Results tagged ‘ Shawn Camp ’
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The first two weeks of the season were a struggle for the Cubs relief corps. Despite strong efforts from one of the NL’s best rotations in the club’s first 12 games, the bullpen blew four save opportunities, compiled a 5.82 ERA and repeatedly failed to secure victories in winnable games.
But the ‘pen’s performance in the last two weeks is making those early-season woes look like a thing of the past. In the last 13 games, the relievers have compiled a 1.85 ERA, third in the NL during that stretch. Though they still walk too many hitters (9.5 walk percentage, second highest in NL since April 16), the bullpen has found a way to get out of jams, leaving an NL-best 92.4 percent of runners on base.
The Cubs have been in every game this season—all but three have been decided by three runs or fewer and none by more than four—which means a strong bullpen is often the difference between winning and losing. What the team looks to have gained in recent weeks is a “give me the-ball” type finisher. Though manager Dale Sveum has not named a closer and prefers a bullpen-by-committee approach, the North Siders acquired veteran late-innings reliever Kevin Gregg, who was released by the Dodgers at the end of Spring Training. Since making his debut on April 19, Gregg has been lights out, surrendering no earned runs in his first six appearances and racking up four saves.
Despite Opening Day closer Carlos Marmol’s early failures, surrendering five earned runs in his first 1.2 innings pitched, he hasn’t given up a run since April 6. He has still walked eight batters in those nine innings, but he’s managed to miss a lot of bats in that time too, striking out nine.
The most consistent relief pitcher all season has been southpaw James Russell. The 26-year-old has leaned heavily on his 80 mph slider, throwing it 45 percent of the time, while mixing in a fastball and change-up. So far this season, his strikeout totals have improved dramatically. He’s now fanning 10.6 batters per nine, three K/9 better than last season. In 11 innings, he’s walked just one batter and hasn’t given up an earned run. He’s been so effective that his 0.6 wins above replacement (according to fangraphs.com) is tied for the best among relief pitchers in baseball.
To round things out, Shawn Camp looks like he might have rediscovered his 2012 form after struggling early, and waiver pickup Kameron Loe has been reliable in his five innings since being claimed off waivers from Seattle. Though the relievers’ .269 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) might indicate they’re pitching a little above their ability (an average BABIP is around .300), a solid effort from these pitchers all season long could make a big difference in 2013.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Other Pitching Profiles:
Shawn Camp was drafted out of George Mason University in 1997, shortly after converting from a backstop to a pitcher. Following minor league stints with the Padres and the Pirates, he landed his first major league relief position in 2004 with the Royals.
After four inconsistent seasons—two years with the Royals, two with the Devil Rays—Camp signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays prior to the 2008 season. With a changeup newly integrated into his repertoire, the right-hander was recalled soon after Spring Training and contributed to the Blue Jays’ league-best 2.94 team ERA. He was particularly good against righties that season, holding opponents to a .204 batting average and finished the year with a career-high 58 strikeouts across 79.2 innings.
His ERA dropped to 3.50 in 2009 and then to a career-best 2.99 the following season, before ballooning up to 4.21 in his final year in Toronto.
After being released by the Mariners during Spring Training, the 37-year-old Virginian inked a minor league deal with the Cubs in 2012. He pitched 77.2 innings in 80 appearances, accruing a 3-6 record with two saves and a 3.59 ERA. Though this season has been rocky for Camp with 11 hits and eight runs while compiling a 15.43 ERA in 4.2 innings, Dale Sveum appears to have confidence in the veteran, even naming him the club’s closer for a time being this season.
Camp is one of several pitchers profiled in Vine Line’s 2013 Pitching Preview, available in the April issue, on sale now. We’ll be posting pitching profiles throughout the month, so be sure to check back to see what’s in store on the mound for 2013.
Repertoire (Avg. MPH): 4-seam (89), Sinker (88), Change (83), Slider (80)
2012 Stats: 77 IP, 16.5 K%, 5.3 UBB%, 3.59 ERA, 109 ERA+, 1.29 WHIP
Last Season: The Cubs signed the veteran reliever to a minor league deal at the end of March, and he ate up innings in several roles on his way to a 3.59 ERA.
