Does it *Look* Like This is Fun, Because This isn't Fun; Brewers 1, Cubs 0

maddon

After a euphoric extra inning victory on Monday night, the Cubs bats disappeared on Tuesday.  Mike Montgomery took the mound today to continue prove that he belongs in the starting rotation regardless as to when the rehabbing Yu Darvish returns.  He faced Jhoulys Chacín, who was about the only person Milwaukee signed to address their lack of starting pitching while stockpiling outfielders in the off-season.  To this point, he's been a nice sign for them.  Today was a mostly good news/bad news type of day, and not a lot happened, so let's recap it that way.

The Good

Montgomery has been very good filling in as a spot starter with Darvish on the DL.  He was good again today, making really just one mistake on a pitch to Lorenzo Cain in the third inning.  He got the ball up a little bit higher than he'd like on the middle-third of the plate, and Cain hit a line drive homer to left for the game's only run.  What was particularly good to see from Montgomery today was (again) controlling the strike zone, walking only one through his six innings of work.  He also stranded runners at third base in both the first and second innings.  I'm not sure that he does anything impressively - he's not a dominating fireballer, or got nasty movement on pitches.  He's just solid, and is able to keep the ball on the ground.  With this Cubs defense, that's a very good thing.  Of his 18 outs, eight were on the ground.  In Montgomery's last four starts, he's allowed just three earned runs in 23 2/3 innings.  Give him credit for putting his effort where his mouth is.  He wanted a chance to start, and he's done well in that role when given the chance in 2018.

Justin Wilson has very quietly had a very impressive stretch.  Today he allowed two runners to reach base, but where we saw him fall apart with a runner on last year, he's not letting it get to him, and putting the opposition away.  He started the seventh out by allowing a single and a walk, then got a strike out and inning ending double play.  His ERA is down to 2.20 on the season, and the K rate has been very good at 12.6/9 innings pitched.

We got some good, old-fashioned weird baseball in the eighth inning.  With Eric Thames pinch hitting with nobody out and one on, Brian Duensing was brought in to pitch, and Steve Cishek took over in left.  After Duensing struck out Thames and his stupid facial hair, they flip-flopped so that Cishek could retire Lorenzo Cain in an excruciatingly long at bat.  After the entire team exchanged gloves just for the hell of it, Duensing came back in to retire Christian Yelich on a fly ball to left field.  No worries, Willson Contreras had been brought in to play in favor of Cishek, and the inning was over.

The Bad

Every Cub in the starting lineup today struck out at least once, and the team racked up 13 total punch outs for the game.  Five of those Ks came against the combination of Josh Hader and Corey Knebel in the last two innings.  The offense did tally five more hits than it did in last night's performance, but never really threatened to score in this one, going just 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.  The first chance came in the second inning when Javier Báez doubled with two outs.  Chris Gimenez walked before the pitcher Montgomery worked a full count - where he eventually struck out looking on a borderline call.

The Cubs again got two on with two outs in the fourth inning, but the inning ended when Gimenez flew out.  In the fifth, it looked as though Chacín may be tiring as he walked Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyworth with one out.  However, he rebounded to strike out Tommy La Stella and get Anthony Rizzo to ground out to first base.  The Cubs wouldn't really threaten after that, and left nine on base for the game.

Frustration over the past two days of lackluster offense came through in the eighth inning when Anthony Rizzo believed he'd worked a base on balls against Heder.  The pitch was borderline - it's one you groan about if it's called a ball against your pitcher.  The drama was perhaps exacerbated by the fact that the catcher, Erik Kratz, moved his glove to frame the pitch, perhaps making it look to Rizzo as though the ball was initially out of the zone.  I'd have to imagine that's the route Rizzo took in his argument, because it wouldn't have been unreasonable for umpire Jim Reynolds to toss him from the game for arguing the strike call.

Kris Bryant got the day off, and it's probably a good thing to have a couple of days  to rest between games.  KB hasn't homered since May 14, meaning it will be over one month between dingers (the Cubs have an off day tomorrow).  Most of the other numbers still look pretty good, but it would be nice to get him right.  We've all been maddened by the inconsistency in the Cubs offense.  We know that overall the numbers look good, but when the hot streaks aren't synced up, it looks pretty rough.


