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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The Third Third

Moses remarked that the Cubs under Maddon seem to be a second-half team, which is undeniable. 2015-17 they tallied 149-73, a .671 clip. The worst second-half record they posted in those three years was .662. Not happening so far this second-half—up 4-0 in the first against the Pirates as I type this, the Cubs are 6-7 so far in the second half. But this is against some tough competition: eight of those games against the Cardinals, four against the Diamondbacks, and one against the suddenly scary Pirates. So while the Cubs have been treading water after a terrific lead-in to the ASB, a game under .500 through a stretch like that is hardly a disaster.

Tonight the Cubs play their 108th game, so looking forward it’s the third third, not the second half. The Cubs schedule from here on out looks somewhat favorable. Depending on the model for strength of schedule, Fangraphs has the Cubs chances of making the playoffs at 80-94%, winning 89-93 games. That range of estimates feels about right to me. 27/56 remaining games are against NL Central opponents, and while neither the Reds nor the Pirates being patsies any more, the rest of the division is in that same boat.

Looking at what’s happened the last two weeks since the Break, here are some good, bad, and MIA highlights:

The Good:

Rizzo has returned to form (I was going to say “Rizzo’s back” but that’s a different thing), at .364/.455/.625 in the last couple of weeks. Good timing.
Baez has kept on keeping on, hitting 3 HR and knocking in 10 runs in the last 13 games.
Likewise, Zobrist has picked up his pace after a terrific first half, hitting .467.
And of course, David Bote has made the most of his 12 plate appearances since the Break, including a very memorable game-tying home run.
Jesse Chavez has been absolutely lights out.

The Bad:

Need I say it?  The starting pitching. Pretty much all of them. Even if it was almost entirely in a single game, any time you have four different position players pitching in a 13-game period (Caratini has two pitching appearances), things are not going well. I won’t belabor the particulars.

The MIA:

The Cubs’ best player is on the DL with a shoulder issue, and when he’s been in the lineup, it appears to have sapped his power. Bryant on the DL, or playing at a diminished level, is potentially a huge problem from here on out. So far, and I think this is a testament not only to the team’s depth but its character, the Cubs have managed remarkably in his absence. Let’s hope that keeps on going.
Brandon Morrow’s absence is also worrying, but Pedro Strop has done well, and the additions of Chavez and Kintzler will hopefully take some pressure off of the Des Moines shuttle crew, who too have performed admirably.

Despite the challenges, this is a pretty damn good team. They retain the highest run differential in the National League. And even when the Cubs starter coughs up some crooked numbers in the early innings, it doesn’t feel like they are out of it. If they make the post-season this year, it will be the first time a Cubs team has done that in four straight seasons, and it likely won’t require a .671 win percentage. You have to feel pretty good about this.

Andere Richtingen Posted: August 01, 2018 at 07:27 PM | 154 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 02, 2018 at 09:19 AM (#5719514)
Walt, yes. Joe said it's a way to maybe have more guys on in front of Rizzo, and also Rizzo might stay at leadoff rest of the year.

My guess is that Rizzo leads off until he goes into a short slump. And as along as he is getting on base at a .400+ clip, there is no harm.
   2. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 02, 2018 at 09:54 AM (#5719542)
The big mystery is, what is Baez's batting average and OPS? BBREF has it as .299/.905 on his player page, but .302/.910 on his game log page, which includes last night's game. MLB.com has it as .299/.905 on last night's box score, but .299/.906 on his player page. ESPN has .302/.910.
   3. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 02, 2018 at 10:08 AM (#5719551)
Rizzo hitting leadoff this year is at .348/.446/.623. He's moved there twice, both during huge slumps. I've argued he should stay there until he starts hitting bunches of home runs; not sure the recent 3 in 4 games counts. The other problem of course is that there isn't another obvious candidate:
-Perhaps when Bryant comes back, if he's not going to hit HRs, he'd be a perfect leadoff guy - decent average, takes a lot of walks, plus baserunner.
-Heyward during his hot streak would have been a good option, but like I pointed out last thread he's back to his normal Heyward for July so I want him getting fewer ABs/moved down the lineup and not getting more/moved up.
-Both Happ and Schwarber would be decent candidates, but both have had pretty public "failures" there, so I could see why Joe would be hesitant to put that sort of public pressure on either of them again. Also, Schwarber is scuffling a bit lately; after topping out with a .912 OPS on 6/5, Schwarber is hitting .207/.333/.407.
-Almora has hit there, and is a fine options against lefties, but he's not really that great of a baserunner and he doesn't see many pitches. Also, he's in a funk, hitting only .219/.250/.274 since the start of July.

Outside of Javy, Zobrist has been the Cubs best hitter recently, plus he usually has the best ABs. I think I'd consider moving him to leadoff, but I think he gets (and needs and appears to be benefitting from) regular days off.

I think about the damn lineup order way too much, I know this.
   4. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 02, 2018 at 10:11 AM (#5719555)
I've got to say that was quite a promising debut from Hamels. The Pirates have been really good lately, so it was good to see him fool so many guys. Like almost every other SP this year, he ended up throwing way too many pitches/working too hard to put guys away, so he was at nearly 100 pitches after his 5 innings.

