That Familiar Feeling--Cubs 2 Diamondbacks 1

It felt very much like a Tyler Chatwood start to begin with. He walked a batter with no pitches anywhere close to start the game and then somehow wiggled out of the jam of his own creation. Perhaps unfamiliar was the fact that Chatwood largely settled in to deliver a true quality start. The Cubs bats were largely quiet again against some tough Arizona pitching, but they awoken when it counted late. Also a familiar feeling unfortunately was the Cubs bullpen allowing the opposition to tie, but this felt less bad than previous meltdowns as explained below.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

The game started inauspiciously as Tyler Chatwood fired hard and wide of Willson Contreras. He missed on three straight fastballs that weren't particularly close to walk Jarrod Dyson. But then Chatwood started pumping strikes with his very good mid 90s fastball. He induced a groundball double play from Wilmer Flores and then another groundball from David Peralta for an 11 pitch first inning.

Robbie Ray was good to start the game getting two quick, easy outs to start the game. Anthony Rizzo rolled a base hit right back up the middle for the first knock of the game. Ray then lost any sense of the zone walking the always aggressive Javier Báez. Willson Contreras hit a pop fly in foul territory that wind grabbed a hold of making it a tricky play for Wilmer Flores. The former Met was able to make a less than aesthetically pleasing but effective grab to end the inning.

Adam Jones jumped on the first pitch of the second inning for a solid single in the right field corner. Chatwood got a swing and miss for the first out of the frame on a changeup down. A couple more quick outs and Chatwood was on his way to a quality start. Chatwood would walk only one more batter on his afternoon, and he didn't face the minimum number of batters until the sixth inning. In that frame, a two out single to Jarrod Dyson gave Arizona a little bit of life before Flores flew out to Almora.

The Cubs put the leadoff hitter in both the second and fourth inning against Robbie Ray. David Bote pulled a single through the left side of the infield to start the second inning and Anthony Rizzo hit a double off the wall to start the fourth inning. Both times the runner was left stranded and the game stood at a 0-0 tie heading into the bottom of the sixth inning.

Robbie Ray has such pronounced platoon splits that perhaps it is shocking how Anthony Rizzo was the one batter that he couldn't retire. Ray faced 23 batters in total on the afternoon. 20 out of 23 he faced right handed batters and the other three he faced Anthony Rizzo. Right handed batters reached base 2 out of 20 times and Rizzo reached all three times. Rizzo was hit by a pitch with two outs in the sixth inning. This time it mattered when Javier Báez ripped a triple into the right field. Rizzo scored and it looked like Chatwood would earn a win in his first start of the 2019 campaign.

Kyle Ryan, Brandon Kintzler and Steve Cishek combined to record six straight outs. The Cubs managed just a two out walk against Yoan López and Andrew Chafin during the seventh and eighth inning. Pedro Strop entered in the most traditional and toughest of save spots. He had just a one run lead in the top of the ninth inning. Jarrod Dyson was at the plate with just one out. Dyson is a ten year veteran with 16 career home runs, but that didn't matter as he turned on a Strop pitch to tie the game. Vote Pedro retired the next two batters to send the game into the bottom of the ninth tied.

Hard throwing Archie Bradley was given the ninth inning for the Diamondbacks. He struggled as Javier Báez ripped a double that turned into a triple on Adam Jones error. Bradley plunked Contreras in front of David Bote. And what has become the norm is Bote delivered in the clutch in the ninth inning. The hard hitting third baseman bounced a ball up the middle to drive in Báez to pull the Cubs back to .500.

Random Reference
A win is a win, but it did feel a bit like Dr. Evil assumes everything went according to plan with how the Cubs went about earning this W. As opposed to following Scott's plan of just putting a few extra runs on the board. They allowed the Diamondbacks to escape the initial threat. Thankful the Cubs bats finished the job off with us all watching.

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  • Fun game. Cubs will need some help in that bullpen. Let's hope somebody steps up or shows up. Our six tools player Javier does it again.

  • Nice getaway game, Cubs secured a 10-10 start after falling on their collective faces in the first ten, 3-7.

