What Have I Done?: Cleveland 10 - Cubs 1

Friends, countrymen, Romans, I thought I'd carved out a little niche here. I realize I had big shoes to fill. Untied shoes to fill. I know that I only contribute sporadically, while appearing elsewhere. Maybe it's that I haven't given my whole self to this, or so is the perception. But I thought we'd found a connection, both with staff and readers. Perhaps I had become complacent. But I really thought we had something, Den-sters.

And then they asked me to recap a night where the Cubs lost 10-1 to Trevor Bauer. How could I have wronged you all so to deserve this?

Here's the thing. I'm a good guy. I stray from the path sometimes. I make mistakes, I know that (someone hand me Rahm's apology sweater). But at the end of the day I'm confident I mean well. I want the best for everyone here. So to saddle me with this...well it feels excessive. Cruel and unusual, even.

And really, what am I supposed to say here? The high-wire that Tyler Chatwood walks sometimes means he's going to fall off. Sometimes he's going to be completely fastened on as he was in his last start. And then sometimes you're going to get splattered Wallenda. He couldn't find the plate, he didn't want to find the plate, he couldn't spell "plate," he wasn't even eating his food off a plate, and you can only do that for so long. It's something of a minor miracle that he hasn't gotten shelled really until right now. This probably won't be the last of 'em.

As for the other side, well, that's just a touch more nauseating. I don't want to disgrace this blog by really going in on Bauer, even though for all the talk of how cerebral he is I'm fairly sure he's endless entertained by tin foil, but he's having a good season. And he had the Cubs flummoxed, though by the time they were getting a second look at him they were down a touchdown and that tends to alter things. Maybe next time he can play with his drone--which I'm positive is a metaphor--before a start and slice off his finger. He would be doing the world a favor.

It's strange with this team. The overall numbers say it's one of the best offenses in the league, and it is. It's just spiky, in that it has its off nights and it has its major on nights. There doesn't seem to be a thread for the two, but we'll find it.

Maybe it's best we forget this night ever happened. I know I want to. And I'll go about making amends for whatever my crimes are that have saddled me with this. I promise.

Oh, you want a chart? Here's  your chart...

daffy

Onwards...

 

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  • And I thought the game was bad...

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    How bout it... Which one is worse? :-l

  • I'm just thankful that Almora Jr. is getting more consistent playing time (I give God the glory the honor and the praise!), now we just need to try and play Happ a little more while he's in the hot streak he's on, which will prayerfully stay hot; and God-willing keep Heyward on the pine.......

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    He got two hits tonight, although one was quickly wasted on an ill-advised attempt to make it a double. If he can continue his current pace against tougher RH pitchers, it'll be tough for Joe NOT to start him.

  • We had 10 hits and scored 1run. One can talk about Sabermetrics all he wants, but the difference in winning and losing is getting those hits when it counts.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    I think the word you are looking for is "sequencing."

  • “Spiky” — I like that describing our offense. We’ll probably score 12 tonight so everyone feels good thinking we average 6 per game. As more of an offensive guy, it is frustrating to see this team go. This one felt over as soon as Ramirez connected. And I hate that feeling.

    But this team invested heavily in pitching with FA money, trades, and coaching. So far I would have to say it is a D and only a good bullpen saves that type of grade.

    I still believe the ship gets righted for more consistency and we pull away. But it’s been a head scratching and gnashing of teeth start.

    Did anyone read the article on KB on ESPN yesterday? Love that guy. He gets it.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    Thanks for the tip on the KB article. "He gets it" is a great synopsis. He is happy that he is striking out less, but goes a step further to say simply striking out less doesn't mean he is helping the team if he grounds out weakly on the 2nd pitch of the PA.

    As someone not particularly athletically gifted--yes, despite hitting .600 in one tournament 25 years ago, rbrucato--I like Bryant's thoughtfulness. He THINKS about how to get better. He finds flaws in his game and considers them challenges to improve his game rather than something he wants to hide or compensate for.

    Maddon talked about his work ethic. But my favorite thing about Bryant is that he is not only really good but he seems internally motivated. This doesn't mean I think he will sign a 8-year/$100M contract but that I have a hard time believing that Maddon, Davis, et al. have to exert any effort to try to motivate him to change/adjust and improve. That, in itself, has enormous value. And not every player with Bryant's ability have that as part of their personality.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I actually thought of you when reading the article -- not because of your hitting prowess in HS summer tourney -- LOL!!!! You still have the highest career average here in Cubs Den. :-D

