Tagged: Sean Marshall

Rookie trio strikes chord

r_wells.jpgThree rookie starters — Randy Wells, Vin Mazzaro and Antonio Bastardo — all took giant steps forward Tuesday.

But unlike Mazzaro and Bastardo, who made their big league debuts, Wells continued to gain steam in his fifth start. The Cubs righty took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before surrendering a single to Chipper Jones.

The only downside was the Cubs bullpen letting his seven-inning gem go to waste, as the lead evaporated under the consistently inconsistent closer, Kevin Gregg, leaving Wells winless on the year, at 0-2. This, despite a Zack Greinke-esque stretch in which he’s notched a startling 1.69 era and a 27/7 K/BB ratio since being called up on May 8. In other words, the only thing keeping Wells from being owned everywhere right now are his teammates, something not lost on Cubs management. Word out of Chi-town is that Sean Marshall will be the odd man out once Rich Harden gets healthy — not Wells. So while the 26-year-old Illinois native may have arrived to the The Show late, his timing couldn’t be better, with the Cubs playing well below expectations and looking for all the help they can get. This might be your last chance to snatch up Wells, who is emerging as one of the season’s top surprise arms.

It came as no big surprise that Mazzaro — the third member of Oakland’s holy trinity of pitching prospects that includes Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill — kicked off his Major League career with six scoreless innings against the White Sox. For one, the White Sox lineup was without their biggest bat in Carlos Quentin.  Second, the 22-year-old righty had little left to prove at Triple-A Sacramento, where he put together a 2.38 ERA in 56 2/3 innings, thanks to sound command (44/17 K/BB ratio) and a devastating sinker (2 HR allowed, 1.71 ground-out-to-air-out ratio).  Facing hitters in the upper Minors gives Mazzaro an edge over Anderson and Cahill, who have been forced to learn on the fly in Oakland’s patchwork rotation. Growing pains can be expected along the way, but another few outings like Tuesday could make him a popular waiver-wire target.

Bastardo belongs in the same boat, especially after passing his first test with flying colors by tossing six strong innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball against the Padres.  The Phillies rotation already had issues when Brett Myers was healthy. Now facing the possibility of losing him for the remainder of 2009, the club thinks Bastardo can jumpstart their scuffling staff, and for good reason.  The 23-year-old control artist was extremely effective across two Minor League levels this season, ringing up a 1.82 ERA and 51/10 K/BB ratio in 47 2/3 innings. Granted, a good chunk of that work came at Double-A Reading, so it remains to be seen whether his deceptive tricks will fly in Philly. Questions about his stamina also need to be answered. Still, Tuesday gives reason to believe Bastardo could be take the rotation spot and run with it.

— Alex Cushing, MLB.com