    Thinking Chatwood turned the corner today. What value he develops that helps the team is going to be interesting.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Agreed. Chatwood looked like a guy who just might be worth what his contract is paying him this time out. Assuming Lester comes back from his injury and is effective, and assuming the same for Montgomery - Chatwood's role and status could be interesting indeed.

    If Lester isn't effective, or if one of the other starters falters, then Chatwood becomes a very, very, valuable guy to have on the staff.

  • Ol Bang Bang does it again. He must have more late inning game tying/game losing HRs against than any reliever in baseball.

  • In reply to veteran:

    Might just seem that way but in 2017/2018 Strop allowed 8 HR in over 120 innings. Since he only pitches the late innings it just fits that each HR is either a game tying or losing HR . Most pitchers would be happy with the innings per HR ratio..

  • In reply to stix:

    Well done.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I like Strop. I liked him better in the 8th when Chapman, Davis or a healthy Morrow were mowing them down in the ninth. Seemed more like his comfort zone.

  • In reply to stix:

    My fandom goes back to the late 70's. I remember Sutter and Smith, Beck and Alfonseca. Even Dempster and Wood worked back from injury from the back end of the pen.

    Marmol was special. I often joked about the 95 MPH wiffle balls, and how his typical inning was two K's, a walk, and a weak ground-out.

    But I can't think of a better Cubs reliever than Pedro Strop.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I like Strop. Sutter was on a different planet. The way the ball just dropped was insane.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Pedro has been consistent for a large block of consecutive years now. That's all you can really ask for from a high-leverage RP,... consistency.

    But yeah - Sutter's split-finger was absolutely unhittable when he was on - he just made a lot of really solid hitters look silly when that thing dropped right in front of the hitter. If Marmol had ever been able to contain even some of his wildness - he could have been just as awesome.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Thanks for getting my point. I was scared of getting ripped about "Strop is better than Sutter? You're nuts!". Each of the guys I mentioned probably had a higher peak. I am talking about consistentsy and the total body of work. As we all know, consistentsy and bullpen aren't often relatable.

    Sutter was amazing. The way that ball dropped. Years later, Mariano Rivera brought back similar memories. Hitters knew exactly what was coming, but still looked foolish flailing away.

    I could sling a ball back in the day, and some of my earliest attempts at mimicking my favorite player was throwing the ball between my fingers. I never could come close to that table-top drop.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I grew up watching the Cubs games Summer afternoons in the 1970s myself. I loved watching Sutter come in the end of games and just baffle people with that pitch. Then the years afterwards watching Lee Smith just blow fastballs past guys. Too bad those teams never really got a crack at the post-season. 1984 was tantalizingly close to being fun.

    Strop has managed to stay generally healthy, pitch consistently well, and has had an ERA under 3.00 every year with the Cubs so far. That's just plain decent work.

  • In reply to veteran:

    Obviously, you are entitled to your comment but it does not take much effort to see how flat out incorrect you are!

    So, let's take a few minutes to look at some numbers. Here are the "number of innings pitched per HR" for some notable Cub relievers while wearing the Cubbie Blue.

    Rod Beck 1 HR every 7 innings
    Ryan Dempster 1 HR every 11 innings
    Antonio Alfonseco 1 HR every 12 innings
    Carlos Marmol 1 HR every 12 innings
    Rich Gossage * 1 HR every 14 innings
    Lee Smith * 1 HR every 18 innings
    Bruce Sutter * 1 HR every 18 innings

    ( * = member of HOF )

    Obviously, Pedro Strop's numbers ( 1 HR every 15 innings over the previous 2 seasons and 1 HR every 18 innings over his Cub career) are OUTSTANDING, even in HOF company!

    I remember an offseason article that wondered why Pedro Strop was so under appreciated. Perhaps it was the GW HRs the Cardinals hit off him a couple seasons back. Or Bob Costa's stupid comment concerning Pedro looking up to Heaven after a good performance. Whatever, I'll take Pedro Strop in my bullpen any day!

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Yea, I think he was torched 2 days in a row by the Cardinals and alot of people have that engrained into their heads......he actually has been pretty solid overall and he has been much better against the swamp rats the last few years....

  • Insomnia at 3AM. I miss John on nights like this...