Duensing still sucks, and it's a damn shame he's on the roster ahead of Rosario. I know Bass is hurt, otherwise I'd say the same thing about him and Chatwood.
   5. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: August 02, 2018 at 10:28 AM (#5719564)
Like almost every other SP this year, he ended up throwing way too many pitches/working too hard to put guys away, so he was at nearly 100 pitches after his 5 innings.


This, 1000 times this.

I mean, I get that no pitcher wants to throw batting practice, but FFS -- I do not get why this staff insists on such nibbling when there's a perfectly wonderful defense behind them.

Bases empty, big lead, or especially both - pitch to contact dammit!
   6. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 02, 2018 at 10:32 AM (#5719565)
Wait, are people really buying that there's some sort of causal relationship between Rizzo batting leadoff and his bat coming around?
   7. Charles S. is a big fan of Outerbridge Horsey Posted: August 02, 2018 at 10:33 AM (#5719567)
With Rosario having options and Duensing having ingratiated himself to Madden last year, it's no surprise that they're willing to stash Rosario at Iowa to give Duensing a little more time to try to get it together. I don't think it will happen. Most likely Duensing will be given a hearty handshake and a "thank for last year" to go with his DFA by August 15. That will still mean a bit of a roster squeeze when/if Morrow and Darvish come back before 9/1. Rosario will probably have to stay in the minors, and they'll have to find an injury for one of the righties in the pen (Chatwood?) until the roster expansion. Barring a spate of injuries, I don't see Bass, Farrell, Hancock, Maples, Mazzoni or Norwood as in the picture other than as a September guy.
   8. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 02, 2018 at 10:35 AM (#5719569)
Duensing is signed through next year, so I suppose that factors into the decision.
   9. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 02, 2018 at 11:05 AM (#5719589)
Wait, are people really buying that there's some sort of causal relationship between Rizzo batting leadoff and his bat coming around?

I think Maddon does, and that's all that matters. There is the old adage, that likely does not apply here, that the leadoff hitter sees more fastballs.
   10. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 02, 2018 at 11:08 AM (#5719592)
I think Maddon does, and that's all that matters.
Yeah, I have that sneaking suspicion as well, which doesn't exactly cover Maddon in glory. If he's just doing it to get his best active hitter more ABs, all well and good, but I suspect it's more based on the old correlation-causality thing.
   11. Charles S. is a big fan of Outerbridge Horsey Posted: August 02, 2018 at 11:09 AM (#5719594)
Duensing is signed through next year, so I suppose that factors into the decision.

Oof! Then maybe a waiver deal to someone who needs a veteran lefty and is willing to take on a little money. He's got enough of a track record and good-guy reputation that someone will take a flyer.
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 02, 2018 at 11:24 AM (#5719599)
Or, alternatively, we could put him on the rocket to the sun with Chatwood.
   13. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: August 02, 2018 at 11:32 AM (#5719606)
Or, alternatively, we could put him on the rocket to the sun with Chatwood.


That's a terrible idea.

At least a Chatwood-manned rocket ship has a good chance of missing the sun and then just exiting the solar system, never to be seen again. Adding a Duensing-class booster to it lessens the chances of it missing, but significantly, dangerously increases the chances the earth knocks the snot out of it and blasts a laser of incalculable exist velocity back at earth.

I'm not thrilled with either of them, too -- but it's not worth risking the planet over.
   14. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 02, 2018 at 12:00 PM (#5719625)
Wait, are people really buying that there's some sort of causal relationship between Rizzo batting leadoff and his bat coming around?

Sort of, partially. Because the underlying statistics for Rizzo showed there wasn't any reason for the decreased production (stuff I've linked throughout these threads), and because for whatever reason he *thinks* there's a benefit to it and he enjoys it, I don't see any reason to disregard the difference completely although I completely rationally understand why it isn't actually a real thing.
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 02, 2018 at 12:07 PM (#5719628)
for whatever reason he *thinks* there's a benefit to it and he enjoys it, I don't see any reason to disregard the difference completely
So, Leadoff Placebo Effect?
   16. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 02, 2018 at 12:30 PM (#5719648)
Yeah, I have that sneaking suspicion as well, which doesn't exactly cover Maddon in glory. If he's just doing it to get his best active hitter more ABs, all well and good, but I suspect it's more based on the old correlation-causality thing.

I don't really think Maddon thinks it - I think Maddon might realize the players think it, but he's talked about putting people there because it changes their routine, their thought process, etc and it's another way to "clear their head". Plenty of times guys slumps are just mental, so anything you can do to change that helps and is probably more than a placebo effect because it actually does help them mentally.
   17. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 02, 2018 at 12:42 PM (#5719659)
Oof! Then maybe a waiver deal to someone who needs a veteran lefty and is willing to take on a little money. He's got enough of a track record and good-guy reputation that someone will take a flyer.

It's a relatively cheap deal, the Cubs could eat it if they chose to. I'm guessing he'll stick around at least this year, but I'd be shocked if he's on the postseason roster (or pitches much this next month). That's the problem though, you can't have 2 mop-up guys in the pen; eventually one or both of them are going to have to pitch in a close game. Right now, 5 runs almost feels too close. If they were just homer prone, it'd be one type of bad; but since they just love to put guys on, you're going to end up having someone come in with runners to deal with.

