The Rundown: Grading Cubs Secondary Pitchers, Free Agent Bargain Bin Contains Features Familiar Faces, 2021 Shortstop Free Agent Class is Ridiculously Good
I’ve been handing out grades to the regular players since the season ended, but today I’ll do secondary starters and middle relievers, then finish off with reserve hitters tomorrow.
Adbert Alzolay, Filthy Back-to-Back Breaking Balls. 😷 pic.twitter.com/UIQjoA3kJU
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 27, 2020
- Tyler Chatwood – He’s gone for now, though he could conceivably come back on smaller deal. The veteran right-hander had 25 strikeouts in 18.2 innings and his 5.30 ERA was offset nicely by a 3.55 FIP. Final Grade: Incomplete
- José Quintana – No one will fault you if you now curse the trade that brought Quintana over from the White Sox, as he never really made the team any better or any worse while pitching for the North Siders. The middling lefty only pitched 10 innings this year, so he lucks out a little since the grade is for 2020 only. Final Grade: Incomplete
- Adbert Alzolay – I believe he is an ace in the making. A nasty new slider brought out the best in Alzolay, as he struck out 15 batters in nine innings over his final two starts while allowing just one earned run each time out. He could be a fantastic addition to the bullpen, but I’d rather see him in the rotation. Final Grade: B+
- Ryan Tepera: The strikeout numbers (13.72 K/9) suggest he can be elite. He also walked 12 batters in 20.1 innings, which will need to come down, and his history of work suggests it will. Final Grade: B
- Rowan Wick: The 27-year-old righty has all the makings of a future closer and he really solidified the back end of the bullpen before getting injured. With 20 punchouts in 17.1 innings against six walks, a 2.67 FIP, 145 ERA+, and a perfect 4-for-4 in save chances, imagine what his numbers might look like over a full season. Final Grade: A
- Kyle Ryan: Expectations were high, but Ryan absolutely bombed. The first year arb-eligible lefty could be non-tendered. A 7.09 FIP won’t help his chances to stick. Final Grade: F
- Duane Underwood Jr. – The 26-year-old righty looks menacing at times but just can’t seem to ever put it all together. While his overall numbers don’t look great, the underlying stats are solid (11.75 K/9 rate, 2.6 BB/9 rate), and a hefty .408 BABIP suggests he pitched through some bad luck. He has two years of team control left and could have an outstanding 2021. Final Grade: C+
- Daniel Winkler – The Effingham, IL native was mostly solid, if wholly unspectacular, but his 5.32 FIP and impossibly low .186 BABIP suggests his 2.95 ERA was a complete mirage. Final Grade: C+
- Jason Adam – I love the 95 mph fastball and the unheralded Adam offers an impressive secondary arsenal (curve, slider, changeup) with elite spin rate to boot. He does follow a similar tendency among his fellow relievers with high strikeout, spin, and walk rates. Final Grade: B+
Cubs News & Notes
- An insane trade suggestion that would net the Cubs outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and his gigantic contract from the Yankees is a great way to start your morning.
- Being named a finalist for Manager of the Year is an accolade that David Ross certainly deserved, given the way he kept the team focused and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In his quest to earn his first Cy Young Award, Yu Darvish is armed with impressive statistics that compare favorably to Trevor Bauer and Jacob deGrom, and may even give Darvish the edge.
- Chicago’s offseason checklist includes starting pitching, an impact bat, bullpen help, and bench depth. Sound familiar?
- There are some intriguing names among the lower-tier free agents that the Cubs might consider pursuing if their asking prices drop far enough, including Brett Gardner, Adam Eaton, Sean Doolittle, Josh Reddick, and old friend Jake Arrieta. They’re all a little long in the tooth, but the Cubs are probably playing for one year only. Wilson Ramos is also available in case the Cubs decide to trade Willson Contreras or Victor Caratini.
- Heck, even former Cubs starter Jason Marquis is intent on making a comeback, though the 40-year-old righty hopes to pitch for Israel in next year’s WBC tournament.
- Next year’s free agent shortstop list includes Javier Báez, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, and Carlos Correa, which is ridiculously good. That said, it may offer an opportunity for the Cubs to work out an extension with Báez.
- Four years later Ben Zobrist is still our hero.
Odds & Sods
Jim Frey and Tony La Russa were a marketing dream back in 1986.
Classic 1986 Busch Beer commercial starring Chicago #WhiteSox manager Tony La Russa & Chicago #Cubs manager Jim Frey! #MLB #Baseball #History pic.twitter.com/2mMXREll0Q
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) November 5, 2020
Members of Boston’s front office reportedly traveled to Puerto Rico to meet with Álex Cora about the team’s managerial opening. Cora managed the Red Sox before being suspended by MLB last winter.
Bauer will reject the Reds’ qualifying offer and enter free agency.
Jon Heyman predicts Bauer will sign with the Giants for $150 million over five years.
The Cy Young finalist could also be a fit for either New York team if he doesn’t re-sign with Cincinnati.
Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has dropped 32 pounds since the start of the 2020 season.
The Sports Illustrated baseball writers offered up their offseason hot takes with trade rumors that include Lindor going to the Yankees for Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier, and Nolan Arenado getting traded to the White Sox.
It’s only been about 10 months since New York beat writers designated Torres as a once-in-a-generation player.
The league and the MLBPA are nearing a decision on Justin Turner, who violated COVID-19 protocols while celebrating the Dodgers World Series victory over the Rays on field with his teammates and their family members.
Jerry Reinsdorf was one of eight league owners to vote against the purchase of the Mets by Steve Cohen.
I have been stuck in a 1980’s time warp lately. I even watched The Karate Kid last night.
The lyrics of "The Waiting" are great, but the guitar tone is one of the finest that I've heard. It just 'hits the note'. It's not Knopfler, Hank Marvin or Harrison – it's Heartbreakers, and perfect. Probably Mike, but I'm not sure. Does anyone know what guitar made that sound? https://t.co/5wrFyATBmm
— MusicMentor (@Music__Mentor) November 5, 2020
Apropos of Nothing
Did anybody else ever do this as a kid?
My friend Terry would stand in my backyard and throw a rubber ball over the roof of my parents’ house, while I tried to hit it with a rock from the front yard while it came sailing over. We’d also throw rocks at bats to watch them dive bomb after them. Fun times.
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins could be the most underrated film of the 80’s. I’m going to watch it tonight, and I’m still shocked the adventure didn’t continue.
They Said It
- “I have no doubt that [Alzolay] can contribute to our team next year. In what role, I don’t know yet. But I think roles are a little bit more fluid in baseball now pitching-wise. It could be as a reliever, starter, multi-inning reliever — who knows. But he’s gonna have an impact on our team. I have no doubt about that.” – Jed Hoyer
Thursday Walk Up Song
Take it On the Run by REO Speedwagon – I’m kinda hooked on the the Netflix series Cobra Kai. I disliked it a great deal at the start, but the Johnny Lawrence character arc is starting to fascinate me.