Slider But It Didn't Slide - Cubs 5, Mets 3

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Through the first seven innings of Sunday's game it felt like another lifeless Cubs loss. The offense limping along against the reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. The hot takes were already flying when Chicago finally got to the Mets awful bullpen to earn a last at bat win.

Cole Hamels allowed a leadoff infield single to Ahmed Rosario, but it was erased on a Pete Alonso double play. The pattern repeated in the 2nd inning with a Todd Frazier single and a Robinson Canó twin killing.

The Cubs rallied against deGrom in the bottom of the inning. Jason Heyward and David Bote singled to put men on the corners with one out. After Victor Caratini struck out, Hamels took matters into his own hands ripping a single to right to give the home team a 1-0 lead.

Alonso did what he does and hit a solo homer, his third of the series, to tie the score in the 4th inning. Catcher Tomas Nido gave the Mets the lead with a home run in the 5th. Juan Lagaras then doubled and scored on deGrom's own RBI hit.

The Cubs got a run back in the bottom of the inning. Kris Bryant doubled with two outs and scored when Anthony Rizzo smacked a ball off the left field wall. Rizzo hit the ball too hard though and was easily thrown out by J.D. Davis trying to make second base.

The North Siders had a couple runners reach the next two innings, but got nothing out of it. Hamels went seven strong and Steve Cishek took over in the 8th. Frazier flew out to the warning track in center to end the inning, which turned out to be important.

Kyle Schwarber singled off of Seth Lugo, in his second inning of work, to open the bottom of the 8th. Rizzo walked to put two on with one out for Javy Báez. Javy quickly waved at two pitches to fall behind 0-2. Then Lugo hung a slider and the Cubs shortstop clubbed it the opposite way for a three-run go-ahead homer.

Two more runners reached against Robert Gsellman before he got out of the inning. Pedro Strop went 1-2-3 in the 9th to earn the Cubs a 5-3 victory.


Source: FanGraphs

Colbert Report

Hamels was good again on Sunday: 7 IP, 3 R, 7 H, 5 K, and 2 BB. He kept his team in the game long enough to get to the Mets bullpen. The fact that three runs was the most he has allowed in over a month shows just how good he's been.

J-Hit

All of a sudden Jason Heyward is red hot, he has six hits the last two games. It goes without saying the Cubs can use all the offensive help they can get, so keep an eye on Jason.

Javy Báez

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  • fb_avatar

    Happy 100 Javy!! Your table is ready.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Very Javyish to make his 100th a game winner!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Better make it a table for 4, as Mr. Hamels, Cischek, and Strop will joining him.

  • Ya'll have been bickering at each other, and I can't blame you. We haven't played well. We can, or can't we? We can beat good teams and lose to bad ones, or is it the other way around? I don't know what this team is. I may need a little help, if anyone knows what this means:

    "I'm so happy 'cause today
    I've found my friends,
    They're in my head.
    I'm so ugly, that's okay, 'cause so are you,
    Broke our mirrors.
    Sunday morning is everyday for all I care,
    And I'm not scared.
    Light my candles in a daze
    'Cause I've found god.

    I like it, I'm not gonna crack.
    I miss you, I'm not gonna crack.
    I love you, I'm not gonna crack.
    I killed you, I'm not gonna crack."

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I think this is a good team with some serious deficiencies. I know the small ball folks think it’s lacking team speed and contact, but that’s asking it to be something it wasn’t constructed to be. Even the RISP issue is mainly a construction issue even if it could be better (it was better in 2016 but still not among the leaders). Basically with that issue the team is designed to put so many many men on base and in scoring position that while the BA might be lower, and the percentage of men in RISP driven home is lower the number of runs scored from there is not. In a nutshell this team is designed to put men on and slug. The Dodgers play this style, the Yankees do as well (except for this injured stretch where they DID play small ball out of necessity) and several other teams including the Phillies, Brewers and Nationals play variations of it. The interesting thing is that I think Joe would rather play more of a hybrid style (he says this often) but he has not been given the personnel to do so. Basically this team depends on 4 of its first five men to be hot at all times, 1 of the bottom of the order to be consistently above average and another to be hot. When you have 3 hitters in your lineup at a time under .700 OPS or under 90 wRC+ you’re prone to slumps. Sometimes bad ones. That’s what a lot of the complaints are about and it is without question a personnel issue. Not that I think it’s an option due to cost but put Whit Merrifield at 8 in the order (I wouldn’t mess with Kyle at leadoff) and this team cruises to the playoffs, at least given an improved bullpen.

