The Chicago Cubs 33 year old rookie, Tsuyoshi Wada, turned in another solid start last night against the Colorado Rockies, allowing one run on five hits in seven innings. It is exciting that Wada pitched well last night but the real prize is what his success means for the Cubs going forward. Wada’s emergence as a legitimate starting pitcher gives the Cubs a formidable trio along with Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks heading into 2015. All three are under team control until at least 2018 and compliment each other very nicely. Arrieta projects as the ace who is entering his prime, Hendricks is the developing rookie and Wada serves as the seasoned vet with more than 10 years of experience (both in Japan & the MLB) under his belt. The last two spots in the rotation would go to Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson through 2016 and by that point the Cubs’ top pitching prospect, CJ Edwards, will be more than ready to join the staff and make an impact.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and call Wada a sure thing just yet, but it is very realistic for him to become a very solid middle-of-the-rotation starter. Wada experienced success yesterday and in his first start for a number of reasons, but none are more prominent than the fact that he, flat out, threw strikes. In both outing Wada was able to get ahead of hitters and found himself in favorable counts more often than not. Between the two starts, he walked two hitters in 12 innings. Wada’s downfall in his second big league start, when he gave up five runs in four innings, was his in ability to get ahead of hitters; Wada walked four in that game. Given his track record, throwing strikes should not be a problem. In the Major Leagues and ‘average’ pitcher walks about three batters per nine innings and Wada was below three BB/9IP each of the nine seasons he spent in Japan, including an impressive 1.9 BB/9IP in 2011.
It is easier said than done, but Greg Maddux proved that hitting your spots can make all the difference in the world. And for the record, Wada’s ERA is 0.75 in starts when he is ‘hitting his spots’.
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