There is One Thing That I Will Never Believe, and that is the Brewers are Better than the Cubs; Cubs 7, Little Brother 2


You all know that my real gig is education, which means that I'm enjoying the first few weeks of summer vacation.  It's afforded me the opportunity to do a bit of reading (for fun!) before I ultimately begin making lesson plans and preparing for the upcoming school year.  Right now, I'm smack in the middle of Tinker to Evers to Chance: The Chicago Cubs and the Dawn of Modern America by David Rapp.  It's certainly not the first I've read about that era of the Chicago Cubs (Cait Murphy's Crazy '08 remains a favorite), but this particular book focuses on the building of a team that won more games in five years than any team before or since - not just on the 1908 season.   It is a also reminder that we've been lucky to watch something similar over the past 3+ years, where the Cubs have reached three consecutive League Championship Series.  One impression that reading about that era of baseball has made on me is the passion of fans, and the intensity in which they cheer for their ball club AND the demonstration of pride for their city.  The descriptions of each game in the book feel like every day contained a playoff game.

Ever since the Cubs went on their last road trip, every day has had a bit of a "playoff" feel to it.  By that, I mean that for the most part, games have been relatively close, fans have been heavily involved at the games (and online), and games just feel bigger than they should be in mid-June.  A lot of that is due to the Cubs having picked up some ground on the first place Brewers over the past two weeks, putting them just 1/2 game behind going into tonight's match-up in Milwaukee.  While the 1906-10 Cubs had a rival in the New York Giants, it's not yet certain who the main antagonist will be when future books are written about the 2015-? Cubs.  The Brewers seem as good a bet as anyone, and have been more competitive than expected over the past two seasons.  They've got a perfect villain in known PED-user Ryan Braun, who seems to relish the boos lavished on him by Cubs fans.  Let's also not forget the back-and-forth that we've enjoyed between fans and the social media accounts of these two teams.  To their credit, whoever is running the Milwaukee Twitter account continues to go all in, despite domination by the Cubs over the Brewers to this point in the season.  Tonight's game was not a disappointment.  In many ways, the game was won with the same kind of small ball smarts indicative of the dead ball era, punctuated with some late inning drama.

Both starters in tonight's game pitched well, though neither would figure in the decision.  José Quintana came in to the game having thrown 24 consecutive shutout innings against the Brewers.  He threw very well again tonight, getting a significant number of ground ball outs, as well as a couple of double plays in the first two innings.  His streak came to an end, however, when he allowed a solo home run in the third inning by catcher Erik Kratz.  The second run allowed came in the fifth inning when Jonathan Villar went deep with his own solo shot.  Quintana ended up with a quality start, throwing six innings and allowing just the two runs on four hits.  He only struck out three, but got nine ground ball outs.

And the villain? Ryan Braun didn't necessarily hurt the Cubs with his bat on this evening, but he did make a couple of defensive plays.  He made a nice catch in a diving effort to rob Anthony Rizzo of a base hit, but the worst was taking away a potential home run by Willson Contreras in the sixth inning.  As the ball approached the fence, Braun leaped and snagged it.  Then, like the bastard he is, pretended for a few seconds that he did not have the ball before giving a wink and producing the ball.

Both of the Cubs' early runs were scored using small ball strategy and good base running.  The Cubs got on the board in the fifth inning when Javier Báez led off with a single.  With one out, he stole second, then advanced to third on a ground out by Quintana.  When Albert Almora Jr. singled, Báez scored easily.  The second run came off of the excellent reliever, Josh Hader in the eighth inning.  Ben Zobrist coaxed a walk to start it off.  He proceeded to smartly tag up on a fly out by Almora to get into scoring position.  He came around to score when Jason Heyward singled to right.  The throw from the outfield was cut off by Ryan Braun, who by this point had moved to first base.  That made it a 2-2 ballgame.

And that's where the score would stay.  The Cubs got excellent bullpen work from Justin Wilson, who pitched around a lead-off while striking out the side, Pedro Strop, who threw a scoreless eighth inning, and Randy Rosario, who pitched the ninth and tenth innings.