    I didn't watch today's game, but listened on the radio. Who could have predicted that outing from Chatwood, especially after his very first pitch got scuffed by the bricks? I'm doing some deep diving into his performance, and noticing something peculiar.

    At this moment, both fangraphs and baseball-reference don't have any account of Chatwood's performance today (yesterday). Brooks baseball is my go-to pitching site, and they have what I think is his start, but mis-dated.

    Chatwood's outing was so unexpected it has apparently broken the baseball infrastructure.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I still reactively reach for my phone when I cannot sleep to see if John has posted a new article. I’m fully Pavlovian Trained.

  • Those overnight posts were a treat. :).

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    He prob broke those sites as they have no clue how to analyze the performance as well clueless how to summarize or even attempt to predict the future ( ie is this a hint of things to come or a blip on the radar ) HAHHAHA

    Now Yu needs a couple of these

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    You just nailed a point I often make about WAR. I fully understand how it works. It is a great theory, and a very useful comparative tool. I applaud the nerds who have created it. I really do.

    My problem has always been that fans take it too literally. Javier Baez wins more than 4-5 games for us per year. There are a million game situations that go into that calculation, and it is constantly being upgraded. Good. It is imperfect, and Javier Baez pushes those nerds to consider other factors. There are so many things he does, and impacts he has on his teammates and the opposition, that aren't factored into the current model. But that's fine. The nerds will watch, learn, and tweak the formula.

  • fb_avatar

    Agreed about John”s articles. Loved that dude.
    One of my favorite things now is how quickly the staff here at Cubs den gets their articles out , absolutely my go to recap site is definitely here. Kudos to y’all for continuing the quality on this site. !

  • fb_avatar

    about Sutter, he had a streak of 39 appearances with a SO that was broken by Chapman a year of 2 ago. No one had seen that split-fingered FB before, or at least as good as he was. When he was on I never saw anyone better, some as good, not better for a few years, although as I look at the stats Mariano had 8 yrs with a WHIP under 1 and Sutter only had 2. He was awfully fun to watch, especially how the batters couldn't come close to his pitch.

  • This is very encouraging to see such an excellent outing from Chatwood, and in a rubber game no less. Hopefully he has turned a corner with his command. If so, this is some rotation depth on the team.

    Javy and Bote with the huge knocks were the difference in this game. We already know about the league unicorn, but Bote just seems to get a lot of big-time clutch hits for this team. He has helped this team a lot in his limited role. Good for him.

  • Well, it's an off day, I'm bored again, so I'll stir the pot...

    Much has been made of the Chatwood outing. That was impressive, and we won another of his starts. Again. We (almost) always do. Insert your reasoning here.

    I've seen calls for the Cubs to demote Darvish to the pen, and play up that lethal 99 MPH fastball, because of a single Chatwood start. No. But as I mentioned in yesterday's game post, my confidence in Yu has never been lower. The dude has great stuff, I get it. To me, he doesn't have IT. That is in no way a personal attack on him. He has better stuff than Jon Lester, but I don't worry about Lester's mental state while he's facing down a great hitter with the game, or season, on the line. I do with Yu. That doesn't make him a bad person. It isn't a conscious decision he makes, he doesn't decide to not be strong. It's who he is. And I have a right as a baseball fan to point out this reality.

    Oh, Javy. As I also pointed out in yesterday's game post, after the game-tying HR, "Somehow, someway, Javy will win this game." This isn't to toot my own horn, because my predictions have been so historically bad I've been banned from making them. Rather, it's my undying belief in Javier Baez. On this gorgeous Easter Sunday, under crystal-clear skies and in front of a packed house, his team fought. His buddy, Tyler Chatwood, kept his team in a tight game with an improbable performance, and his even better buddy, Pedro Strop (who once scolded him for show-boating; "We don't do that here") had just given up the tying dinger after this battle. At this point of the season, it doesn't get any bigger than this. It's Javy Time. "I'm going to win this game." And he did.

    I was on the radio, but could imagine the visuals. Javy stroked it the other way, and the defense farted because this is Javier Baez in front of a packed house on Easter Sunday in a tie game which his buddy just gave up the big dinger and his team needs to win this game. There is no other option.

    I swear I was expecting El Mago to steal home. Imagine him, knowing he is the best player on this field, in front of this full house on this beautiful day, and victory is 90 feet away. Or 80, depending on his lead. He was THERE, no matter what it took.

