First half record: 34-32
The South Bend Cubs, outside of the bullpen, had a pretty stable roster in the first half. They avoided major injuries as well as Covid outbreaks. Most of the position player group that started off the year is still with the team except for Alexander Canario and Matt Mervis who moved up and Ed Howard who was injured. Starting pitchers Max Bain and Chris Clarke moved up to Tennessee along with relievers Jeremiah Estrada, Bailey Horn, Nicholas Padilla, and Dalton Stambaugh.
New blood that came in included Pete Crow-Armstrong, pitchers Riley Martin, Sheldon Reed, Walker Powell, Jake Reindl, Jarod Wright, and, most recently, Adam Laskey. As well, the Cubs had four of their own return from the injured list in Gabriel Jaramillo, Zac Leigh, Yovanny Cruz, and Michael McAvene. So, it’s like a whole new bullpen.
A lot of attention was paid to the performance of the starting rotation in the first half and deservedly so. DJ Herz would be North Side Bound‘s Pitcher of the First Half as he posted a 2.17 ERA and it now actually lower after his first start of the second half. Jordan Wicks continues to work on his arsenal and could breakout in the second half. He’s put together a couple of nice outings in a row now. Kohl Franklin took a while to adjust and has been much netter the more he gets to pitch. Daniel Palencia has flashed a couple of moments of his massive potential as he works on his secondaries while making the June AST.
If there’s an area that South Bend struggled, it was at the plate. They had a lot of young kids and still do on the roster. Fabian Pertuz and Luis Verdugo both had roller coaster first half. After both hit well in April, they sort of bottomed out in May and then they both hit over .300 in June. Matt Mervis destroyed the baseball and was quickly promoted to Tennessee where he is continuing to rake. Pablo Aliendo was up and down to him, but defensively, he was quite the stalwart behind the plate in managing a pitching staff and throwing out base runners. When Yeison Santana came over from Myrtle Beach, he did not stop hitting once he hit northern Indiana. Jake Washer was also quite good at the plate in the first half,
But it was the outfield that proved to be the biggest source of strength, especially since the beginning of May. Owen Caissie and Yohendrick Pinango started to warm up once the weather did and both have not stopped. Jordan Nwogu heated up too before an injury put him on the shelf for two weeks. PCA had a rough first two weeks, missed two weeks, and then just went off last week as he went from .188 to .266 in four games.
Most of these kids (aside from Washer) are 20 and 21 year-olds. They are playing against guys that are 23 and 24 years old who have college experience and right now they are on a roll, or we say in the Dominican, encindido. So kudos go out to Lance Rymel and his staff for keeping them focused on a daily basis on what they needed to do to be ready and to really have short memories as these kids seem to forget about the night before pretty quickly.
Second Half Outlook
DJ Herz and Yohendrick Pinango will probably be in Tennessee within the next few weeks. Aside from that, I think most of these guys are going to be here for at least the next month until after the trade deadline when we might see much more movement. Once the drafted players are signed and all the trades have been made, then we’re going to see a whole lot of change throughout the system
In fact, the August affiliate update might just be the entire list of transactions.
Either way, this team is going to have a lot of young talent who is going to be given the opportunity to compete for a playoff spot in the second half with Beloit and Cedar Rapids as their main rivals. It should be very exciting to see who gets the bump to come to South Bend from Myrtle Beach AND the draft