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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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   101. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 25, 2017 at 07:42 PM (#5538775)
Weird post-numbering thing going on.

Anyway: Lester has two more starts, so that gives him a lot of opportunity to play himself on to, or off of, the playoff rotation. I agree that he's on the roster either way.

Edit: And post number 101 fixes it!
   102. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 25, 2017 at 07:49 PM (#5538778)
Also, is that really that big of a jump in pitches for Hendricks?

Third-most in his career.
   103. Optimistic Moses Taylor, optimist Posted: September 25, 2017 at 08:29 PM (#5538805)
112 you mean? If you're gonna have him throw that much, isn't giving him a few more each game seem a reasonable way to do it? Is 112 that unreasonable?

Honestly just asking. I don't know where we are supposed to stand on pitch counts these days.
   104. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 25, 2017 at 09:42 PM (#5538832)
I don't have a problem with it and just wanted to point out that it was a standout situation for Hendricks. I really don't know: It's more the third-time-through-the-order thing, not the classic argument against high pitch counts (injury). 112 pitches is not unreasonable for a 28 year-old, although you probably have to be careful about doing it all the time. And after a year where he threw 224 IP, his velocity is down a good bit.

Smoltz blathered on and on about it during the Saturday Fox game, but I think there's a point here: how is a pitcher supposed to learn how to do that? I remember watching Rick Sutcliffe, long after his fastball had departed, pulling rabbits out of his hat late in games and being reasonably successful. If anyone looks like he can make a career out of doing that, it's Kyle Hendricks.
   105. Optimistic Moses Taylor, optimist Posted: September 25, 2017 at 11:28 PM (#5538876)
1.
   106. Meatwad in mourning Posted: September 25, 2017 at 11:30 PM (#5538879)
Wooo cubs.
   107. Optimistic Moses Taylor, optimist Posted: September 26, 2017 at 11:35 AM (#5539133)
I think Lester's start last night was encouraging. His velocity was a little better - he seemed to sit mostly at 93, but there were a couple of 94s mixed in. His control seemed a lot better, but he seemed to be nibbling most of the night. Only 4Ks and 2BBs. Early on, the Cards were hitting the ball hard, but right at guys. He wasn't super efficient, but got better as the game went on.

I think it was enough for me to feel like he's not hiding an injury, and hopefully he's a little sharper next time. I still very much would rather have him start in the playoffs than Lackey.

---

Bryant is on an absolute tear right now, hitting .333/.440/.579 since August 1st, upping his season numbers to .297/.411/.543. His ABs are an absolute joy to watch right now. OTOH, Rizzo appears to be scuffling a bit, hitting only .253/.381/.380 in September with only 1 HR (on 9/14); you can see how frustrated he is lately after his outs and there've been quite a few bat or helmet slams.

I'd expect Baez to get a day or so off after fouling a ball off his knee last night (he finished the AB with a single, but left for a PR and looked to be in serious pain). They said it's just a bruise, but it looks to be in a painful area.

Looking forward to Jake tonight, still haven't seen what, if any, pitch count he's on.
   108. Optimistic Moses Taylor, optimist Posted: September 26, 2017 at 03:33 PM (#5539417)
Hmmm:

Zobrist(2b)/Bryant/Rizzo/Contreras/Happ(CF)/Schwarber/Heyward/Freeman(?!?!?!)/Arrieta
   109. Optimistic Moses Taylor, optimist Posted: September 26, 2017 at 03:35 PM (#5539418)
Sahadev Sharma‏ @sahadevsharma 8m8 minutes ago

Javy's knee is still sore and Addy has a scheduled day off after playing three days in a row.


What's Almora gotta do to get some PT?
   110. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 26, 2017 at 03:49 PM (#5539434)
What's Almora gotta do to get some PT?

Teach Happ or Zobrist how to play shortstop, apparently. (Yes, I know Zobrist has played there before.)
   111. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: September 26, 2017 at 04:05 PM (#5539442)
Or play shortstop himself. (I'd probably rather have him there than Zobrist at this point...)
   112. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: September 26, 2017 at 04:06 PM (#5539443)
Boy, that lineup from spots 5 through 1 could be pretty feeble if Martinez is on his game.
   113. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: September 26, 2017 at 04:07 PM (#5539444)
They said it's just a bruise, but it looks to be in a painful area.

