Gimme a break, alright?! I’m just trying to stay positive as Tyler Colvin, Starlin Castro, Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner keep churning out impressive performances. Now I haven’t forgotten that the Cubs are still 10.5 games behind the Cards for 1st place in the NL Central – even after today’s “easy” win. It isn’t pretty, but at least some of the “kids” that we are betting on haven’t let the frustrating season get them down.
Tyler Colvin is clearly showing that he can play any outfield position every day of the season. He led off the game with a home run to start the Cubs attack and he has a hit in 6 of his last 7 games. He’s hitting .263 with a .320 on-base percentage. In just 227 at-bats, he has racked up 14 HR’s, 37 RBI’s and 38 runs scored. Not bad for a guy who didn’t become a starter until the middle of June.
Starlin Castro followed up Colvin’s HR with a single, although he was then erased on Derrek Lee’s double play. He had 2 hits in the win which raised his average back up to an even 300. July has been kind to Castro – he has a hit in 10 of his last 11 games in the month. That includes 3 3-hit games and 4 2-hit games. Simply put – the kid can play and it seems like he has adjusted to other teams’ adjustments to him over the last month or so. After starting off the season red-hot, Castro’s batting average fell all the way down to .255 on June 24th. But he has really turned it around since then and hopes to finish the rest of 2010 strong.
Randy Wells has also turned it around of late. Today, Wells worked 7 scoreless innings, giving up just 5 hits and 3 walks. That makes 4 out of 5 starts in which he has allowed 1 run or less in each start. The other start – he allowed just 3 ER on 6 hits and 1 walk in a solid 7-inning quality start against the Dodgers in L.A. Can’t complain about that at all. After a very slow start, Wells seems to have re-gained his focus. He lowered his WHIP to 1.37 and his ERA to 4.07 and hopes to finish the 2nd half strong to get back to at least 10 wins (he has 5 wins now).
While Andrew Cashner did not pitch today, his numbers have been phenomenal for a rookie pitcher pitching in tense game situations. In 23 2/3 innings in 21 appearances, Cashner has a 2.28 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. He has given up just 6 ER on 19 hits, striking out 17 against 12 walks. More importantly, Cashner has rebounded from an “unlucky” stretch back in June when he suffered losses in 3 consecutive appearances. Now that is pretty tough to do as a reliever, but it never seemed to derail the 23-year old rookie. In fact, since that 3rd loss on June 30th, Cashner has a win and 2 holds in the month of July. He has given up just 5 hits and 3 ER in 10 appearances in July and has become a trusted option for Manager Lou Pinella in late-game situations. You gotta love his toughness.
And we cannot forget about Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol being “relatively young” as well. Marshall threw 2 scoreless innings today, lowering his WHIP to 0.99 and his ERA to 1.78. The guy has been so efficient and reliable this season – he is the team’s best pitcher by far right now. Marmol has had his share of shaky outings – but what closer hasn’t? Marmol has a 2.78 ERA with an acceptable 1.26 WHIP. He has racked up 17 saves, while blowing 4. Most importantly, he has had better control this year than he has had in each of the last 2 seasons. In 45 1/3 innings, Marmol has walked just 33 batters while striking out 85.
Sure, the Cubs are 44-53 and they trails the Cards by 10 games, but there are some nice pieces in the mix. Once we unload a few contracts this season (Silva, Lilly, Lee) maybe we can bring in some fresh blood via free agency during the off-season that will mesh well the young talented core on the North Side. Come on, we can be optimistic, right?!