The 1997 Blues--Brewers 4 Cubs 2

First I must apologize for the extreme delay in the recap tonight. It is going to take a weekend or two before I get the timing of everything down once again it seems. While making dinner and getting a few school items in order, I had plenty of time to ponder whether this 4-2 loss was "better" than the 13-10 loss Friday.

I am not sure where I land on it after all that time to be honest. On the one hand, the bullpen threw four scoreless innings which felt like four innings than they've thrown all year. On the other hand, it was another short and not terribly effective outing from a Cubs starter. The formula was suppose to be pummel the opposition and ride a strong, veteran staff. The pummeling has happened with regularity but only a couple of starts would be anything close to resembling good.

It is still early, but the worst Cubs start since 1997 is causing some blues. The holes on this roster are pretty visible, and yet the nature of baseball means that the story of 2019 is still being written. It wont feel any better if the team drops the home opener, since we will all get two days to ponder things.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

The Cubs offense was held in check by Zach Davies for the first five innings. The Cubs managed to put a base runner or two on in three of those frames, but the big hit eluded them over half way through the game. The Brewers wouldn't have that issue.

Lorenzo Cain singled through the left side of the infield and Christian Yelich continued his best Barry Bonds impression crushing a two run blast two batters into the game. Hendricks settled in to record six outs without allowing any more damage, but the Brewers started squaring Hendricks up again in the bottom of the third.

Lorenzo Cain, Yelich and Travis Shaw singled back to back to back to start the third inning. Cain scored for a second time and the Brewers had a three run lead that would be enough. The Brewers would get another tally in the fourth inning. The bottom of the order did the damage. Zach Davies reached to load the bases on a bunt single. It looked like Hendricks might escape without any further damage getting Cain to pop out to second, but Yelich hit a deep fly to center extending the Brewers lead to 4-0.

Hendricks was pulled in the fifth inning for pinch hitter David Bote. The Cubs put a runner in scoring position with two outs that frame, but came away empty handed once again. Tyler Chatwood pitched a tightrope walk of an inning. He looked better but he still walked two batters. A third reached on a dropped third strike, wild pitch to load the bases with two outs. Craig Counsell elected to leave Davies in the ballgame, and he obliged the Cubs with an inning ending flyball.

The move backfired almost instantly for Counsell. Anthony Rizzo reached on an Eric Thames error to start the inning. Javier Báez singled to put the Cubs in business, but that business was in jeopardy after a Kyle Schwarber grounded into a double play. Willson Conteras blasted a homer to get the Cubs on the board. That ended Davies afternoon.

Alex Claudio recorded the final out of the sixth inning and the first out of the seventh inning in the first two batters he faced. Claudio walked Albert Almora Jr. and then Ben Zobrist ripped a single to put the tying run on base. Josh Hader entered the game and the Cubs could not reach base in their next eight tries against the elite left hander.

The good is that the trio of Tyler Chatwood, Kyle Ryan and Allen Webster combined for four scoreless innings. It wasn't always pretty but zeroes are zeroes at the end of the ballgame. The bullpen might be shaping up from historically bad and the Cubs finally get to play a home game.

Random Reference
Yeah I don't have much in the way of positives for this team right now. So instead lets remember how great 2016 was. It was pretty great.

Comments

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  • Your efforts are appreciated, Mike. It's easy to forget that all that you folks bring us has to be accomplished on top of the regular day-to-day stuff. Gotta take care of the family first!

    As for today's game, I'd say that the loss today felt more "normal" than other games this year. We KNOW the Cubs will lose some games, the ones that are maddening (or Maddoning, if you prefer) are the ones they should have won and blew. It's too soon to tell if they've righted the ship, but today Hendricks struggled, the team that scored 14 runs yesterday mustered only two today, and the bullpen kept it close in case the hitters wanted to reclaim the lead. I don't like the outcome, but it's only one in a row...

  • The pitch on the Yelich HR was a fat meatball; an 87 MPH “fastball” right down the middle of the plate. “Here, hit this.”

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    I did see some Twitter chatter about using an “opener” for Hendricks since he struggles so much in the first. The idea being that he’d skip the top of the order in his first inning (the second). I actually think the opener is a smart strategy; it has worked for the Rays. Although it’s another example of how analytics have changed the game in ways that I don’t think are good for fan entertainment.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    I see 2 things wrong with using an “opener” for Hendricks. One, as of today who would the Cubs trust to be the opener. Two Maddon did not come up with the idea of an opener so I don't think he would do it.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Maddon didn't come up with the idea of batting the pitcher 8th, either, but he does it. Your point is well taken - in order to use an "opener," you have to have someone in the BP who CAN be the opener!

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    That's true about batting the pitcher 8th. Not sure there is any data that says batting the pitcher 8th works. If there was every NL team would be doing it. The way most of the Cubs starters are going I think it works against them.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I've seen data both ways, about the "opener" and the pitcher batting 8th, but nothing that sways my opinion. I think these are areas of information overload and like other topics throughout life you can cherry-pick data you want to see to support your belief and ignore the info that doesn't. From my research, which admittedly isn't much, any concrete data one way or the other is showing such miniscule differences that it's basically a crapshoot and why there is no industry-wide consensus.