The Cubs would not be denied in the eleventh.  Anthony Rizzo, who had just missed a long home run on a foul ball in his previous at bat, led off with a towering home run down the right field line to give the Cubs a 3-2 edge.  Brewers pitcher Matt Albers looked like he might get out of the inning with no further damage, with quick outs by Willson Contreras and Tommy LaStella.  However, he willed himself into walking Báez somehow.  With Addison Russell batting, Javy stole second and advanced to third when the ball went into center field.  Albers then pegged Russell in the ribs with a fastball, putting runners at first and third with two outs.  With Russell running, Ben Zobrist singled to right field to give the Cubs some insurance.  Then again, with runners at first and third, Almora singled to right field to bring in another run.  Albers exited in favor of lefty Boone Logan, whose job was to get out Jason Heyward.  It didn't work, as Heyward struck an opposite field double to left-center field.  Lorenzo Cain ran into the wall awkwardly in an attempt to catch the ball, and Heyward was able to advance to third base when shortstop Orlando Arcia's throw got away from the catcher.  Cain was okay to stay in the game, but the real damage had already been done.  7-2 Cubs.

The extended lead allowed Anthony Bass to make his Cubs debut, and he finished off the bottom of the eleventh, including inducing the third double play turned by the Cubs infield on the evening.  Not bad, considering those guys don't have a famous poem written about them...yet.

Source: FanGraphs

Oh By the Way, I Love this Team

Can we just talk about how the Cubs only had the opportunity to win this one in extras because of smart baserunning? The only things you used to be able to count on were death, taxes, and Cubs TOOTBLANS.  And while we saw Kris Bryant doubled off on a line drive by Rizzo, we also saw aggressive play by Báez and Zobrist that put the Cubs in position to score.  This game is a 2-0 shutout loss if they didn't do what they did in this game.  The stories that will be written about this team in the future will focus on guys like Rizzo, Bryant, and Lester, but it's undeniable that the Cubs brass has assembled guys that really do the little things well.

Randy Rosario, who did not start the season with the team, is now 3-0 with only one run allowed in 12.2 innings.  It's still early in his Cubs career, but with Brian Duensing struggling a bit of late, it wouldn't shock me to see him out there a bit more.  He's been solid so far, even though he doesn't boast big strike out numbers.

Also, Jason Heyward is hitting .281 after a 3-hit, 3-RBI night.  He's not going away.

Moving Forward

The Cubs are now 8-1 against Milwaukee this season, and lead the NL Central by 1/2 game.  That's a nice place to be on June 11th.  It allows me to text smack-talk to a teacher friend who moved back to Wisconsin last summer.  Tyler Chatwood is on the mound tomorrow night, though, so don't get too comfortable.  He'll face Chase Anderson, who has been a bit of an enigma himself this season.  First pitch is at 7:10 pm.




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  • Great write up. That sounds like an interesting book. Yeah, I was just thinking the other day that it is a great time to be a Cubs fan! And...

    Meet the new boss
    Same as the old boss.

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    I'm glad you mentioned that Braun guy and how he "hid" the ball in his mitt for a few steps before showing it to us. I could boo him all night. I was so glad that it seems we have more supporters there than Brewers fans, we do travel well. It also showed that at any time we can score 4 or 5 runs in just a few minutes, and could have scored more when bases were loaded and Schwarber was batting and that bad call that could have changed the game. We have to overcome bad calls and bad plays and in the last 2 weeks we certainly have.
    On an off target, what level of education do you teach? I have great appreciation for teachers as my wife was a k-5 librarian for 35 years and I worked in a library for 30. We need educators more than ever and thank you for doing it.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Hader's velocity dropped big time.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Thanks, Jonathan. I'm in the high school world, mostly sophomores. 35 years is pretty amazing! I've only just finished my eighth!

  • Brewers feeling the sting in that one, while the checkmate and sorrow rest and wait for tomorrow. Just the best way possible to have won this series opener. Sweep most likely.

  • I follow the Gamecast thingy on ESPN on my phone. I peek at the score a couple of times during my AA meeting. Don't tell them, please! When I saw the Cubs had tied it up, I got a little excited to say the least! I got home at the time Rizzo bombs one out. And then we feasted on their late inning relief. Baez has been stealing a few lately. Good base running and timely hitting wins more games than people realize. I boo Braun too all the way out here in Oregon. What a putz! Let's sweep, and go on a long winning streak.