They're both just bad, and I have no hope either provide a significant boost.
   18. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 02, 2018 at 12:42 PM (#5719660)
Still a discrepancy between Baez'z BBREF player page and his game log page. The former has him 117 for .391, for a .299 AVG, while the latter has him 118/391 .302. I mentioned it in the game chatter last night, as MLB.com game cast had his average at an even .300 after his second hit, the same average he started the game with. So that's 2 different independent platforms that seem to have misplaced a single somewhere. Weird.

edit: I was going to fix the typo above, but I kind of like it.
   19. Brian C Posted: August 02, 2018 at 12:44 PM (#5719663)
So, Leadoff Placebo Effect?

Seems as plausible as a normal placebo effect, which doesn't seem like it ought to be a thing but very much is.

I doubt Maddon cares if there's a causal effect or not. Putting Rizzo up there doesn't hurt anything, it's productive, so who cares? Just ride it out.
   20. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: August 02, 2018 at 01:05 PM (#5719678)
Still a discrepancy between Baez'z BBREF player page and his game log page. The former has him 117 for .391, for a .299 AVG, while the latter has him 118/391 .302. I mentioned it in the game chatter last night, as MLB.com game cast had his average at an even .300 after his second hit, the same average he started the game with. So that's 2 different independent platforms that seem to have misplaced a single somewhere. Weird.


My guess would be that there was a scoring change - hit to E or E to hit - reflected in one place but not the other....
   21. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: August 02, 2018 at 01:06 PM (#5719681)
Probably this one...

97. 7/25 ARI AT CHN, In the bottom of the 8th inning, Javier Baez reaches on a two base throwing error by pitcher T. J. McFarland, instead of an infield single to pitcher T.J. McFarland and advanced to second on throwing error by McFarland.
   22. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 02, 2018 at 01:31 PM (#5719695)
FWIW, ZIPS projections for rest of the year only have the Cubs 1 game up on Milwaukee, while the main FG projections give them 4 games and BPro gives them 3 games.

IOW, not a lot of margin for error to mess around with the bullpen F troop (and all probably have the Cubs getting more out of Bryant* and Darvish** than they likely will).

*FG has 200PA and 1.8WAR projected for him.
**FG only has 28IP and 0.6WAR projected for him.
   23. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 02, 2018 at 02:05 PM (#5719724)
it changes their routine, their thought process, etc and it's another way to "clear their head".


Exactly. These guys are human, you know. Changes in their process and routine can impact productivity.
   24. Voodoo Posted: August 02, 2018 at 02:08 PM (#5719729)
I'm not sure this really qualifies as news, because what MLB player is happy to be sent to AAA during the heat of a pennant race after performing well in the bigs, but reports are that Rosario was none too pleased with his recent demotion. I knew he had done pretty well, but I didn't realize he had a sub-2.00 ERA. Then I look and see his FIP is 5.10 (of course, Duensing's is 6.22).
   25. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 02, 2018 at 02:13 PM (#5719731)
At least he didn't threaten to retire and go home. I feel for him, and it's clear he's better than Duensing and Joe trusts him more. I'm sure they explained everything to him and he'll be back (he'll be the first guy back if there's a DL stint), but that's still a month of lesser pay and riding the bus in Iowa.

This is the downside of good depth - a decent play drawing a short straw and being unhappy. Bass has been even better, and he is also out of options, so if he wasn't on the DL there'd be another problem to deal with.
   26. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: August 02, 2018 at 02:17 PM (#5719738)
I'm not sure this really qualifies as news, because what MLB player is happy to be sent to AAA during the heat of a pennant race after performing well in the bigs, but reports are that Rosario was none too pleased with his recent demotion. I knew he had done pretty well, but I didn't realize he had a sub-2.00 ERA. Then I look and see his FIP is 5.10 (of course, Duensing's is 6.22).


His peripherals - obviously, given what FIP intends to measure - match the FIP...

19 Ks vs 16 BBs in 32 IP... and 4 HRs.

I'm rather surprised that actually - he hasn't been as terrible as I'd have thought on the IR/IS front (only three inherited runners scoring out of 18 total - I'd have guessed it was at least twice that).

He was/is a very nice waiver snag - certainly worth a spot on the 40 man... but I'm not sweating his happiness or lack thereof much.
   27. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 02, 2018 at 04:36 PM (#5719862)
Because I can't help myself

Rizzo
Almora
Heyward
Baez
Contreras
Happ
Russell
Montgomery
Bote

should be (assuming Zobrist is getting a prescribed day of rest)

Almora
Baez
Rizzo
Conteras
Happ
Bote
Heyward
Russell
Montgomery


Heyward actually has ok splits against LHP, so he stays in ahead of Schwarber.
   28. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 02, 2018 at 04:40 PM (#5719870)
Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma 29m29 minutes ago

Along with Smyly throwing a sim game, Morrow is out in left throwing off flat ground for what I believe is the first time since he went on the DL. Last week Morrow said it'd be about two weeks from the point when he started throwing again.


I thought I saw Darvish would be doing a sim game soon. Haven't seen anything new on Bryant, though I think he could come off the DL today.

