About Last Night

Reason # 487 why I love Len & Bob – Don’t know if you caught the game on WGN yesterday, but early in the game, C.B. Bucknor caught two balls off the shoulder in a matter of minutes and was obviously shaken by the experience. Len made the comment that he still needed to jump right back in there and call balls and strikes, which is a tall order. Bob, rather than replying sympathetically like a former catcher may, simply said that under normal circumstances calling balls and strikes is a tall order for Bucknor. Roll on Bob. That’s why I love you.

You Know It’s Coming – Jake Fox played yesterday….Jake Fox homered yesterday. Just saying. That’s my boy.

Questioning the Manager – At the time, it was a little more significant that it ended up being with the final score taken into account, but the Astros intentionally walked Koyie Hill with one out and runners on 2nd & 3rd and a 1 run lead. It seemed odd that you would walk a hitter with an average hovering around .200 to get to the pitcher in hopes of a double play when so often a pitcher strikes out. It all but guaranteed that Fukudome would come to the plate. It seemed like it would be smarter to go right at Hill and Hart in hopes of getting out of the inning without any damage. Agree? Disagree?

I Guess That Answers That Question – As I was watching the game early, I asked myself the question “when do we go with another option in the rotation for Hart?” I guess Hendry was listening to my thoughts and made a move accordingly. My guess is that now Marshall will make the transition back to the rotation, but at this point is that the right move? If you’re just going to move him back to the pen when Lilly comes back, would it be a better option to go with Samardzija or perhaps even getting out of the box and going with someone like Casey Coleman from AA. Just thinking out loud.

Around the division

St. Louis – Lost to the Dodgers, which paved the way for our return to 1st place.

Houston – Released Russ Ortiz after his last beatdown at our hands. Sorry about that, Russ.

Pittsburgh – Thanks for continuing to supply our needs. Always nice to have a store like Wal-Mart available 24 hours a day when we need something. Thanks again.

Cincinnati – Anxious to get rid of Dusty, dude. “I’ve got reason to believe that the Cardinals can’t wait to get their claws into Paul Janish to turn him into a Cy Young winner. I’d throw in Harang too if they’d just take Dusty off our hands.” (Red Hot Mama)

Milwaukee – Still drunk, stupid and trying to keep from free falling. I guess no one will be peeing their pants again this year…or at least not in celebration for a Brewers division title. I guess you have to differentiate sometimes.

News & Notes

  • The Tennessee Smokies, Class AA minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, announce a series of roster moves Thursday. RHP Chris Carpenter has been promoted from High-A Daytona. In a corresponding roster move, RHP Jay Jackson has been sent to Daytona. Jackson was pitching well with the Smokies with a 5-5 record and a 3.70 ERA. His control was a tad spotty, but I’m not sure why moving him down would suddenly help that.
  • Former Cub prospect, and Mark Strickler favorite, Brian Dopirak hit a grand slam and drove in 7 for the Blue Jays farm system. No reason to mention it other than to bring him up.
  • JR Mathes only allowed one run in 7.0 innings pitched
  • Casey Coleman only allowed one run in 6.0 innings pitched
  • Jay Jackson only allowed one run in 5.2 innings pitched
  • Jadel Mendez pitched 6.0 scoreless innings
  • Smaily Borgues was 3-for-4

Top Prospect Tracker

Photo Op

Right-hander Casey Coleman is 10-5 with a 3.26 ERA in 20 starts this season. (Carl Kline/MiLB.com)


Rich Harden vs. Chris Volstad

Harden says all of his first-half day/night, home/road stats are lopsided because of bad mechanics, not because he can’t pitch during the afternoon. The right-hander wasn’t using his legs enough but has figured out his troubles since the All-Star break. He now is 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA since the break, picking up the win in his last start, against the Reds. In that game, Harden gave up one hit — a Joey Votto homer in the first inning — before retiring 16 in a row. Harden struck out eight, and he has 21 strikeouts in three starts since the break. He didn’t walk a batter against the Reds — the second time he’s done that this year.

During the West Coast road trip, Volstad won both of his starts, claiming decisions at San Diego and Los Angeles. However, control has been an issue for the 22-year-old, who walked four in each of those games. In 5 1/3 innings at Los Angeles, he gave up four runs, all in the sixth inning. Home runs remain an issue, as he’s surrendered 21 in 21 starts. Volstad faced the Cubs on April 23 at Wrigley Field, giving up two runs on three hits in seven innings. He wasn’t involved in the decision, but Florida won the game. (MLB.com)

Has an incredibly projectable frame for a major-league starter. Is also a smart pitcher with a great feel for the position. Is still a little too hittable, and he must also improve his strikeout/walk ratio in order to maximize his big-league potential. A quality mid-rotation starter. (TSN.ca)

Carlos Zambrano vs. Burke Badenhop

Zambrano did not get a decision in his last start against the Astros, but did pitch well. He gave up one run on three hits over seven innings, and that one run came on Carlos Lee’s home run. Zambrano did walk four, and struck out four. It was his 13th quality start. He’s now 1-1 with a 2.52 ERA in his last six home games and has recorded a quality start in each of those games. He also has a hit in four of his last six games.

The Marlins have not formally announced a starting pitcher for Saturday’s game against the Cubs, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said it was “highly likely” Burke Badenhop will get the ball against the Cubs. Gonzalez did not officially pencil in Badenhop because he does not know what will happen with the unpredictable weather in South Florida over the next few days. If Badenhop does not throw Friday night, you can almost guarantee he will start Saturday. The right-hander would be making his first appearance since returning from a three-game suspension for hitting Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson with a pitch on July 26. Badenhop won his only start this season after holding the Phillies to one run over five innings on May 27. Left-handers Sean West and Andrew Miller were other potential options to get the start on Aug. 1, but will not as both started in the Minors on July 29. (MLB.com)

Has an ideal frame and a good feel for pitching and a solid repertoire. Can be used as either a starter or reliever. Is a little too hittable when his command is not quite where he wants it to be. Doesn’t strike out a lot of batters because of average stuff. A back-of-the-rotation starter or long reliever. (TSN.ca)

Ryan Dempster vs. Ricky Nolasco

Dempster was rusty in his first outing in 3 1/2 weeks. He had been sidelined with a broken right big toe, suffered July 5, and was going to be limited to 80-85 pitches. He threw 85 exact. But that was over five innings. He gave up six runs on nine hits and struck out three. He just wasn’t sharp, and the problem was location. He has one win in his last seven starts.

Nolasco took a no decision his last time out after holding the Braves to two runs on seven hits over seven innings while striking out five. The right-hander showed toughness on the mound, pitching himself out of several jams. In his next start, the 26-year-old faces the organization that drafted him. Nolasco is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA over three starts against the Cubs for his career. (MLB.com)

Has terrific command of his low-90′s heat, plus he features a strong curveball and good change-up. Is very effective against right-handed hitters. Will occasionally struggle with his mechanics and confidence. Injuries have so far wreaked havoc on his big-league potential. A decent mid-rotation starter. (TSN.ca)

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail