Today it’s all about pitching and specifically I’ll touch on the hurlers who are in the news, not for the success that they are having but because of the physical concerns they are dealing with in camp.
Chris Carpenter is back in St. Louis undergoing even more testing regarding his neck injury. Carpenter, who is experiencing pain not only in his neck but also in his upper arm, was originally diagnosed as having an issue with a bulging disc in his neck. However, the most recent round of testing now shows that it’s an issue with his nerves as well. While that on its own sounds scary, it gets even worse when you realize that he has dealt with nerve issues in the past. Honestly, with each passing day this situation continues to get worse. The club is still hopeful that Carpenter will be able to return at some point in April, but count this guy in the ‘I’m very nervous’ group. I don’t think I would draft Carpenter right now, not unless he took a precipitous fall on draft day.
Neftali Feliz should be fine. At least that’s the word coming out of Rangers’ camp. Feliz had to cut short his outing the last time he was on the hill because of some tightness in his shoulder. It seems like a relatively minor thing though as Feliz is set to play long toss on Thursday an if that goes well he will throw a bullpen on Friday. The team was is confident that there is nothing going on with Feliz’s shoulder, in fact the team hasn’t even scheduled an MRI to delve further into the matter. Does all of this make me want to run out and draft Feliz? Of course not. Add in the admission from the team weeks ago that the target for Feliz this year is somewhere in the 140-160 inning level, and you’d be pretty hard pressed to make Feliz anything other than a late round addition to your mixed league staff.
Tim Hudson (back surgery) is still working his way back into shape. Reports continue to be glowing about his recovery though, so unlike many in this article, his outlook is certainly trending in the right direction. Hudson is set to do some throwing on Thursday, an if that goes well he’ll starting throwing batting practice soon. It still seems likely that the veteran will miss the month of April, but there is a very reasonable expectation that he should be good to go just as the calendar moves to the month of May. At this point for the Braves, they might be more concerned with the spotty performance of Jair Jurrjens. I know it’s only four games covering 13.1 innings, but the righty has looked totally lost on the hill. That’s not hyperbole either, he has been pitching like he thought the goal of the game was to let batters hit the ball. Look at some of the numbers that he’s put up thus far: 10.13 ERA, 2.63 WHIP, 25 hits allowed leading to a .403 batting average against. Jurrjens has often dealt with knee issues, his season has ended early each of the last two years because of that situation, but the bigger fear might be that he simply isn’t the pitcher that most people think he is. Two of the last three years Jurrjens has finished with an ERA in the 2′s, but that simply isn’t indicative of the pitcher he actually is. Though he owns a career 3.40 ERA, his xFIP mark is actually 4.22. His career K/9 rate of 6.15 is below the league average. His 3.10 career BB/9 rate is league average. His 1.24 GB/FB rate is about a tenth above the league average. His .251 career batting average against is about 10 points below the league average. Face the facts people. Jurrjens isn’t much better than a league average arm that has somehow been able to post an ERA that is better than his skill set two of the past three years. Also realize that he’s failed to make 25 starts or to throw 160-innings in either of the last two seasons. He’s nothing more than a staff filler, not someone you should be hoping will help to lead your team to ERA greatness.
Carlos Marmol reportedly had cramps in his pitching hand Tuesday causing some concerns to be raised. Turns out the only concerns you should have with Marmol is with his ability to throw strikes. Marmol had an MRI that showed no structural or nerve related damage, an as a result he is hopeful of getting back into game action as soon as Monday. Each of the last five years Marmol has posted a historic K/9 rate of 1at least 11.31, and his batting average against has only been over .175 once. Last year the mark was .205 and it was a 5-year high. How amazing is that? So what’s the problem with Marmol? Look at his BB/9 rate. The last three years he’s walked at least 5.84 batters per nine innings. That’s two an a half batters above the league average. How he’s had the success that he has to this point is a minor miracle due to the fact that his stuff is flat out filthy. At some point though all those walks are going to catch up to Marmol. He simply must do a better job throwing strikes.
Drew Storen has been dealing with strep throat, but that might be the least of his problems. Storen had some issues with â€śtypical pitching sorenessâ€ť early in camp according to the team. What the hell does that mean? Obviously if a team is reporting to the press that there is an issue the chances that the player is just â€śsoreâ€ť makes little sense to me. Gone are the days when guys used to show up to camp out of shape and work their way back into it. Players today train pretty much year round as they realize just how important it is to keep their bodies in shape. If a guy is sore from pitching in camp I’m always a bit nervous. Well, guess what? We’re now learning that Storen had some soreness in his biceps after playing catch on Wednesday. It’s certainly not panic time, yet, but my nervous needle is certainly pointing in the wrong direction. Clearly a closer doesn’t need much game time to get in shape, but when a guy is dealing with arm issues this early, it certainly makes sense to take a cautious approach with a guy.
Antonio Bastardo hasn’t been able to crank up the heater this spring. The explanation that the Phillies are throwing out there is that he’s been suffering from dehydration. Really? Hasn’t Bastardo heard of Gatorade? I don’t know, maybe this story is true, but to me it simply sounds ludicrous. I mean, really. When healthy Bastardo has been a pretty dominant force in his 100.1 innings at the big league level. He’s whiffed 10.32 batters per nine innings, but there are a couple of concerns. First, he may not have a Marmol-like walk rate, but his 3.95 rate per nine for his career isn’t exactly encouraging. Second, he’s given up fly balls on nearly 56 percent of batted balls. That’s a huge total. So far he’s been able to keep the homers somewhat in check â€“ his 0.99 HR/9 rate is fairly standard â€“ but at some point he’s gonna be bit, an potentially hard, but all those fly balls (think Brett Myers and his often up and down performance). Holds will be there for Bastardo, but the ratios will likely climb in 2012.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray’s baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musingscan be located at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account.
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In my last post I discussed a handful of players that I felt were being overvalued in early mock drafts. For those of you who missed it, you can find itÂ here.
After studying the Average Draft Position (ADP) reports fromÂ Mock Draft CentralÂ I have compiled a list of players that I feel are being undervalued throughout standard mixed leagues. Whether it being from injury concerns or a bad 2011 season, the players listed below are being drafted too late in early mock drafts.
Ryan Braun, OF (MIL)–17.63 ADP–In case you were living under a rock for the last few days Braunâ€™s 50-game suspension to start the 2012 season has been overturned. His ADP has gone moved up 10 points since the news was announced and I expect that number to continue to climb. By the time draft season comes along he should be in the top 10, but as of now he is being undervalued.
Kevin Youkilis, 3B (BOS)–84.06 ADP–Injuries have plagued Youkilis each of the last three seasons, but there is still plenty of juice left in the tank. If he can get avoid the disabled-list for an extended period of time, a seventh round pick for a proven veteran could produce a quality return on investment in most fantasy formats.
Jayson Werth, OF (WAS)–96.92 ADP–I am giving Werth a pass for the 2011 season in the fact that he had to adjust to a new ballclub that didnâ€™t have the surrounding cast like he had in Philadelphia. Although I donâ€™t think he will return to full value from when he was with the Phillies, he still has the potential of getting back to 30 homers with an improved ballclub around him.
Adam Wainwright,Â SP (STL)–106.03 ADP–Since Wainwright has yet to pitch since the 2010 season, this is no surprise to see him being drafted outside of the top 100 in early mock drafts. Early reports form Spring Training indicate that Wainwright is on schedule for Opening Day and if he can return to at least 75 percent of what he was when he last pitched, he will be a steal come draft day.
Jason Heyward, OF (ATL)–106.62 ADP–Heyward suffered from the typical sophomore slump that the majority of young players go through following their rookie season. But if you put everything into consideration, he was bound to fail in 2011 in terms of fantasy. He was being drafted way too early in most drafts last season and in order to live up to expectations he wouldâ€™ve had to stay healthy and not suffer any setbacks all season. With that said, this year he will be on the opposite side of the table in the fact that he may be overlooked in fantasy drafts and as an eighth or ninth round pick as of now he should have no problem outdoing his draft position.
Johnny Cueto, SP (CIN)–113.06 ADP–While I donâ€™t expect Cueto to post a sub-3.00 ERA again like in 2011, he is still a better pitcher than his ADP indicates. He has made strides in improving his ERA each of the last three seasons and has also shown a dip in his WHIP as well. His home ballpark does not help his case, but if he continues to induce groundballs instead of going for strikeouts he will be a great investment this season, especially at his current ADP.
Carlos Beltran, OF (STL)–142.26 ADP–Beltran, who is always an injury concern, posted a four-year high in at-bats in 2011 finishing the season with 520 at-bats. Now playing in a more hitter-friendly division Beltran should be able to duplicate his 2011 production, especially in a solid lineup from top to bottom. There is no reason why outfielders likeÂ Nick MarkakisÂ (122.04 ADP) andÂ Peter BourjosÂ (132.36 ADP) should be going ahead of Beltran considering his situation.