UPDATE:
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 14s15 seconds ago

Morrow “no problems” after playing catch for 1st time in 2 weeks. Will play catch again Friday


No word on who put his pants on for him.
   29. Sunday silence Posted: August 02, 2018 at 06:21 PM (#5719931)
is it possible the lead off hitter sees more bases empty AB? ANd hence the pitcher is more likely to pitch to contact or whatever?

I mean there's the first inn. no one's on, but also following the bottom of the order there's more of a chance no one will be on base. Never really thought of this as an effect.
   30. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 02, 2018 at 06:27 PM (#5719934)
Rosario should threaten to retire and go to Tommy LaStella's house.
   31. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 02, 2018 at 06:30 PM (#5719936)
So we have a work outing at one of the rooftops tonight. Not particularly looking forward to it, as we all know the rooftops suck, but it's kind of one of those things you have to do to fit in. Could be a lot worse, of course - it's free and the weather is great. But it sucks that in the last three years our seats have gone from 400 level above third base (great view) to back of 200s last year (terrible view) to rooftop (pretty much no view).
   32. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 03, 2018 at 10:42 AM (#5720205)
You picked a great game to go to and not be able to see.

It's like the Cubs didn't even show up - 2 infield singles and a bloop that dropped in right over the IF. Chavez wasn't going to be perfect forever, and it's not like Montgomery was great, but there was no reason for Joe to pull him after letting 1 guy reach since Monty hit for himself with 1st/3rd no outs. That was just garbage. Also, only 79 pitches is a perfect time to let him keep on going. You can't see it's a problem your starters don't go deep in games with that quick of a hook; at least PH for him would have been defensible.
   33. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 10:47 AM (#5720206)
Unfortunately, the view was better than expected. It was a beautiful sunset, if nothing else.

What was with Montgomery spiking the toss to Bote on that rundown early on? Did he catch something from Lester?
   34. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 10:49 AM (#5720208)
it's not like Montgomery was great, but there was no reason for Joe to pull him after letting 1 guy reach since Monty hit for himself with 1st/3rd no outs. That was just garbage. Also, only 79 pitches is a perfect time to let him keep on going. You can't see it's a problem your starters don't go deep in games with that quick of a hook; at least PH for him would have been defensible.
Managering at its worst.
   35. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 03, 2018 at 10:52 AM (#5720209)
Rizzo
Zobrist 2b
Heyward
Baez SS
Happ
Scwarber
Caratini
Quintana
TLS 3b

I want to see more Bote. Also, STOP PUTTING HEYWARD THIRD:"DLK:JDSG:LKJSADGF:LKHJASGD
   36. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 11:12 AM (#5720220)
Hey Joe: If batting Rizzo leadoff caused him to heat up, isn't the move to third therefore responsible for ending Heyward's hot streak?
   37. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:11 PM (#5720240)
Hey Joe: If batting Rizzo leadoff caused him to heat up, isn't the move to third therefore responsible for ending Heyward's hot streak?

Unless you want to see the pitcher batting third, I recommend that you shut your big mouth.
   38. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:18 PM (#5720243)
I mean, if you're going to let the pitcher bat for himself with runners on the corners and no outs when he's going to be yanked after the next baserunner he allows, you might as well go ahead and bat him third.
   39. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:21 PM (#5720244)
TBF, it was only 1 out, and he let Montgomery swing away. Which is even worse, since he basically did ground into an inning ending double play save for Willson's Javying and a favorable review call (though the right one, not sure how you could see if for sure; just like the call the Cubs had overturned wrongly in Pitt the other night (then again I don't think Russell was out AND you couldn't see it in the Cubs or Pirates b'cast)).
   40. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:22 PM (#5720245)
Patrick Mooney @PJ_Mooney 2m2 minutes ago

#Cubs move Brian Duensing to the DL with left shoulder inflammation and promote Randy Rosario from Triple-A Iowa.


Maybe the Cubs had to let Duensing suck a couple more times to convince him to not fight the DL move.
   41. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:24 PM (#5720246)
#Cubs move Brian Duensing to the DL with left shoulder inflammation
Or they lit his shoulder on fire to force the issue. They must have gotten my letter!

   42. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:28 PM (#5720250)
Yet another Friday when I'm sitting in my office checking out prices for the afternoon game on Stubhub...it's an absolutely perfect day for a ballgame.
   43. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:29 PM (#5720251)
Inflammation or Conflagration?
   44. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:32 PM (#5720254)
Yet another Friday when I'm sitting in my office checking out prices for the afternoon game on Stubhub...it's an absolutely perfect day for a ballgame.


Ha!

Just doing the same thing myself... until an e-mail just went by from the boss asking if I can jump on a call at 2... which I suppose I still could... if I can get seats in a very polite section where everyone will promise to be really quiet for 30 minutes.
   45. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 12:50 PM (#5720269)
Why are calls always jumped on, and emails always shot?
   46. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:05 PM (#5720282)
I can't today, but one of these Fridays I might force the issue and say I'll go to a game with you.
   47. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:22 PM (#5720289)
I'm in. Should we invite Zonk too, or just hope he doesn't find out?
   48. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:28 PM (#5720292)
Putting me on ignore doesn't prevent me from seeing your posts... plus, I'm omniscient.
   49. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:35 PM (#5720299)
Well, omniscient about most things.

