At 2-8 the Daytona Cubs have struggled out of the gate after much of the roster from last year has moved up to the Tennessee Smokies the Double A Affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Taylor Scott has been one to watch this year. In his first start of the season he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Scott allowed just two singles over his seven innings of work, walked one and struck out two.
The Cubs are led by five players that spent time with the Kane County Cougars the Low A Affiliate of the Chicago Cubs this past season. These five players include Albert Almora, Bijan Rademacher, Gioskar Amaya, Marco Hernandez and Chen. Rademacher leads the way for the club registering 10 hits in his first seven games good for a .435 batting average. Rademacher split time between the cougars and cubs and seems to be an early candidate for a promotion later on in the season. Almora has shown great plate discipline through his first 40 at bats only striking out twice while having five extra base hits. If he can stay healthy throughout out the year we could see him at Tennessee by July.
Dan Vogelbach and Rock Shoulders two former Kane County Cougars have struggled early on registering .156 and .132 batting averages respectfully. As with before it’s very early only 10 games in but Shoulders already has struck out 14 times in 32 at bats which is concerning.
Everyone is talking about the possible bullpen piece in Arodys Vizcaino who is a former top prospect with the Atlanta Braves. Vizcaino dealt with injuries last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. So far through four innings of work he’s registered a 2.25 earned run average which is very encouraging as long as his health stays intact. Zach Cates and Andrew McKirahan have combined to pitch 11 and 1/3 innings of shutout baseball through six appearances out of the bullpen. Another impressive stat is their combined strikeout to walk ratio of 12 to 1 which is incredible.
Felix Pena has been the standout pitcher on the Daytona staff so far pitching to a 1.50 earned run average over his first two starts. He has pitched 12 innings only allowing eight hits and one walk to combine for a WHIP below 1 at 0.75. Pena’s strikeout to walk ratio is 8 to 1 and he’s poised for a big season with the chance to possibly move up to Tennessee in August.
As the season develops we’ll see a lot of movement between Kane County and Daytona as a lot of the young kids will start to develop a name to keep an eye on is Jeimer Candelario. He’s got a lot of potential and at 20 years old is another top cubs prospect. His only problem at the moment is he’s blocked by Kris Bryant at Tennessee and Christian Villanueva at Iowa. The best spot for him is Daytona as it’s a pitchers league. He’ll certainly continue to refine his swing and defense I see him starting next season off at Tennessee if he continues his development.
The Cubs make their first visit to new Yankee Stadium for a short, two game series, before coming home to face the Reds. Let’s just hope the snow melts before then.
Why the Yankees Will Crush The Cubs
The Yankees finally saw their first off-day of the season yesterday, but not before the early-season wear and tear caught up to them. With Mark Teixeira and Brendan Ryan both hitting the disabled list at the beginning of the month, the Bronx Bombers were forced to rely on young players like Yangervis Solarte, Francisco Cervelli, and Dean Anna, along with aging players like Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts for larger than expected roles. After 13 consecutive games, the Yankees barely made it through their latest game without using a pitcher in a position spot. Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts are currently day-to-day with quad tightness and back spasms, while Francisco Cervelli is headed to the disabled list.
The Yankees’ bullpen is also somewhat shaken up after losing their closer David Roberston to the disabled list after the first week of baseball. Shawn Kelley picked up the slack in his absence, but the rest of the depth in the bullpen is highly reliant on young unknown arms. Dellin Betances, David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, Adam Warren, and Cesar Cabral are far cries from the big bullpen names often featured on the Yankees, but they’ve also been managed very efficiently thanks to Joe Girardi.
They’ve dealt with some tough luck in their infield and bullpen during the first few weeks of baseball, but those were also the expected weaknesses of the clubs. The strengths of the Yankees were the new names added to both the lineup and rotation.
The Cubs are unfortunate enough to face the Yankees’ two “new” starters. Masahiro Tanaka became a household name during the offseason, but regardless of his record in Japan, the Japanese pitcher has a lot to prove in the MLB. In his first two starts of the year, Tanaka showed that his splitter and slider translate to strike outs, while his fastball control is good enough to keep his walk rates miniscule. There was once a thought that Tanaka could not be the dominant strike out pitcher that Darvish has become due to his low-90’s fastball, but the consensus has now changed. From what the Yankees have seen from the 25 year old, he could very soon be the ace of their staff. Tanaka will start the first game of the series, and it’ll likely be a tough pill to swallow for fans hoping that the right-hander would end up in Chicago this January.
After Tanaka, the Cubs get to face the Yankees’ best starting pitcher thus far, Michael Pineda. Pineda was obviously a household name just a couple of years ago with the Mariners, but his 2 year absence from a shoulder surgery stifled most expectations in New York and around the league. Pineda returned this season with a mid 90’s fastball, his wipeout slider, and a new and improved change up. Even with the Yankees limiting his pitches, Pineda went 6.0 innings in both of his starts, and allowed just 2 runs total in his 12.0 total innings against the Blue Jays and Red Sox. Good command and whiffs have brought Pineda’s expectations back up to a possible top rotation pitcher, and the Cubs will likely find it difficult to combat both his slider and impressive new change up.
Offensively, the Yankees’ new hitters have been exactly what they expected and more. Not only have the big names of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran contributed with power and contact, but they’ve already started adapting to the confines of Yankee Stadium. Guys like Kelly Johnson, Brian McCann, Derek Jeter, and Yangervis Solarte have also contributed in unexpected ways.
After a slow start to the season, the combination of pitching and hitting upside on this team powered the Yankees to 3 wins outs of 4 games in their last series against the defending world champion Red Sox. The Yankees are starting to prove to many that they are not only a playoff caliber team, but after some injuries to the Rays and Red Sox, perhaps the favorites to win the AL East. Against a team like the Cubs, the Yankees should have no problem beating up an organization who’s best talent is probably still in the minor leagues.
Scouting Today’s Opposing Starting Pitcher
Tanaka struck out 10 batters in his Yankee Stadium debut last time out against the Orioles, taking a no-decision as he allowed three runs on seven hits. The big blow was a three-run homer off the bat of Jonathan Schoop, coming on a hanging slider.
Tanaka is a right-handed pitcher who throws from a high three-quarter arm slot in a drop-and-drive motion. He throws two fastballs (four-seam, two-seam) usually in the low-90s that top out at 97 mph. He also has a plus 84–88 mph splitter with late downward action, a plus slider in the low to mid-80s, and an occasional curveball.