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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Saturday, September 16, 2017

15 To Go

Cubs:  6 vs. STL (2 home/4 road) + 2 vs. TBR (road) + 4 vs. MIL (road) + 3 vs. CIN (home). After this weekend’s series, the Cubs are done at Wrigley until the final series hosting Cincinnati.

Brewers (3.0 GB): 2 vs. MIA (road) + 3 vs. PIT (road) + 4 vs. CHC (home) + 3 vs. CIN (home) + 3 vs. STL (road).

Cardinals (4.0 GB): 6 vs. CHC (4 home/2 road) + 3 vs. CIN (road) + 3 vs. PIT (road) + 3 vs. MIL (home).

Andere Richtingen Posted: September 16, 2017 at 09:26 AM | 129 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 16, 2017 at 09:54 AM (#5532943)
FWIW, Fangraphs playoff odds more or less predict a 90-72 finish for the Cubs, and 85-77 for both the Brewers and Cardinals. My sense is that the last series of the season (Cubs hosting Reds and Cardinals hosting Brewers) will have meaning.
   2. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 16, 2017 at 10:56 AM (#5532955)
Sept. 16:

1909 Pres. William Howard Taft becomes attends 1st basball game as president - in Chi - NYG beat CHC, 2-1 (Mathewson-Brown)
1911 1,000 games as manager: Frank Chance: 663-320
1923 ump call causes Cub fans 2 pelt field w/ beer botles. 2 NYG hit. Landis attends - and shakes his cane at the crowd to no affect
1933 George Gore dies
1934 MLB debut: Phil Cavaretta
1961 Ron Santo grounds into 2 DP in one game for second straigh game. 0-for-6 overall in those two games (other 2 outs: 2 GO w/ no one on)
1970 Cubs purchase Tommy Davis from A's
1975 Rick Reuschel's worst start: 0.1 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 0 K. Game Score 5. Pirates 22, Cubs 0
1975 Rennie Stennant, PIT, goes 7-for-7. Ties NL record for hits in a game & ties MLB record for 9 inning game. PIT 22, CHC 0
1977 NYM-CHC game resumed from 7/13, when the NE's Great Blackout stalled it
2004 Aramis Ramirez hits 3 HR in one game for the 3rd time - 2nd time in 7 weeks
2015 Mike Olt becomes the 1st person to homer for CHC & CWS in one year
2016 1 day after the Cubs clinched the division, Theo Epstein watches the game in the 1st row of the LF bleachers while wearing a fake mustache. By him are Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod. CHC 5, MIL 4 (10) on a walk-off homer by Miguel Montero

   3. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 16, 2017 at 01:42 PM (#5533015)
Contreras suspended 2 games, which is fair but unfortunate. He's appealing, so I'm guessing he could get it reduced or at least sit against a worse team.
   4. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 16, 2017 at 01:43 PM (#5533017)
Also Russell off the DL. May PH.
   5. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 16, 2017 at 01:47 PM (#5533018)
Wow, I love today's lineup

Zobrist (rf), Bryant, Rizzo, Contreras, Almora, Happ, Baez, Jay, Hendricks.
   6. McCoy Posted: September 16, 2017 at 01:50 PM (#5533019)
Rather not have 10 of our last 15 games against the two teams trailing us but that is generally how the schedule makers set it up. The recent skid cost us in the consolation prize of a wild card spot so it is pretty much the division or nothing at this point.

It doesn't really mean a lot but I'd like to see the hitters and bullpen start to hit on all cylinders heading into the playoffs but failing that it would be nice they do it in the playoffs.
   7. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: September 16, 2017 at 01:57 PM (#5533022)
I'm attending this one with ElRoy Face...my first visit to the Confines this year. Nice that I'm being gifted with a July-esque day.
   8. Voodoo Posted: September 16, 2017 at 02:10 PM (#5533027)
They are still a half game up on the Rockies for a potential wild-card slot.

I guess despite that, McCoy's point is absolutely right, though. If they can't play well enough down the stretch to hold onto a three game division lead, being effectively tied with Colorado (now) isn't going to do them much good.
   9. McCoy Posted: September 16, 2017 at 02:29 PM (#5533035)

I guess despite that, McCoy's point is absolutely right, though. If they can't play well enough down the stretch to hold onto a three game division lead, being effectively tied with Colorado (now) isn't going to do them much good.


Close. If the Cubs squander their lead that pretty much means they've squandered their chances at getting a WC spot as well. For that not to happen either the Brewers/Cardinals have to get red hot while somehow also not completely sweeping the Cubs and Colorado has to slump. I don't see all of that happening especially since the Cubs play 10 against the Brewers/Cards.

I mean I guess the Brewers could go something like 12-3 while the Cubs could go 8-7 and the Rockies go 7-7 for the Cubs to get in as the WC but I just don't see something like that happening realistically.
   10. Voodoo Posted: September 16, 2017 at 04:00 PM (#5533067)
2.2% chance of something like that happening per FanGraphs, so yeah not likely.
   11. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 16, 2017 at 04:10 PM (#5533070)
If anyone cares, the Rockies have 6 games left against the Padres, 2 against the Giants, 3 against the Marlins, and their season-ending series is against the Dodgers.

Man, that's a nice way to end the season.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: September 16, 2017 at 07:08 PM (#5533174)
In case y'all hadn't heard, that Brewers series at Miami is being played at Miller Park. I completely understand moving it because of the hurricane but giving a playoff contender an extra home series down the stretch is not kosher. You'd think Selig was still commish. (I have no idea what, if any, other options they had but they've always seemed to find a technically "neutral" site when this arises.)

On that 2.2% chance, that's not the way to look at it. That probability is so low because the divisional probability is so high. What we want is the conditional probability -- i.e. what are the chance of winning a WC spot conditional on losing the division. There's only a 10.3% chance (per fg) of the Cubs losing the division and 2.4% of that time they'd still win the WC -- that's over a 23% conditional probability.

So even if we lose the division, we still have a 1 in 4 chance of winning the WC. I'm surprised it's that low but that's probably because of the likelihood that all 4 teams would be in the hunt.
   13. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 16, 2017 at 07:23 PM (#5533184)
Almora is 6-for-8 in the last five games (one start, today). He has 2 doubles, a triple & a homer. And all of those hits came off righties.


Almora in CF, Schwarber/Jay platoon in LF and some combo of Javy/Russell/Happ/zobrist mix in the appropriate spots in SS/2b/RF rest of the year please.

Edit: almora stat was before his last double.
   14. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 16, 2017 at 07:24 PM (#5533185)
Here is what I am looking for from the Cubs in the next two weeks: to show me they are ready to win in the postseason. Like they have done in the last couple of days in particular. If they can't do that, then it wasn't meant to be. For much of this season it has looked like this was not going to happen this year, alongside periods where they have looked like the 2016 team. Even if they go 14-0 here on out, they can't match the regular season 2016 Cubs, but they don't need to do that.
   15. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 16, 2017 at 07:25 PM (#5533186)
In case y'all hadn't heard, that Brewers series at Miami is being played at Miller Park.

Yeah, I forgot about that. And I wouldn't dare complain...
   16. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 16, 2017 at 07:32 PM (#5533188)
Andere in #15 for the win.

That is curious though. It's one of those things where I'm 100% certain there is nothing shady afoot but you just create the opportunity for lots of people to find conspiracy theories.

It does lend itself to a bit of an opportunity for analysis. In a situation like that does the team that plays in that park but is the "road" team do better than expected? That might suggest there IS something to the idea of emotion being meaningful. It is certainly to small a sample to render anything particularly meaningful but it's a start.
   17. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 16, 2017 at 07:44 PM (#5533194)
Objectively, the Brewers getting HFA for those three games is a factor of some significance in a tight race. Much more significant than, say, changing a day game to a night game on the first night of a three game road series you end up sweeping. But anyway, all of these things fall under the category of #### that happens, that you can't worry about and look like a baby when you complain. The Cubs could easily have been the beneficiaries of Irma in their schedule, but chance handed that to the Brewers.
   18. Walt Davis Posted: September 16, 2017 at 09:37 PM (#5533228)
I'm not sure I'm "complaining" at all but my complaint is not that it is unfair to the Cubs but that is unfair in all circumstances ... even if it should happen to the Cubs' benefit. I'm not particularly worried about its effect on the race -- presumably the Brewers have a better chance of winning one extra game which, hoppefully, won't matter at all. And I'm not suggesting the Cubs "protest" this ... even if they were justified in doing so, it would just stir controversy and be bad PR.