Tyler Chatwood's pitching capabilities remain a pretty glaring blind spot.
   50. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:40 PM (#5720304)
Who?
   51. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:43 PM (#5720306)
Putting me on ignore doesn't prevent me from seeing your posts... plus, I'm omniscient.
I am, I am, I am Superman...and I know what's happening.
   52. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: August 03, 2018 at 01:59 PM (#5720326)
I have found another blindspot to my omniscience...

After responding "Sure" to my boss's 2 PM request - he writes back "Thanks. Was hoping you weren't cutting early for the game :smile emoji:"

I am not sure what to make of that... but I suspect a trap.
   53. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:04 PM (#5720336)
Admiral Ackbar (RIP) concurs.
   54. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:09 PM (#5720344)
I have a sneaking suspicion your omniscience is made up completely of blind spots.
   55. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:33 PM (#5720374)
Blind spots and lacunae.
   56. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: August 03, 2018 at 02:45 PM (#5720382)
I was right about Kyle Hendricks*...

*Does not apply to 1st innings.
   57. Brian C Posted: August 03, 2018 at 04:54 PM (#5720511)
it's not like Montgomery was great, but there was no reason for Joe to pull him after letting 1 guy reach since Monty hit for himself with 1st/3rd no outs. That was just garbage. Also, only 79 pitches is a perfect time to let him keep on going. You can't see it's a problem your starters don't go deep in games with that quick of a hook; at least PH for him would have been defensible.

I'd have PH'd for him without a second thought, because honestly, Monty was kind of awful last night. He limited the damage but that was a dam about to burst if I ever saw one ... he got one (1) swing-and-miss all night. Padres were spraying balls everywhere. He was more likely to give up a crushing HR than Chavez was. It didn't work out, but I was glad to see Monty exit the game at the time before the bottom dropped out.
   58. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 03, 2018 at 05:14 PM (#5720543)
I agree. Joe had 3 options - PH for him, leave him in, pull him after the first baserunner - and he picked the worst of the 3 (they're listed in order of my preference).
   59. Brian C Posted: August 03, 2018 at 05:20 PM (#5720550)
The second two options are basically the same to me - there was probably no situation in which Joe was going to leave him in there to blow up. IOW, "leave him in" essentially meant "quick hook if he stays in."
   60. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 03, 2018 at 06:20 PM (#5720581)
I agree with Brian C. The first five innings were amazing in that both pitchers seemed to be getting away with murder.

Maddon's choice was showing confidence in his pitcher. And I understand that, but letting him bat with the go-ahead runner at third with one out, that's just nuts. The fact that Monty was on a short leash in the bottom of the inning, that's just the rabbit pellet on top of the turd sundae.
   61. McCoy Posted: August 03, 2018 at 07:28 PM (#5720613)
A Dusty Baker move of there ever was one.
   62. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 03, 2018 at 08:03 PM (#5720640)
Once you leave him in, they're not the same. Yes the first move is infitinely preferable, but there's still another choice. Yes he was giving up hits but it's still the Padres. I guess it's the implied second guessing by making the move so quickly.

Regardless, if the offense is Mia it is irrelevant. Then today the bullpen continued to wet themselves. Thank God for javy.
   63. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 03, 2018 at 08:08 PM (#5720643)
"When you have Babe Ruth in your lineup, it pretty hard to count yourself out of a game.” - Michael Kopech on Eloy Jiménez


After 7 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 12 K tonight, Dylan Cease has a 2.83 ERA through five starts in Double-A Birmingham. That’s 28.2 IP with a 37.2 K% and a 9.7 BB%


Ok I officially hate the quintana deal. I will never admit to hating the Chapman one, but this one hurts.
   64. Voodoo Posted: August 04, 2018 at 12:56 AM (#5720811)
Yeah, Quintana's gonna have to throw a couple crucial October gems for that trade to look good in hindsight, or blow up and win the Cy next year or something like that. It's not that he sucks or anything. He's just average* and not very exciting to watch pitch either.

*I know he's better than average for an MLB starting pitcher, but only slightly so, and frankly less so than we expected (thus far) and for the purposes of this discussion, not good enough to cover the king's ransom that was paid for him.
   65. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 04, 2018 at 08:37 AM (#5720834)
He had a 115era+ and 3.53 fip with the Sox and is at 109 and 4.04 with the Cubs. I thought he'd be better on a better team/in the NL, not worse. His fip is a career high this year.

---

Almora has joined Russell and heyward in the sub-100ops+ club.
   66. Voodoo Posted: August 05, 2018 at 12:28 PM (#5721249)
Interesting lineup today, per Bleacher Nation

Albert Almora Jr., CF – age 24
Javy Baez, 2B – age 25
David Bote, 3B – age 25
Addison Russell, SS – age 24
Kyle Schwarber, LF – age 25
Willson Contreras, C – age 26
Victor Caratini, 1B – age 24
Jon Lester, P – age 34
Ian Happ, RF – age 23
   67. Walt Davis Posted: August 05, 2018 at 08:40 PM (#5721447)
Huh, I'd a thought Cease was already in AA. So still not overly concerned about him yet, ticking 2nd TJS time bomb that he is. He'll zoom up the prospect lists which means he'd have made a nice trade chit this offseason (or the just-passed deadline) but still heaps of risk there. When he turns into Verlander I'll look like a moron but I'm not saying he's not talented just that 21-year-old A-ball pitchers who've already had one TJS are chits I'm willing to bet even if it turns out not so good.

