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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Another Direction with Andere Richtingen

This post comes from another long time poster, Andere Richtingen, who can’t seem to locate his keys to the blog.

The Cubs hit a bit of a rough spot the last three weeks, going 6-15.  On June 19th, the team hit its apex so far for the season, completing a three-game sweep of the Pirates at Wrigley. They led the division by 12.5 games, an achievement the team hadn’t made since 1929, and had a record of 47-20.  That sweep completed a 15-6 stretch, after which things fell apart.  Really fell apart.

And it was mostly due to the pitching.  Mostly the starters.

So how bad was it?  In the last 21 games:

-The Cubs got a total of six quality starts (two from Lester, two from Lackey, one each from Hendricks and Hammel).  The last QS came on June 29th.

-Cubs’ starters gave up 82 runs (75 earned) in 109 innings, good for a 6.19 ERA.  116 hits, 48 walks, 98 strikeouts and 30 home runs.

-There were 76 relief appearances (average of 3.6/game).  Relievers gave up 48 runs (44 earned) in 79.2 innings (4.97 ERA). 70 hits, 33 walks, 86 strikeouts and twelve home runs.

That’s a pretty bad stretch, I’m guessing worse than what you expect any time in a season from a team that wins 100 games.  It’s not a simple matter of bad luck on balls in play either.  Overall, Cubs pitchers averaged giving up two home runs per game during the bad stretch (0.75 before).  Strikeouts still look pretty good, but in the last 21 games the team has averaged nearly four walks per game (2.88 before).  My eyes tell me the Cubs were sloppy defensively the last few weeks, but I think the defensive factor is largely insult on top of injury.

The news remains mostly good.  This is just 21 games we’re talking about.  The pitching staff remains, as far as we know, fairly healthy.  Despite Pittsburgh getting hot and picking up a bunch of games in the standings, I would have been quite pleased if someone told me in March that the Cubs would have a seven-game lead in the division at the All Star Break.  Certainly, the 24-game stretch without a day off didn’t help, and the break gives everyone a reset.  I have to imagine that the Cubs’ management is looking very hard at shoring up the pitching in the next couple of weeks.

Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: July 13, 2016 at 11:08 AM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: July 13, 2016 at 11:19 AM (#5264319)
It's been fun watching Bryant and Rizzo recently. Since June 1, they're hitting .297/.407/.692 and .385/.471/.731, respectively. Both would make decent MVP candidates, so it'll be interesting to watch where they end up and following the any narratives over the 2nd half.

It's also been nice to see Russell bust out of his latest slump. He bottomed out on 6/11 at .228/.314/.345; since then he's hitting .255/.360/.521 and his K rate during that stretch was 24.5% after being 30% to that point. When he's struggling, you see a lot quick ABs that lead to strike outs.

Contreras has obviously been a revelation, and I'm curious to see how he adjusts after pitchers getting a better scouting report on him.
   2. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 13, 2016 at 01:20 PM (#5264421)
Yes, the silver linings are there. The Cubs have a .824 OPS in the last four weeks -- I am guessing they have not been translating that into run scoring very effectively, but I am not too worried about the offense.

They've been blowing a lot of leads. They led at some point in 14 of their last 21 games, and blew leads in 12 of them. 15 leads were blown in total. In only two games they took a lead without blowing it. A lot of the lead blowing happened early in games.
   3. BDC Posted: July 13, 2016 at 01:30 PM (#5264432)
Hey, those paragraphs could have been written about the Rangers – and this weekend the two clubs will meet in Chicago. The skidding force meets the falling object, or something :)
   4. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: July 13, 2016 at 03:01 PM (#5264506)
Exactly, and I think I posted somewhere that anecdotally the Cubs hitters seemed to be "unclutch" recently. They, especially Bryant, have put up some really pretty numbers against the Reds. Bryant is hitting .415/.508/1.000 with 9HR, 21rbi, 19 runs against Cinci in 63PA.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: July 14, 2016 at 01:37 AM (#5264783)
Of the 6 victories in that 21-game stretch, 4 were against the Reds. Ugh.

Not a big deal in the run but the bullpen also gave up 7 out of 15 inherited runners from the starters (if I counted that right). That's fewer inherited runners than I expected but probably some of my impression was relievers inheriting runners from relievers which seemed to happen a lot. I think we saw Joe getting a bit desperate there at the end -- Strop coming on in the 7th, Rondon in the 8th, etc.

It doesn't qualify but Warren's 5 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 6 K, 0 BB performance is a quality start in all but name, especially as his first start of the year.

Arrieta's first 9 starts 63.0 IP, 33 H, 20 BB, 63 K, 1.29 ERA, 8 QS (the other was 5 IP, 1 ER)
Arrieta's last 9 starts: 51.1 IP, 49 H, 23 BB, 58 K, 4.38 ERA, 3 QS
   6. Walt Davis Posted: July 14, 2016 at 01:40 AM (#5264784)
During the run, the Cubs scored a respectable 96 runs ... but 45 were against the Reds. 51 runs in the other 15 games is not so respectable.
   7. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 14, 2016 at 10:51 AM (#5264882)
Agree on the Warren start. Admittedly, using QS to make a point is like like trying to reproduce a Vermeer using Krylon.

The bullpen was indeed a mess. But I think the best thing for a bullpen is a starting staff that goes deep into the ballgame on a regular basis, and the lack of QS reflects that. A starter pitched in the eighth inning in only one of those games (Lester in the 15-inning game on the 28th), and in only five games did a starter pitch in the seventh.