    You have been talking in here for years about reduction of K rates. And rightfully so. And although I agree with that premise, I still felt a K was an out nothing more and nothing less. They didn't bother me too bad until they came in spots where contact (situational hitting) was a premium. I think Bryant hit the nail on the head with how I felt which was "weak" contact for the sake of contact is worse than possibly striking out trying to get a pitch you could do "damage" on. It's a fine line there, for sure. I just love how cerebral Bryant is and actually has thought through those things. I am hopeful it wears off on the group. That was a good read.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    I am the opposite of you when it comes to K's in some ways. I consider them bad in the grand scheme of things and don't worry too much about when they come. In baseball I play "the long game." I figure there will be games like last night where the team gets 10 hits but almost no runs. There will also be games where they get 6 runs on 9 hits. It is just sequencing. But BABIP plays a big part in that. Ks are outs that don't even get included in BABIP which is why they drive me up the wall to see a guy strike out a lot.

    I also like that Bryant pointed out that sometimes you need to tip your hat to the pitcher. Sometimes he just plain wins the battle. So as a batter you move on.

    Once a K% gets to about <23% or so I am actually usually OK with it if the guy has some power and can draw BB (since HR and BB help the offense without being included in BABIP--and yes, I know not all power is HR). Once it gets above that you have to be Ian Happ to help the offense in any real way. And I am even considering putting Happ into his own category, but I still don't have enough of a sample size to do that.

    As I've said before I try to look at a variety of stats when evaluating a player. I had a post a couple days ago comparing and contrasting Baez, Schwarber and Contreras offensively. It comes down to what you value in a hitter. And it came out closer than I imagined it would.

    I also appreciate Bryant's nuanced understanding of hitting. The awareness that weak contact isn't really better than a K. But he keeps the desire to put the ball in play because at least there is a chance it will be a hit. And these two are not contradictory. It is just a nuanced approach to hitting.

    To me it just looks like every year Bryant is fouling off more borderline pitches. Pitches he might have taken for strike 3 the year before. When he fouls it off he gets another pitch. That is another opportunity for the pitcher to make a mistake. Or get a solid, "clean" hit. Or even draw a BB.

    Finally, I refer back to a story I have told before. Tim Olson (2004 D'backs) is from Bismarck, ND, not far from where I live. We have so few local people that even play professional baseball, much less make the majors, that there was an article in the paper about him. Anyway he had a comment in there that he learned in the minor leagues that just because he could hit a pitch didn't mean he should. His comment was, "It is better to be 0-2 than 0-for-2." To me that encapsulates the conundrum for batters. And I think Bryant understands when he should focus on just making contact and when he should wait for a pitch he can do damage on. I am heartened to see that while his K% has decreased his BB% (never a problem before) has held steady so he isn't just selling out to prevent K's but is just plain making contact more often. And, low and behold, his BABIP (there's that stat again!) remains where it has always been, around .330, so he is putting more balls in play his BA is increasing which also helps his OBP and SLG. In short, the guy is just becoming a beast of a hitter. And he keeps making "next step" improvements. When his career is done he is going to make an awesome hitting coach if not manager.

  • "...it’s been a head scratching and gnashing of teeth start."

    Sums it up nicely. I did plenty of both during yesterday's game.

  • Chatwood makes me think of that level of little league, when the kids are 7 or 8, and they first start pitching. I coached a kid name Matty. When he threw anywhere near the plate they couldn't touch him. Most of the time the catcher was diving left and then right, jumping up, getting a pitch in the... cup. Maybe if Chatwood went back to that level and started over...

  • Cubs just haven't hit good pitching with any consistency, but that's all they'll see in the postseason. Baez and Russell turn into different folks. They must have been swinging 60-in bats or something,

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Javy had 2-4 yesterday. Why the diss? Should he have been 4-4 with 4 homers to prove he can hit good pitching?

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    Chatwood is "NUKE LALOUCHE" reincarnated. Has great stuff but doesn't know where it's going!

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    In reply to Rick Rariden:

    I agree. But imagine what he can do if he ever just plain harnesses his pitches.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I hope so he's definitely tough to square up in general but I'm just worried that there must be a mechanical flaw right now. I think it's easy to bash a pitcher after one bad start especially walks tend to drive me and others crazy but he's still been one of our more effective starters from a results standpoint heading into this game which is impressive given that he's had these same struggles all season. For me it's hard to see his success as sustainable though unless he figures out a way to limit the walks back/closer to his career rates. It's just very difficult to consistently pitch well when you're walking almost a batter an inning and you felt it was going to catch up with him. The thing to be optimistic about is that this is a new issue for him in his career but that's what we thought about justin wilson too and he still hasn't really figured things out. I'm at the point where I wonder if there's some type of flaw with our pitching infrastructure when it comes to transitioning new pitchers into the staff. Even Darvish's walk rate is higher then it's been in any previous year and that's supposed to be a guy that generally has good command and limits the walks. It's just baffling.