My memory for such things is not great but I don't recall this being done before. The Astros lost a home series against the Rangers and it got moved to TB, not Arlington. Angels and Indians played at Miller Park in 2007, Montreal and Florida played at the Cell in 2004. In 1996, the A's opened the season in Vegas. (Not sure why ... Raider renovations not ready yet? Or scheduled promotional/testing of the LV market?)

As I hinted, the site is sometimes just technically neutral. The Cubs-Houston series got moved to Milwaukee a few years ago. The Tampa-Yanks series this year got moved to Citi Field (also not kosher). That's not fair either but at least it obey the letter of the unwritten law. I'm not sure the circumstances (promo, $$) but TB has twice hosted series at the Disney facility in Lake Buena Vista.

This appears to be the first time in MLB history in which the intended road team got to host the series at their home park. It's hardly "complaining" to point this out. The TB-Yanks and Astros-Cubs examples look like the only other ones where the road team would seem to be clearly advantaged by the alternate site choice. Of course it's really only a phenomenon that MLB had had to deal with in the last 20-30 years so it's a small sample.

It's an obvious thing to avoid whenever feasible ... and, as I said, maybe there was no other feasible option this time out. That should be (and maybe is) the league policy. But I suspect MLB goes by "easiest thing is usually to move it to the road team's stadium and as long as the original host doesn't object, that's what we'll do." And I won't be surprised if proceeds go to hurricane aid charities which is certainly a good thing (and obviously maximized moving it to Milw).

Thanks retrosheet for a list of alternate site games
   19. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 17, 2017 at 12:14 AM (#5533277)
My "complaining" comment was a joke about the Brewers organization complaining about the game time change for the Friday game.

There needs to be a tightening up of rules regarding re-scheduling of games. I completely agree about neutral venues for emergencies, but it's really just noise that every team has to be prepared for, along with injuries, bad calls, and broken bat triples. I don't care what happens this weekend in Milwaukee: if the Cubs don't make the playoffs, it's their fault.

   20. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 17, 2017 at 11:55 AM (#5533323)
Contreras's suspension reduced to 1 game and he's serving it today. Is that the fastest appeal resolution ever?
   21. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 17, 2017 at 04:07 PM (#5533418)
Sept. 17:

1882 Wildfire Schulte born
1923 High Pockets Kelly's 2nd best game: 5-for-5, 4 runs, 3 HR (all tie his best), 1 2B, 4 RBI. NYG 13, CHC 6. (6/14/24 narrow edge)
1928 Ray Boggs make MLB debut as Braves pitcher - and has 3 HBP of Cubs in one inning. 2 BB, 1 WP. CHC 15, BOB 5
1938 Bill Lee, Cub, allows 13 hits, pitches shutout anyway, his 3rd straight Sho
1947 last game: Claude Passeau
1953 MLB debut: Ernie Banks. Cubs intergrate
1989 last game: Leon Durham
2012 in 9th of PIT 3, CHC 0 game at Wrigley, fan behind home plate looks at CF camera and simulates like he's giving a blow job. Ejected
2013 MIL 4, CHC 3: wakl-off SH by L. Shafter w/ bases loaded
2015 Milo Hamilton, baseball announcer, dies

   22. Meatwad Posted: September 17, 2017 at 06:17 PM (#5533508)
Tomorrow is the last day without cubs baseball til the regular season ends.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: September 17, 2017 at 10:12 PM (#5533573)
Contreras's suspension reduced to 1 game and he's serving it today. Is that the fastest appeal resolution ever?

They've gotten much faster since they stopped requiring an in-person appeal in NY a few years ago ... which was always a silly requirement. Still, it does seem odd it got sorted on a weekend. I also figured the Cubs were hoping to drag it out until they (please god!) clinched, then would drop the appeal.
   24. Meatwad Posted: September 18, 2017 at 02:46 AM (#5533599)
it worked out well for the cubs, a day of rest after 2 starts was in the plans from what I can tell despite the fact he didnt play ll 9 the 2 games before.
   25. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 18, 2017 at 10:47 AM (#5533649)
They've gotten much faster since they stopped requiring an in-person appeal in NY a few years ago ... which was always a silly requirement. Still, it does seem odd it got sorted on a weekend. I also figured the Cubs were hoping to drag it out until they (please god!) clinched, then would drop the appeal.

Yeah, but even announcing the suspension as quickly as they did - less than 24 hours after, on a Saturday, and then announcing the result of the appeal on Sunday morning. Highly unusual. In the end though, Cubs won and it's over with.
   26. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 18, 2017 at 10:54 AM (#5533654)

What a fun weekend, but man, I had a lot of problems with how Maddon managed yesterday's game. Not sure I'll remember all of them here, but most of it started in the 7th.

Baez hitting for Avila was a little unconventional, but Avila has pretty huge splits this year so it makes sense to hit for him against a LHP there. I'm not sure why he'd let Schwarber hit against a lefty and then immediately PH for Almora against a RHP - perhaps the Almora PH was because Schwarber weakly popped out, but at this point Almora against a RHP is more defensible than Schwarber against a LHP (that's not even taking into consideration the idea or fallacy of Almora being "hot"). Lastly, he had LaStella on deck the entirely of Russell's AB, but called him back and sent Caratini up instead; I don't know if he was trying to force Matheny's hand there or just trying to save LaStella for later in case he needs another PH since he's now burned Jay/Happ/Baez. Either way, it's interesting at best considering how little they've let Caratini hit; and the bases were loaded, I'd much rather see LaStella up then.

Then in the bottom of the inning, he didn't do the obvious moves on defense - Baez at 2b, Zobrist in LF - and took Russell out*, put Happ in LF and Martin in CF. I honestly had forgotten about Martin, but by doing this you've basically guaranteed Martin gets an AB in a tied or trailing game; it also leaves Zobrist in at 2nd (and was costly, as I'm sure Baez gets an out on Fowler's "single" in the 8th. Maybe Russell couldn't play all 9 or they were being cautious like they've been with Contreras, so that would give Maddon a little slack but he basically screwed himself throughout that inning.
   27. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 18, 2017 at 10:56 AM (#5533656)
Random good things though:

Chicago Cubs‏ @Cubs 23m23 minutes ago

#Cubs bullpen this weekend:

9 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 11 K.

Christopher Kamka‏ @ckamka 17h17 hours ago

#Cubs after all-star break under Joe Maddon
2015: 50-25 (.667)
2016: 50-23 (.685)
2017: 40-21 (.656)

Christopher Kamka‏ @ckamka 17h17 hours ago

#Cubs this season
Pre All-Star: 43-45, Run differential: 0
Post All-Star: 40-21, Run differential: +106
   28. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: September 18, 2017 at 11:10 AM (#5533663)
Do we still do magic number?

Because the magic number is down to 10.
   29. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 18, 2017 at 12:14 PM (#5533694)
Hell yeah we still do. I'll probably start posting threads around 5
   30. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: September 18, 2017 at 01:01 PM (#5533731)
If they can go at least 7-6 over the final 13 (or 7-5 - I think there's a possibly won't be made up rainout in there?) - it would be just the 3rd iteration in team history to post 3 or more consecutive 90 win seasons.

That last was the Hack Wilson Cubs (1928 through 1930).

The old juggernaut has the record - 1904 through 1912, including a pair of back to back 100 win seasons that fell just one win short (99 in 1908) of being 5 straight 100 win seasons.