  • Great writing Sean! Loved the way it all tied together at the end. There will be many poems about this team!

    What a fun game to watch. We have a very solid team. Especially with Heyward’s sudden presence. I’m loving Almora at the top of the lineup, With Heyward’s hitting behind him. The ability to insert a guy like Zobrist in an important PH for the pitchers spot in the lineup and still have another guy like Happ on the bench is insane! I don’t even think we all appreciate the amount of depth this team has! I mean Monty filling in for Darvish. The rotation of relievers coming and going on the Iowa busline and really helping out in critical situations is impressive. Drew Smyly is throwing pitches. We have so much depth that I wonder if any will be used at the trade deadline in place of our lack of top prospects to make deals for other longer term players (i.e. no rentals). Like, we could literally afford to trade a starting pitcher if all are healthy in July.

    Baseball is great on the North Side!

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    In reply to Cubber Lang:

    The Cubs have enormous depth. But part of the beauty of that depth is the VERSATILITY of it. Having 2 guys like Happ and Zobrist who can competently play 2B and OF is such a luxury. And having the back-up SS be the starting 2B also opens a spot on the roster. I have advocated from the beginning having an extra guy in the 'pen to allow Joe to have a "quick hook" and having a short bench since bullpens tend to wear down with use and hitters tend to get better with use. Remember, if we get Caratini back then we don't have a single guy among the position players who only plays 1 position. And I still say part of what made that 9th inning come back in Game for the the NLDS in 2016 was the fact that Maddon could move pieces around defensively and potentially use Contreras in LF if he had to. Not every team can do that.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    What about Rizzo? I am not aware of another position he can play except first base.

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Sorry. You are right. He can't plausibly play another position. But he is the exception. Thanks for the clarification.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Wait a minute--I think Rizzo has to change gloves for his sac bunt coverage, making him an infielder of some type. Probably need a rotisserie player for ultimate clarification.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    I don't do rotisserie other than over an open fire, but yes, Rizzo has technically been considered a 2B on some of those bunt defenses when he's crashing the plate like a wedge-buster. I believe he made a legitimate appearance at 3B last season. But for the purposes of this discussion he is probably locked into one position.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    He could also don catcher's gear. That doesn't make him a catcher. For all intents and purposes Rizzo is a 1B.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Pretty sure Rizzo has manned 4 separate positions in his time with the Cubs, although a couple have been for less than a full game in total.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Grimm you are correct. Rizzo played 3 other positions besides first base for a total of 6 innings in his MLB career.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Thanks! I know there have already been books written, but I have a feeling this group's story is not completely written yet!

  • Good job Urge.....great re-cap...

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Thanks, Dipper!

  • The cubs are 6-0 when baez draws a walk. Heyward is hitting .365 with a .865 ops since coming off the dl,has his highest hard hit % in 4 years. Heyward also got his 2nd big hit off a lefty in a week and the most dominant lefty out the pen in mlb currently.

    I was really happy baez drew the walk because that ab vs knebel pissed me off.

  • In reply to bolla:

    With all the grief we have all been giving Heyward, he deserves and should receive KUDOs for what he has been doing lately. As long as Heyward keeps this up, we now have 3-4 batters (Almora, Zobrist, LaStella and Heyward) that can put the bat on the ball thereby not only producing baserunners in front of our sluggers but also driving in RISPs themselves.

  • I am sure there were a few people begging for a PH for Heyward against Hader but I have stated many times I think he actually stays on lefty's better IMO than he does against righties. He has been making good contact on balls out over the plate. Righties tend to tie him up inside and down while lefty's go middle away. The signs were there earlier in the year with exit velocity and now he is just plain raking at the plate.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    Heyward is hitting .200 vs lefties and .305 vs righties this year. Heyward is much better against righties.

  • Ok guys I am eating a lot of crap right now about Heyward. I have been on him for over 2 1/2 yrs. I hope he keeps it up and Kudo's to Madden for batting him 2nd. I think he got more relaxed and did not feel the pressure of knocking in runs when he was batting lower in the order. He is making great contact and hitting the ball very hard.

