I don't know how many losses like this I can take. On the bright side, we are seeing the Cubs now as a competitive team who are able to stay in ball games, which is better than we saw at most points last season. It doesn't make the losses any less frustrating, however. If anything, it makes them more so. Perhaps this is what rebuilding teams go through before things start to turn around.
It's obvious, however, that the Cubs have some major holes. There is a reason they are losing these games. We know about the bullpen and the chronic OBP problem. But what's been extremely frustrating is that the Cubs are once again extremely vulnerable against LHP.
It's tempting to keep the LH hitters in the lineup but historically they haven't been any better against southpaws. This team was built to platoon. David DeJesus has hit .192/.284/.250 over the past 3 years. In the same time frame, Nate Schierholtz has hit .230/.271/.281 without a single HR. Luis Valbuena is the best of the trio with a line of .250/.346/.386 with 3 HRs in 112 ABs -- but his platoon partner, Cody Ransom, is hitting .323/.364/.723 vs. LHP. It doesn't make sense to break that 3B platoon up right now. Frustration with the platoon is understandable, but playing the lefties isn't really the answer either.
Unfortunately, the choices in the minors are slim. The best hitter at Iowa right now, Bryan Bogusevic, hits left-handed. Iowa's best RH hitter, Dave Sappelt, struggled with the big league team earlier. Josh Vitters isn't exactly tearing things up at Iowa right now.
The simple answer is the Cubs need to get better production from their regular right-handed hitters. Alfonso Soriano is doing his usual solid job (.345/.379/.509) against LHP, but he hasn't been getting any help from the other big bats in the lineup. Starlin Castro is hitting just .217/.254/.283 against lefties while Welington Castillo is hitting .214/.283/.262. Scott Hairston, who has hit .286/.317/.550 last season against southpaws, is hitting just .089/.129/.311 so far this season. These are the guys that need to start stepping up.
Anyway, enough with LHP horror story. Thankfully, the Cubs will face a RHP today in Jeanmar Gomez.
- DeJesus CF
- Castro SS
- Rizzo 1B
- Soriano LF
- Schierholtz RF
- Castillo C
- Valbuena 3B
- Barney 2B
- E. Jackson SP
What to watch for:
John: Gomez is not an overpowering pitcher. He's also a guy with just average command and vulnerable to the long ball. He's also been pretty lucky so far this year with regard to balls in play, so I expect him to give the Cubs some very hittable pitches today. I look for the Cubs to get much needed production from the middle of their lineup. I'm looking for the #2-#6 spots to carry the day on offense. I think we'll get a couple of HRs from that part of the lineup today. Let's go with Alfonso Soriano and Nate Schierholtz to go deep.
Felzz: Starlin Castro. Part of his maturity will be snapping out of funks quicker. He's in a funk now. Maybe he turns it around today.
Tom: Edwin Jackson has pitched well lately but has drawn some tough opponents in Stephen Strasburg and Matt Harvey. Today is a good chance for him to pick up a much needed victory for him and the Cubs.
Filed under: Preview and Game Thread