Stud 20-year-old hitters are another story. But c'mon, his AAA line of 376/425/679 is no match for Babe's career line of 342/474/690. :-) Looking more and more like the White Sox are going to Bryant him.
   68. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 06, 2018 at 10:49 AM (#5721660)
I think we all knew a regression was coming for Lester, but it has absolutely ##### slapped him in his last 8 starts: 40.1IP, 6.42ERA, 30/20 K/BB, 9HRs, and giving up a .315/.391/.549 line against him. Brutal. Also, I need to stop going to games where he starts, he has some of his worst starts with me in attendance (I was at the one against the Cards right after the AS break).

---

I guess Rosario wanted to course correct his peripherals yesterday too. Duensing was worse, but it's clear Rosario isn't that great either.

---

The baserunning yesterday was obnoxious, which is the type of thing you wouldn't think this team would have those types of games.

Having said all that, the offense is really scuffling now. Too many guys are slumping at the same time, so the only reason they got 5/5/6 these last few games was the Padres pitching (and they left a ton of runs on the bases those games). Luckily the Royals suck too, but I'm veering towards full on worried with this group.
   69. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 06, 2018 at 11:18 AM (#5721680)
Two questions come to mind:

Are the Cubs going to pay .500 ball the rest of the season?

Will they win the division regardless?
   70. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 06, 2018 at 11:24 AM (#5721684)
1. I don't think so, but it looks like it now. They do have an easy schedule, and although this weekend wouldn't suggest they can outplay the lower competition, I still think they will.
2. No, if they play .500, they might squeak into the WC.
   71. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 06, 2018 at 12:59 PM (#5721754)
   72. Walt Davis Posted: August 06, 2018 at 09:40 PM (#5722017)
69.1: It's probably more likely than I care to admit. I like to think that any regression we might see out of, say, Baez, will be more than offset by a Bryant return. But I've got my doubts. I keep expecting Hendricks and Quintana at least to re-discover themselves or at least get rid of this (looking less random with every start) thing of giving up big crooked numbers one inning per start.

And maybe there's something to the Chili Davis thing that the Red Sox fans have raised. Contreras, Almora, Russell, Happ and Bryant have all seen pretty substantial drops in ISO. (Of course Baez has a big jump.) We're still getting on base plenty, still averaging 5 runs a game, still doing well enough at BA that the lower ISO doesn't really hurt, we have the 4th lowest K-rate so I can't complain about the overall package. But we are below-average in HR/PA and HR/FB which seems odd for this team.
   73. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 06, 2018 at 11:43 PM (#5722089)
Javier Báez last 50 games:
.366/.403/.683, 36 Runs, 21 Doubles, 2 Triples, 11 Home Runs, 42 RBI
#Cubs


....

How can we take the best of Chili and combine it with the launch angle magic? That'd be the good stuff right there. IOW, why isn't the whole team made out of Javys.
   74. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 07, 2018 at 10:14 AM (#5722234)
Zobrist has passed Bryant for 2nd on the team in OPS+ (125 to 124); Javy has completely pulled away to 138.
   75. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 07, 2018 at 11:07 AM (#5722282)
Michael Cerami @Michael_Cerami 14m14 minutes ago

Just a little update on what the #Cubs picked up at the deadline: 26.1 innings pitched, 25 strikeouts, 5 walks, 3 earned runs.

Cole Hamels: 11.0 IP, 11Ks, 3BBs, 1ER
Jesse Chavez: 11.2 IP, 13Ks, 1BB, 2ER
Brandon Kintzler: 3.2 IP, 1K, 1BB 0ER


Hamels was early season Lestery last night - only 2Ks, but just 1 BB. Wasn't hit very hard, but his stuff was clearly a step back from the first start. He was a little more efficient (6IP on 95ish pitches), though it didn't start off that way. IOW, good enough against the Royals but not exactly promising for future starts.
   76. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 07, 2018 at 04:20 PM (#5722583)
Rizzo
Baez
Zobrist LF
Heyward
Bote
Schwarber DH
Happ
Russell
Caratini

What in the ####### fuck is this ####? Heyward cleanup?
   77. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 07, 2018 at 04:27 PM (#5722589)
Well...at least they're starting to drop him in the order?
   78. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 07, 2018 at 05:33 PM (#5722648)
CLEANUP?!>!>! #### man
   79. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 07, 2018 at 06:08 PM (#5722670)
CLEANUP?!>!>! #### man


Jason Heyward hit a walk-off grand slam on my 50th birthday. I will hear none of this blasphemy! Jason Heyward has earned the right to bat wherever he wants! (Okay, but seriously, I'd slide Scwharber and Happ ahead of Heyward and Bote and that lineup would look just fine - taking Caratini's presence over Contreras as a given, since Willson can't catch every game).
   80. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 07, 2018 at 07:00 PM (#5722704)
Hamels was early season Lestery last night - only 2Ks, but just 1 BB. Wasn't hit very hard, but his stuff was clearly a step back from the first start. He was a little more efficient (6IP on 95ish pitches), though it didn't start off that way. IOW, good enough against the Royals but not exactly promising for future starts.