    My issue though is I don’t see vocal leaders pushing these weak
    performers. Russell is laughing and joking like he’s got an .800 OPS. Descalso always seems cheerful. While they’re waiting on changes it’s up to these leaders to put the player’s feet to the fire and I see zero evidence of it. All that said a hot Baez does seem to rub off and maybe he can push this team now until the cavalry arrives. We can hope.

  • In reply to TC154:

    This season will come down to the starting pitching. If it's good the rest of the year, then they'll win the division. If not, then they won't. I like their chances, but unfortunately there might be one or two teams in the NL who are clearly better come playoff time.

    Still they could get hot like the Indians did in '16. I still have hope for '19, but not great expectations.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Didn’t we get hot in 16??? I thought we won it that year.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    The Cubs were the best team in the league in '16. They didn't get hot in the playoffs, like the Indians did. There were several AL teams with better records, and definitely more highly regarded at the start of the playoffs. To me, that is the best case scenario for this year's Cubs team, who will not be the best team in the NL at the end of the season.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Great analysis. I don't know. We should have put 4-5 games between Milwaukee and ourselves over the last couple weeks, but we haven't. We needed to, and I'm worried it's going to bite us.

    I enjoy the players enjoying themselves. It is a long season, and they can't get as wound up in every win and loss as some fans do. Having said that, I agree with you. There are times when you need to get mad. I've suggested a couple times over the last couple years that someone needs to throw a fit and break things inside the clubhouse. That's what it takes sometimes to get attention. We can't keep making these unforced errors, Mr. Rizzo.

    We need to play better ball. I think we will. But we do need accountability, and that's what I think we are lacking. I haven't seen anyone rail on Rizzo after a TOOTBLAN. Someone needs to. We don't want to come up one game short, again.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Interestingly enough it’s not Milwaukee I’m worried about. One way or another I think the Brewers finish 4th. St. Louis is the main competitor and with Scooter Genette coming back and maybe a decisive move I think the Reds are the second or third place team. The expected records already indicate this. Again I still think we can pull away from the pack, and of the division contenders I think our boys are the only ones constructed for a deep run, but they do need help. The reason I think Theo realizes this is the low risk chance he took on CarGo. If it worked it would have bought some time, but it didn’t. I’m sure he’s looking.

  • In reply to TC154:

    St. Louis is doing it with mirrors. They have the worst team batting average in the NL in June yet they find ways to win. Cubs should import some of those mirrors and learn how to score when they aren’t hitting.

  • In reply to stix:

    They have, before tonight’s game, a + 17 run differential and their Pythagorean record is identical to their actual record. Milwaukee is at a -1 run differential and are 3 games ahead of their Pythagorean expectation. Of those two teams it’s Milwaukee doing it with mirrors. The Cubs should have 3 more wins than they do to correspond with +59 run differential and the Reds should have 7 more wins than they do with their +48 run differential. With few exceptions these things even themselves out over a 162 game season. Now Milwaukee could certainly make some moves to improve but on paper and by the numbers both St. Louis and Cincinnati are better teams.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Is the Pythagorean record adjusted for competition played or is it just runs scored vs runs allowed?

  • In reply to stix:

    Purely runs scored versus runs allowed.