Right, probably a couple days rest/ice and he'll be fine.
   114. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: September 26, 2017 at 04:09 PM (#5539445)
So the Brewers face off against the Reds and something named Deck McGuire. Between him and Rookie Davis, they've at least got some interesting names on their pitching staff, if not a lot of very good pitchers.
   115. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 26, 2017 at 04:20 PM (#5539453)
They said it's just a bruise, but it looks to be in a painful area.

What, like the back seat of a Volkswagen?
   116. Optimistic Moses Taylor, optimist Posted: September 27, 2017 at 10:57 AM (#5539974)
Last night's game was extremely frustrating for a number of reasons. I think after sleeping on it, I'm much more annoyed with Arrieta's performance. He said after the game his hamstring still isn't 100% and it's caused him to tinker with his delivery. In retrospect, I wondered a little if the Cubs should have left him in to get up to his pitch count (he was pulled at 67) instead of trying to do something with his spot up and bases loaded/no outs; then I remembered his first AB where he basically jogged to first so even if he got a hit he probably shouldn't have been running the bases. So yeah, probably was best to pull him and not overthink it. Regardless, he got hit hard and didn't seem to be fooling anyone (even if he should have gotten out of the first only giving up 1). That's quite worrisome for the playoff rotation; it's silly to overreact to every start - even though that's exactly what I'm doing - but the Cubs really have to think hard about who starts game 1 in the NLDS.

Secondly, last night might have been Joe's worst managed game in some time. Even if I disagreed with various decisions before, like throughout game 7, the logic that he was using at least made some sense and you could see how it led him to where it did. Last night, I just don't get it. One was PH Almora for Schwarber, but letting Heyward hit, both against a lefty. I realize Heyward has defensive value, so you'd rather he stay in the game if there ever was a lead to protect. I also realize Schwarber has pretty big platoon splits (this year he's .175/.313/.350 against LHP, but that is heavily first half slanted - side note, can I find his L/R splits by half anywhere?), but so does Heyward (this year, .270/.294/.374). Putting Almora in also upgrades the defense, but it was the 5th inning and the Cubs were still trailing by 2; with a runner on 2nd is Heyward's better BA worth that move in that spot? I say no, especially since Duke has a reverse platoon split this year (it's not extreme, but it's also not like he's a lefty killer). Almora has PH for Schwarber a bit lately it seems, but having Schwarber and Heyward hitting back to back really made this one look terrible.

I harped on it in the chatter, but I have no idea what Joe sees in Pena. He's been godfuckingawful up here, and he was pretty terrible in Iowa this year. He's 27, there's nothing that stands out with his stuff. There's no reason he should be anywhere near a winnable game. I do understand hoping to not burn out the pen, but there are still a lot of other arms down there and Joe definitely shouldn't have pushed his luck for a 2nd inning.

Did I miss something about Avila, why was he not a PH option?

Of course, most of the blame for the loss goes to the offense (and defense) early, but Joe just didn't put the Cubs in the best spot late when it was down to the wire.

   117. Optimistic Moses Taylor, optimist Posted: September 27, 2017 at 01:06 PM (#5540168)
According to Brooks Baseball, Arrieta tossed his sinker 39 times (out of 67 pitches total) and averaged a strong 93.1 mph with the pitch. He threw his changeup six times and got three swing-and-misses on it, but that appeared to be the only pitch working for him on the night. Catcher Willson Contreras said Arrieta made a lot of mistakes with his fastball and struggled to find his slider.

Both the home runs Arrieta allowed were on sinkers that stayed in the middle of the zone. Arrieta said the one to Tommy Pham in the second stung the most as he tried to go away and it tailed in and Pham did a good job of bringing in his hands and driving the ball 426 feet to left field.

But the part that stands out is the fact that Arrieta said that since his hamstring is still bothering him slightly, he’s had to alter his mechanics.

“Just slightly,” Arrieta said. “The hamstring is still there a little bit. I don’t have the drive that I do at 100 percent. But it’s still plenty enough to be effective. Velocity was really good tonight. Stuff is not an issue. Tonight what sticks out is a couple of pitches I left out over the plate and they hit them.”
   118. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 27, 2017 at 01:10 PM (#5540176)
I am totally with you on the frustration front, and shared your bewilderment at Maddon's management of last night's game.

But taking it apart in my head, I kind of get what happened, and some of it I am still not happy about. First, I think Maddon is managing like the Cubs have already clinched the division. And I am okay with that -- if the combination of events necessary for that not to happen come to pass, it will be for a lot of different reasons, with Maddon's managing likely not in the Top Ten.