Source: FanGraphs
Moving Forward

The Cubs have an off day tomorrow, then go to St. Louis for a weekend series against the Cardinals.  It will be a battle of heavyweights as Jon Lester takes the bump against Michael Wacha.  First pitch on Friday night will be at 7:15.

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  • That sucked. To quote a line that resonated with me from Sinister's kid:

    su-+π¢c/w#:°°g_f::

    That about sums up my feelings.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Ha! I’ll pass that along to him!

  • Maybe Baltimore will take Javy and Addison for Machado.

  • In reply to Squareburgers:

    Doubt it. All though Javy is electric. Russell , offensively sucks.

  • In reply to TheSarge#36:

    The Cubs wouldn't trade either Javy or Russell for Machado let alone both.

  • In reply to Squareburgers:

    I'd much more prefer a good, reliable player like Jed Lowrie in our lineup than either of Baez or Russell.
    I honestly would miss Baez mainly for his ability to turn the DP. He is the very best I've seen at that aspect.
    But offensively I believe, he is more of the inconsistency problem, than being anywhere close to being part of the solution. I've seen enough.
    I'd try to sell high. There is a reason Theo took a middle IF with the first pick. We need upgrades.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    Lowrie would not be an improvement over Baez or Russell.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    My feeling is that Lowrie wold be a definite offensive upgrade this year, over either of them.

  • In reply to cubbustible:

    I wouldn't bench either Baez or Russell for Lowrie. They are both much more complete players.

  • Brewers dish up some payback for the four game sweep in Wrigley. Tip of the cap. Now it's a rivalry. Montgomery has been awesome.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Don’t think 8-3 is yet a rivalry.

  • In reply to stix:

    How about a 1.5 game lead?

  • It's a shame that Monty's stalwart start got wasted. Eventually these bats are going to need to wake up with some consistency if we hope to sustain success in this division.

  • In reply to Denizen Kane:

    Reads like fine poetry, that.

  • Well, for the Cubs to literally have 1 good offensive inning out of the 29 played in this series and come out with a 2-1 series loss is an absolute best case scenario. We should’ve been swept. Hopefully we bounce back and take 2 of 3 from the Cardinals.

    My crazy trade idea of the week...

    Could we possibly trade Mike Montgomery, Ian Happ, and Adbert Alzolay (and probably one other fairly high ranked organizational pitching prospect) to the Mets for Zach deGrom, or to the Padres for Brad Hand? If either of these teams were willing to pull the trigger, which deal would be preferred?

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I’m pretty sure I meant Jacob deGrom... notnsure who Zach is.

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    In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I assumed that Zach was the deGrom that the Mets would trade.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Respectfully Jacob Degrom is one of the most valuable assets in baseball I'm scared to think what he'll cost but I can assure it'll be more than Addison Russell and happ even. I'd guess it would take Baez and schwarber for example

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Yeah probably takes even more, but I’d think there’s good value in somewhat proven guys like Monty and Happ who still have years of control involved with them and plenty of time to develop much further, while neither seem to be guys that will just fizzle out, as all the unpredictability there is in receiving a couple highly ranked and middle of the road prospects to fill out a deal .

    What if it was Q, Monty, Happ, and Alzolay, but the Mets have to throw in Familia (if his shoulder is healthy)?

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Brad Hand? Why?

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    He’s a pretty good reliever who we’d have on our roster for up to 3 more postseasons. That’s kinda valuable.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    See your point but I wouldn’t give up 4 guys for him.....2 of those already on mlb rosters....

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I’d be with you more for DeGromm. Not Hand. Our bullpen is solid. The organizational depth is pretty good for relievers. It’s ToR that is thin at the moment. I wouldn’t move any of our top ammo unless it’s for an impact bat or ToR arm.

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    In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Hand is great and controllable, but thats too much IMO for a closer.

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    Maddon should never have suggested that the Brewers were playing "tight". All they've done since then is outplay his team in every facet of the game.

