UPDATE: According to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com, Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode and Double-A Tennessee pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn are also expected to be considered. For what it’s worth, Levine pegs Riggins as the favorite.
7:35 PM: Now that Larry Rothschild is the new pitching coach for the Yankees, Greg Maddux is the obvious sentimental choice among Cubs’ fans as a potential replacement. Just don’t expect it to actually happen.
Both Carrie Muskat of MLB.com and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune report that Maddux, who currently works as an assistant to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, is not considered a candidate. According to Sullivan, Maddux is not looking to get into a full-time coaching position at the moment.
With Maddux out as a possibility, Sullivan writes that minor league pitching coordinator Mark Riggins is “a leading candidate.” Riggins was credited was the development of 2008 first-round pick Andrew Cashner, who posted a 4.80 ERA and 50/30 K/BB ratio over 54 1/3 innings with the Cubs this past season. Muskat reports that Triple-A Iowa pitching coach Mike Mason is another possibility.
Hendry said that he hopes to have a new pitching coach in place shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.
Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.
The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.