If they win the division, first back-to-back division titles since 2007-2008... first run of three consecutive postseason appearances since 1906-1908 if they wrap it up.
   31. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 18, 2017 at 01:20 PM (#5533737)
Sahadev Sharma‏ @sahadevsharma 11m11 minutes ago

Cubs change rotation for Tampa Bay series. Mike Montgomery will go on Tuesday and Jon Lester goes Wednesday.


Haven't seen anything about Arrieta yet, but this gives Lester a start in STL next week instead of in MIL.
   32. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 18, 2017 at 05:42 PM (#5533912)
This is absolute dumpster fire of an article that I would be ferociously tearing apart if it was written here about the Cubs.

I ####### loved every stupid ####### word of it.
   33. Man o' Schwar Posted: September 18, 2017 at 06:00 PM (#5533925)
This is absolute dumpster fire of an article that I would be ferociously tearing apart if it was written here about the Cubs.

Man, Bernie Miklasz has really turned on the Cardinals. I don't know what kind of separation he had from the Post-Dispatch, but I get the feeling it wasn't an amicable one.

That's a hilariously terrible article.
   34. The Honorable Ardo Posted: September 18, 2017 at 07:39 PM (#5534006)
Our Cubs are a combined 10-16 against the other NL playoff teams - Nats, Rockies, D-Backs, and Dodgers. This year's squad has sore spots (contact/situational hitting, by turns the rotation and the bullpen) that other good teams can exploit.

That said, their strong second half puts them on course for a successful 2017 (which I thought of as 90+ wins, the NL Central flag, and a credible showing in the postseason lottery; i.e. not getting swept out of the Division Series).
   35. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 18, 2017 at 07:49 PM (#5534017)
This is absolute dumpster fire of an article

Yeesh. Get out the red Sharpie.

I will say that the weekend brought to mind Baker vs. LaRussa series of days gone by, where the two genius managers outwitted one another with evil eyes, sleights of hand, and reshaping their tinfoil hats to maximize the flow of cosmic rays.
   36. Walt Davis Posted: September 19, 2017 at 12:30 AM (#5534151)
Breaking that down

AZ 3-3 but Cubs +13 run differential
CO 2-5, -13
LA 2-4, -11
MI 7-8, -11
WA 3-4, -11

Yeah, that's not promising. Also 0-3 vs Yanks and 1-2 vs Red Sox with a combined -9 differential.

We've crushed Atl, Cincy and StL and swept Bal/Tor. 33-11 against those 5 teams leaving 50-55 against everybody else. Such is probably the plight of most 90-ish win teams.

FWIW, Milw are 13-14 against those teams with a 0 run differential and 4-2 against Yanks/Sox but 0-4 against the Twins.

Fox's ultimate nightmare, Twins vs. Brewers with an easy Twins sweep.
   37. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 19, 2017 at 11:02 AM (#5534310)
I don't put a lot of stock in head-to-head matchups. In terms of team WAR the Cubs look pretty good -- this view is flawed as well, but Cubs rank third overall, with contenders (≤ 5 GB in WC) looking like this:

1. Astros (29.0)
2. Dodgers (27.3)
3. Cubs (25.6)
4. Indians (25.3)
5. Nationals (25.0)
6. Yankees (23.8)
7. Cardinals (23.0)
...
10. Twins (21.4)
...
12. Mariners (19.3)
13. Rays (18.5)
14. Diamondbacks (17.5)
15. Red Sox (16.7)
...
17. Rangers (15.5)
18. Angels (15.2)
19. Brewers (15.2)
...
23. Rockies (13.0)
24. Royals (12.9)

Of course the Rockies are destined to win it all, ranking 23rd in MLB in regular season WAR.
   38. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: September 19, 2017 at 11:17 AM (#5534324)
It's a hangover season, whaddya expect?

I think the thing that bodes best for the Cubs fortunes if/when the magic number gets to zero is that for a pretty young team, nobody really feels like he's hitting on all cylinders.

I could count the guys that have outperformed expectations on a few fingers -- Contreras, Happ... and maybe Duensing. Perhaps Almora has been better offensively than expected.

Rizzo has been metronome Rizzo. Bryant has been somewhat disappointing. Russell obviously. Baez has had his moments, but is the same basic Baez. Injuries caught up with the rotation (not unexpected after the extraordinary health run).

Basically - the big thing the Cubs probably have going for them is that it feels like they're a good notch or two 'true talent' better than they've played.... the proverbial 'dangerous' playoff team. Of course, what they really lack in classical 'dangerous playoff team' parlance is that true stopper in the rotation that you feel banks one or two series wins for you.
   39. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 19, 2017 at 12:18 PM (#5534400)
I don't put a lot of stock in head-to-head matchups.

Same - 2015 nailed that point home in a way I will never forgot. But I also don't think too much of grouping the contenders either - there's just too many uncontrollable variables.

The way I look at it - without even talking about the short series crapshootedness of it all - is that the Cubs have plenty of talent to beat any of the NL teams (and depending on health could also be favored in specific ones). IOW, it's not just that the Cubs have a "chance", they have plenty of a good chance to win again. Really, that's all you can ask for.
   40. Man o' Schwar Posted: September 19, 2017 at 01:00 PM (#5534425)
Basically - the big thing the Cubs probably have going for them is that it feels like they're a good notch or two 'true talent' better than they've played.... the proverbial 'dangerous' playoff team. Of course, what they really lack in classical 'dangerous playoff team' parlance is that true stopper in the rotation that you feel banks one or two series wins for you.

I think a lot of it depends on whether Arrieta comes back and looks like he did during the really good stretch of games he had in the second half. Hendricks has been quietly terrific in the second half (2.42 ERA in 11 starts). The two of them give me hope that, in a 7 game series, we could get at least 4 solid starts out of the rotation. I don't know what to expect out of Lester at this point, and Quintana is a crapshoot as well.

We're going to need a lot of that Cub offense that, when clicking, puts up 10+ runs on bad pitching. If they can make that 5-6 runs against better pitching, then the Cubs could do pretty well. But just like the pitching, the offense is up and down as well - it seems as likely that they would score 25 runs in sweeping the Nationals out of the NLDS as it is that they would score 1 run and get swept.

They could win it all, or be out by the first weekend. I really don't know what to expect.

   41. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 19, 2017 at 02:06 PM (#5534502)
Bryant gets the night off:

Jay (CF)/Zobrist (LF)/Rizzo/Contreras/Schwarber (DH)/Happ (2b)/Heyward/Russell/Baez (3b)

It's still probably a fluke, but Jay at leadoff (204 PAs: .249/.315/.335, even worse in just the first AB of a game and first AB of an inning - perhaps he benefits from seeing the pitcher face someone else before he goes up there) is a worse hitter than Jay in any other spot of the order/PH (186 PA: .330/.440/.410)
   42. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 19, 2017 at 02:50 PM (#5534533)
It's a hangover season, whaddya expect?

Almost everyone on the team had a terrible start to the year - some longer than others (some *coughHeywardcough* are just terrible) - but you can find a random date (in a lot of cases, there's an actual reason to pick that date, be it an injury, or just the start of the 2nd half) and find a pretty big split in performance. That's not to say any of this is in anyway predictive or means I'm saying the Cubs are better than they are (IOW, this is complete and utter bullshittery, but it helps me "feel" better about playoff chances that most things).

