Everything is Awful--Nationals 6 Cubs 1

Confidence was not high heading into this series, and I think everyone would be pretty hapy to be standing level one game a piece at this point prior to the start of the series. The way that the Cubs achieved that though washes away any positive felings at this time. The Cubs played perhaps their best baseball of the season for the first eight and half innings of it, and it has been clown shoes ever since.

Max Scherzer is an imposing figure on the mound. Scherzer dominated the Cubs the last meeting between the two clubs last year, but it wasn't going to be a repeat performance tonight. Anthony Rizzo went down 2 stirkes quickly, but fought off several pitches before Scherzer drilled him with a two seaer. Tommy La Stella had an even better at bat. He was rung up on a extremely borderline pitch on a 3-2 count. Ian Happ popped the ball up in the next at bat. Kris Bryant hit a deep fly ball that center fielder Michael Taylor appeared to be drifting under easily. It seemed like the Cubs would squander the early struggles of Scherzer, but the ball kept drifting deeper and deeper. The ball drove Taylor to the wall who was unable to make the inning ending catch. Rizzo scored easily as Bryant scampered to third. Miguel Montero flew out to end the inning.

Jake Arrieta got an infield groundball at Tommy La Stella from Trea Turner. La Stella hesistated slightly and Turner beat the throw to first. Turner woul not remain at first long as he stole second and then third with Brian Goodwin at the plate. Goodwin hit a sharp groundball that Rizzo was able to grab. Arrieta hesistated coming off the mound, and Goodwin beat him to the bag. Arrieta retire 3 of the next 4 hitters to keep the game tied at the end of 1 inning.

It was a clean second inning for both pitchers, but that would be the one and only zero Arrieta put on the board. Turner walked to start the third inning. Turner stole his third base of the game, but Arrieta struck out Goodwin at the plate. Bryce Harper hit a flyout, and it looked like Arrieta might wiggle out of the small jam. Ryan Zimmerman walked, and Daniel Murphy hit the ball to La Stella. A La Stella error allowed Turner to score, but the inning ended on Zimmerman trying to advance to third on the play. The lead would be enough for Scherzer, but unfortunately the potent Nats lineup was not done.

Anthony Rendon hit a lead off single in the fourth inning. Taylor added a one out single. Scherzer hit a ground ball single to score Rendon. Taylor stole the third base in that inning and wound up scoring on a throwing error by Montero. The Nationals now had a commanding 4-1 lead with Scherzer on the mound. Arrieta went out to start the fifth. Murphy singled and Rendon walked to end Arrieta's night. Felix Pena retired Matt Wieters on a fly ball, but Taylor doubled to drive in another pair of runs. Pena limited the damage to that ending the inning on a Harper strikeout with the bases loaded, but the Cubs could not manage another run in the 6-1 win for the Nationals.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

Bullseye on Miggy
The Nationals ran wild on Miguel Montero, and so he rightfully was the subject for a lot of derision from the fanbase. I think the complaints have largely been overblown. Montero has been surprisingly solid at the plate, and he is very good at many parts of being a catcher. I also couldn't think of a better mentor to have around for still developing Willson Contreras. That said it was ugly tonight, and isn't likely to get better at any point. Jake Arrieta feels very comfortable throwing to Montero, but with Arrieta's struggles holding runners makes it a terrible pairing at this point. That is unless Gibson 2.0 shows up again he needs Willson's arm behind the plate.

Bump in the Roll
The Cubs starting pitching had been rolling the past few weeks. It was perhaps a bit of a karmic justice after the 5 shutout innings Eddie Butler threw last night. Arrieta contributed to the first inning woes of the staff with the weakest run given up on the season. Later his command would fail him with the help of the umpire behind the plate. It was not a good night for any phase of the game, and there is plenty of blame to go around for an ugly loss.