Plan of Attack: Bend or break—nothing straight. Camp splits the difference between sinking pitches to his arm side and sweeping them to the glove side. His change has developed into a solid offering, mimicking his sinker and getting batters to roll it over. Camp did induce the lowest ground-ball percentage of his career (47% from a previous low of 52%), largely due to him doubling the use of his slider at the expense of his sinker and change.
Putaway Pitch: Slider. Because of Camp’s sidearm release, his slider actually “slides” across the plate at an almost purely lateral angle. That makes the pitch tough to barrel and leads to a substantial share of easy flies. It also means that his slider doesn’t get many whiffs. Perhaps most impressive is his ability to throw it on both sides of the plate while keeping it low in the zone.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Baseball is finally back. Pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training this past weekend, and Cubs fans everywhere got a little more excited with the realization that the baseball season is almost here.
To get us back into gear, the February issue of Vine Line previewed the squad heading into Mesa, Ariz. We broke the team down into five categories—starting pitching, relief pitching, infielders, outfielders and catchers—to give fans a clearer picture of what to expect when the Cubs break camp and head to Chicago.
Below is a look at the bullpen. The February issue is on newsstands now, with single issues available by calling 800-618-8377. Or visit the Vine Line page on Cubs.com to subscribe to the magazine.
After a brutal start to the season and a demotion from the closer’s role, Carlos Marmol seemed to be back near peak form by the end of 2012. In 29.2 innings after the All-Star break, Marmol converted 12 of 13 saves, posted a 1.52 ERA and struck out 39 batters. However, there is speculation he may be traded before the season starts, which would open the door for new Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, 32, to assume closing duties. The Japanese import, who has closed in Japan, has a variety of pitches but relies mostly on his low-90s fastball and splitter.
Besides Marmol and Fujikawa, James Russell and Shawn Camp are the only bullpen arms who had strong 2012 seasons. However, relievers are the most inconsistent commodities in baseball, and one can never assume that previous success guarantees the same in the future.
There are several names that could step up in the bullpen. Arodys Vizcaino, acquired from the Braves last season, is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Though the Cubs hope he can be a starter in the long run, he could also help as a reliever this season. Jaye Chapman, who showed his change-up could be a devastating out pitch, was impressive in limited duty toward the end of 2012. Players like Alberto Cabrera, Tony Zych (a 2011 draft pick who drew positive reviews in the Arizona Fall League) and former top prospect Trey McNutt could each surprise and end up as important cogs in the late innings.
Plus, with the Cubs’ surplus of starters, pitchers like Scott Feldman, Carlos Villanueva or Travis Wood could end up spending significant time in the ’pen.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Cubs relievers Shawn Camp and James Russell, and bullpen coach Lester Strode, take some time out from the Cubs Caravan to work on their putting at D’Agostino’s Pizza in Lakeview. At the event, several Cubs players and coaches made pizzas with students from Blaine Elementary School.
Former Cubs reliever and MLB Network analyst Dan Plesac (center) joined Brian Kenny and Tom Verducci for on-site reporting from the Winter Meetings.
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Here are more Dale Sveum dispatches from the sprawling Gaylord Opryland Resort, where the halls have been buzzing on this last full day of the Winter Meetings.
• Sveum made it clear the bullpen is getting attention in the Cubs front office. The team already re-signed Shawn Camp, their lone free agent, and may look to add more.
“Upgrading the ‘pen is something we wanted to do. … Whatever happens from here on out—we’re talking to a lot of people, and hopefully things work out. But [Carlos] Marmol is our closer, and we’ve got to get better at the back end. We signed Shawn Camp back, James Russell, so that’s a start. But we have to get better in that seventh, eighth inning.”
Sveum wouldn’t directly comment on Japanese pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa, though the Cubs’ pursuit of the reliever attracted plenty of Japanese reporters to the manager’s press conference. Fujikawa, a free agent who saved 220 games over 12 years with the Hanshin Tigers, clearly intrigues Sveum.
