It is not often that you get to see a pitcher and realize just how special they are. The Cubs have several good ones who were on the mound today. In watching all three of them throw, I kept trying to imagine them doing it in Wrigley. While there can be only one Starting Pitcher of the Day, watching three games to figure out who would be today’s winner was a special treat.
DJ Herz got the afternoon started at South Bend around three central. He was fantastic for four innings as struck out five and held Fort Wayne hitless. In the fifth, the wheels fell off and he loaded the bases and was pulled from the game. All three runners would later score and Herz would be charged with all of them despite his dominance the first four frames. But for a good hour and 15 minutes, I was trying to picture in a Tennessee Smokies jersey.
For Max Bain, I was pretty pumped to see him get promoted earlier in the week. Good for him. And Bain did not look at a place at all tonight pitching in Double-A. His stuff plays there. He did lead off the game with a walk, but then he settled into a groove after a few fly balls that had me wondering how he would do the second time through the order. He struggled a bit and gave up a run in the third and one in the fourth. He got through his debut and I’ll take it. Usually, Max is his own best and worst critic and he’s well aware of what he wants to change the next time he pitches.
Cam Sanders has the best stuff of any Cubs pitcher in the minors. He has an electric fastball, a deadly curve, a new slider, and a plus change. It’s just that he needs to command his arsenal consistently. Tonight he made his Triple-A debuts for Iowa. He went five innings, gave up two hits, and he gave up just one run, which probably should have been uneared. Along the way, Cam struck out nine and walked four in 5.2 innings. He flashed an upper 90s electric fastball and his curveball was just unhittable. As a result, he’s going to be our Starting Pitcher of the Day.
My big takeaway of the night is that Sanders has pretty much slotted himself right in behind Kilian to get to Chicago. There’s no doubt in my mind that if the Cubs can somehow semi-control him, Sanders is going to be pitching in the majors very, very soon. Whether that is as a starter or a long reliever, we don’t have to worry about that right now. He’s just now one phone call away but he would need to be placed on the 40 man to get that done. If the Cubs want that, it shall happen.
Hitter of the Day
Today marks the first time that we have our first back-to-back winner for the year. Yesterday, Yohendrick Pinango hit two HRs in back-to-back ABs to win the award. He hit his 3rd HR in a row in his first AB and added two singles while scoring 3 times in 5 ABs this afternoon. Pinango’s efforts helped lead the Cubs to their tenth win in 11 games.
A special shout out goes to James Triantos who hit his first HR of the year. Hopefully that will loosen him up a little.
Reliever of the Day
This award goes to Jeremiah Estrada as he just carved up the Tin Caps over two innings for South Bend to get the save. Along the way, he struck out four and lowered his ERA to a nice 0.69. Yeah, it’s time for him to go to Tennessee.
I will be back in the morning with The Weekly. You and I have a lot to go over!