The Royals have a lousy offense (worst R/G in MLB) but they don't strike out very much (7th fewest in MLB). Otherwise, Hamels had three quality starts last season where he struck out 3 or fewer batters, so this isolated game gives me no concern.
   81. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 07, 2018 at 07:01 PM (#5722705)
I just don't pay any attention to Maddon's lineups. Maddon gonna madden.
   82. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 08, 2018 at 01:59 PM (#5723252)
I know, but it affects my enjoyment of the game when I have to see Heyward hitting right before or right after Javy. It's unfair to Javy. And me. Mostly me.
   83. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 08, 2018 at 02:07 PM (#5723260)
In 78 plate appearances, Bote is delivering a 160 wRC+ and has shown no split with regards to facing lefties or righties while playing impressive defense at multiple positions. His base running has earned rave reviews and as Maddon said, he’s a hard worker who quickly earned the respect of his teammates. Over the weekend, Maddon said former Cubs catcher David Ross chatted with Bote during spring training and came away very impressed with the young infielder, helping validate Bote in the eyes of many around the organization.


Grampa Rossy still helping the Cubs! What a legend!!!!!

---

Seriously though, it's great to see him playing so well. I really don't know how bright his future will be, but he's the type of guy that good teams always have around. There's a million Cardinals over the years who have his exact profile - organizational player who comes to the bigs and hits better than they ever did in the minors. The key is to not count on those guys, because a lot of the time it's just catching lightning in a bottle. But as a fill-in, bench player, he's going to be incredibly valuable this year. He's another guy who appears to be faster than he looks, his baserunning and defense have been really impressive; he'll still have value even when the bat comes back to earth. I dunno though, just talking out of my ass. Maybe there's more there?

Part of what’s made Bote so great is a swing adjustment that has helped him put the ball in the air more often. Going into the 2017 season, the Cubs noticed Bote had some of the best exit velocity in baseball; not just the minors, but all across the game. What was the problem? He was hitting the ball on the ground far too often. Around the Double-A All-Star break in 2017, Cubs coaches worked with him on a slight change with his contact point that completely changed the trajectory of the ball, and the trajectory of his career.

Now, Bote is displaying that hard contact in the big leagues. He entered Tuesday leading the league in average exit velocity (minimum 25 balls in play) at 96.3 mph. He’s followed on that list by Aaron Judge, Nelson Cruz, Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Cabrera.

On Tuesday, the three balls he put in play averaged 96.2 mph. Granted, he needs to continue doing it for a while longer to show that the league adjusting to him won’t sap him of that hard contact, but the early returns have been a best-case scenario for the Cubs. And while they wait for the league to adjust, all the more reason for them to ride his hot streak.
   84. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 08, 2018 at 03:39 PM (#5723381)
Rizzo
Javy
Heyward
Bote
TLS DH
Contreras
Schwarber LF
Happ
Russell

Yahtzee!

UPDATE: TLS fouled a pitch off his foot taking a live BP session off Darvish and needed medical assistance. A-Rod was right about Darvish.
   85. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 08, 2018 at 03:53 PM (#5723392)
I dunno though, just talking out of my ass. Maybe there's more there?
I don't know what more is in your ass, and I don't want to know.
   86. Walt Davis Posted: August 08, 2018 at 08:50 PM (#5723614)
the league adjusting to him won’t sap him of that hard contact

I wonder if that ever really happens. The league adjusts and strikes you out more or at least finds your holes and puts you in bad counts where you take bad swings ... or turns more of those high velocity smacks into grounders and pop-ups. But rippers gonna rip.

Note, I had no idea he had such impressive exit velocity. Obviously it's small sample so plenty of random variation attached to that but, even from a small sample, I'd guess this means at least a "good" EV is highly probable.

As to the future -- sure, who knows, but a solid fielding 2B/3B (and therefore likely some solid 1B, LF, RF are possible) who can hit a few bombs is pretty much always useful as a bench piece at least. And maybe he's the next Brian Dozier (probably needs to get off the Cubs to find out) or even a Zobrist. But if he turns out to be a solid-fielding version of Wilmer Flores, that's fine. His existence does not bode well for LaStella's presence on the roster in 2019.
   87. Voodoo Posted: August 08, 2018 at 10:09 PM (#5723709)
His existence does not bode well for LaStella's presence on the roster in 2019.


Or the 2018 Postseason roster.
   88. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 08, 2018 at 10:30 PM (#5723728)
The Cubs have always kept a bigger bench in the playoffs than in the regular season as they usually drop a SP and keep an 8 man pen. So room for both this year.
   89. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 09, 2018 at 10:42 AM (#5723947)
I'm pretty optimistic about Bote, which for me means having a major league career as a non-starter. He's a deep round draft pick who didn't do much his first two years in the minors. But then he had 2+ terrific minor league seasons, hitting 18 HR last year. The knee-jerk response to that track record is "AAAA player", but he's been even better in 82 major league plate appearances, and defensively quite competent. Even if (when, really) his bat regresses he can be pretty valuable as a spare part. And who knows, he could be a starter.
   90. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: August 09, 2018 at 10:54 AM (#5723963)
As to the future -- sure, who knows, but a solid fielding 2B/3B (and therefore likely some solid 1B, LF, RF are possible) who can hit a few bombs is pretty much always useful as a bench piece at least. And maybe he's the next Brian Dozier (probably needs to get off the Cubs to find out) or even a Zobrist. But if he turns out to be a solid-fielding version of Wilmer Flores, that's fine. His existence does not bode well for LaStella's presence on the roster in 2019.