A Silver Lining
There was one bright spot and it has been the bright spot for most of the season. Felix Pena gave up a two run double, but those runs were charged to Arrieta. He worked into a bit of jam, but managed to wiggle out of it. Pena then pitched the next couple of innings keeping the Cubs in the game. It will likely be a thankless task with another return trip to Iowa his reward, but they were much needed innings to give the rest of the pen the night off. That is except for Hector Rondon. Myles should write about Cubs players being done more often. Rondon pitched an easy scoreless inning facing the minimum number of batters in the eighth inning.

Random Reference

Three Stars of Game
Third Star-Max Scherzer (2-3, 1 RBI) (6 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 6K)

Second Star-Michael Taylor (2-2, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 SB)

First Star-Trea Turner (1-3, 2 R, 4 SB)

Comments

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  • Some may call it an overreaction, but why would Carantini taking Montero's position on the 25 man roster be a bad idea?
    Carantini is raking in Iowa, and is a good option for 1B when giving Rizzo a breather here or there; I just can't see him being worse than Montero.
    If we need an adjustment time for him behind the plate, what better time than now?

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    In reply to Treebeard:

    Because Montero is a better mentor for Willson. Miggy can't throw out a runner, as we saw lastnight, but he is still the best option at the moment. The Cubs had plenty of chances to score, but didn't get it done. The Nats did. I rrally can't stand seeing Dusty Baker. Did you see the stat for IP for Nats SP? That rotation is going to be dead tired in another month if they don't get BP arms. Hopefully no one trades them one.

  • According to Jesse Rogers, Contreras has caught Arrieta nine times this year and Monterey six. Here is the difference in ERA: 3.40 with Contreras, 5.97 with Miggy. That was before tonight. Draw your own conclusions. Rodgers also posted two videos of Miggy throwing Jake under the bus; blaming him for all the stolen bases.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    The Nats Turner said Jake was slow, so we ran all day.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Turner can say that, Montero can't throw Jake under the bus like that. Ross never said "well if Jon could throw to 1st I'd throw out more runners." Plus, Contreras has a much better caught stealing record than Montero, when he's pitching to Arrieta. Jake is slow to the plate, but Montero's arm is bad also. They showed a stat & pitchers ERA s almost 2 points higher when Montero's catching than when Contreras is behind the plate. Now there are other variables could be in play, but it is interesting none the less

  • In reply to Bamacub:

    So you are upset with Joe???
    It isn't a big deal the miggy said what everyone was thinking.
    As for Lester is still a lefty that is much quicker to the plate and feeezes a runner cause there is that fear he could throw over.
    Miggy' throws were bad. Ball is in left field, can't get a runner out at 3b when that happens.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    No I'm not upset with Maddon. I'm saying he can't keep his cool demeanor while his catcher is calling out his pitcher to the media. He has to have some sort of punishment.
    I was using Ross's leadership as an example as opposed to Montero's, in that he never threw Lester under the bus bc of the huge leadoffs. If Contreras was calling out Arrieta I wouldn't hate it as much bc he has the arm strength to actually throw out runners, while Montero is 1-36 or something. Montero's isn't throwing those runners out anyways, so when him blaming Jake is a bad look. I disagree that this isn't a big deal bc this team has a pretty good clubhouse. I think an example will be made of Montero to younger guys about not calling out teammates in the media

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Turner said he wasn't really thinking about the catcher. He ran on Jake. I bet he would have been thinking about the catcher if Contreras or Ross were back there.

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    Lol. You are correct. Miggy was horrible lastnight.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Doubt it. If you could get the jumps the Nats were getting it wouldn't matter. Yes miggy had some bad throws and times where miggy didn't even throw it.

  • After Montero's outburst tonight I don't care if they DFA him tomorrow. He's correct about Arrieta being slow to the plate, but he also isn't throwing runners out with other pitchers either. This is not the type of veteran leadership the team needs. He got a pass when he ran his mouth after the WS win, but this should be the final straw. Maddon can't be Cool Joe here, he needs to get this taken care of ASAP. It's one thing to say it in the locker room, but to call out the pitcher to the media is a BS move on Montero's part.