  • In reply to stix:

    Thanks just curious as the cards have played @ least 10 less games against the NL West than everyone else in the Central and their inter league schedule is also lower against the AL West. That should probably lower their wins after those games are made up.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Great analysis TC I’ve been saying you can’t have all of these defensive 1st soft hitting players in the same lineup. There’s too much reliance on 4-5 hitters in this lineup, and we’ve seen this offense go as it’s middle of the orders gone all year. I think the pen is gonna turn things around as they will have plenty of reinforcements. But this offense isn’t gonna become consistent until they get deeper, and that’s why I’d consider parting with a big package for the right hitter. That maybe merrifield or it maybe someone else.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I’d also add that I think the front office needs to do all they can to get zobrist to return. I essentially see him as Descalsos roster replacement. Makes their deadline needs a lot simpler too

  • In reply to TC154:

    It seems like most teams are built to walk and slug these days. It is so hard now to strings hits together.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    There are a lot of reasons for the approach. The first are the probabilities favor it by quite a bit. Allowing for runs to be scored in bunches makes up for higher K rates to a degree while the traditional approach scores run at a slower rate overall risking outs on the basepaths in the process. The other reason, that’s not talked about a lot but there are some good articles about it, is cost. The trend in the last ten years has been to emphasize SLG over BA because power is more common an therefore cheaper. It’s also an easier path for a lot these players. OBP is required at this point but high BA with high OBP guys are few and far between and, like everything in high demand with low supply, they’re expensive. This is why the Cubs drafted Kris Bryant as an anchor and signed Jason Heyward. One move worked, the much more expensive one failed. I think that failed move has affected a lot of the moves the team has made going forward. These are all educated guesses of course but it’s what I believe.

  • In reply to TC154:

    The Washington Post had a big article on how pitching velocity is killing the game. Said players now essentially swing as hard as they can in the hopes they’ll connect. Said the days of a bunch of guys stringing together hits is over.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Certainly part of it. I’ll try to find that piece. Velocity to me, as someone that loves pitching, is sexy but is it hurting the game? I could certainly buy that. Hitting a baseball is already the hardest thing to do in sports.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    “Velocity is strangling baseball.” A great read:

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/beta.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/05/21/velocity-is-strangling-baseball-its-grip-keeps-tightening/%3foutputType=amp

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Fascinating piece. It says a lot of what I’ve been saying about the state of the game except that I wasn’t unifying my thoughts with velocity. Launch angle makes even more sense in this context as does the emphasis on OBP and SLG over BA and the lack of concern over strikeouts. One of the GMs interviewed even said something I’ve said many times in that none of this bothers him as a lover of the game but it’s become hard to get young fans. I’ve said many times my ideal games are low scoring and that I consider high scoring games a failure of pitching. I get it though, you can’t sustain the game without young fans. I guess the one issue I have is that they don’t know this is the main issue in that they’ve done such an awful job marketing to youth that they have no idea if there is a more hybrid solution. Still a lot to chew on. Thanks for sharing.

  • fb_avatar

    I agree with a lot said here, but I hope that everyone isn't placing their faith in Zobrist coming back. We have no idea what kind of player he will be, either physically or emotionally. He's also 38 years old and won't have played for 5 months. I thought CarGo was the answer and he was for a week or so, Descalso started out hot and then has gone downhill faster than Micaela Schiffrin. Zo might do the same thing. Maybe by that time someone at Iowa will force his way up here. I wonder if Nico hadn't got hurt and continued his dominance of AA whether he might have been a choice for 2nd base.
    We were all in during 2016. 2017 was idk. Last year was great at first but extremely puzzling the second half. This year many of the players are entering their prime, it's not a team over the hill, it can win, but it seems like the real engine of this team is Javy. When he gets hot we win, and partly because of what TC said--this team is made to get on base and when Javy is hot he drives them in. He hasn't been and runs have been hard to get.

  • We were having a discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of Javy's game the other day. Someone pointed out how he locks in with two strikes, and should approach every pitch as though he already has two strikes. I just found this stat:

    Home runs after falling behind 0-2 in the count this year:

    9 Red Sox
    9 Phillies
    9 White Sox
    8 Angels
    7 Giants
    6 Pirates
    6 Marlins
    5 Indians
    5 Royals

    And, of course:

    9 Javy Baez

    Maybe that comment was on to something.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    That was me with my eye test. I asked the question if anyone had stats. It could be that he is just looking for contact when down on strikes. He has natural power. It seems that he gets quite a few hits many extra bases when down 0-2.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Pretty incredible stat when you see that....

