Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel left his final start before the All-Star break — an important outing against the rival Cardinals — after experiencing tightness in his left hamstring. But it appears he won’t miss a single turn in Chicago’s rotation.
According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, Hammel made it through a successful side session on Saturday afternoon and is lined up to start Tuesday night against the Reds. “It was as close to normal as I could get,” Hammel said of Saturday’s workout.
The 32-year-old owns a superb 2.86 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 105/18 K/BB ratio in 103 2/3 total innings this season for the Cubs. He’s been a bargain so far on a two-year, $20 million free agent deal.
Update (9:39 PM EST): It’s over. Pierzynski, leading off the eighth inning, ripped a single into right field, exacting revenge for getting hit with a pitch earlier in the game.
Update (9:27 PM EST): Lester struck out Markakis and Jonny Gomes consecutively, then got Chris Johnson to ground out to third base to get through the seventh inning without issue. On to the eighth. Lester is at 97 pitches.
Cubs starter Jon Lester can thank a friendly Turner Field scorer for his ongoing no-hit bid against the Braves on Saturday night in Atlanta. As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the official scorer changed a first-inning hit by Nick Markakis to an error on third baseman Kris Bryant.
Lester has hit a batter (A.J. Pierzynski) and issued a walk while striking out five in his six innings of work.
The Cubs have given Lester two runs of support on RBI singles by Anthony Rizzo in the third inning and by Starlin Castro in the fourth.
We’ll keep you posted as Lester goes into the final third of the game in an attempt to complete the no-hitter. If he’s able to complete it, it would be the second of his career. His first came on May 19, 2008 when he was a member of the Red Sox facing the Royals.
Filling in for the injured Miguel Montero, Kyle Schwarber had three hits Friday in his return to the majors, but he also committed two errors in the Cubs’ 4-2 loss to the Braves.
Schwarber’s first error came a Nick Markakis steal in the bottom of the first, with his throw going to the outfield and allowing Markakis to take third. It was just Markakis’s second steal attempt in 89 games this season. He came around to score on Kelly Johnson’s single.
The other error came on catcher’s interference in the sixth, allowing Johnson to reach. Johnson didn’t go on to score.
Of course, the Cubs well know than Schwarber’s bat is well ahead of his glove. He had more than a third of the Cubs’ seven hits on the night, including their lone extra-base hit, a double off Julio Teheran in the fifth. Unfortunately, that came immediately after Dexter Fowler grounded into a double play, leaving no one on base.
The Cubs don’t believe Schwarber is ready to be an everyday catcher right now, which is why they’re carrying three backstops in Montero’s absence. However, they also haven’t given Schwarber a single inning in the outfield at any level this year, suggesting that Schwarber won’t contribute as more than a pinch-hitter when he doesn’t start at catcher. They still might want to change their minds about that one and start having Schwarber work out in left. If could take away from his practice time behind the plate, but Schwarber’s bat can be a big help to the team this year, even after Montero returns.
Phillies prospect and No. 7 pick in last year’s draft Aaron Nola is headed to the big leagues and will make his MLB debut Tuesday against the Rays in Philadelphia.
Nola was billed as being close to MLB-ready coming out of LSU and has pitched well in the minors, but it’s interesting timing considering he had a clunker of a start last time out at Triple-A. He failed to make it out of the fourth inning, allowing six runs.
Prior to that ugly outing Nola had a 2.03 ERA and 89/16 K/BB ratio in 106 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this year. Nola projects as a potential mid-rotation starter with excellent command. He’s the fourth 2014 first-round pick to reach the majors after Brandon Finnegan (17th pick, Royals), Carlos Rodon (3rd pick, White Sox), and Kyle Schwarber (4th pick, Cubs).
Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports that the Cubs are calling up catcher prospect Kyle Schwarber from Triple-A for his second taste of the big leagues. Chicago’s starting catcher Miguel Montero suffered a thumb injury before the All-Star break and could miss extended time.
Schwarber was up for a brief stint last month, hitting .364 in six games before a pre-planned return to the minors. Now he’s back again after hitting .333 with a 1.036 OPS in 17 games at Triple-A. He previously hit .320 with a 1.017 OPS in 58 games at Double-A and has a lifetime .333 batting average and 1.042 OPS in 147 total games in the minors.
Schwarber was the No. 4 pick in the 2014 draft and ranked as a consensus top-25 prospect coming into the season. He has MVP-caliber potential offensively, although with Miguel Montero signed through 2017 it’s unclear if Schwarber’s long-term home will be at catcher or elsewhere.