  • In reply to Bamacub:

    All he said was Jake is too slow to the plate. Didn't rip on the pitchers ability to pitch or that he doesn't have movement or can't locate. Just said he was too slow to the plate after 7 stolen bases.
    This team has more issues to worry about then if the backup catcher hurt jakes feelings in public.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    It's just something you don't do in team sports. You never call out teammates in the media. Montero hasn't been throwing out guys when he's paired with other pitchers either. He didn't just say Arrieta was slow to the plate. He was whining about stats being counted against him, not the team losing. He broke a couple cardinal rules for locker room etiquitte. Leaders don't behave that way

  • In reply to Bamacub:

    If you're Jerry Rice, it's okay to call out your teammates for lack of effort. If you're the backup catcher, a guy who hasn't thrown out a single base stealer all season, a man who couldn't gun down my grandmother, it's a decidedly poor decision.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    You at least got a leg to stand on. Heyward gave the game 7 speech & he was pretty bad last year. The catcher that can't throw anyone out on the bases can't blame the runners stealing bases solely on the pitcher. He has some blame also. To go to media members & say that stuff is completely unprofessional & not what you want your veteran leader to do. Contreras could have said that & it wouldn't be as bad since he has a history of throwing runners out

  • In reply to Bamacub:

    Reminds me of Montero basically complaining​ when interviewed​after the game in the playoffs where he had the pinch hit homerun (first round?).
    How is he bringing 'veteran leadership' to the team, if he's publicly ​complaining all the time?
    Definitely time for him to go, patience only goes so far; especially if you can't even have your teammates backs.......

  • In reply to Bamacub:

    I would never do it but I just don't see it as a big deal. As you said this locker room is too good to let a comment like that divide them up.
    Somewhere in the background of the video you can hear lastella breathing a sigh of relief for his bad play.
    Technically miggy is 0-36. Montgomery actually picked the runner off.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I saw that after I posted. I do think TLS got off the hook big here with his Anti-Baez like night

  • In reply to Bamacub:

    Agree. He's best as a pinch hitter.

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Like scoring with RISP. That would be a nice change.

  • There are more issues for Montero than just tonight. Both games in Miami that he started were losses. Where Contreras shines is his secondary ability to snap throw behind the runners at 1B. They have to get a great lead to beat his throw to 2B but if they do and don't actually run he has a shot at a pick-off. Add to Montero's woes the throw into LF and the lackadaisical move on the WP. He should be released, eat the salary and if not Caratini, get a good backup. Another 2 hit effort from the team tonight. Looks almost like they are giving up.

  • In reply to veteran:

    Caratini is having a great offensive year, but right now he lacks, and needs work on his, defense. Specifically blocking pitches and throwing out base runners. The Cub's backup catcher needs good game calling skills and good defense. That guy is probably in the Majors now as a backup for another team. Who are the sellers?

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    It's not Joe but Theo that has to do something. He is actually hitting better this year with a better OBP and OPS but he hit more HR and had more RBI, but still he threw out only 7 of 59 runners for an 11% rate. That is unacceptable, especially for a team that plans on going to the playoffs and deep into them. It's time for him to be released. I hate to take anyone's job away from them, but if isn't doing what he's supposed to them he isn't contributing. He's also been in 43 games. Willson is young enough to catch the majority of the games, not just half. Bring in a good defensive catcher, we need 2 anyway.

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Of course miggy is hitting better. But it's only because Joe puts him in the lineup because of a rare matchup where he'll do well.

  • That was a tough line up to put against the Nats with 2 rookies in there and 3 starters on the shelf but we played a very poor game nonetheless. I didn't realize it until last night how much a defensive liabilty TLS really is and Joe loading up on left handed bats obviously didn't work out. AA in center and Willson catching should have been the call especially with that rabbit they have leading off.

