The Cubs have to be delighted with the consistent pitching of 3 youngsters this spring – Carlos Marmol, Esmailin Cardidad & James Russell. The trio have combined to give up just one earned run this spring so far, and they appear ready to have a productive 2010 MLB schedule.
Carlos Marmol has pitched 5 innings in 5 appearances. Marmol has had better control for the most part, walking just 3 and giving up just 2 hits in the 5 frames. He has also racked up 8 hits and continues to work on using his breaking pitches more often to keep batters off-guard.
Esmailin Caridad pitched 2 more scoreless innings in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Texas Rangers. He walked one and struck out 3 during the outing. He has pitched a total of 6 1/3 innings this spring, giving up 6 hits and 1 walk, while racking up 6 K’s.
James Russell is emerging as one of the biggest surprises this spring. In Tuesday’s win, Russell didn’t give up a hit in his inning of work and he struck out 2 batters. The big lefty has no thrown 5 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7. He was a long shot to make the club heading into spring, but the way he has pitched, it will be hard for Manager Lou Pinella not to promote him to the major league level at Wrigley Field when camp breaks in April.
I would love to see Russell make the team, especially with the injury to Angel Guzman. We were counting on Guzman to have another productive season for the Cubs, but now with surgery on the horizon, that hope is long-gone. Someone is going to need to emerge as a dependable reliever for Pinella and the Cubs, and it looks like Russell is taking the bull by the horns. Marmol and Cardidad have pretty damn good stuff, so as long as they stay healthy and in command of their pitches, that should go a long way in helping the Cubs stay with the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central race for the early part of the season…