“I think he can fill any kind of role. He’s got that kind of stuff. Those numbers and that ability to do things with three, four different pitches just doesn’t come around very often. So he can set up, he can close, do anything he wants with the baseball. He’s got four quality pitches and can add and subtract with his fastball. Yeah, I mean, he can pitch in the seventh, pitch in the eighth, pitch in the ninth, he can get left-handers out—so he can pitch in any kind of situation.”
• Sveum spent about a week in Arizona to see Cubs prospects, including highly regarded shortstop Javier Baez, who just turned 20 last week. Many have compared Baez’s bat speed to Gary Sheffield’s.
“Incredible bad speed. Didn’t get to see any results, but the bat speed was pretty good. I didn’t go to his best games. But he had a heck of a minor league season—the combination of the home runs and everything. He was a bigger kid than I thought when I saw him in person. I saw him without a shirt on one day, and I was like, wow, he’s a pretty big kid. But a lot of tremendous, tremendous tools at that age. That kind of bat speed just doesn’t come around at 19 years old.”
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Whether you’re all about the tryptophan-induced football coma or you prefer bowling away the holidays with your family, we’ve got a bonus, Thanksgiving-themed edition of Cubsgrafs for you.
Let’s define a new toy stat—a “turkey”—based on the nickname given when a bowler rolls three strikes in a row. For baseball, we’ll tally a turkey each time a pitcher records a three-pitch strikeout. The results for the 2012 season, limited to Cubs with at least 20 innings, are below.
So who are the Cubs’ 2012 turkey champions? The answers may surprise you.
It turns out three relievers—Scott Maine, Shawn Camp and Alberto Cabrera—stood above the rest with more than 6 percent turkeys per batter faced. But it’s Camp who deserves special recognition for being so efficient with the strikeouts he did rack up. Nearly four out of every 10 of his K’s took the minimum three pitches. It turns out that, while Camp may have been a fair bit below the team’s average strikeout rate, he also had the bullpen’s highest strike percentage (64%). It’s a definite boost for the Cubs that they’ve re-signed Camp for 2013.
Similarly, Travis Wood may have been only average with his strikeout rate, but he established himself as the rotation’s leader in three-pitch K’s. He and fellow lefty Paul Maholm were pretty efficient when they did rack up strikeouts, while the actual K kings Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster were a little less direct to the end goal.
Now, there’s not much reason to think that’s a bad thing. Many times you want a pitcher to bury his secondary offerings and get batters to chase. But for tonight’s feast, we’ll hand out the drumsticks to Camp and Wood and let the rest work their way through some sides first.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs signed their lone free agent, reliever Shawn Camp, to a one-year deal Monday. Camp, who turned 37 over the weekend, returns to the team after going 3-6 with a 3.59 ERA and a pair of saves in 80 relief appearances (77.2 innings) last year.
In 2012, the right-hander recorded a career-high 18 holds and struck out 54 batters, walking just 21. Camp joined the team at the end of Spring Training after being released by the Mariners on March 23. He has a career 28-32 record with 12 saves and a 4.29 ERA in 512 relief appearances with Kansas City (2004-05), Tampa Bay (2006-07), Toronto (2008-11) and the Cubs.
After eight major league seasons with the Royals, Rays and Jays in the American League, right-handed reliever Shawn Camp signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs just before the start of the 2012 season. This year, the veteran has made 74 appearances, tied for the league lead, and provided stability to a young Cubs bullpen. For the September issue of Vine Line, we talked to the 36-year-old hurler about being a leader, pitching every day and playing the percentages. To read the complete interview, pick up the September issue of Vine Line, available now at select Jewel-Osco, Walgreens, Meier, Barnes & Noble and other Chicago-area retailers.
VETERAN PRESENCE I look back when I was a rookie, and there were some guys who were veterans and had put in a lot of time. You just kind of sit back, and if there are things where you feel like you can help out in a positive way, you say something … just being proactive and helping [the younger pitchers] when you can.
SHORT-TERM MEMORY The hardest thing to do when you don’t have success is [having] that short-term memory. It’s something you have to learn to cope with. Sometimes you get lost, and you go out there one night, and you don’t have success. But a lot of guys don’t realize that the next day you may need to go right back out there. You’ve got to be able to let yesterday go—good or bad.