    They only question I really have for this year concerning Maddon is the Schwarber lead off experiment. Who ever thought that would be a good idea? 20 homers from the lead off spot, was that the thinking? No speed whatsoever and coming off of knee reconstruction. How many bunt hits was he going to lay down?

    Last year everything clicked, everything went well.....we are seeing what happens now when parts break down. We really need someone to step up and carry this team.....hello 17 or 44.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Lots of people thought Schwarber leading off was a good idea. I actually hope they try it again when he gets right. He's been an on base machine in his professional career. That was the thinking.
    The ability for him to start the game 1-0 is nice gravy too.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Lots of ppl thought it wasn't a good idea. A on base machine in his career??? Hasn't played a full season in major league yet. It was a fun experiment but get real as a long term lead off hitter. No way.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    "Professional career."
    He has something like a 13% BB rate as a professional. Long term, who knows who the organization will bring in. Right now, who is a better option at leadoff? Maybe Zobrist?

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I'd take a chance with Almora or jay. Not a great solution but neither is Kyle. The Cubs didn't make a lead off hitter a priority this winter and we are paying price for it.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Who could they realistically have acquired? They have 11 or 12 starting caliber position players as is. People get so wrapped up in "leadoff guy" or lineup construction. It doesn't really matter. Just put the 5 best hitter 1-5, and at leadoff, put a guy who doesn't make outs.
    Almora has refused to take a BB since being drafted. If he keeps running a 9% BB rate like he has, then idk, maybe give him a few games there in favorable matchups.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    What is kyle's walk rate at a leader off hitter in his "professional career"? I assume u are talking about minor leagues too.
    You are not out anything to try Almora. They tried Kyle didn't work maybe jason if he gets back ???

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    His BB rate as a leadoff hitter is 13.5%. I doubt he ever led off as a minor leaguer.
    This year, Almora ranks 8th on the team in wRC+, 8th in wOBA, and 6th in OBP. Why would you give your 8th best hitter the most PA?
    Heyward has openly said he doesn't like leading off.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    What stat are you basing it on as 8th best hitter? So Kyle was best hitter based on your stat to bat leadoff???? My point is Cubs didn't address the lead off spot and so you have to keep spinning the wheel til you find someone.
    So jason doesn't like leadoff spot?? So zobrist loved playing Lf last year?? No he did it to help the team.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I'm basing it off of wRC+ and wOBA.
    No, Schwarber's stats this year don't say he's the best at anything. He was projected to be a top 4 hitter going into the year though, with a high OBP. So I liked him in the leadoff spot.
    Heyward has specifically said that leading off in Atlanta made him uncomfortable. I doubt they ask him to do it here.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    And jason hitting last year made us all uncomfortable.

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    In reply to Wickdipper:

    Are you nuts? No offense, but Rizzo has stepped up all season. Bryant is in a slump. Those 2 have carried the offense most of the season.

  • After an incredible 2016 season it seems the Team dynamic is just off this year. The clubhouse camaraderie seems different this year. The Team in general does not look like it is having fun from the start of spring training on. Even Maddon has been a little more cantankerous this year. The pressure to win now is very evident from the FO down to the fans and it seems to be having an effect on the Cubs players.

  • In reply to CubFanStuckInStl:

    WOW! You in the clubhouse with the Cubs? Cool. What's it like?Please share that with us.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    You sound frustrated too.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Yes I have actually been in the Cubs clubhouse, it was on the Wrigley Field Tours (btw well worth it) and it is quite nice I would highly recommend it – 2016 Cubs if you get the chance!

  • In reply to CubFanStuckInStl:

    I guess You got a world series ring as well. LOL

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Exactly. How do we know what happens in the locker room? A lot of people think it's all friendly & fun this year. Guess what? It might not be.

  • In reply to CubFanStuckInStl:

    I sometimes feel the FO is willing to take a pass on a hard run this year if it will hurt their competiveness in future years. They will not sell out the future for this year and that may be what it will take.