  • fb_avatar

    How did you find those numbers? I thought Bote was better after 2 outs, it seems like Javy is better after 2 strikes. Those are striking (I guess pun intended) numbers. He really is maturing and getting so much more rounded as a ball player before our eyes. We are seeing something special and I hope he's a Cub his entire career.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Twitter. I should find who did that and give them credit. I try to but didn't this time. My bad.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    From Jeremy Frank @ MLBRandomStats.

  • Gents, the discussion above is what make The Den the best. Outstanding and insightful analysis. Tip 'o the hat to you, TC154.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Thank you. I love that we can discuss things here with some more depth than you get in other places. I will always consider that John's lasting legacy.

  • In reply to TTP:

    If there was ever a need for a "thumbs up" button, this is it!
    :)

  • To get this team prepared for the last 1/3 of the season, we need that guy who can qualify as a LOOGY. Does that mean Hultzen? Or is a Brad Hand or Will Smith a target?

    I believe we need a RH OFer who crushes LHP— a Brandon Guyer type or a Steve Pearce.

    I am totally disappointed in Zobrist. I wouldn’t even want him back until maybe roster expansion in Sept. i have never seen a guy disappear in the midst of a divorce. Crazy to me. With that said, I wonder if maybe an Eric Sogard from TOR could be a nice target—LHB top of the order type.

    I don’t seen Theo making a big splash, but 3-4 more ancillary parts. I see Russell, Monty, Chatwood, Edwards, Happ among the MLB players who could be moved.

    We should be up 5-6 games and are not. Gotta get these prolonged team slumps out of the way. And need to tighten up the pen. Going to be a fun summer of baseball.

    I

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Does Tony Watson interest you at all? That's a name that's been mentioned in connection with the cubs and since they have definitely been in touch with SF about Smith he might be the consolation prize. I just can't imagine the Cubs would meet the price tag for Smith which is going to be sky high.

    As far as a bat I'm not sure I see a starting player coming over unless there's a 2B or CF target I'm not thinking about and I actually hope there is but I'm not holding my breath. I think it's more likely to be a lefty hitter than can start 3-4 days a week in a few positions. As far a leadoff hitter I would be afraid at this point to move Schwarber out of that spot. Even slumping for the last few days his June OPS is .860 with a 118 wRC+ and he seems to see pitches better there. If you were to drop him to 6 I think it might hurt his production. Plus when the guys behind him are all hitting it really works. Heyward has had a surprisingly good June with a slash of .319/.364/.458 .822 OPS 118 wRC+ so if you could find a 8 or 9 hitter (depending on how Joe feels about the pitchers spot these days) that could get on base at a .350 or better clip, ideally with a little bit of pop, I think this lineup will surprise you. What you cannot have are the 70 some wRC+ club of Russell, Gonzalez, and Almora or heaven forbid the 54 wRC+ of Descalso anywhere near an everyday lineup. One at a time (except for Descalso, please) you can live with along with Heyward and another guy to alternate with say Bote (a perfectly acceptable 114 wRC+ as long as he's not overexposed) but even as many as two of those guys in the lineup at a time is poison to the offense.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Good thoughts but I question the .350 OBP acquisition you are looking for from the 8th spot. That’s about 15 points higher than the team OBP. I don’t think there’s a team in the NL with an OBP that high , so I doubt there is a spare .350 OBP hitter lurking and available .

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Is CarGo eligible as a trade throw in? And, would you include Almora on your list, for the right OF return?

    Someone (BP?) made a comment that he thought Monty no longer had a place on the Cubs. I really think that a team that needs starting pitching might give up something decent, especially if he's packaged with another player or two...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    CarGo is worthless as a trade chip.
    A list of underperforming players is selling low and won't bring back much.
    Almora should be included on the list. Maddon doesn't seem to want to commit to him full time.
    Getting an every day CF that could bat lead off would be an ideal acquisition.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I agree about Zobrist. I have never seen anyone just quit everything because of a divorce. I feel as though he has quit on the team. I know what he did for the team in 2016 but, still.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Edwards isn't going anywhere.