Contreras: on 5/2, he was hitting .233/.300/.370; since he's hitting .291/.369/.556. There doesn't seem to be an obvious reason for this change, but IMO he's also settled down defensively since then. After the injury, he's picked up right where he left off, even if he hasn't homered yet.
Rizzo: first half .259/.386/.508; second half .313/.421/.553
Zobrist: first half .214/.307/.367; second half .265/.350/.395. He missed time in the first half with the wrist problem, the spent a few weeks not hitting against lefties cause he couldn't hit righty (maybe he could have used more DL time?). He hasn't had much power at all this year, which very well could be because of that wrist.*
Russell: first half .226/.297/.314; second half (only 70PAs due to the injury) .328/.368/.625
Bryant: first half .269/.399/.529; second half .318/.410/.536. The power dropoff in the 2nd half is noticeable, I wonder if he's focusing more on contact.
Schwarber: before demotion .171/.295/.378; since promotion .253/.340/.557 (also 15HR but only 24RBI!)
Almora: first half .276/.342/.388; second half .333/.339/.523 (only 2 BB in 116PA)
Baez: first half .256/.295/.450 (6 nonIBB BB in 262PA); second half .286/.333/.513 (8 nonIBB BB in 215PA)

Jay's been worse in the 2nd half (700OPS vs 785OPS), same with Happ (786 vs 870), and LaStella has less than 70PA in each half (but also slightly better in the 2nd half). Avila/Rivera (788/953) are about a wash with Montero *(805) offensively but clear upgrades defensively.

Arrieta (1.98ERA vs 4.35), Hendricks (2.42 vs 4.09), and Lackey (3.69 vs 5.20) have been noticeably better in the 2nd half; Quintana is obviously better than Butler (their ERAs are exactly the same, but Quintana's FIP is a full run lower) while Lester has been maddening all year. We've talked about the bullpen being worse, and those are unpredictable in a short series no matter how good or bad they look. Montgomery is hard to classify since he's alternated roles so much.

So maybe there was something to the hangover effect that was magically fixed by the AS break (my gut tells me there's something when the patterns are that pervasive but is it statistically significant, probably not)? Or it's all just random noise, I don't know. The 2nd season numbers are all more in line with what was projected/expected (on the high end, but still more realistic than a lot of the low end in the first half performances).



*Oddly enough, I also just noticed he has crazy home (.766OPS)/road (.627) splits this year too.
   43. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 19, 2017 at 04:05 PM (#5534610)
Mark Gonzales‏ @MDGonzales 10m10 minutes ago

Arrieta to throw light pen, with check on status of leg Wednesday to determine when he rejoins rotation.

Mark Gonzales‏ @MDGonzales 10m10 minutes ago

Arrieta, Lackey (in no particular order) appear lined up to start 1st 2 games of Brewers series.


The first one makes it sound like he's still not ready, while the 2nd makes it sound like he is.
   44. Man o' Schwar Posted: September 19, 2017 at 04:10 PM (#5534619)
Maybe "when he rejoins rotation" means he'll pitch either Game 1 or Game 2 against MIL, depending on how his leg feels.
   45. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 19, 2017 at 05:02 PM (#5534662)
Sahadev Sharma‏ @sahadevsharma 2m2 minutes ago

Arrieta threw 25 pitches in his side. Says if good tomorrow, he'll go Thursday vs MIL, 75-80 pitches. Build up to full strength from there.
   46. Walt Davis Posted: September 19, 2017 at 08:59 PM (#5534768)
I don't put a lot of stock in head-to-head matchups.

Me neither, it's baseball. I just said it's not promising and it's clearly not promising. More concern with the run differential against those teams. Even counting AZ, it's -33 in 41 games, pretty ugly ... and obviously -46 in 35 if we ignore the DBacks. So it's not like we've had bad luck in 1-run games but are blowing them out when we win -- presumably more the opposite. But still, small samples, depends who was pitching, 1st half or 2nd half, etc.

There are of course plenty of reasons to like our playoff chances (as these things go), mainly the 40-21 2nd half record, leading the NL (Nats 38-23, LAD 35-25) ... also easily leading the league in RS the 2nd half by 55 over Col, 116 over LAD, 85 over WSN, 69 over AZ, 126 over Milw. We have given up more runs than any playoff team but CO ... still, we'll have the largest run differential in the 2nd half by a substantial margin. In short, the 2nd half results are in line with 2nd half 2015 and all of 2016's performance. Hopefully the hangover is over.

Meanwhile ...

Joe is confusing me again. Almora's been doing really well, even got a couple of starts against RHP ... now on the bench in an AL park where putting him in would cause less lineup "disruption" than usual. For weeks, it seemed he preferred Happ in the OF and Zo at 2B; now this is Happ's 2nd straight start at 2B with Zo in the OF. (Not saying that's wrong but wondering why he seems to have changed his mind.) And then the postseason panic move of Davis coming on for 4 outs with an 8-2 lead and 2 men on. (Fortunately he showed no ill effects the next two days.)

Bryant has been somewhat disappointing.

I agree with the overall point that pretty much nobody important is over-performing while several are (hopefully) under-performing. But can't agree with this. The OPS+ is right where it's been since he started. The HRs are down but it's had less effect on his ISO/SLG than we might expect while his OBP is up nearly 20 points. The K-rate has improved again, now under 20% and marks his 2nd straight year at about league average. His walk rate is up substantially. The differences between this year and last are quite small really, more in his favor than not, nothing looks unsustainable. He's become more of a Ryan Braun than the possible Jim Thome I was expecting.

I suppose with ISO/SLG/HRs up around the league, his performance on those is a bit more disappointing than I give it credit for. And of course the weird poor performance with runners in scoring position.



   47. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 20, 2017 at 09:36 AM (#5534948)
Sept. 20:

1882 Larry Corcoran tosses his 2nd no-hitter. 1st NL no-hitter from 50 feet. He's 1st pitcher w/ 2 no-hitters
1896 Clark Griffith allows his only walk-off HR: Ed McFarland turns 2-1 CHC lead into 3-2 STL win
1901 1,000 wins as manager: Frank Selee: 1,000-642
1911 Pitchers duel: Cubs 1, Phillies 0. Phillies get 1 hit all game (by pitcher Earl Moore, 6th inn); Cubs run in btm9th: scores from second on a ground out
1917 Cubs draft Bob O'Farrell from Peoria (Central League) in Rule 5 draft
1924 300 wins: Pete Alexander: 300-157. CHC 7, NYG 3 (12)
1953 Ernie Banks 1st HR
1961 WPA's favorite Koufax game: CG W: 13 IP (ties his max), 7 H, 2 R/ER 3 BB, 15 K. LA 3, CHC 2. WPA: 0.949
1972 200 wins: Milt Pappas: 200-152
1975 Billy Williams gets his 1st SH in over 8 years (9-12-67). It's his first season in Oakland, please note
1986 Cubs 1, Pirates 0. Ryne Sanderberg HR in 6th the game's only run. 1 of only 4 Cub hits (8 PIT hits0
1999 Jon Lieber retires 1st 20 and then: 2-pitch HR, 1-pitch 1B, 1-pitch HR, 2-pitch 1B, 2-pitch HR, 2-pitch 1B. Out. Runner scores - 6 ER
2008 Cubs clinch consecutive postseaon appearances - first time a Chicago team has done that in 100 years
2009 CHC suspend Milton Bradley for the rest of the year after he criticized the team in the papers (Daily Herald)
2014 CHC trail 7-2 to LAD at 7th inning stretch (at Wrigley) but comeback to win, 8-7

   48. Charles S. is a big fan of Outerbridge Horsey Posted: September 20, 2017 at 10:14 AM (#5534961)
Joe is confusing me again. Almora's been doing really well, even got a couple of starts against RHP ... now on the bench in an AL park where putting him in would cause less lineup "disruption" than usual.


Theo was on the Score this morning talking about spotting Almora against lefties and righties who don't have great breaking stuff. Archer's slider might be why Almora sat last night.
   49. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 20, 2017 at 12:13 PM (#5535062)
Theo was on the Score this morning talking about spotting Almora against lefties and righties who don't have great breaking stuff. Archer's slider might be why Almora sat last night.

Is it just me, or does this strike anyone else as not the best thing to say in the media (if true)? Essentially, "Righties - make sure to throw Almora your best breaking ball!" Either it's deliberate misinformation, or Theo should have just stuck to "We're spotting Almora against lefties and in certain situations against righties" or something.
   50. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 20, 2017 at 12:52 PM (#5535089)
But can't agree with this.