David Freese, 3B (STL)–162.36 ADP–Freese has had a hard time staying healthy in his young career, but when he has been on the field he has done nothing but impress. He has plenty of power-upside to become a top 10 third basemen by seasonâ€™s end and in the Cardinals lineup, he will be looked upon to produce in plenty of situations to produce quality fantasy numbers. As long as he can stay on the field there is not a doubt in my mind that he will out produce his current draft position.
Carlos Marmol, RP (CHC)–166.10 ADP–Marmol fell upon few rough patches in 2011, but when you possess the strikeout ability like he does his fantasy stock should be higher than his current position. He is currently being drafted outside of the top 10 at his position and if he can improve his control enough to hold onto the starting job, he is going to be in the top five next year at this time. With that said he is going to give owners a ton of value if he can revert back to his 2010 version.
Kendrys Morales, 1B (LAA)–220.08 ADP–Although Morales has yet to play a game since the middle of the 2010 season, there is a ton of upside at his current draft position if he can get consistent playing time. In 2009, Morales was an MVP candidate after coming out of now where hitting 34 home runs and 108 RBIs with a .306 BA, but hasnâ€™t played a full season since. WithÂ Albert PujolsÂ playing first and a crowded outfield pushingÂ Bobby AbreuÂ to designated hitter, Morales will have to compete with Abreu for playing time. I expect his ADP to go up with a few good Spring Training games, but for now monitor his progress and jump all over him on draft day if he continues to be overlooked.
*All average draft position data courtesy ofÂ Mock Draft CentralÂ as of February 29, 2012.
Matthew Beck is a Fantasy Sports Columnist for Rotoinfo.com. If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail him atÂ email@example.com.Â Also follow him on Twitter @MatthewRBeck for up-to-date Q&A and fantasy information.
Ryan Dempster had one of just five gem starts for Chicago on Wednesday against San Francisco (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Wednesday turned out to be a confluence of events for the Chicago Cubs.
After beating San Francisco 2-1 in an unnecessary bottom of the ninth win, the Cubs have officially completed half of their season.
The team is now 33-48, primarily due to the deficiencies of the starting pitching staff. The offense may not be driving in runners in scoring position, but there is only so much you can do when your pitching staff puts you in a hole of five or six runs before you even make it once through the order.
Sure, there were injuries to begin the year and a lack of suitable replacements for the players that were lost. But the pitchers that didn’t get hurt haven’t exactly been Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee.
Wednesday saw the finest outing of Ryan Dempster’s season even if he didn’t end up with the decision. No one expected it to take half a year before the first “gem” would be had from Dempster.
Maybe it was good karma for finally releasing one of the anchors that had been dragging the SS Chicago down all season.
In case you missed it, Chicago released Doug Davis, he of the 1-7 record and a 62 ERA+, on Wednesday. Not to say that this was the expected performance of Davis with the Cubs back when they pegged him as the best replacement available, but I do believe we told you so.
It is probably safe to say that a lot of people overrated the Cubs pitching staff to begin the year. Looking back now, Chicago is probably saddled with three No. 3-type pitchers, and a couple of guys named Moe at the back of the rotation.
The bullpen has been pretty much as expected. There can be little complaint about Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, or Carlos Marmol — even from Carlos Zambrano. There are rocky points from the late inning guys on every team. In short, no one is perfect (except for maybe Brad Lidge in 2009).
The rest of the staff has filled in when needed, some better than others, and put together an average bullpen, albeit one with a high ERA.
But it is the starting staff that originally taxed the pen and hasn’t really bailed them out since.
And perhaps the biggest issue plauging the Cubs has been the lack of gems like that pitched by Dempster on Wednesday.
Dempster went eight innings and a batter into the ninth, allowing just three hits, walking none and striking out six. When he left the game with the tying run on second base, he had thrown just 83 pitches.
He outpitched Tim Lincecum and almost made fans with long memories forget the horrid start to his season.
That he had this game against on one of the worst offenses in baseball, or that it seems most of his best performances this year have come with an asterisk (read, excuse), is irrelevant.
For one time this year, he was a joy to watch.