  • In reply to Metal Militia:

    Why?

  • A crazy thought just occurred to me. Do you make an offer to the Angels post ASB to try to get Tommy La Stella back? I mean he's a shoe in to be dealt right? Why would you hang onto a guy with that production on a 1 year deal when you're out of the race? Plus if they want him they can pursue him in FA. Awkward? Oh yeah, but I don't know might be an option.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I don't know. TLS was a good pinch hitter for the Cubs but I have a hard time believing he's always been capable of playing at the level he is now and somehow the Cubs just missed it. There's gotta be a regression, right? Right...?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Yes, but maybe not this year. There's no sign of it right now anyway. He'd be a rental. I mean the Angels are going to let him start the ASG, but after that? I don't know it feels awkward to pay for a guy you gave away for free but stick him at 2B, bat him 8th and a huge problem is solved. Unless he's bitter and gets bad...

  • In reply to TC154:

    Descalso could still have a good second half. We know that he is not this bad.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I don't think Tommy would want to come back. He really got pigeon holed here.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    The Cubs have more second basemen than they can give playing time to already.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Probably not but he wouldn’t have a choice. Again, the whole thing is awkward but outside of Merrifield who would cost a top pick that’s your best 2B choice and would solve a problem

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I do believe that Descalso is the player we are seeing since late April with his .103 batting average. Just a horrible move by the front office. They had the best pinch hitter in the league in TLS. I have no idea what they were thinking in making those 2 moves. TLS looked like a gold glover in last nights game.

  • In reply to TC154:

    That would be funny. He’s been a great lead off hitter, that’s for sure.

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    Well, scratch that idea. He has one more year of arbitration, first place I checked was wrong. No way they move him.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TC154:

    Yea I must say this has really been on my mind. We let TLS walk and that .300 batting average and 40+ rbi's would sure look nice on our side. Good job Angels's taking that shot.

    Descalso has to be the first one off the roster if we acquire a 2b or OF. I'm of the opinion that AA is never gonna bring a stick that's consistent. CarGo was a good chance but not the answer either. We're about to have too many relief pitchers and wonder if Theo/Jed can work their magic one more time. I think a trade is a real possibility. Looking forward to seeing what takes place.

    Javy, youdaman! Congrats on HR 100 and that stat above with 2 strikes, WOW! His energy after his bomb yesterday on his curtain call was like "You're the Mets...How damn dare ya coming into our house and getting 2 W's.

    Finally, did ya'll see the greeting St. L fans gave Albert P this last weekend? The prodigal had come home and the fatted calf was served. Classy for once St. L.

  • In reply to Hal McCarty:

    I guess I'm the only one on this blog that has not given up on Descalso. Wishful thinking?

  • In reply to 44slug:

    How bad can the Cubs be if our biggest complaint is the 25th man?

  • In reply to 44slug:

    He'd have to raise his current BA by 51 points to reach his career average of .237. Even if he "regresses to the mean," it wouldn't help much, and his defense doesn't make up for his batting woes. Anything's possible, I guess, but I don't see it happening this year.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Yes, it might take an injury to an infielder for Daniel to get enough playing time to to get seasoned. I hope that doesn't happen, but it's not impossible.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    If the Cubs have to give Descalso more playing time they are done. What we are seeing from Descalso the last 2 months is who he is. A .103 batting average. The front office needs to DFA him. It is the only way they can stop Maddon from playing him.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    They’re making Maddon play him in order to make a case to Ricketts to eat the money. I guarantee you Joe doesn’t want him

  • In reply to TC154:

    I don't think Ricketts would want a say in the baseball part. If the front determines Descalso should be DFAed it will happen. If it happens, it will before 8/1.

  • In reply to TC154:

    44slug, he has to be convinced to eat that money. I don't think Theo has the authority to do that on his own. that said I wasn't saying Ricketts was making the baseball decision but you would want to make sure your GM had done everything he could do before the decision was made.

  • I love almora but... man on first with less than 2 outs, he needs to be bunting or the runner needs to be moving

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