  • In reply to cubbie forever:

    His contact numbers since the beginning of the season have suggested that he was finally coming out of his two year funk but to actually see those numbers turn into this is exciting. He's one of the more likable guys on the team and is easy to root for.

  • In reply to cubbie forever:

    No need to beat yourself up for Heyward's poor performance over a two-year period. It's not like it suddenly became a GOOD performance. He deserved the criticism he got when his poor hitting was hurting the team. Now, he seems to have gotten it together and has earned the praise he is getting.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    Let's not get too excited about Heyward. Yes, he has been hitting like the guy we thought we had signed 2+ years ago. But he is in a hot stretch right now. Let's check back on him in the last week of June.

    I say this as one who has been relatively high on Heyward. I have hope that he has finally re-discovered himself offensively. But I just want to make sure we remember this is a very small sample size he has performed well in. It doesn't mean he will automatically go back to being a 70 wRC+ player but I also don't think he is the 171 wRC+ guy we have seen the last 2 weeks.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    He doesn't have to be that guy though to be valuable in the lineup. If you get 105-110 wRC+ out of him you can afford to play him in the field which is where is real value will always lie. Another sub 90 wRC+ season and he'd be a bench player. Now if we could get Russell over 100 wRC+ you'd have 10 regulars or semi-regulars over that mark. You can count the teams that can field an offense like that on one hand.

  • In reply to TC154:


    There is a reason to be skeptical except there appears to be more reasons to be optimistic. Heyward is batting confidently. He has returned to using his hands to initiate his swing and not his body/arms. That has quickened up his bat where now he is driving the ball to all fields. He is not a 30 HR guy so gaining on wRC+ stats are hard to move above except over the last month it is 141, 109 since May 1 and 105 for the season.

    I think we are watching this year's Comeback Player of the Year

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    People don't seem to remember he hurt his wrist in the first year with the Cubs. He played through the injury and his batting suffered. Those stats were not him playing healthy. Looks like he is healthy this year.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    When he went on that run of 3 or 4 multi-hit games I just thought.....yea, well, whatever....and I still don’t know or think he has finally made it back but I sure will say I am happy for him.
    Poor guy really seems to carry the weight of that contract on his shoulders hard but, who wouldn’t? The guy is just an all around decent individual and we are actually lucky to have him, now It’s just a bonus for everyone that he is doing well......Cubs ARE tough and probably get even better.....

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Some great points made on this topic. My take is that it's OK to praise Heyward when he does well and cuss him when he doesn't, but support him as long as he wears the Cubs uniform. Nobody needs to feel guilty for noticing that he was a ground-ball-to-2B-machine for 2 years, but a lot of us are noticing his play of late and hoping it's a permanent change.

  • Hey, is it my imagination, or did Russell's arm strength get better, or is it better mechanics? He's made some really strong throws lately. Man, that middle infield defense is beginning to look like 2016 all over again with the defensive runs being saved.

  • In reply to Gingerbread Man:

    Len and JD mentioned last night that Russell's mechanics, planting and throwing, have given him both better accuracy and more zip on his throws. He does look sharper in the field when I watch the games.

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    In reply to Gingerbread Man:

    His throws, particularly the throws from deep in the hole, have been much stronger and "truer" this year and all year. In the past he tended to rainbow them over to 1B and count on his quick transfer to get the throw there in time. While his arm is not Baez's arm, it is becoming more adequate at SS.

  • In reply to Gingerbread Man:

    He is just so smooth out there. I know that there are people who prefer Javy at shortstop, but Russell (to me) is obviously the better defender. The arm strength and accuracy is definitely noticeable this year. I know he didn't get the out, but how slick did he look in his dive and throw on Cain's grounder up the middle?

  • I woke up in cliche mode this morning, and I "don't want to rain on the Cubs' parade", and I don't want to "beat a dead horse", but I do want to point out a simple fact -- once again, missed calls by the home plate umpire had a significant impact on the game.

