got it. Villanueva and Hector Rondon each gave up a run today, but other than that the Cubs pitchers were spotless, all seven of them. Oh, except for Kevin Gregg, leading 3-2 in the ninth the Pirates were down to their last strike when Starling Marte launched a game tying solo shot, gut punch. Matt Guerrier came on in relief and gave the Cubs a chance to win and the Cubs did just that. After loading the bases with nobody out Dioner Navarro hit a game winning sacrifice fly to right field, and just like that the Cubs had a series win, their fourth in their last five. Sure this season is lost, but it is nice to see some positive results on the North Side, finally.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
I’ve never been one to call for a managers head, or question a manager openly, unless their first name is Mike, and last name is Quade, that’s not what this is. I’ve played the game, nowhere near the MLB level, and I’ve never been a manager so I cannot relate to what Sveum goes through on a daily basis with one eye on his team, one eye on his future, and one eye on the organizations future, wait, that’s too many eyes, I digress. Sveum has been a popular target on social media, specifically twitter the last week, and really all the season when the Cubs flame out, but rarely receives any credit when he does make the right move and it pays off. Now, I understand that this is usually the case with managers, but it’s worth pointing out that Cubs fans are slowly turning their hate and ire towards Sveum. Last night didn’t help, and it added fuel to the fire of the keeping Shawn Camp decision, more on that later.
I don’t care what word you want to use, disaster, debacle, mismanaged, I think they all apply to last night. After Matt Garza made a successful return to the mound going five scoreless innings giving up one hit while walking three and striking out five he was lifted by Sveum, this was after 82 pitches, and it was the RIGHT move. Sveum screwed up last night, but one of the things he did right was lift Garza, Garza means more to the Cubs healthy with a no decision, then hurt again, and 1-0 on the season. The head scratching came after he lifted Garza. Shawn Camp was warming up in the pen during the fifth inning in case Garza couldn’t get out of some trouble, Garza did get out of the trouble, then Camp sat down. Hector Rondon got up instead and was slated to come in for the sixth, that was the first issue I had. Shawn Camp has been awful this year, Shawn Camp has shown signs of a dead arm this year, you don’t get him up to come in then sit him down, doesn’t work, usually doesn’t. Rondon struggled, which can happen, then Sveum reached a new level of second guessing by bringing in James Russell, arguably the best arm in the pen…. in the sixth. Sure, one could argue that this was a turning point in the game, but what happens after the sixth if Russell gets out of it? Who’s left out of the pen to work the seventh, Camp? The same Camp that just sat down an inning ago? Marmol would probably come in for the seventh, but as you will read Sveum had no intentions of letting Russell get out of the sixth.
Let’s stop there for a second to discuss something else. When Garza’s return to the rotation was announced, last week, Sveum said that Villanueva was going to go to the pen. Okay, given that Garza was on a strict pitch count last night, Sveum had a day or so to figure out what he wanted to do when Garza was lifted, and he was most likely going to be lifted early. So one would think that it would have made perfect sense to bring in Villanueva to not only get through the sixth, but piece together the game and have Villanueva get the ball to the ninth assuming he was effective. But Villanueva was nowhere to be found, and I do understand that he might not have been available, but for argument’s sake I figured I would at least bring it up as another possible option for Sveum in the sixth.
Okay, back to what actually happened last night. So in comes Russell in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and one out to face Pedro Alvarez. I get the lefty/lefty match up thing in a big spot but after Russell walked Alvarez Sveum removed him. The best arm in the pen faced one batter in the sixth and that was it. If you are going to bring Russel in for that situation let him get out of it, or at least attempt to. I don’t care if it’s a righty or lefty at the plate, Russell can get both out, instead he faces one guy, and leaves the game in the same situation as he entered it. Now comes the decision to bring in Shawn Camp with the bases loaded and one out, he gets the first guy, but then is left in to face a lefty in Travis Snider, why? If Russell is being lifted after one hitter because of matchup’s why is Camp being left in the game for an unfavorable matchup? Probably because he was the third pitcher of the inning already. But if this was the most important spot in the game, important enough to use Russell, why wasn’t Fujikawa brought in, or Marmol, both have been better than Camp, and that’s alarming given Marmol’s struggles. Dale completely botched this whole situation as he then was forced to stick with Camp the rest of the inning because no one was left out of the pen if he went to a fourth pitcher in the inning.
So, what could have been done differently? Garza had to come out, no question, I absolutely agree with that move. I’m indifferent on bringing in Rondon in that situation, but I would have went with Marmol, but have a quick hook ready if he can’t find the zone. Ideally, Marmol works the sixth inning, Russell works the seventh, Fujikawa works the eighth, and Gregg closes it out. I don’t see any reason why Rondon HAD to be used, when in the past Sveum has shied away from using him late with a lead, but my biggest complaint is Russell for one hitter, makes no sense. Now, this is the scenario if Villanueva was not available, if he was available then this game was the perfect spot for a former starter easing into the pen. Use him for as long as he is effective then go from there, we’ve already seen our fair share of bullpen disasters, but I think this one could have been avoided with better decision-making from Sveum.
That brings us to the other question, why was Camp still available to be used in the first place? To make room for Garza one pitcher had to be designated for assignment, and that pitcher was Michael Bowden. Bowden was having a solid season on the heels of having a really good finish to 2012, but now the Cubs risk losing him completely, and he’s only 26, why? I can’t really answer that question, and ultimately that decision comes down to the front office. Both Theo and Jed said that all decisions regarding the roster are made with a large input from Dale, so my guess is that he lobbied hard for Camp, and the front office showed faith in their manager and player by keeping Camp around. The Cubs had options here, they could have placed Rondon on the DL with a “middle body” injury to by some time before making a decision, or they could have released Camp who looks done, there is nothing telling me that he is going to bounce back in any way, shape or form. Let’s not forget the only reason the Cubs got him was that he was released by Seattle during spring training the year before. He’s also 37 years old, all of these things just don’t add up in regards to keeping him, so Sveum and the front office have to share the blame on that one, and if I had to guess Camp won’t be on the Cubs by the All-Star break. Been a while since I’ve been able to share my thoughts in this space, felt I needed to after last night, today’s another game, let’s get a win!