FWIW - he's played some LF/RF - not a ton, but about 50 games at each. He's also played some SS - again, not a ton - and it makes no sense to have him at SS so long as either Baez or Russell are perfectly available.

He's also actually pitched 5 games (7 IP total) in the minors...
   91. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 09, 2018 at 11:04 AM (#5723975)
I'm pretty optimistic about Bote, which for me means having a major league career as a non-starter. He's a deep round draft pick who didn't do much his first two years in the minors. But then he had 2+ terrific minor league seasons, hitting 18 HR last year. The knee-jerk response to that track record is "AAAA player", but he's been even better in 82 major league plate appearances, and defensively quite competent. Even if (when, really) his bat regresses he can be pretty valuable as a spare part. And who knows, he could be a starter.

I admit that I had mentally assigned him to the AAAA category and never took much interest in his career. That note about exit velocity is definitely piquing my interest though. I realize he's not going to hit .338 (with a .412 BABIP) but even if you take away seven singles from his line he would be hitting .238/.327/.426 on a meagre .274 BABIP. So the way he is playing he doesn't need that high BABIP to be valuable. I'm intrigued.
   92. Voodoo Posted: August 09, 2018 at 12:26 PM (#5724066)
Cross-post from a recent OMNICHATTER:

One of the fun things about being a Cubs fan in this new era is that young hitters keep coming up and doing REALLY WELL immediately. It started in 2014 with Soler and Baez (who was actually terrible, but did hit a GW HR in his first game) and then the flood started in 2015 with Bryant, Russell and Schwarber, Willson came along in 2016 as did Almora (who was immediately spectacular with the glove, if not bat), then Happ in 2017 and just when you thought the cupboard was totally bare and there wouldn't be another one in the pipeline, along comes Bote in 2018.


It's almost enough to make us forget about the 25 years we lived in position-player-prospect wilderness, anxiously awaiting the emergence of the David Keltons, Bobby Hills and Felix Pies.
   93. Voodoo Posted: August 09, 2018 at 01:27 PM (#5724128)
In less fun news, Ian Happ's line since the all-star break:

.158/.296/.246
   94. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 09, 2018 at 01:30 PM (#5724137)
It's almost enough to make us forget about the 25 years we lived in position-player-prospect wilderness, anxiously awaiting the emergence of the David Keltons, Bobby Hills and Felix Pies.
One of these days, Jason DuBois will show us all.
   95. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 09, 2018 at 01:47 PM (#5724147)
In less fun news, Ian Happ's line since the all-star break:

.158/.296/.246


Also, Schwarber .217/.304/.350 (HR derby broke him!)
Russell .213/.273/.246
Almora .200/.228/.236
Heyward .268/.358/.338

There's a reason the Cubs are scoring almost 1 run fewer a game since the break.

One of these days, Jason DuBois will show us all.

He doesn't need to show us, we know he's a star; he has to show it to Dusty.
   96. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 10, 2018 at 02:52 PM (#5724789)
The #Cubs have signed LHP Jorge De La Rosa to a 2018 major league deal. LHP Randy Rosario has been optioned to @IowaCubs.

To make room for De La Rosa on the 40-man roster, RHP Yu Darvish has been transferred to the 60-day DL. pic.twitter.com/6etb6XbJst
   97. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 10, 2018 at 02:56 PM (#5724792)
Montgomery won't go in his next start as they trying to conserve his innings. Q goes Tuesday, Hendricks Wed, Lester Thurs, Hamels Fri and then Monty next Saturday. MM will be available out of the pen this weekend (not today) and then will be shelved again for his start.
   98. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 11, 2018 at 03:35 PM (#5725160)
Kris Bryant has taken dry swings as he continues to work on his left shoulder and follow the plan outlined by #Cubs staff: "We're on the same page. Get to 100% and then get ready to go. We're going in the right direction."


So he's swinging a towel?

Kris Bryant "absolutely" expects to return this season and plans to alter his gameday routine and reduce the stress on his body because he wants to play until he's 40 years old.


Happy retirement, KB.
   99. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 11, 2018 at 08:29 PM (#5725239)
Jon Lester’s last five starts:

22.2 IP
36 H
11 BB
17 K
27 R
26 ER
9 HR
2.074 WHIP
10.32 ERA

Seems bad.

So - at what point do we start officially worrying about his arm?
   100. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2018 at 09:32 PM (#5725490)
So - at what point do we start officially worrying about his arm?

2017 after 238 innings in 2016?

I kid -- he's a guy I figured could keep putting up 105-110 ERA+ seasons throughout the contract and 2016 didn't change my mind. And of course so far he's still at a 110 ERA+ for this season so he hasn't let me down yet. But yeah, you'd think he could at least use a week off.
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