We knew that a move had to be made in order for Dan Straily to make his Cubs debut tomorrow, and the news came shortly after tonight's game.
#Cubs option Lake to Iowa to make room for Straily— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) August 16, 2014
This is a move that had to be made. Lake came up last July and was moved to the outfield for the first time in the majors. While he had some adventures in the field, Lake hit a solid .284/.332/.428 last season and figured to be a regular contributor to the team this season. Always seen as a great athlete, Lake had been ranked highly throughout his minor league career for his potential upside.
Lake started the season as a regular in the outfield, but the issues that Lake had with making contact in the minor leagues returned in 2014. Striking out a third of the time in 2014, Lake's numbers fell to a putrid .216/.243/.364. As you can tell from that slugging percentage, he did show good power when he did make contact and he hit nine home runs in 305 plate appearances. But his poor on-base skills combined with the way he still turns every fly ball to the outfield into an adventure meant that he hasn't played much since Arismendy Alcantara was called up from Iowa. In August, he's only made three starts and only has 12 plate appearances. Lake wasn't going to work out his problems at the plate or in the field by sitting on the bench, so going down to Iowa is probably best not only for the team, but for Lake as well.
Dan Straily came over from Oakland in the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade, and has been pitching in Iowa since the fourth of July deal. Although his first start for Iowa was solid, his next three starts for Iowa were shaky as his problems with home runs and walks led to poor outings.
In Straily's last three starts for Iowa, however, he's been magnificent. In all three starts he went at least six innings and didn't allow a single earned run as he won all three games. (He did give up two unearned runs in one of the three starts.) Not only that, but in those three starts he has struck out 18 batters and hasn't walked anyone. All in all, he's looked like the guy who finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year balloting last season.
Straily is widely expected to make his start against the Mets tomorrow and then return to Iowa. But it won't be Lake who will replace him, as he will no doubt finish the minor league season in Des Moines and then return to Chicago when the rosters expand. We can hope that two weeks (at least) of playing regularly in Triple-A will allow him to rediscover the form he had in 2013.