  • In reply to Ray:

    We got beat by a good team in their home park. This is going to be a fight. My money's on the Cubs.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I went into the series expecting to win 1 game and that's what we won. The Brewers are a good team they weren't going to roll over but when it's all said and done I bet the Cubs win the series something like 12-7 which is about the difference in talent. Plus as mediocre as Chacin has been in his career he's not mediocre at this particular moment in time. This is not a sport where you should be reacting game to game although admittedly it took me a long time to realize that. This is a team that's going to win 90 wins without trying too hard and that makes for a difficult 162 because they'll probably leave a bunch of wins on the table and that's a concept that's difficult for fans to accept. I still think they'll actually win about 95 because I expect them to play very well down the stretch.

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    In reply to TC154:

    Maddon managed the series the same way, content to lose 2 of 3.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Probably. He could have done more to win yesterday's game but he was going to not use Bryant unless he absolutely had to and I think that's completely. The big picture is more important than a win in June for a team with very little doubt as to whether they'll win the division.

  • In reply to TC154:

    When you say "very little doubt as to whether they'll win the division". You make it sound like the Cubs have a 10 game lead. They are 11/2 games back. I think it would also be nice if the Cubs finished with the best record in the NL. So, June games are also important to win.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    With said if Maddon decided he wanted to give Bryant the day off no matter what then I could see why he did not pinch hit him.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Of course they are, but the big picture matters. Personally, barring significant injury, I have no doubt they'll win the division. they'll likely battle with Washington for the best record in the NL which given the relative strength of the league will likely take 95-97 games. I agree that will become important but the last three years they finished they were .667, .665 and .682 in the second half. I fully expect similar results and I think this is a better team than last year. They will doubtless have a better first half record. Players go out to win every game, organizations look at the big picture. I'm never happy when they lose a game but again I'd be surprised if the Brewers win more than 7 of their 19 games with us which should give us the Division by at least 5 games.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I find your thoughts on fan's expectations enlightening. There seems to be a gulf between us "old guys" who have been suffering for decades and the new fans who cheer for a winner, however long that lasts.

    Talk radio, and media in general, leans towards bashing one another and creating divisions between us. I don't get excited or offended. There are much more important topics in the world. Those of us who know baseball, and the roller-coaster ride a season is, can bitch and moan about the unnecessary noise. Or, like I do, try to teach these newbies about how baseball works.

    That approach seems to help my sanity, and I find myself actually learning something from time to time.

    There is that unappealing trait of entitled fans, but my years of disappointment balances that out. All I can bring myself to do is yell...

    Go Cubs!

  • Joe managered this game to try to win. Instead of doing everything to win the game. Very disappointed.

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Have to agree.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    He supposedly said something about saving Bryant for extra innings. Like Lou and Z, you have to tie this one up first.

  • In reply to jack:

    Comparing this game, when Maddon is managing to navigate a 162-game marathon as opposed to a 5-game playoff series is basically apples and oranges. Sure Lou was way off his rocker with his bullpen management in that playoff game against the Dbacks and managing for the following "what if" scenario. I don't think it's so bad for Bryant to get a 68-hour physical and mental break to relax and clear his head while he's in the midst of probably his worst slump of his career. Perhaps Bryant comes back on Friday relaxed and refreshed and goes on to put up monster numbers in helping the Cubs sweep the Cardinals?

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Why did joe over manage the heck out of the 8th inning???? All the flip flopping and switching gloves. He entered Wilson into the game and could have given him a day off. Then a great situation arose in the 9th.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I look at this game as playoff atmosphere setting and good test to put the two BP pitchers in that uncomfortable situation of flip flopping and playing LF as a test and preparation for how they might have to be used later in a pennant race or maybe even in a post season game. They passed the test! And Joe actually managed that inning nicely and inserted Contreras in LF right when it actually mattered most with him actually making the last out of the inning. No we didn’t win the game, and it woulda been awesome to pull off the W and take that series, but in the grand scheme of things, Bryant got his extra day off, and the bullpen pitchers got to experience something new, easing the monotony of the season. Let’s see how the players respond in this next series before we micro-analyze everything “we” dislike about Maddon’s management style in one game that makes up 1/6000th of a percent (or .006) of a 162-game season.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I am confused, what does 1/6000th of a percent (or .006) of a 162-game season mean?