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    In reply to CubFanStuckInStl:

    The problem is scoring with RISP, not Joe, Theo, etc. Maybe we can blame a few things on them, but that's not the issue. As for camaraderie, Ross was a huge loss. Someone needs to step up & take his place.

  • Did anyone else see that Harper Bryant posted a photo on Instagram that said #Back2BackOneDay. We can start widely speculating that Harper is really serious about wanting to be a Cub. Or he's an evil temptress trying to pry Bryant away

  • Montero trying to show he can still throw. So he threw Jake under the bus.

  • I have been a Cubs fan since the day I was born. I turned off the game after Turner.s 3rd stolen base. I refuse to watch any Cubs game when Miggy is catching. His after game comments were not 'reasons why', they were excuses! The Cubs should eat the the rest of his salary and release him.

  • While Montero obviously at this stage in his career does not have a good arm, Arrieta and others on the staff need to hold runners on much better. Hendricks is the exception and does a great job. He has picked off a lot of runners at first base. How? He actually pays attention to them. Has a good pickoff move. When you don't pay attention to runners, have a slow delivery to home plate, and have a below average armed catcher, this is what happens. Maybe you cant control the last two things, but the pitcher can pay attention to runners on base and try to pick them off until they shorten their leads.

  • In reply to MoneyBall:

    Yeah, Montero wasn't wrong. Just really unprofessional of him to speak like that.

    Hendricks is good, and Lester has actually been excellent at controlling the run game. Calling for Miggy to be DFA'd because of his inability to throw is a little silly to me. He does everything else well from a catcher perspective. He's been great at the plate this year. As fans, we're privy only to his public comments like last night, and when he whined about the playoffs. But from all accounts he is a leader and a good teammate.
    This is not a good look for sure, but it's likely no where near as big of a deal as it's being made out to be.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    "This is not a good look for sure, but it's likely no where near as big of a deal as it's being made out to be."

    Lol, oh Kramer... wrong again.

  • The reason Miggy spoke out was he got embarrassed as a professional catcher. 7 SB's is almost unheard of. He was made to look really bad by Jake's inability to hold runners and have a quick delivery to the plate. He reacted in the heat of the moment after being pantsed in front of the baseball world.

    As much as he should have but his tongue, his words are true. And to call for his release is absurd. These are the situations Joe is best at and I expect it to be handled. We won't hear much more about it. Miggy might not be able to throw much as his pop time is now at a 2.11, but his knowledge in helping Wilson develop is crucial for this season. He is still needed for this season.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Well said.
    After the last SB, when the camera panned in on him, he looked visibly embarrassed. I felt bad for Miggy. It's not his fault his body can't do something he's done his whole life.
    Like you said, he's not wrong, but not a good look. This will get handled and it will be over. Miggy does literally everything else on a baseball field well (it seems like he does things well in the locker room too).

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    The problem I have is that this is now his 2nd time complaining to the media. I hope Wilson is learning from Montero in how to not handle issues in the media. Never once did I hear Montero mention that those steals put the team in a bad position, only that is wasn't fair bc it makes him look bad. Teammates are pissed at Montero. They could bring Ross back as a coach, plus another veteran to help mentor him.

  • In reply to Bamacub:

    Agree. As I wrote he certainly should have been quiet and gone into another room and smashed a table or something. He needed a timeout and made a big mistake.

    Surprised how quickly they dumped him.

  • Rizzo & other teammates called out Montero for throwing a teammate under the bus & mentioned his previous comments after the WS. Check his comments out. I think Miggy's out

  • In reply to Bamacub:

    To me I think Rizzo should have left it alone but since he didn't I would agree, Miggy can't stay on this team.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I think if Rizzo put that out there he had already talked to other teammates & they were feeling the same way. I think he put his name on bc he is one of the more popular players & won't get criticized much for it.

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