Max Bain – Picture by Todd Johnson
When Chris Clarke and Max Bain were promoted from South Bend Tennessee, Riley Thompson and Ryan Jensen were placed on the development list by the Smokies. Usually a player spends a week or two working on something and then comes back from the Development List.
This is going to get pretty awkward pretty soon when Thompson and Jensen are done with the development list. The return of Thompson and Jensen, in the wake of last week’s events, now leads to a series of questions.
For Jensen and Thompson, do they push Clarke and Bain back to the bullpen? Might all four stay in the rotation? Is piggybacking an option? Would we see Javier Assad get the bump up to Triple-A? What happens to Remy, who just threw a no-no, and Anderson Espinoza? It’s quite the conundrum as to what’s going to happen to Tennessee’s rotation when the music stops at some point in the next week or so.
Right now, Thompson is not going to be stretched out anytime soon. So, one of Clarke or Bain will be pitching with Thompson. But more of what happens in Tennessee might be determined by what happens in Iowa and what seems to be solidifying in South Bend.
Just to give you a refresher, last Tuesday the Cubs also promoted Cam Sanders to Iowa and brought in Luke Farrell as a starter in Des Moines as well. Down in South Bend, Manny Espinoza and Joe Nahas moved into the rotation. Nothing changed in Myrtle Beach.
This much is certain – Manny Espinoza and Joe Nahas don’t look to be going anywhere in South Bend. Both have been pleasant surprises as piggyback starters. Once they got a chance to start on their own this past week, they put in two of the better performances in the system outside of Remy’s no-hitter.
Combined with DJ Herz, Daniel Palencia, Jordan Wicks, and Kohl Franklin, South Bend is set by shifting Espinoza and Nahas.
On Sunday, Nahas went six innings and allowed one run while striking out four in beating Fort Wayne. The week before, he went six innings in relief and struck out seven and looks to be fully stretched out. Coming off a week where he got married, I’d say things are looking up in the world of Joe Nahas.
For Espinoza, he’s been pitching well all year with a 1.82 ERA. In his last two outings, he’s gone nine innings and struck out 12 while allowing only two runs, his last one being his first start. I would expect more of the same from Espinoza as he continues to improve his curveball which he has been throwing in any count.
When it comes to the rotation at Iowa, Kilian seems locked in along with Matt Swarmer and Cam Sanders. The other two spots currently belong to Matt Dermody and Luke Farrell. The latter positions are not permanent and probably will get shots in Chicago before the former. I wish it would be the other way around. Once those “AAAA” pitchers go up, they rarely come back down. As a result, we could see a Javier Assad or Anderson Espinoza make their way to Des Moines in the next 4 to 6 weeks.
The wild cards in all of these rotation scenarios that are making my head spin is the IL. Yes, the injured list. Jack Patterson is close to returning. Brailyn Marquez and Michael McAvene have yet to appear in a game. Neither have Sam Thoresen, Derek Casey, or Chris Kachmar. This is approaching push pins and string territory for me to try and figure out all the pitching permutations that could go down when two guys come off the Development List.
It’s a lot to take in and a lot of deck chairs to shuffle.
It is almost as if anything is possible.
When Tuesday transactions start rolling in today, we might know some more, we might not.
I would like to see Tennessee decide on two or three pure starters and let the others all work as piggyback types going three to five innings. We have lots of guys who might thrive that way ( including Marquez and Thompson when their time comes), and that could well be the model for the next championship team, which should always be the ultimate goal in these decisions