    Credit Bote with the assist, and congratulations to him and his wife on the birth of their third child, which Bote had to hop a plane immediately after his interview with Kelly Crull to attend.

    All in all, not a bad day. How was yours?

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I think we're all worried about Yu Barley especially given the cubs recent issues with their big signings. Personally I think it's way too early for a rotation controversy. I think some of the stuff about Yu's mental state is exaggerated by the media. He may not have the mental discipline of a Jon Lester, but the reality is he's been mostly successful at every stop before the cubs. You don't have the success that he's had if you have awful confidence and makeup. I think in some ways he's simply understood being Japanese and not being able to articulate himself like American pitchers. Remember the Japanese don't try to stand out as alpha in their body language as some American pitchers tend to which I think some people mistake for timidness or lack of confidence.

    But when you evaluate Chatwood vs. Darvish, Darvish's body of work is just so vastly superior that I think you have to give Darvish a longer leash given he's shown upside for years that Chatwood hasn't. Chatwoods never had particularly good numbers with the rockies ever before the cubs. He's always been a boom or bust pitcher that has great games and then rotten games. In my eyes even at his with Colorado he's an inconsistent pitcher with poor, difficult to repeat mechanics that has always had trouble throwing strikes. Darvish's mechanics and overall command of his stuff are vastly superior to Chatwoods or at least they used to be. Darvish's walk rate this year is 3-4 times higher then any walk rate he's ever posted in any season of his career at a Chatwood-like 7.15 per 9 innings. But from 2013-17 his walk rate hovered between 2.78-3.43 walks per 9 innings a rate that is extremely good so we know that better command is in there. I personally think Darvish's issues are with simply commanding and executing his pitches. I know people are tired of excuses for him, but you gotta give him more then 4-5 starts to find that command. That being said if the issues persist for a larger sample then at least the cubs have to be feeling better about their depth with Chatwood in better form this season.

    They need to make a category most errors caused because Javy must be on some type of record pace. I've never seen a baserunner cause more clumsy fumbles by defenders it almost makes me feel like I'm watching the 90's baseball film Angels in the outfield.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    *Sorry Darvish's walk rate is 2-3 X higher then his walk rates not 3-4 times

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I want good Chatwood. It's in there. If that happens, all hell breaks loose. In a good way.

    With Darvish, I've done all the mental gymnastics I can do. I've loved him and I've hated him. More than anything, I've studied him. This is no longer a small sample size. And I've come to my conclusions. I could be wrong.

    I think the elbow issues last year were obviously real, and more serious than either side realized, frankly. But that was a mirror into this relationship. The distrust and open discord was a first in my experience. That cannot be a good thing. That tells me there is a level of discomfort between the two parties.

    If healthy, I still have my doubts. Yu needs to be lifted every game while he is feeling good, to boost his confidence. Every game, no matter the results, needs to be framed as a moral victory. Unfortunately, I've seen instances where he could have gone further to benefit the team, but was cut short in an effort to build his confidence. It doesn't take a psychiatrist to see what's happening. Yu is uncomfortable, and we are trying to change that.

    That's where I come in as a fan. My critique of this situation doesn't mean I don't like the guy. I do, and I want more than anything to see him kick ass for my favorite team. I don't think he is a bad person. He's not making a conscious decision to not be strong. He just isn't, and we as a team trying to win baseball games need to face that reality.

    On the bright side, his physical tools appear to be there. That comfort level could envelope him at any time. If that happens towards the end of the season and into the playoffs, well, tickle me pink.