CHANGING THINGS UP I was always a two-pitch pitcher. But if you break it down into percentages and you only have two pitches, the hitter can be up there thinking fastball or slider and have a 50 percent shot by just sitting on one pitch. The change-up is more of an optical illusion to get hitters, especially right-handers, which has gotten me out of key jams. I learned it from Bruce Walton, who was my bullpen coach in Toronto [and pitched four years in the major leagues]. He told me if he could go back, he would have learned how to establish a fastball and change-up from the beginning. It was a grind, and in 2008 I didn’t have success with it, but I carried it over into 2009 and kept working. Today I feel it’s probably one of my better pitches.
FAN APPRECIATION I love it [in Chicago]. The fans are great here. They’re true fans, and they support you either way. A lot of places aren’t like that. They don’t have a short-term memory.
The Cubs take a trip down the Dan Ryan Expressway this week en route to U.S. Cellular Field for the second leg of the BP Crosstown Cup. To add some fuel to Chicago rivalry, we’re breaking down the position-by-position matchups for both teams, starting today with starters and bullpens.
Matt Garza (2-5, 4.04 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 8.3 K/9) vs. Zach Stewart (1-1, 5.18 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 5.55 K/9)
The Cubs will have an opportunity to jump out to an early lead in the series with the Sox’s Zach Stewart making his first start of the season. Last year, Stewart completed seven innings just once in eight starts after being acquired from the Blue Jays in a July trade.
But this may not be a sure thing. For a starter many believed was the Cubs’ ace going into Opening Day, Matt Garza has struggled a bit, especially of late. In his first six outings, Garza had a 2.59 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP and was striking out 9.19 batters per nine innings. In his last six outings, those numbers have worsened dramatically (5.87 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 7.55 K/9). With Adam Dunn and Alex Rios bouncing back, Paul Konerko likely having the best season of his career and many others hitting better than expected, Garza will have to pitch well to outlast the tough White Sox lineup.
Travis Wood (0-3, 4.58 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 6.1 K/9) vs. Jake Peavy (6-2, 2.91 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 7.83 K/9)
Travis Wood has been a consistent and solid addition to the Cubs’ rotation since joining the major league club in early May. The southpaw has completed five innings in all six of his starts and has gotten through the sixth in three of them. He’s only had one bad outing (5 IP, 6 ER, 7 H vs. the Padres, a game the Cubs still won) and has surrendered no more than three earned runs in five of six starts.
The Sox have been successful this season in part due to Jake Peavy’s return to dominance. After starting just 35 games over the last two seasons for the South Siders, Peavy entered camp healthy this year, and his numbers show he is back to his old, dominant form. One number that might be helping his cause is a .239 batting average on balls in play. Given the league average hovers somewhere around .300 and the Sox have a good-but-not-great defense, there might be some luck involved to his fast start.
Ryan Dempster (3-3, 2.11 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 7.3 K/9) vs. Gavin Floyd (4-7, 5.63 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 8.5 K/9)
Gavin Floyd has struggled of late to say the least. In his last six starts, he is 1-4 with a 10.71 ERA and a 2.01 WHIP. However, Floyd is still managing to strike out just better than one batter per inning.
Ryan Dempster, meanwhile, has been one of the National League’s most consistently dominant starters all season. Because of poor run support, the 35-year-old won his first start just three outings ago. Prior to his first win on June 5, the Cubs were averaging 2.89 runs per game in Dempster’s starts. But he has won each of his last three because the bats have finally livened up behind him.
While neither bullpen has been automatic this year, the Sox’s ‘pen has fared significantly better than that of the Cubs. Closer Addison Reed has converted eight of nine chances this season, while Matt Thornton (3.38 ERA) and Jesse Crain (2.18 ERA, 10.9 K/9) have been solid setup men.
The Cubs have a 4.51 bullpen ERA, second-worst in baseball, and have saved just nine games total, the lowest total in baseball. James Russell (2.56 ERA) and Shawn Camp (3.74 ERA) have both been good middle/late-innings relievers, but the closer spot is still a revolving door. It appears Carlos Marmol has regained that job after returning from a recent demotion.
Tomorrow on the blog, we’ll feature the infielders.