    That's not meant to dispute Cubs09's idea, because I do think in certain cases it may be a wise choice. But the data I've seen isn't broken down in enough of a case-by-case basis, so we're back to a gut feeling for now.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    I thought Hendricks found his mechanical flaws to get his FB back to normal? It was nice of him to throw a batting practice fastball down the middle to the reigning MVP. An 87 mph fastball will not survive. This is what happened last year to Hendricks. Slow start and lack of velocity.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Hendricks thrived under Chris Bosio, as did Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop, Jason Hammel along with others. It's difficult to replace a pitching coach that works well with the staff.
    We've declined ever since.

  • We all need to take a step back and give the Cubs a chance. I know our players are just as good or even better than the Brewers and that will become obvious before the season is over.

    I currently think Yelich is one of the best players right now but he, like most others, is due for some slumps. Stop to think: was he and Cain this good and steady when they played for the Marlins with Realmuto and Stanton, etc.? If they were the marlins would have made it to the WS a lot. Why didn't the Marlins win more?

    As for Hader, he is pretty good right now but our guys will be hitting his stuff soon. Besides, how long will he last throwing like he is now. I compare him to some of the Mets' pitchers. They came out on fire but have regressed or even become hurt.

    Baseball is a game of hot streaks and slumps and no one is exempt. Given the choice right now, I would still take Baez and Rizzo over Yelich and Cain. Kb will come out of his slump and when he does, who does the Brewers have to match up with him?

    Everything since the last half year up to now has been going the Brewers' way but that is not going to last. BTW, the Cubs obviously are in a major slump and the Brewers are in a major hot streak and the Cubs were in every game and even outscored them in total runs this last series.

    One other thing: we currently have 6 position players with higher OPSs than Baez, Scwarber, Rizzo and Bryant. Just imagine when our sluggers wake up.

  • Speaking of waking up: When is Joe going to sit KB for awhile to get his head on straight? What happened to "Production over Potential"? In the last 2 games, KB batted 9 times, 0 hits, 0 walks, 11 LOB. This is still a carryover from last season. Something is wrong and he needs to get it straightened out but NOT at the expense of the team.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    You are waiting for your sluggers to wake up but want to bench Bryant. Have patience with all the sluggers especially the one that is one of the best on the team.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    I am more concerned with production over potential. If the top players are in a mini slump and there are other players producing, then who should sit out a few games? If he is the best player he will come around. In the meantime, he will not be dragging the team down. I am sure that is really bothering KB right now putting him under more and more stress. Besides, everyone thinks all the players will need rest so how will KB sitting out now hurt?

  • Those two posts back to back are somewhat hilarious. : )

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    Please explain what is so hilarious. Maybe you know more than I do.

  • With the way the season turned last year and our pathetic start this year, I'm having trouble believing that this season is going to be straightened out enough. Something is amiss systematically and only a shakeup will turn things. I have no idea what that could be.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I'm starting to feel the same way. They could turn things around, but the longer it goes on the more I think something big is coming, be it trade, firing, whatever...

  • How about players just performing up to their career norms?

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Maybe, I think that's the plan anyway. Along with reinforcements at the trading deadline.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    There are no reinforcements coming. Ricketts went cheap and cut off the spending. The only reinforcements will be a return on moving "potential over production" types of players. I really don't think Hamels or Zobrist will net anything of substance.

    I am still hopeful this things gets straightened out and those guys are part of the solution getting us back to the top.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I'm not necessarily thinking of "reinforcements." At some point, it's time to sacrifice the rest of the season, and maybe next season, to retool on the fly. I hope it doesn't come to that but this core group is running out of time to get the job done.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    We lost our #1 pitcher during our big season, Arrieta. We lost Hector Rondon, who was very good for us until he was injured. We only had Aroldis Chapman briefly, but he's gone. Plus we lost the pitching coach that helped our staff development. We haven't replaced any of them with the same quality. There lies the problem.
    We also lost the team leader and best "framer" for our pitching staff, David Ross. He is missed as well.
    We failed to upgrade our pitching staff and traded away our top prospects for a two moth rental and a #4 starter.

  • Yesterday was actually more a normal ballgame, Milwaukee played exactly to their plan, get the ball to Hader but that doesn’t happen if Davies doesn’t do his job, which he did.
    Offense hasn’t been the issue this roadtrip, the pitching was really pisspoor, both starting and relieving. 3 or 4 of those games buried from the beginning.
    The next 9 against average to bad opponents....plus 6 finally at home....need to step it up cuz the math is starting to get ugly....we will have to play .600 ball the rest of the year for any division hopes...

  • Tough loss. It's almost refreshing to see a "normal" defeat. Not much else to say.

    OT, but I thought this girl could use all the positive thoughts we can muster: I came across the story of Samantha Cerio, a senior gymnast at Auburn. She suffered perhaps the most gruesome sports injury I've ever seen over the weekend, coming up short on a blind landing on the floor exercise. Surgery is scheduled today for the simultaneous dislocation of both knees, rupture of all ligaments, and what appeared to be complete fractures of both legs below the knees I usually steer clear of watching injuries, that's not my thing, and I wish I hadn't seen that.

    She seems to be a great girl, top scholar, leader in several areas, and even has a job already lined up as a rocket scientist at Boeing upon graduation. I just hope she can walk again.

    Best wishes, Sam! #StickItForSam..

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