It was a game that truly stands out. Earlier in the year, we looked at Zambrano’s Game Scores as a sign that his effectiveness was diminishing, and that he was no longer the ace he was pegged to be so often (He has just 4 of his 17 starts over 60 this year, among the worst seasons in his career).
Game Scores are pretty much the only statistic available to evaluate across pitching starts, and they do a fairly decent job for being such a rough measure.
So far this season, the top five pitching performances for the Cubs are:
April 18, Carlos Zambrano vs. San Diego, 8 IP, 85, W (1-0)
June 29, Ryan Dempster vs. San Francisco, 8 IP, 78, W (2-1)
June 13, Ryan Dempster vs. Milwaukee, 7 IP, 75, W (1-0)
May 4, Carlos Zambrano vs. Los Angeles, 8 IP, 71, W (5-1)
May 31, Carlos Zambrano vs. Houston, 8 IP, 71, L (7-3)
The Cubs have no other game scores in the 70s this season, and 14 in the 60s, with most of those split between Matt Garza and Dempster.
Flashes of brilliance, sure, but only a handful of truly stellar performances.
For comparison, take the contending St. Louis Cardinals, who lost their best pitcher, Adam Wainwright, prior to the season starting.
The staff as a whole hasn’t been great, or much better than the Cubs — they have an ERA+ of 92 compared to the Cubs’ 86.
The difference though has been the starting pitching. St. Louis has had the benefit of almost all of its starts coming from the same five pitchers, but the starts have been better all around.
While the Cubs could assemble just five games with a Game Score higher than 70, the Cardinals have 11, and every primary starter has at least one. The Cardinals also boast three scores greater than 80.
Even the replacements have been solid in the three starts they have had.
Take games below 40 on the Game Score. Cubs’ pitchers have 30 abysmal starts, the Cardinals have just 18 — none from the guys who were just asked to fill in. Try and make a case for why that doesn’t account for at least some of the 10 games between the Cardinals and Cubs in the standings.
And this with arguably the No. 2 guy on the staff prior to the season, Chris Carpenter, having none of the five best starts.
Yes, injuries meant a lot in the grand scheme of why the Cubs pitching has been so bad, but other teams dealt with their losses — possibly even greater ones than the Cubs have had — better.
Unfortunately for Cubs fans, the staff at Wrigley just hasn’t cut it.
Carlos Zambrano breaks a bat over his leg during a game against Houston. His frustrations have started to boil over (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Whatever the price was going to be to sign Albert Pujols this coming off-season, it just went up.
Yes, Pujols was beating up on the Cubs pitching staff. But he wasnâ€™t only hitting the free gifts that the Chicago staff gave him.
Pujols was excelling even when the Cubs tried to give him junk, when they tried to pitch away from him, when they tried to fool him.
This was the Pujols of old, the one that was among the top five hitters in the game for the past decade.
This is the guy that will bring in the big contract.
If you want proof that The Machine is back on track, just look at his game-winning blast off of Jeff Samardzija in the 12th inning Saturday.
Samardzija actually made a great pitch to Pujols, dropping a off-speed pitch down to Pujolsâ€™ ankles on the outside part of the plate.
Pujols reached for the pitch and whacked a drive that would be the envy of most scratch golfers.
That is raw power. That is hitting. That is Albert Pujols.
Star of the series: None
There is no star of the series. No one had three games, or even one game as a starter that you could look back on and say, â€śYes, that guy gave it all.â€ť
Sure, Carlos Zambrano gave his all for seven innings Sunday, and deserved a win that for the second straight start, he was denied by Carlos Marmol.
But then he chose to shoot his mouth off to the media. He couldnâ€™t grin and bear it like he had when the Astros has crushed Marmol for six runs.
He couldnâ€™t even make a joke about it this time.
Instead, he lashed out at his teammates, and that doesnâ€™t make a star. That makes a whiny overpaid pitcher.
The Cubs had another one of those in spring training, and Carlos Silva was shown the door, but not before Aramis Ramirez tried to give him a close up of his knuckles.
Chicago needs a fiery clubhouse leader, but not one that is going to throw his own team under the bus.
Zambrano has a right to be frustrated. No one knows that more than the fans.
Between injuries and a roster that looks like it came from a retirement community, the fans have had plenty to be frustrated about.
But the team doesnâ€™t need one of its own throwing it back in everyoneâ€™s face.
The move has some media members calling for Z to be suspended for the rest of the year, or until the Cubs find someone willing to take him off their hands.
After all, this was supposed to be the kinder, gentler Zambrano this season.