I agree with your disagreement. I think it's true that Bryant contrasts with Rizzo in that he doesn't make much in the way situational adjustments, beyond occasionally taking a shorter swing and hitting the ball the other way. The announcers make a big deal about Rizzo choking up with two strikes, and that's fine, but Bryant sticking with what works is fine too. Because it does in fact work, and he is getting better at it, as Walt points out. I want Bryant up with runners on base, doing what he always does.

I think his relatively poor showing this year with runners in scoring position is a statistical fluke, pure and simple. We are talking about only 144 plate appearances, and his numbers the previous two years were just fine.
   51. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: September 20, 2017 at 01:10 PM (#5535101)
OK, I'm willing to say that my beef with Bryant is mostly due to his RISP fluke... WAR does seem to say he's a good 2 wins below last year though (I mean, just shy of 6 WAR is nothing to sneeze at I suppose). I presume that closes to about ~1.5 or so before the end of the year.

   52. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 20, 2017 at 01:29 PM (#5535127)
OK, I'm willing to say that my beef with Bryant is mostly due to his RISP fluke... WAR does seem to say he's a good 2 wins below last year though (I mean, just shy of 6 WAR is nothing to sneeze at I suppose). I presume that closes to about ~1.5 or so before the end of the year.

A lot of it is defense as well, and those numbers are going to fluctuate a lot.

In terms of the details of what he's doing at the plate, I think there is a lot more to be encouraged about than anything.
   53. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 20, 2017 at 01:36 PM (#5535136)
Bryant's ISO has dropped - .242 from .262 - and the "clutch" thing is still a problem, his baserunning and defense are also both worse this year than last by FG's numbers (I'm guessing at least some of that defense has to be due to him being much more FT at 3b this year). Considering Bryant has gotten better at contact, it makes the RISP/clutch thing seem even weirder to me.

So I'd say it's a somewhat tempered disappointment (or whatever a step up from disappointment would be), in that he's taken steps forward in some areas and back in others, but this is probably building to at least absolute ubermonster season where he puts everything together and goes all scorched earth on everyone.
   54. Man o' Schwar Posted: September 20, 2017 at 01:37 PM (#5535138)
1999 Jon Lieber retires 1st 20 and then: 2-pitch HR, 1-pitch 1B, 1-pitch HR, 2-pitch 1B, 2-pitch HR, 2-pitch 1B. Out. Runner scores - 6 ER

I remember watching this game. I've never seen a pitcher go from unhittable to shelled so quickly. Mark McGwire hit the first HR halfway up the CF bleachers, and after that it was nothing but meatballs.
   55. Charles S. is a big fan of Outerbridge Horsey Posted: September 20, 2017 at 02:27 PM (#5535199)

Is it just me, or does this strike anyone else as not the best thing to say in the media (if true)? Essentially, "Righties - make sure to throw Almora your best breaking ball!" Either it's deliberate misinformation, or Theo should have just stuck to "We're spotting Almora against lefties and in certain situations against righties" or something.


He also said that almora is getting better at hitting "spinning' breaking stuff from righties. Maybe they want righties with bad curve balls trying to use them to get him out.
   56. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 20, 2017 at 02:38 PM (#5535210)
Sahadev Sharma‏ @sahadevsharma 49m49 minutes ago

Pierce Johnson claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants.
   57. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 20, 2017 at 02:41 PM (#5535213)
Today's lineup:
Zobrist(RF)/Bryant/Rizzo/Contreras/Almora/Baez(2b)/Russell/Happ(LF)/Jay(DH)

I don't like Jay in CF (or leadoff) and I really don't like him at DH hitting 9th. Otherwise, good lineup. It is a LHP though, so it does make sense (well, except for Zobrist)
   58. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 20, 2017 at 03:49 PM (#5535288)
Sahadev Sharma‏Verified account @sahadevsharma 24m24 minutes ago

Arrieta confirmed to start on Thursday. Milwaukee series matchups: Arrieta-Davies, Lackey-Woodruff, Hendricks-Suter, Quintana-Anderson.
   59. Walt Davis Posted: September 20, 2017 at 06:42 PM (#5535402)
Jay hitting 9th makes some sense -- 2nd leadoff man and maybe avoid his leadoff curse (it's real!). Jay at DH is a bit curious given you could give those PA to Caratini (or my long-lost cousin 9 times removed Taylor Davis). If Jay is in the lineup, I'm not sure we're not better off with Zo at DH. On Zo, I think I'm surrendering -- Joe likes him, has faith in him, is going to keep playing him.

Last year, Joe settled on pretty much a single lineup when we got to the playoffs. I wonder if he will this year and who it will be. (Surely at least a platoon in CF.)
   60. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: September 20, 2017 at 06:55 PM (#5535407)
or my long-lost cousin 9 times removed Taylor Davis


Either your family has really, really unusual generational splits, or you are several hundred years old. A 9 times removed cousin means that your grandfather is his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, or vice versa.
   61. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 20, 2017 at 07:02 PM (#5535410)
and the "clutch" thing is still a problem

I think it's not a good thing, but I don't think it's a problem in any meaningful sense. If you look at Fangraphs' own description of the "Clutch" stat:

Only a few players each year are lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to have extreme Clutch scores.


It's certainly worth our while to ponder why/how Bryant fell into that category this year, but I think the overall picture indicates that it's not something to worry about. When I see the trends in his walk and strikeout rates, combined with BA/OBA/SLG, my feeling is "more, please."
   62. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 20, 2017 at 08:10 PM (#5535450)
Jay at DH is a bit curious given you could give those PA to Caratini

Not if you're Joe Maddon you can't.
   63. Walt Davis Posted: September 20, 2017 at 08:20 PM (#5535461)
Either your family has really, really unusual generational splits, or you are several hundred years old.

OK, maybe he's my 3rd cousin 3 times removed.

We do have at least one unusual generational split and I actually don't know when my paternal grandfather was born but I can reasonably guess it was about 100 years before Taylor Davis. And if you saw a photo of me back when I had very long hair, you might easily believe we were brothers (or father-son given the age difference).
   64. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 20, 2017 at 10:35 PM (#5535536)
on Lester's last 13 outings:
67.1 IP
77 H
54 R
44 ER
25 BB
65 K
13 HR
5.88 ERA
7.22 RA/9 IP
1.515 WHIP

That's bad. Not even a free frogurt.
   65. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 20, 2017 at 10:39 PM (#5535541)
Should the Cubs make it to the postseason, would you rather have John Lackey or Jon Lester as the 4th starter?

Here are Lackey's numbers in the same span as Lester's problem period:
G: 12
GS: 12
IP: 67
H: 60
R: 30
ER: 28
BB: 19
K: 61
HR: 10
ERA: 3.76
RA/9: 4.03
WHIP: 1.179

He's still homer-prone, but less so than Lester. Lackey has rather quietly been a pretty dang effective pitcher since the beginning of July.
   66. The Honorable Ardo Posted: September 20, 2017 at 10:48 PM (#5535548)
Lester's flop is alarming, but it's best that it occurred in St. Pete, not Milwaukee.

EDIT: Adam Frazier hits a walk-off for the Pirates. Cubs' magic number is down to 8.
   67. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 20, 2017 at 11:01 PM (#5535556)
No strikeouts for Lester tonight, for some reason that really bothers me. His command was non-existent and he really looked like it took everything he had to hit 91. After the game he claimed there's nothing physical wrong with him but that has to be. 2 more starts to figure it out, so we'll see. But not at all promising. I hope if he's hurt he comes clean and doesn't give away a playoff game cause of his pride.
   68. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 21, 2017 at 09:14 AM (#5535671)
Should the Cubs make it to the postseason, would you rather have John Lackey or Jon Lester as the 4th starter?

At this point, Lackey without a doubt.

I'm pretty concerned about Lester. No velocity, no command. They need to get him in condition for the post-season. And if he's not in condition, not use him.

