Jake Reindl – picture by Todd Johnson
Welcome to part three, the final part, of our preseason statistical prediction series. The past two days we’ve looked at hitters and starting pitchers.
Just like the other two posts, it is very hard to select prospects because of their closeness to Chicago. Some, like Zac Leigh, could start off at Tennessee, be in Iowa in May, and in Chicago by August. We just don’t know. As a result, our predictions may be a little wonky and all over the place.
There are a lot of guys to pick from. The main question is, do you go with someone who is more proven and who has a better track record, especially staying healthy. Or, do you pick out someone who could be a breakout in terms of performance.
We have a 25 MiLB inning minimum for rate-based stats.
Let’s get going!
If we are looking at true relievers here, Johzan Oquendo led the way a year ago when he clocked 88 punchies. But the trick here is to not go with a traditional reliever and instead stick with the Riley Martin mold of player where he can go multiple innings each time out. So let’s just roll with Martin. He won’t match the 120 K’s from a year ago, but 95 isn’t out of the question.
Riley! Riley! There’s a few of those to choose from, but it’s Riley Martin who should log a lot of innings and generate strikeouts with a new sweeper slider he debuted last year. I think he finishes with just over hundred (105) in 2023 as he makes his climb towards Wrigley Field.
I’m rolling with Riley Martin from the get-go. When I talked about guys breaking out, Riley really did that last year for the Cubs. He got off to a strong start at Myrtle Beach, then struggled with South Bend for a month, went on the development list, and then was dominant the rest of the year at South Bend, and then one game at Tennessee before a successful trip through the Arizona Fall League. His stuff is just deadly, especially because he hides the ball well when he throws. His curveball has a nice break to it, but his new slider is just vicious. Usually, he throws two or three innings and misses anywhere from 3 to 6 hitters, depending on the day. With that kind of production, he’s my guy.
Zac Leigh is the best relief prospect in the system (if you aren’t counting Jeremiah Estrada, who already made his MLB debut). Leigh likely starts the year closing down games for Tennessee and finishes the year racking up saves for Iowa.
Going to go with a different pick here and that’s Jake Reindl. With all the upwards movement of relievers, I’m guessing we see Reindl lock down a closer role and lead the system with 19 saves.
Sheldon Reed is going to be my guy mainly because of his health. He should start off the year at South Bend and then matriculate to Tennessee by mid-season. 17 saves.
Lowest Batting Average Against
Jake Reindl….I don’t think I, nor his his slider, need to say why here.
I almost went with Bailey Horn here, but I’m not sure he’ll qualify. If Horn is as nasty as advertised he may be in Chicago. This has Reindl written all over it. He finishes with a .167 BAA.
Jake Reindl. Slider. Unhittable. Easy answer. Prediction: .159 average against, which is slightly better than his .161 mark from a year ago.
Strikeouts per 9 Innings
Let’s go with something different here and toss out Zac Leigh. I’ll predict Leigh racks up a 13.9 K/9 before finding himself in Chicago.
I am sensing a theme here from me – Jake Reindl. Just. Plain. Nasty. 15 K/9
I promise you that I want to put someone out of the ordinary in here for my answer. If I had more guts, I would say someone like Brody McCullough. Instead, I’ll stick with Jake Reindl where I think he takes a cut on his strikeouts from last year but just barely.
I think this is the perfect place to slot Bailey Horn into my predictions. A lower ERA than his 2.79 mark is something I expect to happen and I think the lefty builds off the confidence instilled in him by the Cubs when they sent him to the Arizona Fall League last year.
For most hitters, Jake Reindl’s slider is unhittable. Jake’s issue has always been staying healthy and that’s something he’s going to need to do to win the ERA title. If he could pick up right from where his season ended, he’s almost a shoo-in. I will roll with a sub 1.50 ERA.
Jake Reindl had a killer 1.65 ERA and he possesses the ability to severely limit damage. Based on his age, repertoire, and opportunity, I have Reindl with a 1.47 ERA (and a late season appearance in Chicago).