The plan with Arrieta is to ease him back in, and ease him back in they did. It did not go very well, and it seems that this is in part because he is quite a bit short of 100%, maybe further off than the team thought. They now need to evaluate what happened and proceed with the rehab plan, perhaps making some adjustments. Last night's start was essentially about Arrieta's long-term rehabilitation, not clinching the Division that night, and that's a good thing. A successful postseason is a lot more likely if Arrieta is healthy.

As for in-game decisions, I am not so worried about the handedness issue. First, it's more about Carlos Martinez that it is about Schwarber and Heyward. Martinez DOES have a pretty extreme platoon split (career .598 OPS against RHB, .767 against LHB), so teams tend to stock lineups with lefties against him (career he has seen an almost equal number of RHB and LHB). Having the two LHBs in a row is a big part of why Matheny brought in Duke when he did, I think. Both Schwarber and Heyward have shown mostly extreme platoon splits -- Heyward has actually had close to a normal R/L split this year, but career his OPS is .800/.652 against RHP/LHP, which is pretty strong. Schwarber is even more extreme at .855/.590 (just 157 career PAs against LHP). Fangraphs has a tool for doing double splits by the way. It doesn't give OPS but Schwarber hit .154 against lefties with one HR in the first half, .214 with two HR in the second half. I'm not impressed, and I would much rather hit for Schwarber and improve the defense, if choosing between the two options. As it turned out, it was a good thing offensively that Heyward was left in the game. I was okay with this decision.

Bringing in Peña and then Wilson, that was a disappointment to me. I felt like the Cubs could win that game, even down 6-3, and Peña is a mop-up guy. But Monty was all over the place, and they needed to put somebody in. This gets back to the Rigglemanitis issue. It was the sixth inning: was this a game where you want to run through three of Edwards/Strop/Rondon/Duensing before you get to Wade Davis? Because that's what you do in a must-win situation. Again, it was disappointing, but I am glad Maddon didn't manage the game that way. Was Peña the right guy to bring in? I think probably not, and it turned out badly. He wanted a right-hander. I'm not sure it's about Maddon liking Peña so much, but more not thinking he had much of a choice. You were arguing for Maples, and I guess I might have argued for Tseng (maybe being saved for another start?) but none of these choices is clearly superior to the others IMO. I do sometimes harbor the dark thought that Maddon might consider having Peña on the post-season roster, but I doubt it. In any case, the Cubs enter tonight's game with a reasonably fresh bullpen.

I also was surprised Avila (also Rivera) never appeared and that Caratini came in first, especially with Contreras taking the physical beating he did. Could be a reason we are not privy to.

Anyway, as a fan I really wanted them to clinch last night, as I will tonight. But mostly I want the team to be in good shape at the end of next week. Tonight we have Lackey pitching, himself on the bubble with regard to a postseason rotation spot, so maybe that will be a motivator.

   119. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 27, 2017 at 01:16 PM (#5540190)
Rigglemanitis

Don't we kind of have to go with Rigglemania here?
   120. Optimistic Moses Taylor, optimist Posted: September 27, 2017 at 01:42 PM (#5540218)
I'm not impressed, and I would much rather hit for Schwarber and improve the defense, if choosing between the two options. As it turned out, it was a good thing offensively that Heyward was left in the game. I was okay with this decision.

In the abstract, I agree. In the top of the 5th, when it means losing at least 2 Schwarber ABs, less so. I think it also matters that's it Duke, and he's a lefty that I think Schwarber would be ok against based purely on stuff (he is 0 for 3 against him). If you're going to pull Schwarber that early in a 2 run game, don't even start him - start Almora and then you get to choose when to hit Schwarber.

It was the sixth inning: was this a game where you want to run through three of Edwards/Strop/Rondon/Duensing before you get to Wade Davis? Because that's what you do in a must-win situation. Again, it was disappointing, but I am glad Maddon didn't manage the game that way. Was Peña the right guy to bring in? I think probably not, and it turned out badly. He wanted a right-hander. I'm not sure it's about Maddon liking Peña so much, but more not thinking he had much of a choice.

There's also Rondon; he pitched the night before but only 9 pitches. Is he completely unable to pitch consecutive games at this point? Yes, otherwise I agree, although you probably bring Wilson in at some point if you're still trailing (honestly now that I think about it, why wasn't he in before Pena - did Joe already elevate him to his circle of trust after the inning in MIL?). I will say that Montgomery not being sharp made it harder on Joe, though he probably still gets PH for in the 6th.