    Consider that Schwarber was at the plate with the bases loaded, when the ump called a strike on a pitch that was clearly outside. Even JD commented on it at the time. The count ran to 3-2 (because of the missed call) and Schwarber, instead of having walked and forced in the winning (in 9 innings) run, he grounded out.

    OK, it's early in the season, the Cubs won anyway in pretty spectacular fashion, yada-yada-yada.

    But what if this had occurred in the 7th game of the World Series?

    Baseball's willful blindness to this correctible issue is costing it its credibility. We can no longer be sure that the outcome of games is decided by the participants. While baseball's reaction to gambling is not quite the same (I'm not accusing umpires of anything nefarious), the outcome is the same; namely, the result of games is not necessarily decided by the skills of the players.

    This has to stop -- Robo-Ump's time is here. No more excuses.

    Rant over.

    Maybe I'll wake up in a better mood tomorrow.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Fangraphs ran an article a week or two ago about which teams were getting screwed the most on bad calls. Spoiler: the Cubs are right in the middle. White Sox are getting hosed, though.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Here's the link.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    Thanks for the link.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    I think Pitch-Traxx is bringing mistakes to light that, in the past, could only be speculated. The ump last night seemed to have a pretty wide strike zone. On another note, Madison Bumgardner was furious at the ump for not calling strikes that Pitch-Traxx clearly showed outside the zone.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    How do we know that pitch traxx is 100% accurate????

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    It may not be, but it most likely is way, way more consistent than the umps are... You wouldn’t have ticked off batters, pitchers & mgrs... Umps w/over sensitive feelings & a lot less ejections.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    I'm not sure about that - I think there are pitches that nick a corner of the zone that might be detected by a robo-ump - but because they don't LOOK like strikes, there will be "wailing and gnashing of teeth..."
    Still, I'd rather see the RIGHT call made than the one that LOOKS right.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Batters react at the moment. Almora got called out on strikes and it was a strike and right away he started arguing. I don’t know how they find the most accurate k zone or how they fight the battle of pace of play. I don’t want to wait an extra 5 seconds for upstairs officials to call it a strike.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    I could not agree with you more. I was OK with shifting strike zones game to game. Guys would adjust and figure it out after the first time through the order but that in game consistency is gone most of the time now. Almost every game I see pitches in the same location called both balls and strikes sometimes in the same AB. That's not OK when the technology exists to correct it.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I have seen the same thing, as well as a pitch just outside the zone being called a strike, and the very NEXT pitch, almost identical but inside the zone, being called a ball (and vice versa). One can argue that, oh well-it evens up, 1 strike and 1 ball. But strategies of pitchers and hitters depend on the count, so let's get the count correct.

  • I'm not claiming that the Cubs are getting screwed more than anyone else. I've stated repeatedly that this situation is affecting the integrity of the game, FOR ALL TEAMS. It is this "affecting the integrity of the game" that makes it difficult for me to watch games anymore. I'm constantly processing "what if's", instead of getting into the flow of the game. I know, OCD, but it is what it is.

    Having said that, I do believe that any team, like the Cubs, that particularly emphasizes knowledge of the strike zone, will be disproportionally affected. It would be like building a team on home run ability and then moving the fences out 50 feet.

    Let's just fix it. Give the HP ump two vibrators, one for strikes and one for balls. This would give him IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK for his ball-strike calls. I'm convinced that umps want to do the best job possible; let's give them the technology to do just that. I don't see much whining from anybody about the new play-review rules, which I believe has significantly improved the integrity of the game.