But if the Cubs dump Zambrano, they lose their best pitcher over the last three weeks. They purposely create another hole in the rotation that everyone in management knows that they canâ€™t fill.
No one is under the impression that the Cubs will contend for the rest of the year, but to throw an entire season away isnâ€™t beneficial to the â€śkidsâ€ť on the roster, nor is it fair to the fans who pay a lot of money to watch the â€śTriple-A teamâ€ť that Chicago has been fielding.
Look at the mostly empty ballparks in cities where the fans have given up on their teams.
Wrigley Field might still be a tourist destination and keep the seats looking respectably filled, but it wonâ€™t be long before the scalpers (oh, excuse meâ€¦ ticket brokers) outside the stadium are toting around even bigger stacks of tickets than they already are.
This team needs Zambrano right now. They need him to step up to the microphone before the game against Cincinnati on Monday and admit he was wrong and spoke out in the heat of the moment.
And then he needs to walk to every locker in the place and apologize.
It wonâ€™t happen. But suspending him doesnâ€™t teach him anything, and might even make bigger problems for the team as a whole.
A quick note on: The end of the season
The Cubs entered the series against St. Louis eight games back in the standings. They leave town 11 back, and all signs point to it getting much worse.
The Cardinals look to be back on track, especially if a certain sleeping giant that the Cubs awakened continues to pour it on. Add in Lance Berkman and the Cardinals could be running away with this Division before the All-Star break.
Milwaukee might still have something to say about it, especially after taking three of the first four games against Florida.
But the two teams meet for three games starting June 10, and it is not hard to imagine the Cardinals putting the Brewers far in the rear-view mirror, just as they have the Cubs.
The Cubs had a chance to at least remain within shouting distance.
By all rights, Chicago should have taken at least one of the extra inning games.
But these are the Cubs after all, and no black cats nor fan fingertips were needed to derail this season.
A not-so-quick note on: Mike Quade
I have been more patient than most bloggers with Mike Quade this season.
He may have years of experience on the bench, but you can never quite be ready for that first time with all the weight of the team resting on your shoulders.
He had his chance to get his feet wet last season, and showed that he could at least get the team to respond to him.
Say what you will about late season baseball when a team is effectively eliminated, but the Cubs played well under Quade. They werenâ€™t making mental mistakes. They played smart baseball.
But this season, everything seems to have changed. The smart baseball has been replaced by what looks like dart throwing when it comes to decisions.
Start with the batting order and revolving door lineups that Quade throws on the field each game. How is anyone supposed to get comfortable when their position, or batting spot, or even playing status changes based on which way the wind is blowing when Quade gets out of bed?
The players may be paid to play no matter what the situation, but there is something to be said for a routine, something that the team can count on from day to day.
It means adjusting if things donâ€™t work over time, not if they donâ€™t work for three hours on a Friday afternoon.
And it isnâ€™t just the batting order or the lineups that cause headaches at this point.
It is every aspect of managing the game.
Go back to Saturdayâ€™s final home run and ask the hard question of why Samardzija is out there pitching in the 12th inning.
Why was the bullpen used as if the Cubs had the lead in the later innings? Why was a pitcher who has pitched in mostly low-leverage situations all season (a clear sign that the manager and pitching coach have almost no faith in the guy) thrown out onto the mound with the game on the line and the best hitters on the team coming to the plate?
Why werenâ€™t Pujols and Lance Berkman walked to get to the pitcherâ€™s spot in the order? LaRussa had no more position players on his bench. Shouldnâ€™t arguably the Cubs worst reliever be put in a better position than he was to try and extend the game one more inning?
This is in no way a rant ending with the conclusion that Mike Quade should be fired. That would be as helpful as suspending Zambrano indefinitely.
But he needs to sit down with the coaching staff and decide on the best nine players that should be on the field everyday for the next week.
It doesnâ€™t need to be the highest paid guys. No one would gripe about a decision to let DJ LeMahieu get his cuts for a week at third base.
But it canâ€™t be a process of pulling names out of a hat each day, which seems to be the standard methodology at Clark and Addison.
Smart baseball decisions begin at the top. The Cubs canâ€™t ask for much out of Jim Hendry, but they can ask the guy in the dugout to make better choices.
Series Record: 0-3
Season Record: 23-34
Standing: 5th in the NL Central, 11 games behind the Cardinals.
