Bulls

Ridin' A Rebel To Victory

Ridin' A Rebel To Victory

Sunday April 24, 2011
Posted: 5:15
CUBSTennessee AA
Rebel Ridling is heating up. The big first baseman with the perfect name for playing in the South came through again for Tennessee on Sunday, collecting three hits and smacking the game-winning homer in a 4-3 victory at Jacksonville.

Ridlings solo homer in the eighth inning was the difference, capping a big day for the slugger. He extended his hitting streak to five games, scored twice and pushed his batting average to .404, which places him near the top of the Southern League.

Ryan Flaherty added a pair of hits while Matt Spencer drove in a pair. Marco Carillo pitched two scoreless innings to earn the victory and improve to 3-0.
Daytona A
The Cubs ran their winning streak to six games Sunday afternoon, taking care of Dunedin, 5-3, with a late offensive burst at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

Daytona scored three times in the seventh and eighth innings. Evan Crawfords bunt single and Junior Lake fielders choice plated runs in the seventh while Jae-Hoon Ha connected for his third homer of the season in the eighth inning. Crawford finished with three hits as the Cubs matched their season-opening six-game winning streak.

Kevin Rhoderick was the beneficiary of the late surge, earning his second victory after tossing three shutout innings.
Iowa AAA
The I-Cubs managed only three hits and dropped a 7-1 decision to Memphis at AutoZone Park. Thomas Diamond 0-2 took the loss, allowing six runs in three innings. Lou Montanez was 1-for-4 and is hitting .407.
WHITE SOX Charlotte AAA
The Knights losing streak reached three games Sunday afternoon as they were trounced by visiting Gwinnett County, 12-1.

The Braves scored six ninth-inning runs to pad their lead. They collected 13 hits off four Charlotte pitchers with starter Gaby Hernandez 0-3 taking the loss after allowing five runs in five innings. Hernandez served up two homers and saw his ERA move to 12.75.

Lastings Milledge was 2-for-4 and Jordan Danks drove in the lone Knights run.
Winston-Salem A
Justin Collop spent all of last season in the starting rotation at Kannapolis. He had been coming out of the pen over the first three weeks of this season with mixed results before making his first start of the year on Sunday against Wilmington. It did not go well for Collop, who was hit hard in an 11-10 loss at BB&T Ballpark.

Collop allowed seven runs on six hits over three innings, putting the Dash in a hole from which they could not extricate themselves. The Winston-Salem bullpen was equally shaky and the Dash, despite a big rally, couldnt complete their comeback.

Nick Ciolli had three hits, including a homer and an RBI. Austin Yount added two hits, including a homer, and two RBIs while Ian Gac connected for his seventh homer of the year.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

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USA TODAY

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

If you haven't heard, Neil Funk is cutting 20 road games from his 2018-19 Bulls' play-by-play schedule.

Friday, the Bulls announced that Adam Amin, Andy Demetra and Kyle Draper will fill in for Funk for the first five of those games.

Amin, a play-by-play commentator for ESPN, will games on Oct. 22 against the Mavericks and Nov. 14 against the Celtics. He grew up in Addison, resides in Chicago and also does play-by-play for Bears preseason games.

Demetra is from Oak Brook and currently is the play-by-play broadcaster for Georgia Tech basketball and football. He will call games on Oct. 26 against the Hornets and Oct. 27 against the Hawks. He has previous play-by-play experience with the SEC Network, Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports South.

Draper will call the Bulls' Nov. 7 game against the Pelicans. He is the Celtics' pregame and postgame host for NBC Sports Boston and an occasional play-by-play annoucer and sideline reporter for the Celtics.

The Bulls said they will continue providing updates on substitute broadcasters as they are scheduled.

2019 encore for Jesse Chavez?

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USA TODAY

2019 encore for Jesse Chavez?

On July 15, Brandon Morrow recorded his 22nd save of the season with a scoreless inning in San Diego. It wound up being the last time he pitched in a game for the Cubs in 2018. 

Four days later, during the All-Star break, the Cubs made a move to bolster their bullpen, acquiring Jesse Chavez from the Rangers in exchange for minor league hurler Tyler Thomas. It wasn’t even the biggest trade they’d make with the Rangers that month – a little over a week later they dealt for Cole Hamels. 

Despite pitching nearly half the innings, Chavez was almost as valuable as Hamels.

2018 with Cubs IP fWAR
Jesse Chavez 39.0 1.1
Cole Hamels 76.1 1.5

Chavez made his Cubs debut on July 21; from July 21 through the end of the season, 187 pitchers tossed at least 30 innings. 185 of them had a higher ERA than Chavez, while 184 of them allowed more baserunners per 9 innings.

Best ERA, July 21-end of season

(minimum 30 innings) IP ERA
Blake Treinen 32.1 0.56
Jesse Chavez 39.0 1.15
Blake Snell 61.2 1.17
Trevor Bauer 35.0 1.29
Trevor Williams 71.2 1.38
Robert Stock 36.0 1.50

Fewest baserunners per 9 innings, July 32-end of season

(minimum 30 innings) IP BR/9 IP
Blake Treinen 32.1 5.85
Blake Snell 61.2 7.15
Jesse Chavez 39.0 7.15
Jacob deGrom 93.2 7.49
Scott Oberg 30.2 7.63
Josh Hader 33.1 7.83

But how did Chavez transform into one of Joe Maddon’s best bullpen arms down the stretch?  According to Chavez, his own transformation started on Mother’s Day.

Chavez entered a game in Houston with a 5.48 ERA in a dozen appearances, but pitched three innings with no hits, no walks and four strikeouts. From that point through the end of the season, he posted a 1.70 ERA and 0.892 WHIP. 

Chavez points to a change in arm slot which resulted in better consistency and a slight jump in velocity. A glance at his release point charts show that consistency, and he added roughly one mile an hour to his fastball.

"It's kept me more consistent in the zone," Chavez said. "Things have been sharper, velocity has been a lot sharper. I was huffing and puffing trying to get a 92 (mph fastball) out there and it wasn't coming.

"Next thing you know, I dropped it and it's right there, and I'm like, 'something's wrong here.' But I just took it and ran with it."

Jesse Chavez 2018 four-seam fastball velocity

  Average Max
Prior to May 13 92.6 mph 94.6 mph
May 13 on 93.6 mph 95.7 mph

Can Chavez be valuable in 2019?  The 35-year old reliever posted the best ERA (2.55), WHIP (1.059) and walk rate (4.5% - nearly two percent better than his previous best) in 2018, and he continued to get better as the season went on. 

He’s a former starter who can pitch multiple innings if needed, and that’s a valuable thing - especially for a manager like Joe Maddon, who uses his pitchers in a variety of ways. It’s unlikely he’ll have a second consecutive career year.

But he’ll likely be well worth the price tag; he only made $1 million in 2018, and even with a slight raise he should be very affordable. There’s definitely room in Maddon’s bullpen for a pitcher like Chavez.