The starters averaged ~5.2 IP per start; the league average is 5.7. That's a pretty big difference. However, I do think that in part this was overtaxing a good, but not great bullpen.

During the run, the Cubs scored a respectable 96 runs ... but 45 were against the Reds. 51 runs in the other 15 games is not so respectable.

It's not, but it's worth noting that with the exception of the one game against Atlanta (which of course, the Cubs lost, in the battle of the Ha()ells), all of the games in the bad stretch were against teams with a winning record.





   8. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: July 14, 2016 at 01:52 PM (#5265039)
So I am making a baseball pilgrimage to Wrigley this weekend -- have tickets to the games Sunday and Monday. I've been to Wrigley before, but this is the first time I am going to be in the bleachers (for the 1:05 pm start Sunday). Does anyone have any suggestions for a first-time bleacher creature? How early ought I to arrive? I don't care about much else than the game, but I've seen online that they recommend arriving hours in advance.

Also, a while back there was a post on good places to get a bite in the area that weren't right next to the ballpark. If anyone wants to make a recommendation, I'm interested. I'll have time either after the game Sunday or before the game Monday.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 14, 2016 at 02:11 PM (#5265046)
Also, a while back there was a post on good places to get a bite in the area that weren't right next to the ballpark.


Butcher's Tap on Southport and Addison (about a ten-minute walk, maybe less, west of Wrigley). Great beer selection and upscale pub food. Try the dry rub wings. There are also various other places on Southport within a few blocks north or south of there.
   10. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 14, 2016 at 02:47 PM (#5265071)
Does anyone have any suggestions for a first-time bleacher creature?


Wear sunscreen. If you're in RF -- you'll be facing the sun, too. So sunglasses.
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 14, 2016 at 02:51 PM (#5265075)
Wear sunscreen. If you're in RF -- you'll be facing the sun, too. So sunglasses.


Yeah, a hat is definitely advised. And be prepared to be uncomfortable.
   12. Due to the leadership of Zonk... Posted: July 14, 2016 at 03:59 PM (#5265132)
Curious how the bleachers are since the rebuild, so reports hoped for!

I'll echo others on the sun - and yes, if you want to sit anywhere near the front rows - early arrival is a must. Beyond that - common sense prevails (i.e., best if you can find a section without college yahoos in a big group).

So far as eats recommendations -- I'll suggest Uncommon Ground. It's only about two blocks from the park - north on Clark at the corner of Clark and Grace, block past the Metro. The standard bar crowd pretty much stops at Metro (the Gingerman on the other side of Metro is more of a hipster/Metro crowd) so it shouldn't be too crowded. You could either go before or after - they do a great breakfast, too. It's one of those "farm-to-table" type places (in fact, they grow a lot of the produce on the roof and around the plaace) but it's got a really good and varied menu so you can please the herbivores, the carnivores, and the omnivores with ease. Great staff and they also have their own brewery on site (though, the beer is just so-so... it's fine - I just wouldn't say it's on par with the more famous ones). It's pretty much my go-to place for out-of-towners up for a game who desire something beyond the usual bar fare - and I've gotten nothing but kudos for the selection.
   13. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 14, 2016 at 04:18 PM (#5265148)
Seconded on Uncommon Ground being a good option.
   14. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 14, 2016 at 04:19 PM (#5265149)
Wear sunscreen. If you're in RF -- you'll be facing the sun, too. So sunglasses.

Also, you can bring water in unopened plastic bottles.

I would arrive at least an hour early: I'm not sure if "hours in advance" is necessary unless you really want to sit up close, or you are part of a group, or want to be there for batting practice. Another advantage of sitting in a back row is that you tend to get a little bit of elbow room -- last game I went to was a bleacher sellout, and sitting in the back row in LF I felt like two or three people could have comfortably fit in the row I was in. And it's simply a quieter, more serious crowd. Your chance of being soaked in Captain Morgan-infused vomit decreases significantly as you move away from the front row.
   15. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: July 14, 2016 at 07:24 PM (#5265288)
The only New Direction I like is my own.

Uncommon Ground is a good recommendation. Though I'll note that personally I find it to be a treat yourself sort of place for dinner. If I go there, I'm gonna order precisely what I want and everything I want and have a few drinks and the bill is going to be a little higher than most meals. Basically, on the theory that if the cheapest thing is a $15 salad, I'm gonna order a $25 steak and an appetizer. That's obviously a bit idiosyncratic, but something to know going in.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: July 14, 2016 at 10:22 PM (#5265403)
Agree on the Warren start.

No problem with your post and I use QS all the time, perfectly reasonable stat. Just pointing out that the picture was a smidgen brighter thanks to Warren.
   17. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: July 18, 2016 at 03:45 PM (#5266990)
Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat 6m6 minutes ago
Fowler and Soler expected to play for Iowa on Tuesday. #Cubs


Roster crunch approaching...
   18. Charles S. is not doing chainsaw bears any more Posted: July 18, 2016 at 04:16 PM (#5267020)
Roster crunch approaching...

Almora and Patton to Iowa makes the most sense. I think both have options.
   19. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: July 18, 2016 at 04:42 PM (#5267050)
They do, but the Cubs probably want an 8 man pen, especially if they're going to give Warren another spot start. It's a lot less obvious who goes in that situation. Not to mention when Coghlan becomes available.

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