The thing about Pena though is that he's pitched in 23 games and allowed runs in 12 of them; he's pitched multiple innings in 8 of those games and allowed runs in 6 of those. Once he got through the 6th unscathed, Joe should have known to pull him.

I also was surprised Avila (also Rivera) never appeared and that Caratini came in first, especially with Contreras taking the physical beating he did. Could be a reason we are not privy to.

Yeah, that was kind of weird too. Joe managed the hitters like a must win game (save for Caratini - though with him being a switch hitter, I almost thought Joe was trying to get Matheny to make a pitching change so he could hit Avila against a righty), but not the pitchers. Maybe that's why I'm annoyed; mixed messages and all (if it's not must win, you leave Schwarber in too).
   121. Optimistic Moses Taylor, optimist Posted: September 27, 2017 at 03:18 PM (#5540318)
Potential clinching lineup: Jay/Bryant/Rizzo/Zobrist(LF)/Russell/Baez/Heyward/Rivera/Lackey.

The Cubs were never going to clinch in a game started by Mike Freeman, apologies to the Spahn and the other Freemaniacs on the site; hopefully Walt and the rest of the Renethusiasts are more fortunate.

I do wonder if Avila is hurt, hasn't appeared since the 22nd.
   122. Optimistic Moses Taylor, optimist Posted: September 27, 2017 at 04:02 PM (#5540343)
Len Kasper‏ @LenKasper 38m38 minutes ago

Bryant's BB rate of 14.3% ranks 7th in MLB. Of Top 10 in MLB in BB rate, he has 4th-lowest K rate (only Votto/Rendon/Trout K less often)
   123. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 27, 2017 at 06:51 PM (#5540458)
In the abstract, I agree. In the top of the 5th, when it means losing at least 2 Schwarber ABs, less so.

I'll say it: in 2017, I am happy to have Almora hitting in place of Schwarber. It didn't work out yesterday because Almora got hurt, but I think the Cubs' prospects for the rest of the game increased when Schwarber was replaced in the lineup, despite the nice approach he showed in his previous PAs hitting hard ground balls up the middle/to the right side. This year Almora has been the better hitter, and unless Schwarber gets his #### together, I expect that to continue.

There's also Rondon; he pitched the night before but only 9 pitches.

He was on my list, but when starters rarely go more than six innings, was it a good idea to bring him in last night? Maybe it was, but I am glad he's available tonight.
   124. Walt Davis Posted: September 27, 2017 at 09:52 PM (#5540660)
Hey hey! Woo-woo! Fly the W!
   125. Walt Davis Posted: September 27, 2017 at 10:09 PM (#5540678)
One was PH Almora for Schwarber, but letting Heyward hit, both against a lefty.

Joe did that a couple of times in the playoffs last year. Not necessarily with Almora/Schwarber but basically burned his PH options early in an inning even though it was pretty likely Heyward was going to bat with the game on the line. Maybe that sort of thing is the right approach but I tend to doubt it.

I am happy to have Almora hitting in place of Schwarber.

Sure, but I am happy to have Almora hitting in place of Heyward. So it depends on who's left on the bench, etc. Generally you don't want Schwarber hitting against LHP or, when it can be avoided, Heyward hitting against anybody. Or Zobrist. Obviously Joe has only so many options so it's a question of which lousy choices are you most comfy with. It's an ugly choice but I think in that situation I'd rather keep Schwarber's bat in the game than Heyward's glove. If the Cubs are ahead, then the reverse.

hopefully Walt and the rest of the Renethusiasts are more fortunate

Huh? When have I ever said anything that would suggest I'm pro-Rivera (whatever that would even mean)?
   126. The Honorable Ardo Posted: September 27, 2017 at 10:12 PM (#5540682)
46-24 since the All-Star break - a 106-win pace prorated to a full season. Quite the stretch run.
   127. Optimistic Moses Taylor, optimist Posted: September 28, 2017 at 11:16 AM (#5540894)
Huh? When have I ever said anything that would suggest I'm pro-Rivera (whatever that would even mean)?

Lighten up, it was a joke. I just couldn't think of a way to combine Caratini with a word like that and assign it to Elroy.
   128. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 28, 2017 at 11:37 AM (#5540919)
NLDS tickets in Washington are on sale now. I'll be there for Games 1 and 2...
   129. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 28, 2017 at 11:39 AM (#5540921)
I just couldn't think of a way to combine Caratini with a word like that and assign it to Elroy.

Caratiniphiles? It works for a biologist.
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