Sometimes you lose to good teams and good pitchers

It shouldn’t surprise anyone anymore.  As good as this team is, every loss raises those deep rooted insecurities that goes with being a Cubs fan.  Not that you can blame us.   It’s not like we have great personal reference points.

“Remember that one time the Cubs offense struggled and lost, then roared back to win the series and advance to the World Series?”

Yeah, me neither.

So much of what we know in life depends on personal experience and so we rely heavily on that.  But there is much more to knowledge than what we have experienced first hand.  Eve if it is just in the abstract sense, we know, for example, that the Cubs are an extremely talented team capable of winning this series and eventually, the World Series even though it isn’t something we’ve experienced in the past.

But all that gets thrown aside for the moment.  Our most recent, visceral memory was one where we felt helpless as Clayton Kershaw shut down the Cubs offense.  The early home run by Adrian Gonzalez seemed all but surmountable.  I even told my wife, the Cubs are going to need a break or two to tie this game.  It seemed absurd at the time that I would say that.  The best team with the best offense in baseball will need some luck to get just one run across?

Yet, such was the scenario with a dominant Kershaw on the mound.  A generous strike zone helped.  That zone gave him plenty of room for error — not that he really needed it. Mind you I am not complaining about that. In fact, it is quite the opposite.  I think that seemingly larger zone may have helped the Cubs more than the Dodgers as their own starter Kyle Hendricks wasn’t as pinpoint with his command as we are used to seeing.  It may have helped the Cubs stay within that one run where it would just take that one big mistake by Kershaw or his defense would make it a brand new game.

But that big mistake never happened.  Except for a couple of minor gaffs that turned out to be inconsequential, the Dodgers played about as well as you could expect them to play.  They used their two best pitchers and rode them for the entire game.  The Cubs, who had this place rocking yesterday, suddenly looked lifeless on offense.

We could blame this on a lot of things.  Maybe they had some digging down for that energy after two very emotional wins (nah). Perhaps they should have juggled the lineup, perhaps Joe Maddon should have started Jorge Soler.  The way Kershaw was pitching, it probably wouldn’t have mattered, but maybe the big guy could have run into one and tied the game in one fell swoop.  Alternatively, the Cubs could have tried a little small ball with a speedier, more contact-oriented offense.  But they just aren’t built that way.

They were going to go with what got them there — through superb run prevention via Hendricks, their bullpen, standout defense, and the ability to wear down pitchers and score enough (usually more than enough judging by their run differential this season) runs to come out ahead at the end of the day.  But against Kershaw, it was more about keeping it close and hope to get a couple of runs on the board.  It seemed to me a very reasonable strategy and it very nearly worked.  The Anthony Rizzo blast that hooked foul comes to mind.

Entering this game, I gave the Cubs a 50-50 shot of winning this one despite being at home and having one of their Cy Young candidates on the mound, so the outcome wasn’t a shocker by any means, This was the game the Dodgers absolutely had to win.  They had to play a near perfect game and they did, so you have to tip your cap there.  For the Cubs, they were in a situation that, had they won this game, they would have made it extremely difficult for the Dodgers to come back and win the series.

The Cubs are now faced with an unusual situation.  With the format being a 2-3-2 home/away/home set up, the Dodgers need not come back to Wrigley to take this series.  Even if the Cubs win just one game, they would head back to Wrigley down 3-2 and facing two consecutive elimination games at home.  It takes some of that advantage away that the Cubs have worked so hard all season to get.  The road team just needs to split the first two games on the road — a not unrealistic scenario when you have arguably the game’s best pitcher out there for one of those games — to take what it took a whole season for the Cubs to secure.  There is no question to me that the format should change, but it is the one that is in place now and there is nothing that can be done to change that at this point. The Cubs must play the hand they’ve been dealt.  And why would we expect anything less?

This is also not a team that has made excuses, so I don’t expect them to start now.  I expect them to do everything they can to take that advantage back,

I expect them to come out ready against Rich Hill.  Hill isn’t the same pitcher that we remember from his days in a Cubs uniform.  His command of his curveball has improved tremendously and he has developed some variations to make that pitch a lot more versatile.  He is essentially fastball/curve with nearly 50% of his offerings being that curve, but to call him a two pitch pitcher would be inaccurate. That curve can look like three different pitches depending on how and where he throws it.