  • Didn't start watching last nights game until the 7th inning and what else can you say one of the signature wins of the year and incredibly unlikely victory when you're trailing this brewer team heading into the 7th inning. I don't think there's any question that the brewers seem to press against the cubs there seems to be a bit of a big brother effect going on and I'm enjoying being on the big brothers side of things. For reference, according to Jesse Rogers, Lefties are batting .050 against Hader and the brewers are 21-0 in games that he pitches. In addition he's striking out over 2 batters an inning so kudos for the fight and mental toughness that these guys have shown. As Joel Mayer said, I don't want to get too far ahead of myself on Heyward but I don't think there's any question that this is the best he's looked as a cub. He's had some solid stretches last season around May but he's never shown the ability to carry an offense like he has recently in his cubs tenure and to me I loved the process as much as the results. He hit a fastball in on the hands from hader a pitch that he's consistently been jammed on and rolled over to 2B (I believe the exit velocity was 102 MPH the 2nd fastest line drive hit off Hader all season). And I think I may have liked that opposite field double/triple in the 11th inning as much if not more I can't recall many/any times that Heywards hit a ball that deep and that hard into left center field and while we need to see this over a larger sample size, this is the first time in a long time where I have hope that Heyward may carry his weight this season and at least be a 3-4+ WAR player :). To me this was the brewers series to win, they're at home facing a cub offense that's been laboring a bit over the past week and they're facing our 3/4, 5, and 6 starters and they absolutely have killed Montgomery since his cubs tenure has begun. That's an advantage too don't get me wrong Montgomery is pitching well but Darvish despite his struggles has pitched very well against the brewers this season whereas they've beat up on Montgomery for whatever reason. But this must be an awfully deflating loss for them losing in a game that set up exactly how they wanted it too with their ace reliever trying to hold a lead late in the game.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Heyward has simplified his approach, Chili Davis and hard work, letting his hands do the work, and that single notice how he opened up his body, something years past he blocked with approach. An offensive producing Heyward changes things on this team dramatically because Zobrist is the smartest player on the team. Zobrist needs to play at least 4/6 games leaving where? 2B? LF? RF? 1B? With each choice comes a cost of either removing a big bat or a better defensive player, and yet Zobrist needs to be on the field as does Heyward as he is hitting now.

    As for the Brewers they 1-8 vs the Cubs, 12-9 vs the rest of the division meaning they are 13-17 vs the Central. In fact they have beat up on sub .500 teams, 25-10 and 14-17 against +.500 teams.

    While the Cubs 16-11 in the division, (8-10 not counting Milwaukee), 17-8 against sub .500 teams (SF is 33-33 or then 19-9, but...) 18-16 against +.500 teams (and if SF wins tonight 20-17).

    What is this telling you. Cubs are beating up on their pursuit now taking over them for a day at least. As for their pursuer, STL they could even up the series over the weekend and place their big blue foot down. Get Edwards and Darvish to return healthy and expected productivity and they will separate themselves from the NLC pack.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    The good record against Milwaukee is really key. I think they have the will and the pieces to make a really nice move and maybe an ancillary one on top of that at the deadline and get much stronger. They have holes, but not a lot of them. St. Louis, on the other hand, needs at least one big bat and probably 2 guys like Ozuna and Fowler don't pick it up and they also need a couple of pen arms. That's not going to be easy to acquire.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I remember 2015 Dex was not very good in the first half and then was the catalyst for the excellent offensive second half that the Cubs had (Starlin Castro picked it up as well, to a lesser extent). Granted, he's three years older, and I still view him through 2016 World Series glasses, but he's fully capable of turning it around.

  • In reply to Sean Atchley:

    True, but even if Fowler picks it up they need a big bat. I had thought they would go hard after Machado but that would have cost them a young pitcher which you would think they'd be unable to spare now. Mike Moustakas would help them, and there's been talk that they would go after both he and Kelvin Herrera in trade, but the competition for those guys is going to be stiff. I think Milwaukee is a much better club. I will say this for the Cardinals, they look more like a team than they did last year when the mix was clearly way off, but I don't think they match up talent wise with the Cubs or Brewers without a major trade.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I think they lost Reyes for the year after just coming off the DL. They were counting on him. I don't think they have enough pitching either.

  • In reply to John57:

    Their rotation is really good right now and I buy Martinez and Mikolas as a decent 1-2 but does anyone believe Wacha can sustain what he's doing? Also Flaherty's top inning count was 134 in A ball while Weaver's was 105 also in A ball. They're very good young pitchers but how will they look in August when they get those innings up there?