I believe "arm fatigue" was the term used when he went on the DL in August, and yeah, that seems like an apt description of what we saw last night. And two weeks off didn't seem to do him any good. The two quality starts he's put up since then were actually pretty shaky.
   69. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 21, 2017 at 10:05 AM (#5535728)
I believe "arm fatigue" was the term used when he went on the DL in August, and yeah, that seems like an apt description of what we saw last night. And two weeks off didn't seem to do him any good. The two quality starts he's put up since then were actually pretty shaky.

Four starts since coming back:

Sept. 2: Five innings, four runs (all earned) off a walk and eight hits (incluing 3 homers). Could easily have been much worse

Sept. 7: Quality start: 6 innings & 1 run (earned). Sounds nice. Five hits & four walks. 30 pitch first inning. 2 outs on the bases in the second inning (DP & a guy thrown out at home). 74 pitches to get through the first three innings before he settled down a bit

Sept. 13: Quality start: Two runs (both earned) in 6 innings. Six hits and four walks. 28 pitch first inning. 26 pitch second inning. 24 pitch third inning. Then he settled down a bit.

Sept. 20: Faced 23 batters. Gave up 8 hits, 3 walks, and a hit batsman.

   70. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 21, 2017 at 10:39 AM (#5535770)
If you have a subscription to The Athletic, here's a good article on Lester.

Lester is down velocity-wise for the entire season compared to years past, which probably explains why he hasn’t been nearly as consistent in his follow up to last year’s Cy Young runner-up season. But that doesn’t explain what we’re seeing now.

The velocity was down a tick on Wednesday as Lester was averaging about a mile per hour less on most of his pitches. But the reality is, that’s not been the primary issue since Lester returned from the disabled list.

The clear issue has been Lester’s inability to command pitches, particularly his cutter and four-seamer. It’s noticeable with the naked eye, but a quick look at the heat maps show that post-injury, Lester is missing with his four-seamer to the arm side and up while his cutter isn’t down as often as he’d like, many times catching way too much of the strike zone. Lester said after Wednesday's loss that during his bullpen before the game his sinker and changeup had great movement and that continued into his start. His usage of both those pitches has increased since returning from the DL, with the sinker nearly doubling in usage to 21.1 percent. However, he had no command of those two pitches and didn’t have anything else to go to on the night.
   71. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 21, 2017 at 10:48 AM (#5535784)
Today is the 20th anniversary of Harry's last Cubs broadcast:
"The ballpark is still filled with people. What a wonderful way to end a season. The players . . . it had to be just something they felt like doing. Riggleman was the first man to start running toward the stands. That was really great.

"And I think this man (Sandberg) did it all. I think maybe he ushered in a new feeling, a new relationship between the players and the fans, rather than just the fans towards the players.

"Well, Harry Caray speaking from Wrigley Field. God willing, hope to see ya' next year.

"Next year maybe will be the next year we all have been waiting for forever.

"So long, everybody."
   72. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 21, 2017 at 03:57 PM (#5536140)
Lineup tonight:
Jay/Bryant/Rizzo/Contreras/Schwarber/Russell/Heyward/Baez(2B). I'd rather have Zobrist in RF and leadoff and Heyward in CF than this, if you have to play Heyward (and you don't).

I'd do Zobrist(RF)/Bryant/Rizzo/Contreras/Schwarber/Russell/Almora/Baez(2B) and use that as my main lineup, subbing Heyward in for defense when appropriate (sliding Zobrist to LF).

Happ is in a huge, huge whole right now. Last 11 games (8 starts): .152/.216/.242 with 19K in 33AB/37PA.
   73. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 21, 2017 at 08:29 PM (#5536253)
Happ is in a huge, huge whole right now

He's hitting only a fraction of his normal worth.
   74. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 22, 2017 at 12:19 AM (#5536545)
Not exactly pretty, but magic number is 6.
   75. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 22, 2017 at 10:32 AM (#5536691)
Sept. 22:

1916 last game: Joe Tinker
1925 1,000 hits: Charlie Grimm. 968 games
1938 Bill Lee, Cub, pitches his 4th straight shutout
1947 Cubs release Claude Passeau
1990 Andre Dawson joins the 300-300 career w/ his 300th stolen base

   76. Man o' Schwar Posted: September 22, 2017 at 11:31 AM (#5536747)
That was such a big game last night. The Cubs basically need to win only 1 out of 3 this weekend to be in good shape going into the last week. Lose last night, and it's 2 out of 3. Plus, Arietta looked good enough for his first start back, which hopefully bodes well for him being healthy in the post-season.

That was easily the most nail-biting, nerve-wracking game since Game 7 last year. Starting from the 7th forward, every half-inning brought the possibilities of success and failure.
   77. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 22, 2017 at 11:50 AM (#5536761)
Last night gave the Cubs some much needed insurance; even in the worst case scenario of the Brewers winning the next 3, the Cubs are leaving Milwaukee with at least a 1.5 game lead.

Bullpen usage tonight will be tricky - I wouldn't say Davis is definitely unavailable but I think it'd be much better off if the Cubs didn't use him. Edwards is the only good arm really fresh, though Duensing and Strop didn't throw too much. Montgomery might be able to throw an inning or so tonight.

I was all for seeing if Wilson could hack it in a big moment, and I think he's unfortunately proven he's not worth relying on this year. Better it came last night than in an even bigger chance. I haven't seen an update on Rondon is a while, but he was supposed to be ready around now. I said in the chatter I'd like to see Maples in a key spot this series, he's the only real wildcard that might actually be useful this year.
   78. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 22, 2017 at 05:27 PM (#5537069)
Kyle Glaser‏ @KyleAGlaser 2h2 hours ago

Two MiLB pitchers, #Dodgers Oliver Polanco and #Cubs Anyel Beato, suspended 72 games after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol
   79. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 23, 2017 at 09:28 AM (#5537276)
Time for a regular season prediction contest update. In July, it looked virtually impossible for anyone but Tom H to win it. Now, Pops and Nero have an outside chance (Cubs would have to go 7-2).

Fangraphs now has the Cubs winning the Division 99 times out of 100, and failing to make the post-season 4 times in a thousand.

92: Tom H
93: Pops Freshenmeyer, Nero Wolfe
94: Dag Nabbit
95: Non-Youkilidian Geometry, Dan the Mediocre, Walks Clog Up the Bases
96: Andere Richtingen, Neil M
97: Kiko Sakata, K-BAR, J-BAR (trhn)
98: Sweet, McCoy
99: Man O'Schwar
100: Covfefe, Moses Taylor, Spahn Insane
101: Stevens
104: Meatwad
106: BrianC

   80. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 23, 2017 at 09:43 AM (#5537282)
Last night's bullpen:

6.0 IP, 2 hits, 1 run (earned), 1 walk, 7 Ks.

   81. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 23, 2017 at 11:43 AM (#5537300)
Sept 23:

1908 Bonehead Merkle play. CHC 1, NYG 1
1917 Pete Alexander beats Phil Douglas in their 2nd matchup in 3 days: PHI 4, CHC 1
1936 last game: Charlie Grimm
1979 100 losses: Rick Reuschel: 114-100
1985 200 homers: Andre Dawson (yes, I know he's not yet a Cub. But he's still Andre Dawson)
1986 Jim DeShaies, HOU, fans the first 8 Dodgers he faces
1998 Brant Brown game. MIL 8, CHC 7
2003 Sammy Sosa hits 3 HR in one game for the fifth time; third time in barely over 6 weeks
2013 PIT 2, CHC 1. PIT clinches 1st playoff appearance since 1992. Game ends w/ would-be tying run thrown out at the plate



Huh. The Fred Merkle Game and the Brant Brown Game are exactly 90 years apart. Nice bit of symmetry there. Oh -- and the Cubs play the Brewers in Milwaukee today, too. Hoping there's no similar play happening.
   82. McCoy Posted: September 23, 2017 at 01:12 PM (#5537319)
Hard to believe the cubs might win the division and with a win total that nobody guessed correctly
   83. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 24, 2017 at 05:41 PM (#5537781)
Quintana with the 12th complete game shutout of the year. For the entire National League. 26th in MLB this season.

