Sorry folks, this one is going to need to be a quick one. Some computer issues and work schedule have me pressed for time this morning.
Last Game: Cubs 8, Reds 7
Up Next: Cubs @ Reds, 5:40 CST, Marquee
Jon Lester and the offense came to play. The rest... not so much. The bullpen meltdown will be the main focus, but the defense wasn't exactly stellar last night either.
What can I say about Lester that already hasn't? Dude knows how to pitch. He's likely closer to a fifth starter at this point than the ace he used to be, but he can still deliver big performances. All three of the Cubs wins this season have come on the backs of strong starting pitching.
Another great day by the offense. They were patient, they let the Reds pitching staff clip them with some errant breakers, and they came up with the big hit when they needed it. Four games in this offense has not posted less than three runs on the board. That'll keep this team afloat while they sort through the bullpen issues.
As for that bullpen:
- Dan Winkler: You got to be better than that, man. Big lead. Throw strikes. Do it right next time.
- Nice job Rowan Wick. Get ready to close tonight.
- That was the right spot to use Duane Underwood Jr. That is where he needs to come through with 1+ innings. I'm fine giving up the homer, with a big lead he was laying fastballs in the zone and forcing the Reds to hit it. A guy taking his first MLB at bat did. Good for him. I am a little concerned Underwood is mostly 94-95 in his first two outings. He's capable of touching 97 and he needs that little bit of extra juice. He struggled to command his secondaries, which only exacerbated the problem. He's got to re-establish feel for his changeup, and do it quick.
- Nicely done, Ryan Tepera. You got Underwood out of a jam. Circumstances led to you staying in the game too long. I didn't like Ross extending you beyond 20 pitches in your first game action in a while. Don't think you were ready for it and it showed in the loss of command the further you went. All three pitches looked good though.
- I'm still not sure what to make of James Norwood. His funky delivery leads to too much inconsistency. But I thought he was alright in this one. Yeah, a walk, but that two-run single he gave up woulda been caught by JHey and shoulda been caught by Souza. I mentioned the defense not delivering earlier.
- It is difficult to find anything good to say about a closer who walks four guys and hits another. But Kimbrel was more consistently 95-97 than I've seen him in a Cubs uniform. That's a good sign and the Reds didn't put any good wood on his offerings. He got ahead of three and to two strikes on all four of the guys he walked, he just couldn't get anybody to chase out of the zone after that point. I didn't have time to check Statcast, but his arm slot looked low. I know they've mentioned that Kimbrel was working to make an adjustment in that area, so I'm not sure if this was intentional, or if he is still searching for it.
Tonight the @Cubs escaped Cincinnati with a win despite going to a 3-2 count on 6 different Reds batters in the 9th inning.
The 6 full counts are tied for the most any MLB team has faced in a single 9th inning since pitches were first tracked in 1988.
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) July 28, 2020
- Jeremy Jeffress, that was as tough a spot as a reliever can be put in, and you got the needed result. You did manage to get a Reds hitter to expand with two strikes to get the big second out. The BABIP dragon was kind to you against Votto, but at least you threw two over the plate when you needed to. That is more than I can say for most of the Cubs relievers tonight.
I haven't given up on this group of righties. I still believe Underwood, Winkler, Tepera, Sadler, Jeffress, Wick, Kimbrel can function as a unit. But only if Kimbrel can find himself. If they are forced to move one of the others into the closer role it destabilizes everything. Need the big guy to pitch better.
- DH count: Caratini 2, Contreras 1, Schwarber 1
Filed under: Game Recap