  • In reply to TC154:

    Agreed 100% TC and I think the reason cub fans look down on the brewers is just how much we've beat up on them recently head to head but they have been close competitive games and as someone who watches a ton of brewer baseball because one of my best friends is a die hard brewer fan, there's no doubt in my mind that the brewers press against the cubs to me they seem to make a lot of defensive miscues against us in general when they're typically an elite defensive team. I think the cards have a real nice rotation but the bullpen is suspect and the lineup has too many players that don't have multi dimensional games whether it's they can't hit, aren't good athletes or don't play good defense. I think that this cards group in general is one of the poorest fundamental teams that I've seen in st. louis and that's why I look at the brewers as being a better team especially if Jimmy nelson successfully returns and they maybe go out and get another starting pitcher to replace brent suter who isn't an adequate playoff starter.

    At the end of the day though I don't want to get ahead of myself we still may lose this series but I think the cubs are just flat out the best team in the division and a lot of the underlying numbers would back this claim up. Hopefully we're able to gain some separation this week by winning these head to head games but regardless of what happens this week I think that we'll be where we want to be at the end of the regular season.

  • Still have tyler walkwood and montgomery(who the brewers have destroyed as a starter) left so these next games are still big.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Only really have to win 1. Chatwood scares me out of my shorts though.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Bright side is he’s pitched well against the Brewers... In 27 innings over 5 games (4 starts) he has a 3.00 era, 1.00 whip & 4.80 SO/W ratio & 3-1 record. I’m hoping for a good game tonight.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Chatwood has a lot of coaching resources. He is too fast in his wind up, everyone can see that. His movement is off the charts literally so his release point is not repeatable. When Darvish returns it will make for interesting decisions as what is to be done. Montgomery is thankfully showing the brass that his signing was unnecessary even if it was classic risk management.

    As for the bullpen management they have to find a way to split up Chatwood and Montgomery in the rotation. Got to figure the Cubs might move Bass before tonight's game, you got Hancock who was used on Saturday and Tseng who is fresh.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Settle into your favorite chair, have an extra pair of shorts handy, and enjoy the game. :)

    Chatwood has never been this bad before. The loss of control is obviously a physical anomaly compounded by the mental aspects that go along with it. I have faith he will figure it out. As you like to say, players tend to play to the back of their baseball cards. It could be a career-ending case of the yips like Ankiel, but I don't think so. Look at Justin Wilson. He went through the same thing after coming here, and he seems to be regressing to his career norms.

    Chatwood will never have command like Maddux, bit his stuff is closer to Jake. If he settles in as a quality 3 on our Championship-caliber rotation, which I fully expect him to, I'll be a happy Cubs fan.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Now that I think about it, I see a little of a Rich Harden comp. A guy who can absolutely dominate for 5 or 6 innings and turn it over to the pen. That's not what you want in an ace, but it works out of the back end. That's all we need for now, and I'm looking forward to it.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I really think Chatwood was signed to be the fifth starter. If he can just cut his walks down to something that isn't completely ridiculous and pitch 4+ innings that would be okay in my book.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    A friend who has coached pitching thinks that Chatwood never learned to pitch because he was drafted out of high school as a position player. The stuff was so good though the Angels made him a pitcher. but he never learned the basics. I think this theory makes sense. The only time the guy can find a consistent release point is with the curve. That last start was literally painful to watch, especially for a guy like me who mainly watches the pitching during a game.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Makes sense. I wonder if a stint on the 60-day DL, with some intensive "recovery" in AZ, might help... If Darvish is back and Monty keeps pitching well, he wouldn't be needed for the SP.

  • In reply to TC154:

    That's an interesting observation. I've touted the fact that in Colorado his breaking pitches didn't work as well as on the road, and he was constantly changing his game plan based on where he was pitching. That is death to a SP. I don't know as much about his background, but that could be significant.

    The Cubs FO saw the immense upside and untapped potential. They were early and aggressive with their offer, and for better or worse it worked. It pains me to watch the current version (I also need a change of shorts), but I have faith we have discovered that diamond in the rough. It hasn't been an instant success, but I think it will be. We have 3 years.

  • Have to change the subject a little but did anyone hear Pat Hughes' call last night on the Rizzo homerun. Listen to the very start of this. Love it when that happens.

  • I love the fact that brewers pumped their stud bullpen arms into this game to give it away. Where the cubs use the lesser part of the pen. That has to be demoralizing to be a brewer fan/ player.

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