Hill has been prone to some blister issues and still has some trouble keeping his emotions in check, so if the Cubs can frustrate him early and make him work, they can make it a tough night for him, but those are big IFs the way Hill has pitched this season.

The Cubs will counter with 2015 Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta and while he hasn’t been as consistently dominant as he was last season, he has shown he is still quite capable of being that pitcher who overwhelmed NL hitters last season.

All eyes, however, will be on the Cubs offense.  Despite going 4-2 so far in the postseason and scoring 5 runs in 4 of those 6 games, the narrative will be their struggling hitters despite the fact that those struggles came against two of the best pitchers in baseball yesterday and that their only previous struggle came against Johnny Cueto, a pitcher they have historically had difficulty hitting in the past.

The Cubs have to be careful not to buy into that struggling offense narrative and start doing things drastically different now.  They won 103 games and ranked 1st in offensive fWAR for  a reason.  They have some of the best young hitters in baseball and an effective approach at the plate that works much more often than not.  That is not the same as saying it will work every time.  It won’t.  But abandoning that approach over one game would look like panic.

And these Cubs, unlike us fans, don’t panic all that easily.  It is going to be a long two days until we can start to erase those Game 2 memories, but my guess is that the Cubs have already moved on and are ready for Game 3.

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  • Well said

  • I totally agree: no need to panic. I actually think the 2-3-2 format might benefit the Cubs. Winning three in a row is tough. And three games without a break might benefit the team with the deeper bullpen. At the very least, Jansen can't go two innings three games in a row. I hope Soler starts tomorrow, if not him, Almora. But I like Soler's power potential. Finally, it's time for Rizzo to step up.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I agree, a short outing by Hill tomorrow forcing Roberts to use Urias tomorrow too, could be real disaster for the Dodgers, especially when you consider 3 games in a row & Kershaw going on 3 days rest Thursday. Plus Roberts starts so many lefty hitters he has limited moves off the bench. The Dodgers roster is much thinner than the Cubs.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Hope Soler starts tomorrow also and would like to see Contreras in the line-up as well. Heyward definitely should sit against a lefty and maybe Zobrist as well. Maybe Arrietta will "allow" Contreras to catch.

  • In reply to willycat:

    Sit Russell and move
    Javy to short and Zobrist to 2nd

  • In reply to stix:

    I agree with this. Russell and Heyward have no chance right now. I would like to see Soler get his shot to help the team. Now that Urias is in for Game 4, it is a perfect spot to get Soler at bats. Having Rizzo and Zo struggle at 3/4 is hard enough on a lineup not to mention Russell and Heyward. I would like to give hitters who have a better chance today to get a W. Playoff baseball is different than a 162 game season letting guys work through struggles. Ride the hot bat. And move out frozen bats. We all recall what Babe Ruth Murphy did to LA and us last year.

    If Russell is in he bats 9 with Arrieta hitting 8, IMO. Change for the sake of winning today. No panic here. Just using the roster as constructed to give the Cubs the best chance. That's all we want. And all we could ask for.

  • In reply to stix:

    If they Dodgers had more right handed hitters I would agree but Javy is just to valuable at 2nd with all those lefties

  • In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    Absolutely. I do think Heyward should sit but if you sit him and Russell you're weakening defense at at least two positions and maybe three as Javy doesn't play SS daily. I don't feel this is series we're going to win with offense. It's about run prevention.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I think Jansen can go 5 2 inning days in a row.

  • A good article, but why won't anyone point out the obvious? Until Heyward swing is retooled, he is hurting the team badly on offense. Other players struggle with being hot and cold, for sure....but Heyward has been inside-outing infield popups for so long, that its entirely predictable. Two men on and he did it again. He should not have started the game against Kershaw. Even the easy fastball in the 8th barely made it to the right fielder. Something has been wrong with his swing all season long.

  • In reply to drewsky:

    I agree but he did not lose the game last night. Also dont forget his hustle in Game 4 against SF & the triple in Game 1. I am not saying he hasn't been bad or should be in the lineup but he has made some contribution this postseason....With that said I fully expect Almora/Soler/Contreas in the OF tomorrow & the next 3 games.

