Oh Right, Some Kind Of Preview: Pitchers
Let’s get the hardest part out of the way here. The Cubs bullpen is going to look like the mob-run Clown College from the Simpsons, especially after Carlos Marmol is traded. And if he’s not traded, that probably means he’s back to his Tasmanian Devil delivery and location, with a WHIP somewhere around 3 and your alcohol intake multiplying by a factor of six.
Beyond him? A lot will be riding on Kyuji Fujikawa….or is it Fyuji Kiwijawa? Jyuki Fukijawa? I’m sure I’ll get to all spellings. Cubs fans should have learned about trusting Japanese imports at this point. For every Yu Darvish there’s about four Matsuzaka’s. Japanese pitchers tend to get freaked out by dealing with more power than they’ve ever seen, and start nibbling. That leads to walks, trouble, and incredibly long innings. Fujikawa apparently takes an arsenal and a half to the mound, with about eight pitches. But at some point you’ve got to pick one to get hitters out. Gimmicks only last so long. Reserve judgement.
Dig any deeper and it gets ugly. Michael Bowden and Shawn Camp had nice years last year, but scream that they’re the exact type of relievers who inexplicably have one good year and then return to having whiplash the next. Penciling them in for any type of production is lunacy. Especially Camp, who depends on a slider and those tend to go away fast when they go.
I don’t know how James Russell gets anyone out, other than sheer guts. Guts can only take you so far, Jeff Daniels told me that. It’s best not to look any farther than what we’ve got here. It’ll only make you cry.
It’ll be truly infuriating, because the Cubs might actually get major-league quality starts from their staff, unlike last year. They haven’t been helped by Garza and Baker doing that thing they do where they can’t get out on the field. I really don’t know what Jeff Samardzija is going to be, as we can’t take just one year of starting as gospel. But the signs this spring are encouraging, and I think we can safely say he’ll be good more often than he won’t be.
You’ll see Edwin Jackson’s stuff and wonder why he’s not better. It’s because he tries to be an Axl Rose song with every hitter, throwing every pitch he has every time. Shame, he’s got a good enough fastball to get by with that and not much else, if he can locate it. He’ll get himself in jams he doesn’t have to through walks and hanging breaking pitches that didn’t need to be thrown, but he’ll get himself out of a fair few too.
Scott Feldman most of his spring looking into Arizona’s high sky and praying whatever batted ball he just had sent screaming into the yonder actually came down. I’m going to hope it was just a matter of working out the kinks. But considering the amount of fly balls that Feldman gives up…well, let’s just hope the wind blows in a lot before Garza and maybe Baker get back.
Carlos Villanueva will be just as solid and unspectacular as you’d expect someone as blandly named as Carlos Villanueva would be. Travis Wood pretty much sucks, but he looks like Cooter from the Carny episode of the Simpsons, so he’ll be good for a laugh.
Sadly, there’s no pitching prospect we can wait for to come up halfway through the season to give us hope. Help us, Mark Appel…you’re our only hope.