Luis Devers – Picture by Todd Johnson
Today marks the last of our short series looking back at the predictions we made to start the year. We began this week by examining at reliever predictions. Yesterday, we looked at our not so good hitting predictions and today we wrap it up by looking examining how we did when it came to starting pitching.
Heading into the season, we were expecting some big things from some pitchers who did fairly well in the second half of 2021. DJ Herz was the Pitcher of the Year in 2021 and many expected him to pick up right where he left off at South Bend. After getting Pitcher of the Month in August 2021, we were expecting big things from Max Bain as well as Daniel Palencia, who came over in the Andrew Chafin deal.
And let’s get to how we foresaw this year shaking down.
Greg Zumach thought that DJ Herz would repeat as starting Pitcher of the Year. And through the middle of July, he was in contention until he went to Tennessee where he’s had his struggles. Both Greg Huss and I thought that Daniel Palencia would take the system by storm this year. He did at times, but the Cubs really managed his innings quite a bit and when he was on, he was spectacular. Jimmy picked Max Bain and based on how Max ended 2021, no one could really blame Jimmy for making that selection.
However, Luis Devers ran away with the Starting Pitcher of the Year. There’s no doubt in our minds he is going to win that award. Porter Hodge also pitched very well this year and he probably will come in second while Luke Little has just been dominating High A hitters since getting promoted.
Currently, Luis Devers us going to run away with the ERA title. Nobody saw this. We might’ve thought he could’ve had a good year at Myrtle Beach but no one saw him putting up an ERA under one in South Bend in the second half. That’s Jake Arrieta type stuff.
Greg Zumach and myself picked DJ Herz to take the ERA title while Jimmy picked Daniel Palencia and Huss picked Ryan Jensen, who actually finished 2021 very well in Tennessee. No one could’ve foreseen the Cubs stripping him down after less than a month into the season and then putting him on the development list until June.
It looks like Porter Hodge has a lock on this award since DJ Herz went on the development list. This is quite the surprise and I love the fact that he’s getting better as the year goes on. I got to meet Porter up in Appleton and he’s pretty nice kid but he’s just so freaking huge. I don’t think you realize how large of an adult and how wide his shoulder span is until you meet him in person. If he works on building up his lower half this winter, he could be devastating next season.
Heading into the season, the two Gregs wisely picked DJ as he had such a large K/9 rate the year before in Myrtle Beach and they really held him back until June that year. I went with Daniel Palencia and Jimmy went with Max Bain.
This award is coming down to the nitty-gritty and it’s between Richard Gallardo, Chris Clarke, and Luis Devers. As of today, 1.2 innings separate them but Devers is going to get a start in the playoffs and I doubt if Gallardo sees much action unless it’s in long relief. Clarke meanwhile could take the crown as he has 2 regular season starts to go and probably one more in the postseason.
As for our predictions, Greg Zumach (surprisingly) and I went with Max Bain, Huss went with an inspired pack in Jordan Wicks and Jimmy went all in on Ryan Jensen.
Batting Average Against
This was the only pitching prediction we get right as DJ Herz lead all starting pitchers in batting average against with a .170 average. Here’s what Zumach had to say as he is the one who predicted it. In fact I think all his predictions were DJ Herz, naturally.
I’m feeling a repeat winner here with DJ Herz taking the title again in 2022. He was lethal last season with only two consistent pitches and he’s made huge strides to get his curveball to a good place. A .154 BA against feels unsustainable for anyone. Let’s say he holds hitters to a, still stingy, .181 average against him.
Even though DJ struggled at Tennessee, his issue there this year was walks not hits. So, how much tinkering the Cubs do this winter is probably going be minimal in order to just cut down on the walks.
2022 really was the year of the sleeper in all three categories. When we tried to pick the starting pitcher sleeper of the year, we also failed miserably. We did not mention Luis Devers or Porter Hodge. Although, Jimmy did pick Luke Little to win BAA. For this award we picked Chris Clarke, Benjamin Rodriguez (who would be cut), Koen Moreno (who did not have a good year) and Oliver Roque who finally made it to Myrtle Beach this week after an up and down year in Mesa.
We’re going to make predictions again next year.
We are not going to let that stop us from enjoying talking about prospects and trying to see who we think is going to have a big year. This was all in fun and at least we can look at our picks and laugh a little bit and wonder what we were thinking. There’s nothing wrong with our thought process. You just never know what’s going happen in a minor league season.
If we did know, we wouldn’t be writing a blog. We’d be in Vegas, Baby!
We can’t wait to make predictions next spring!