The Cubs are the 20th MLB team to put up a shutout this season. Which means ten teams have zero.


   84. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 24, 2017 at 06:34 PM (#5537798)
Magic number is 2. And Cubs most likely get to clinch in STL. Delicious.
   85. Walt Davis Posted: September 25, 2017 at 01:26 AM (#5537894)
Quintana with the 12th complete game shutout of the year. For the entire National League.

Gibson had 13 in 1968. :-) John Tudor was the last NL pitcher to reach 10 in a season in 1985. Jim Palmer is the only AL pitcher in the expansion era to reach 10 (1975).

Since 1900 it's just 20 pitchers with 10+ in a season, with Alexander holding the record at 16 in 1916. Jack Coombs had 13 for the A's in 1910. Ten of the 20 seasons were from 1904-1916, 2 during the war and 4 in the 60s. The fewest IP in a 10 ShO season was Tudor's 275.
   86. Walt Davis Posted: September 25, 2017 at 02:13 AM (#5537898)
On more pressing matters, I'm starting to get a little worried that Joe has developed a case of Riggelman-itis. Coming down the stretch in 1998, the entire team, especially the pitching, was falling apart. Other than Mulholland, he didn't push the starters very deep in pitch counts usually but they were left out there for a number of 5/6 IP and 5/6 R performances. The only reliever he trusted was Beck whose arm was falling off. Beck ended up making 5 appearances in the last 6 games (in 7 days), giving up 6 runs in 6 IP with one BL and a L along with 2 saves ... and a kinda wasted appearance in a 5-2 Cubs win (not save eligible). The test of the time, the Cubs lost easily.

Over the last 10 games or so, in terms of pitches (innings, BF) ...

Hendricks 105 (6, 24), Edwards 16 (1,5), Davis 24 (1,5) ... loss 1-3
Quintana 112 (7,29!), Edwards 17 (1,4) ... win 8-3
Lester 114 (6, 26), nobody important ... win 17-5 (it was only 5-2 when Lester went out for the 6th)
Tseng, Monty 35 (2, 8) ... win 14-6
Lackey quick hook, Edwards 15 (1,3), Davis 25 (1.1, 5) ... Edwards on in the 6th down 1-2; Davis on in the 8th with a 8-2 lead with 2 on

Hendricks 107 (7.2, 28!), Edwards 1 batter, Davis 18 (1,4) ... win 4-1
Quintana 97 (5.2, 25), Edwards 1 batter, Davis 14 (1,4) ... win 4-3
Monty 80 (6, 23), Edwards 11 (1,3), Davis 15 (1,3) ... win 2-1
Lester 4.1 with 7 runs, nobody ... loss 1-8
Arrieta 5 with 1 run, Edwards 13 (1,3), parade that gave up the lead, Davis 29 (1.2, 7), extras ... win 4-3

Lackey 4 with 3 runs, Monty 14 (1.1, 4), Edwards 25 (1.2, 5) ... win 5-4 in extras
Hendricks 112 (6,27), Davis 23 (1.1, 7) ... loss 3-4 with Davis BL in extras
Quintana 116 (9, 30)

So he's pushed his two reliable starters out to pretty high pitch counts by today's standards and clearly not worried about 3rd time through the order effects. This after severely limiting Hendricks earlier in the year. Lackey seems to be on the 2 time through the order leash, we'll have to see how far he's willing to push Arrieta.

He's pushed Davis to his limit basically 5 times over the last 13 games -- 4 appearances of 23+ pitches plus 3 days in a row once. Edwards made 8 appearances over the first 11 of those games, including a run of 6 appearances in 7 games, but he hasn't been pushed on pitch count other than the extras game. Edwards has come on as early as the 6th requiring a scary bridge to Davis. He has continued to use Duensing and Strop to reasonably good effect.

I'm not sure any of that is bad. Further, I was criticizing him for going too far the other way in the playoffs last year. But this looks a bit too much like Riggelmann's desperation -- 2 starters, 2 relievers and pray. However, while the race is closer than I was expecting at season's start or even after "now" a couple of weeks ago, the Cubs have hardly been desperate and a couple of times he's pushed his trusted pitchers pretty hard in lower-leverage situations.

It would be good to clinch quickly and give the key pitchers a good rest. I hope the arms of Zastryzny, Pena, Grimm, etc. can handle all of the work.

   87. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 25, 2017 at 08:45 AM (#5537945)
On more pressing matters, I'm starting to get a little worried that Joe has developed a case of Riggelman-itis.

I don't think this is what Rigglemanitis looks like. Over the weekend he used seven different relievers in 13 spots. He trotted Justin Wilson out -- twice -- in close games.

Without a doubt, he's been pushing Davis to his limits (others too), but it's not like the bullpen had given him much reason to do otherwise. This past weekend, runs were given in up in four of those 13 appearances, by Wilson (of course, but he followed up with a terrific outing on Saturday), Duensing (twice), and Davis. So two of the better second-half relievers did most of the damage. Overall, I think there was a lot more good news than bad out of the bullpen this weekend: Strop, Rondon and Edwards each had two pretty clean appearances in three games. Even Justin Grimm had a nice appearance.

Temperamentally, Riggleman could not be more different from Maddon, and I think that's what this is all about. Even coming into a four game series against the Cardinals, yesterday took off a LOT of pressure. It's still a big series coming up, but with an E# of 2, if the Cubs collapse it will take multiple sources of catastrophe. I am cautiously pessimistic about Lester tonight, but the Cubs are prepared for a short outing: Montgomery last started on the 19th and has thrown just 14 pitches since. If Lester totally completely craps his pants in the first like he has a couple of times: Zastryzny time.

   88. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 25, 2017 at 10:51 AM (#5538077)
I'm not sure any of that is bad. Further, I was criticizing him for going too far the other way in the playoffs last year. But this looks a bit too much like Riggelmann's desperation -- 2 starters, 2 relievers and pray. However, while the race is closer than I was expecting at season's start or even after "now" a couple of weeks ago, the Cubs have hardly been desperate and a couple of times he's pushed his trusted pitchers pretty hard in lower-leverage situations.

Even with you saying it's not bad, I'm not sure what's worth criticizing here. Like you pointed out, you've been begging him to trust Hendricks more and he has.

I think there were 2 questionable decisions in this stretch you really didn't call out explicitly:
1) Lackey quick hook, Edwards 15 (1,3), Davis 25 (1.1, 5) ... Edwards on in the 6th down 1-2; Davis on in the 8th with a 8-2 lead with 2 on Here, and it was talked about at the time, he probably didn't need to push Davis to pitch that 2nd inning. At the time, Davis had been pretty rested and Joe had just talked about needing to push Davis harder. I was fine with him coming in the 8th there, and considering his overall usage didn't mind the 2nd inning (if nothing else, get some exposure to that now in case it is needed in the playoffs).
2) Hendricks 112 (6,27), Davis 23 (1.1, 7) ... loss 3-4 with Davis BL in extras I didn't think that the HR in the 9th he gave up was on a bad pitch; it was a fastball high and inside and Arcia was sitting on it/guessed right and barely kept it foul. So, in that case, it wasn't obvious Davis shouldn't also pitch the 10th. The other options where Edwards (would have been his 3rd game in a row) or Rondon (2nd game in a row after the day before was his first time back from injury). I think had either of them blown the game it would have led to more 2nd guessing, but I'm not sure which was the right move. I do think Joe might know how much he can pitch Davis now, so maybe that's a silver lining?

I'm all for the short rope with Lackey; I know he's pitched better in the 2nd half but I don't trust him. He also seemed to be laboring quite a bit those games and well, he is really old.