    And watch Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Cole Hamels mow 'em down, with their noses to the grindstone.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    It's frustrating no question about it and I do wonder if there are issues between his approach and how the cubs want him to approach pitchers. You mentioned that last year and I definitely wonder if you're onto something about a pitching approach conflict. Darvish tends to pitch away from contact which is stupid to me given the movement on his pitches. But I respectfully disagree with you that he's getting pulled early because of any confidence or mental issues. I think if anything allowing him to pitch deeper into games is what will help his confidence most. I think on one hand Darvish is coming back from an injury so maybe for the 1st few starts they were extra cautious on him(remember too he missed his last couple spring starts). But overall Joe Maddon has always had one of the quickest hooks for anyone not named Jon Lester or recently Hamels. If Maddon doesn't feel like a pitcher is in his best form overall then he generally is going to pull them after one baserunner reaches 3rd time through the order his history has shown that with Quintana, Hendricks, and previous cubs 5th starters. It's an aspect of Maddon's managing that I've constantly criticized given the teams strength is moreso in its rotation then pen. I think the whole inning thing is the most overblown part of the Darvish criticism we see from Chicago beat writers. I personally feel people need to be more patient with the guy he's progressing since his 1st start. He deserves criticism but moving him to the pen after 5 games???

    Doesn't mean I'm not worried the walk rate has been awful relative to his career norms, and I think Darvish's confidence probably isn't in a great place. But I think that's the case for most pitchers that join a new team and aren't getting results. They may press a bit and I'm a big believer it takes success for new acquisitions to settle into their new surroundings. But again I think the issue like it was with Kyle Hendricks midseason slump last year is mainly simple command and execution. I get when a guy is paid like Darvish is paid then we want him to thrive but baseball can be a tough game. I'd personally be extremely concerned if the physical tools were in clear decline, but I think the stuff is fine. I also think the cubs have the luxury of being patient with him he's basically the 5th starter in a stacked rotation.

    I'm definitely concerned the guy really hasn't looked like the same pitcher from the 1st day he wore a cubs uniform but I do think some of the panic about moving him to the pen is exaggerated and unwarranted it's been 5 starts and a lot of the runs he's allowed he can thank his bullpen for (among lead leaders in inherited runs). Hopefully he figures things out because my guess is he'll get a long leash given his contract and track record.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    *To approach hitters

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Interesting conversation you and BP are having. I want to add one thing, as I agree a lot with kkhiavi's theory and Maddon pulling starting pitchers who haven't earned his trust the third time through. And like he said, the best way to build a pitchers confidence is to leave him out there, but of course he's gotta still hold his end of the bargain up. So my thought on early hooks with Darvish: He didn't pitch in 2015, in '16 he threw 100 innings, followed by 186 in '17, which incidentally may have been quite a jump in innings that could have played a part in Yu's 2018 injuriy issues. Since he only pitched 40 innings last year, I'm gonna assume that he's probably not gonna be pushed much past 100 to 120 innings this year. If that's the case, I'm fine with Joe and his early hooks. Yes, it's unfortunate that he gets pulled and the bullpen has rarely gotten out of the jams he's left them with. But that allows him to pitch as a starter deeper into the season.

    But to add to that, is it possible, that at some point, they would move him to the bullpen as a guy who's gonna come in and pitch in the 7th or 8th inning and just get 3 outs for us every couple days? Especially if a guy like Chatwood can keep looking closer to the guy he was this Sunday, that could be an interesting way to safely build up Darvish's arm, but still get to use him throughout the entire season. Further, if Darvish took to that role, it'd be interesting seeing him pitch like that in the postseason for up to 6 outs at a time. Then next year, he could resume starting and probably safely be stretched up to about 150-160 IP.

  • Interesting tidbit I know most of these guys weren't expected to be high end relievers in this pen, but I'm excited to see how Xavier Cedeno, Tony Barnette and Montgomery help this bullpen. I just have zero faith in this bullpen right now outside of Cishek and Strop. I personally don't see Webster, Kyle Ryan, Rosario or Mills as guys that are consistent and that Joe can trust. This middle relief group isn't impressive so it's nice to see some of the expected group back. I don't know much about Tony Barnette or Cedeno but I'll take the numbers they posted last year in a second. After watching Brian Duensing for years Cedeno can't be any worse I'd like to think. And Montgomery struggled early on but he's the type of versatile pitcher that makes any team better when he's on top of his form.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Me too, zero faith in this pen right now, but I don't want to give up on them either. If the pen is good enough to keep us in the mix until the trading deadline, maybe management can find one or two two top guys from selling teams, to bring us home.

  • Why is it injuries seem so widespread and prevalent now throughout baseball? I never remember these guys being so brittle as they are now, especially with being bigger, stronger and having access to far more advanced medicine and recovery methods.

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