Thomas Diamond's time in professional ball has been a little rough (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
You can file this under the category of “Things that I wouldn’t be certain about, but look pretty good at this point in time.”
By this I mean that I am pretty certain that Cubs minor-league pitcher Thomas Diamondâ€™s professional career is the metaphorical toast at this point, after being dropped from the Cubsâ€™ 40-man roster to make way for the aged Doug Davis.
In case you missed it, the Cubs called up Davis to start Saturday’s rain-soaked, Fox-required affair against the Giants.
The network mercifully relented after six miserable innings, that had already lasted three hours (appropriately enough, the normal time slot allotted for baseball outside of the marathon Red Sox-Yankees games). That they were forced to play Saturday, and that the rain continued into the morning on Sunday, probably accounted for Sunday’s game being postponed indefinitely (leaving us with just over a game and a half to dissect and essentially raining out the normal series roundup that would accompany the three-game set).
Davis muddled through the weather, pitching effectively given the circumstances. The jury will remain out on the decision to sign him until he begins to see some better weather and a more competent lineup than the injury-filled Giants.
We have already spilled a number of words lamenting the signing of Davis and how desperate the team is in terms of actual pitching prospects (although the Cubs should be lucky that they had the option of Davis rather than only Ramon Ortiz).
Now that he has been called up, the Cubs have essentially locked themselves into keeping him for the entire year as either an injury-replacement in the rotation or the long-relief/6th man.
As for Diamond, he continues to pitch in Triple-A Iowa, and it looks as if nothing has changed.
But by dropping Diamond from the 40-man roster, the Cubs have in essence labeled him as an organizational arm, someone good enough to eat innings at a given level in the minors, but no longer headed for the big leagues.
It is a long way from where Diamond started just seven years ago, as a first-round pick by the Rangers out of the University of New Orleans.
Diamond was part of a trio of pitchers labeled â€śDVDâ€ť by the fan base: John Danks (now with the White Sox), Edison Volquez (Cincinnati) and Diamond.
He was even considered the best prospect of the three, with high strikeout numbers and a low-90s fastball.
â€śAmong the trio, Diamond has the best 1-2 combination of pitchers with a low-90s fastball and a plus changeup, and his breaking ball gets the job done. He has the best body (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) and has been the most dominant (112-36 strikeout-walk ratio in 102 innings, with opponents batting .197 with four homers).â€ť â€“ Jim Callis, Baseball America, June, 2005.
Diamond was powering through the low minors, but late in 2006 began to lose some of the control that Callis raved about. In spring training the next year, he felt the dreaded twinge in the elbow.
Since undergoing Tommy John surgery, Diamond has not been the same pitcher. The velocity is gone off his fastball and in his brief appearance with the Cubs in 2010, he averaged less than 90 mph on his bread and butter pitch.
And the control has never come back. In 2010, he flashed at regaining his form, dropping his walks per nine innings from 7.11 in 2009 between two levels with Texas, to 3.82 with Iowa.
That earned him a cup of coffee with the Cubs, where he struck out 36 in 29 innings over 16 appearances.
It sounds pretty good (especially given the James Russell experiment), except Diamond also walked 18 batters in those same 29 innings.
This season, the strikeout numbers are back where they have always been, but the walks are again on the rise, which made Diamond expendable for a 35-year-old retread.
It is possible to be effective at the Major League level with a high 80s fastball, but a pitcher has to have the control to go along with it. Ryan Dempsterâ€™s average hovers around the 90 mph mark, and he has survived, and even prospered when he hasnâ€™t walked a ton of batters.
In the latter half of his career, Greg Madduxâ€™s fastball was barely 85 mph. He got by with location pitching.
Just this year, Ryan Vogelsong made his return to the majors (and beat the Cubs on Saturday), by redefining himself as a pitcher.
It can be done, and Diamond is just 28-years-old. But the control has consistently been an issue for him, and it doesnâ€™t look like there are any signs of that changing.
Having been dropped from the 40-man roster, Diamond will have to show major improvement, and outperform almost every pitcher in the Cubs system before he will ever see The Show again.
Or he will have to make his change with another club.
Other Moves: The Cubs sent Tyler Colvin back to Iowa to get his head straight. Colvin continues to struggle to hit with the Cubs, derailing his multiple opportunities with the club. Several outlets are reporting that Tony Campana will be called up to replace him… And on the topic of pitchers with arm troubles, Andrew Cashner will have his shoulder MRIed again after experiencing more tightness. As if the Cubs needed more bad news.