  • 4 of the 5 Cub starters (Quintana, Lester, Darvish and Chatwood) all have higher BB/9 rates this year. I wonder how much this has to do with Maddon's buddy the new Cubs pitching coach Hickey.

  • Said it this weekend and got a lot of disagreement in my feedback but i'll say it again the brewers aren't going anywhere they just swept the dbacks and are 31-19. I'm starting to get the feeling that this is going to be a really difficult and competitive division to win unlike last year when it seemed like the cubs were their biggest enemies. Let's not make the mistake of underestimating this brewers team because they're an up and coming rising group from what I've seen. I really hope that all those rescheduled games from all the rainouts don't come back to bite us. I heard we have 23 straight games from aug going into september that's going to be a huge stretch that may play a large part in deciding this race. I personally feel that it's competitive disadvantage that we have to play 6-7 makeup games and the brewers have to play only 1 due to playing in a stadium with a retractable roof. I know it's part of the game but with the development of parks like Miller park to me MLB needs to find a way to address this issue because this can very well have an impact on playoff races. Maybe have a final week for makeup games I'm open to other ideas but I don't think it should even be legal to play 23 straight games the cubs have struggled in stretches similar to that the past couple of years. And don't get me wrong I have confidence in this cubs group until another team proves me wrong but this is the 1st time that I feel like teams in our division are just plain and simply good enough to have a better record then us although let me reiterate I'd still bet on the cubs if you put a gun to my head.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Unless the Brewers find a couple of SPs, they will fade. Four of their SPs are outperforming their FIP by a wide margin. They'll regress.

    Cards are the team that isn't going away. Their issue is they are a reliever or two short, but that is easier to find than the 1-2 SPs the Brewers need.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Interesting perspective Michael and I know you're a well informed fan and your argument maybe plausible (their rotation is their biggest question mark) but you can technically say the same thing about the cubs going by that type of logic of concluding a team isn't good using solely metrics as the basis of your conclusion. And honestly I just don't think it's fair to any team to use one metric like team FIP or pythagorean record as the basis for why they're due for improvement or decline. I especially don't think it's fair when cub fans who just don't watch the brewers enough to really put into context how these numbers are where they stand today use those numbers as a basis for why the brewers are going to fall off. I heard the same arguments that the cards were the threat last year and for whatever reason people just don't want to believe in this brewers group regardless of how well they play. I just don't like the idea of saying oh this teams playing above their pythagorean numbers so they're going to regress. In my experience team metrics aren't as reliable as individual player metrics and I just don't like the idea of concluding that the brewers will regress because FIP says so. For example the cubs starting rotation FIP isn't particularly good now so any brewers fan can technically say the same thing about us. But when you put things into context 4/5 of our starters are dealing with walk rates well above the norms of their career stats and in general players eventually play to the back of their baseball cards. Of course our FIP is going to be high when guys that typically throw strikes are walking guys at high rates but you would expect guys like Darvish, Q, hopefully chatwood and Lester to improve their current rates in my view. I can make an educated guess that they'll improve because I follow the cubs on a regular basis and know that these guys are walking guys at an unusual rate but it's easy for a brewers fan who doesn't regularly follow the cubs and follows them through box score/statistical analysis to point to our FIP and say our rotation isn't good. I say this respectfully that it's hard to really use numbers as a tool for analysis if you can't put into context how those numbers stand there. We can put numbers into context for the cubs because we all follow them on a regular basis but I'm not a fan of using box score type analysis for teams that most cub fans don't watch live on a regular basis if that makes sense. And that's coming from a guy that uses metrics and is big on them but my only point is I think analysis can be flawed when you try to make a conclusion about a team you don't watch regularly by just pointing to a few statistics like FIP or a teams pythagorean record. The fact is that they're 30-11 when they don't face the cubs I don't know how much more then they need to show us. They also already proved us wrong once last year when most thought stl was the biggest threat. And I could be wrong but I disagree that the cards are better to me the brewers lineup, bullpen and defense are flat out better then the cards and I don't think it's even close. I give the cards an edge in starting pitching but you have to remember that the brewers rotation isn't the same as it's going to look in July. To me the cardinals issue in addition to their bullpen is offensively (lack of pop) and they're just not an athletic and strong defensive team like the brewers. They have to resort to playing light hitting kolten wong because nobody else can play 2B adequately and it seems that all their infielders aren't 2 way players they can either hit or they can field but definitely not both (and matt carpenter isn't doing either). You look at that cards lineup in general and it seems to me that a lot of guys are aging or one dimensional players.

