Chris Bosio joined Bruce Levine and Wayne Randazzo during Inside the Clubhouse (670 The Score) Saturday morning. The always candid Cubs pitching coach discussed the young roster, Tsuyoshi Wada, Kyle Hendricks, Jacob Turner, Hector Rondon and the challenge of shuffling a rather large pitching staff over the final month of the season.
The Cubs pen has been one of the bright spots for the team this season. Chris Bosio alluded to the Cubs adding a lefty to the pen in the off-season along with another power arm. And moving Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez out of the bullpen and back into starting roles does not appear to be in the Cubs plans right now. The Cubs like having Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez and Pedro Strop in the backend setting up Hector Rondon.
On how he, Rick Renteria and the coaching staff keep an even keel with the ups and down and wins and losses the Cubs are going through right now
“Well, you just try to have a really clear understanding of what you have. This is probably the youngest team that we’ve had here in Chicago since I’ve been here, actually probably since I’ve been coaching. I’ve never seen a group this young and obviously the loss of [Anthony] Rizzo and [Starlin] Castro has even made us younger. But, you know try to find a silver lining in that you are giving these guys an opportunity to play going into Spring Training for next year. You just try to evaluate and try to help and move on every day and prepare every day that’s all you can really do. These guys are going out there, they are really trying to do their best, but some guys are capable and some guys aren’t that’s the bottom line.”
On how Tsuyoshi Wada and Kyle Hendricks have pitched this season and how they factor into next year’s plans
“Well, [Tsuyoshi] Wada is right around a six-inning guy. He’s an 18-out pitcher. He’s had really good moments and he’s had moments not so good. Kyle Hendricks has been a little more consistent. He’s got a little better repertoire to change speeds, pitch to the illusion of fastballs, a lot of moving parts on his fastball and he’s tough to pick-up. We picked up Dan Straily in the Oakland trade. Right now he’s pitching out of the bullpen because we’ve got nine other guys that we are trying to get looks on and that in itself is a battle. Trying to schedule these guys on a five-day program, but at the same time give them looks. But that’s my job is trying to prepare them for those games and at the same time get looks from these guys. There’s Eric Jokisch, Edwin Jackson is going to be coming back from an arm injury. Trying to get Travis Wood back on track after a miserable year for himself as well. Trying to keep Jake Arrieta sharp and then the young Jacob Turner, we picked up off the waiver wire, is actually throwing the ball pretty good and shown some good improvement. I know the results a lot of times do not tell a whole story. But that’s a lot of names, a lot of names to factor. It’s interesting because you are trying to see these guys on a daily basis to see how they pitch and this is an unusual situation because most of them work on five-day programs and they are not having five-day programs. You find out a lot about pitchers and what they can do or what they can’t do to prepare themselves for the game. It’s an evaluation, an ongoing evaluation every day, that’s how me and the coaching staff and Rick [Renteria] here are going about this whole thing.”
On the young power arms in the bullpen and why the Cubs haven’t tried Neil Ramirez as a starter this season
“Well, we’ve had some issues in our bullpen the last couple of years and [Neil] Ramirez and [Justin] Grimm both were starters in Iowa last year when they first made the trade. Because our bullpen, what we feel is getting better, has a chance to be a very powerful bullpen moving forward with [Hector] Rondon and [Pedro] Strop and Ramirez and Grimm, they want to keep those guys there, maybe add another piece so we don’t have to try to find an arm to replace Ramirez because arms like that are just not easy to find to put in to the seventh or eighth inning. What I mean by that is Grimm, Ramirez and Strop are all interchangeable parts that can pitch in that seventh or eighth and if [Hector] Rondon is down we can use Ramirez to close. Not a lot of clubs in baseball can do that. The clubs that you can find that can do that are the playoff teams. So we feel like right now our bullpen is pretty close to where we want it. If we can add one more legitimate lefty and another power arm we are really going to have something special.”
On Hector Rondon and the season he’s had
“To me that is probably one of the best stories on our team. Bruce you’ve covered us pretty closely the past couple of years, for a Rule 5 guy to come into a Major League team, and some people use the word hid, to protect him and his arm. To move into somewhat of a closer’s role at the end of last year and then to get back into the seventh or eighth inning role, I think in the first seven weeks in that role while [Jose] Veras had to iron out some kinks before he moved on, and now closing with 23 saves is unbelievable. And it’s a credit to ‘Ronny’ doing this because we stayed with him, we stayed on him, we got him a routine. Once we started to get the fastball command, tweaked his delivery a little bit, now we start seeing the results of velocity touching 97-98. Once we got the command we knew the slider would come and the shape of the slider and speed of the slider has gotten progressively better. He’s trusted it. We’ve got him to use it in weak counts 2-1, 1-0, counts where he can still have some flexibility and get back to a cutter or a heater, but becoming a pitcher as a closer not a dead-brain heaver as a closer. Rondon has run with this. He’s a smart kid. He’s a strong kid, but he wants it bad. He really does. Out of all my years as a pitching coach this is probably one of the most gratifying guys I’ve worked with because of how far he’s come. Not to stay that Ramirez and Grimm and even Pedro Strop, picking up from Baltimore, [Jake] Arrieta, [Paul] Maholm, [Scott] Feldman, [Jason] Hammel, [Jeff] Samardzija, all of those guys, Travis Wood even, this one is pretty special because it’s a Rule 5 pick and I don’t think everybody fully gets the grasp of a Rule 5 guy. If he started out the year [as the closer] we could be looking at a 35-save guy right now. So, tremendous, tremendous thing that he’s done, it has been really fun to watch evolve.”