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I also think there is something wrong with the math.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Oh, I finally figured out what you meant by one game that makes up 1/6000th of a percent (or .006) of a 162-game season. I believe you meant 1/162. It is actually 0.6%. You need to multiply the .006 by 100 (rounding the number) to get the actual percent. Please take no offense from my 2 earlier posts, I just did not understand what you meant.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Haha yes, I flubbed that one big time! Glad you figured my version of math out. What’s funny is when I arrived at that answer I didn’t believe that could be right, but then I found some stupid way to prove (or rationalize) it and just went with it.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Haha. I enjoy your post. Everyone makes a boo boo

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    But that still misses the point that Joe said Kris would be available in the extras.

  • In reply to jack:

    Maddon, like nearly every ML manager, communicates with his players what their roles are on any given day. He told Bryant he was having the full day off. Of course if the game went extras and we were out of bodies he would have to play. But the point of that day off is to mentally relax and not be focusing on pitcher's tendencies thinking you may be called on at a moment's notice.

    Contreras had the day off as well, but he's a catcher. That uncertainty goes with the territory. I'm not privy to that conversation, but I'd bet the farm Maddon didn't tell Willson that he would absolutely have the whole game off. These guys have a general idea beforehand.

    Maddon is great at managing for the marathon. Some fans would like to go white-knuckled, balls-to-the wall every pitch of every game. I'm not one of them, and I'm glad Joe isn't either. Look at his second-half record, when he does push the throttle closer to the floor, having a better idea of what the engine can handle. His record speaks for itself.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Thanks for saving me in another long-winded response....

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Very well put. Most fans just need to chill out and stop micro analyzing Maddon. He is doing a very good job.

  • I wonder what the cubs are gonna do whenever darvish is ready, because montgomery is better option every 5 days over walkwood.

  • In reply to bolla:

    That's a problem that will probably work itself out before Yu gets back. Odd man out to the pen.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Chatwood would be terrible in the bullpen

  • In reply to bolla:

    I say Montgomery stays in the rotation & don’t look back. There’s no more guessing anymore, he’s proven he can do it & do it well.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    I have to admit that I'm impressed. I've been vocal before about not believing in Montgomery as anything more than a very good swingman who can fill in for a start from time to time, but he's making me eat crow and it's delicious.

    Chatwood, on the other hand, is getting guys out with smoke and mirrors. If I were the other team, I wouldn't even swing the bat against him and you'd probably put up better numbers by just letting him walk the world. No confidence in that guy.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Crapwood is the name I had in my head.

  • To me the Bryant issues are more than just about his current slump. This all goes back to his winter attempts to improve his game. In this case it's about his desire to hit to RF. While he is doing that, the results are bumpkus. Compare it to a guy who throws 100 MPH and decides he wants improve his curve or change-up. He works on it so hard and finally shows improvement he's so happy---until he finds out his fastball now tops out at 93 and straight. Bryant hasn't hit a ball hard in some time. He's also the best 2 out/nobody on hitter in baseball. I see every game and he hasn't produced anything in a month. His few hits have been meaningless. Let's all hope he figures things out. The Cubs need his production.

  • In reply to veteran:

    As John used to say, progress isn't always linear.

    I also remember when Bryant was first called up to the Cubs and it took him awhile to hit his first homer (around a month?). It'll come back to him, but I do hope it comes back sooner rather than later.

    I'd really, really love to see one of the Cubs hitters go on an extended hot streak, though. We've seen a couple (Baez, Heyward lately, maybe Rizzo lately too) but nothing extended.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    Realistically his numbers are bottomed out right now too it's easy to criticize a guy when his numbers are around the low point that they're going to be at all season. I personally have absolutely zero concern about Bryant and I think we'll all be laughing about this slump in a month. He may hit only 24 home runs this year and it'd be nice to see his power return but I'm not worried this is a guy with 70/80 grade power he's going to hit plenty of home runs over his career. and I think the RISP issues are legit I can't argue he's not the most timely hitter right now but I personally think that's a matter of inexperience he's not perfect he's still a young player growing into himself and we have to be patient with certain aspects of his game. I think by the time he's 28-29 we'll see him take steps forward in this department as he gains experience on what works for him in these type of spots. I think this is an area of hitting where you can improve with experience and I think Bryant has the character and dedication to being great to improve at some of his current flaws. Overall I have absolutely zero concern for the kid he's a stud and we'll all remember that once he starts hitting again soo.

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