OTOH, my problems with Maddon lately have been 1) so much Jay in CF/leading off and 2) over double switching. The first one is just my desire to see more Almora, as he's probably earned that, and if Jay is going to play more it should be at Heyward's expense (both Heyward and Schwarber seem to be platooning more often now, but I can be wrong on that). The second one has almost come back to bite the Cubs a couple of times, most notably Friday night when Martin took an AB in the 10th with the bases loaded; after Martin predictably struck out LaStella PH for Almora. That entire sequence was just stupid; even if you wanted to make sure you kept a real CF in the game, you PH for Martin and leave Almora in. There's been a couple other instances with the expanded rosters where it seems like Joe gets too "creative" too early and it comes back to bite them later; usually this means double switching in the RP even though it's highly unlikely they stick around multiple innings and their spot is now occupied by a worse hitter.
   89. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 25, 2017 at 11:40 AM (#5538177)
After the Cubs clinch in the next day or 2 (it can't be today since Milwaukee is off, they can clinch at least a tie with a win today), there's a few things worth watching this last week:

1. Lester and Arrieta both have 2 starts left. If Arrieta pitches great in his next start (not sure if he'll be on a pitch count again), I could see the Cubs not having him start the last game of the year (or if he does, have it be a short outing). That way the Cubs could line up the playoff rotation for him to start games 1/5. Otherwise, I think Hendricks might get the 1/2 slot. The Cubs could choose to use Quintana 2nd also, just to get a lefty in there. If Lester gets bombed again, you have to consider whether Lackey gets a rotation slot instead; I hope not.

2. Without trying to lay out the entire postseason roster (I'll do that after a clinch), it'll be interesting to see who takes the last few roster spots. I have to think the Cubs really, really want Wilson on the roster (especially facing the Nats), so he'll get a few more chances in big spots I guess). If Koji comes back, we'll have to see if he's got anything left. For a while, I was convinced they'd take 3 catchers just because Joe likes having that crutch, but then Rivera hasn't played much.
   90. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: September 25, 2017 at 12:42 PM (#5538313)
FWIW - just glancing at the Nats splits, they don't really seem to hit LHP any worse than RHP.

Surprisingly, the Dodgers splits are actually weighted better against LHP.

I say this only because I was about to post my big hope that Lester that can get himself straightened out over the last couple starts to let the Cubs lefty either/both teams to death... and then, upon deciding I better check the math - found it not to be the case.

The real problem with Lester on the roster, but not in the rotation is that he's obviously got certain limitations being used out of the pen... to say nothing of the fact that even during his smacked around phase, a lot of the smacking around seems to be coming from his first time through the order. I cannot see any real way he gets left off the postseason roster. I'm not sure what to do with him if his last two starts work in the same fashion as his last 6.

Anyway, I don't see any way (outside of knock-on-wood health) Arrieta doesn't start the first game. I'd probably go Quintana then Hendricks, but no real preference on the order unless you want to coin flip Lackey/Lester and prefer to RLRL and adjust 2-3 accordingly.
   91. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 25, 2017 at 12:45 PM (#5538317)
I cannot see any real way he gets left off the postseason roster.

Would you want to be the one to tell him that? Oh, man, can you imagine the look on his face? He'd probably shoot laser beams out of his eyes to stun the messenger, kill him with his bare hands, and then eat him.
   92. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 25, 2017 at 01:08 PM (#5538359)
Do you mean Lester or Lackey? Either way, same thing with that conversation.
   93. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 25, 2017 at 01:10 PM (#5538366)
Surprisingly, the Dodgers splits are actually weighted better against LHP.

Fair enough, I was just mainly thinking about Harper and Murphy; I know Rendon has been awesome as well but those are the "scary" guys. I also was only thinking in the broadest possible platoon concerns.

   94. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 25, 2017 at 01:24 PM (#5538385)
Do you mean Lester or Lackey? Either way, same thing with that conversation.

No, only Lester. I can't imagine Lackey eating a human being - I would assume he sticks with oats, apples, sugar cubes, etc.
   95. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 25, 2017 at 04:51 PM (#5538663)
I was going to google "horse bites person" but thought better of it.

---

Lineup: Jay/Bryant/Rizzo/Contreras/Zobrist(LF)/Russell/Heyward/Baez/Lester

Why do I get the feeling this is Joe's preferred lineup and we probably see it in the playoffs?
   96. Brian C Posted: September 25, 2017 at 05:42 PM (#5538694)
Something I'm sure happens from time to time but I've never noticed before:

Wade Davis's WPA Saturday was worse than -1 (-1.085), which means that he actually somehow cost the Cubs more than an entire win.
   97. Walt Davis Posted: September 25, 2017 at 05:46 PM (#5538698)
You probably get that feeling because that was last year's playoff lineup with Jay in for Fowler ... and maybe Contreras/Zo were flipped? As I've said, I've resigned myself to his love of Zo but I'm not sure how he's going to balance that with his love for Schwarber and Heyward. If only we could create Schwayward.

On Riggelmanitis -- the original case was 20 years ago and lots has happened with starter and bullpen usage in the interim. So the only way to avoid the occasional Justin Wilson in a key situation is to have so few key situations that Edwards and Davis are always rested for them (this was somewhat the case for Riggelman). And here I thought I was being polite not calling it Maddon 2016 playoff-itis.

On Hendricks, yes I'm glad to see him trusted more but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be concerned he might get tired out. In his first 18 starts, 9 were of 92 pitches or fewer and only 3 were of more than 96 pitches. His last 5 are 99, 101, 105, 107, 112. That's not Randy Johnson obviously but you've got a guy settled into a pattern of 92-96 pitches, what happens when you consistently keep him out there for an extra 10-15 pitches? I don't know, you don't know, probably Joe doesn't know but it's an unexpected change in Joe's behavior that maybe means "more trust in Hendricks" or maybe means "less trust in the bullpen and my other starters." It looks desperate so maybe it is desperate.

Which isn't to say that he should have trust in Lackey, Lester and the lesser bullpen parts now ... but it is to say that their usage is unavoidable and that (disaster series against Milw aside), the Cubs were in pretty comfy shape and so now is not the time to panic and use up the pitchers you can rely on.
   98. Brian C Posted: September 25, 2017 at 06:20 PM (#5538717)
Hasn't Maddon been saying all year that this was pretty much the plan? To make sure he doesn't overextend the starters early in the season so that they're fresh when they need to ramp it up over the last couple of months?

As I see it, this is not an "unexpected change" from Joe, and it certainly doesn't look desperate. But even taking your argument at face value, finding yourself in the thick of a close pennant race with two months to go is a good time to maybe up the urgency a bit and make sure you're maximizing your best players. Still wouldn't make it seem "desperate."



   99. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 25, 2017 at 06:23 PM (#5538722)
You probably get that feeling because that was last year's playoff lineup with Jay in for Fowler ... and maybe Contreras/Zo were flipped? As I've said, I've resigned myself to his love of Zo but I'm not sure how he's going to balance that with his love for Schwarber and Heyward. If only we could create Schwayward.

Good call - Zobrist was 4 and Contreras 5, but yeah, the rest is the same (well, that was the lineup for game 5 of the WS; there was a lot else going on in other playoff games, especially in RF).

A quick update on some of those splits I posted earlier, but Zobrist is still only hitting .246/.338/.354 this month; I'll admit he looks better to me, but that's not cutting it. I can live with one of Zo or Heyward in the lineup, but still still rather have neither.
   100. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 25, 2017 at 06:24 PM (#5538724)
As I see it, this is not an "unexpected change" from Joe, and it certainly doesn't look desperate. But even taking your argument at face value, finding yourself in the thick of a close pennant race with two months to go is a good time to maybe up the urgency a bit and make sure you're maximizing your best players. Still wouldn't make it seem "desperate."

Also, is that really that big of a jump in pitches for Hendricks? Doesn't feel like it to me, especially if he should be pitching deeper. I think if he's healthy, he might "have more bullets" or whatever expression you want to use since his innings were way down this year since he was out so long.
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