    If they return Jimmy nelson and acquire a starter (if not now, when?) then that really changes the outlook of their rotation by taking out chacin or suter (whoever is struggling more). Remember too KC didn't have a great rotation but when you have an elite bullpen that tends to cover things up. Knebel, Jeffress, and especially Hader are really good and have really carried the team thus far even with their lineup slumping and injured. To me they don't even need to trade for a starter to contend but if they can shore up that rotation then they're really dangerous. This divisions going to be a tough one this year.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    In addition I think a lot of people are really underestimating the brewers overall team athleticism versus the cards (it's not even close). And this is the most educated cubs site I've ever come across and I respect your opinion Michael and hope you're right. But my view fanbases tend to undervalue that up and coming team that enters its way into contention. Cub fans tend to view the cardinals as the threat mainly because of their track record of being in contention over the past decade when that track record really doesn't mean that much TODAY.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Additionally I think chase anderson and Davies are just not commanding their ball as well as they typically do much like many of our starters currently. I personally don't view those 2 as regression candidates but that's just my subjective opinion

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    In any event also I actually agree with you that the cards are also a major threat. I think you can make an argument that both the brewers and cardinals have clearly improved while the cubs have somewhat remained stagnant. Overall I think this is the 1st division race where there's teams that are good enough to overtake us. Our guys need to get going now because it's not going to be easy with very few off days that last month and a half of the season and we also won't have the easiest schedule in baseball in the 2nd half this year.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I agree w you 100% Plus Reyes is coming and we know he's a potential TOR arm. Scary to be adding someone like that. It's like adding a young Jose Fernandez to your rotation in early June.

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    Anyone know what Happ was doing in the first inning on that foul by the Schwarbenator?

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Maybe he thought the ball was going to fall fair and didn’t wan’t To be forced. If not that, I have no clue because he was just jogging to second.

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    In reply to stix:

    Aren't you supposed to go half way in that case? He was almost at 2nd before he started to retreat.

    I think he must have lost the ball? Maybe he thought there were 2 outs then realized, oops i led off !

  • Brain cramp?

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    Wow. Gleyber did it again. 3 run homer

    He's got more homers then half out team.

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Good for him! He could become one of the all-time greats and I still would defend the trade.
    The Q trade is more troublesome, but time will tell on that one.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Four for the week. Aiding my fantasy team a bunch.

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    Javy just struck out on a pitch right down the middle. He could have crushed it and everyone would have said Why did you throw him that? Why does anyone ever throw him a strike?
    We've seen some exceptional defensive plays already tonight.

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    WOW ! Rajai Davis........would have been a nice sac fly if the runner(s) had been moved over somehow someway.

    Lets go Heyward.........be the 2 out Hero !

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    Leadoff double......How about a run?

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    way to go WILLY !!

    1st and 3rd nobody out !!

    Javy time!!!

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    Cubs sure know how to put on a clinic on how not score

    Up to Heyward vs Miller...........

  • Nice call by Maddon to have Baez bunt. LOL The RBI leader of the NL. LOL

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    Let me just say I’m glad we don’t have any children, my language wasn’t appropriate. I kind of understand Javy’s bunt but if he had placed it down the 3rd base line Rizzo would have scored. We talked about bunting a few days ago and this is one of those times where it could have been tied at 1 with 2 on no outs.
    Now we have to come back and overcome that inning.

  • Pathetic inning. This team needs a major shake up.

  • In reply to AzChris:

    Starting with Maddon. I am sure in his post game interwiew he will say that was the correct call to have Baez bunt in that situation. Still 2 innings to go Cubs can still win this.

  • Was it Joe's decision or Javy's? also if it was Joe's then why not bunt down either line rather than the pitcher. Anyway not pinch hitting with Almora for Jason? I have seen enough of Jason and Russell to say goodbye to both of them.

  • In reply to AzChris:

    It was Maddon'd decision to bunt you could tell by Rizzo's reaction on the play. I agree with having Almora hitting for Heyward but Maddon want his players to like him and it might of hurt Heywards feelings being pinch hit for.

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    Pirates may lose again and cards lost. Only team that can't lose is the Brewers

    We need to come back and get this win. No reason to lose this game 1-0 with the chance we had vs the pitcher we faced

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    Miller gone.

    KB won't go hitless......lets go!

    He's going to show everyone he can hit in the clutch !

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Is that the clutch in the old cars or in the game? He couldn’t find the clutch in an old car any better than he hits.

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    In reply to stix:

    In the clutch not the clutch

  • Best player up time to show he is big time and hit the 2 run homer

  • Javy time.

  • Lead off men: Almora, Zo, LaStella.

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