  • In reply to drewsky:

    It is obvious so why should we talk about it? The dilemma is how much does he hurt vs how much he helps. In hindsight he could have sat last night in favor of say Zobrist with Soler in LF or just Almora spelling him in RF, because there weren't a lot of balls hit to RF last night. That's hindsight though. You're not going to beat Clayton Kershaw by pouring on runs and run prevention is what got us here and that was the best defensive alignment available last night. It was always going to be a tight game and you want your defense as strong as possible. Now, against Hill, I think Heyward should sit and the Zobrist-Soler scenario I wrote of above is what I would probably try. We can get to Hill and he's probably not going to hold us to 1 run or less. It's worth a shot. So why not talk about Heyward's atrocious swing? Because we can't change it right now and he's a huge piece of this team anyway.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Jake's higher strikeout rate along with Hill's left-handed curve makes sitting Heyward more sound baseball than anything else.

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    John

    you still doing Appraising Arizona ?

  • Great post John! We will come back! Just keep doing what we did all year. John the format does need to be changed the 7 game series should be like the old days 2/2/1/1/1. Travel shouldn't matter. Keep up the good work! Hope your health is improving. Coming down the hill for a fall game on the 8th. After our championship run.

  • In reply to Cubs26:

    Cubswin09 made this awesome point: " And three games without a break might benefit the team with the deeper bullpen." This year, that would be the Cubs.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Deeper quality starters along with a deeper pen is an advantage with the three straight games. The more high leverage pitches they make the better for the Cubs. But it could just be two games if Kershaw is ready on short rest for game 5. Guess we will find out how sound the back is.

  • If they take 2 of 3 in LA, they come back to Wrigley with a 3-2 series lead. I can live with that!

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    We agree

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    In reply to Cubs26:

    The 2-3-2 format helps the better, deeper team which is the Cubs.

    If they go to the NBA 2-2-1-1-1 that adds an extra travel day which gives the other teams pen and ACE more time to rest which could make the difference of being on short rest or full rest for game 7.

    Also w it being the Dodgers, the long travel is a headache. To have to what 4-5 long plan rides in a short time period isn't so good either.

    I am actually in favor of this format for the LCS and WS. They need to do something about the wild card round /play in game

  • You have to figure that most days,... if your starting pitcher and the bullpen manage to hold a solid offensive team to 1 run and a few hits,... that you're going to win,...

    But most days you aren't batting against Kershaw,.... He was excellent,... the umpires and their generous strike zone didn't hurt him,... and sometimes that is just the way the game gets played out.

    Just gotta keep doing what they did to get this far,... grind out at bats, play solid defense, and keep getting that above average pitching they have been getting consistently all season. It'll either fall our Cubs' way - or it won't.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    What was puzzling to me was the Cubs approach against Kershaw. He threw 61% fastballs which was in line with a recent trend. The Cubs' hitters looked to be sitting curveball all game long and watching straight fastballs go for called strikes.
    Also, Russell is fouling balls back to the right which makes me think he's under and late. His swing looks long right now. It doesn't look like he can do anything with pitches middle in.
    With all the lefty starters the Dodgers throw and with every lefty reliever slotted to face him specifically, I'm not holding out much hope that Rizzo will get hot in this series.
    If we make the World Series (fingers crossed) it'll be a different story for Riz.

  • John, great piece and a bit of sanity in a sea of angst. I believe in this team and I haven't been let down yet. I truly believe the Cubs are better in nearly every way except the fact that Kershaw is a deity from the pantheon of the baseball gods. Rich HIll is not, nor is Kenta Maeda or Julio Urias (although ask me about him in a couple of years yowza). As many have suggested maybe it's time to make a couple of tweaks to the lineup although the ones that have Baez moving off of 2nd base do concern me. We are where we are on the basis of run prevention. The offense has gone cold before and in the playoffs many offenses go cold. This is the playoffs and everything is amplified including emotions of fans. It's to be expected but we are going to win on Tuesday.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I like your attitude TC.

    I cant see anyway you move Javy off 2nd. Maybe if the Dodgers had more righties but no way you move Javy, just no.

    I said this in the other thread & actually heard Smotlz (who btw is an excellent color guy, only talks about the moment & doesn't get into the other garbage) say this a few times too. Maddon has begrudgingly put Heyward in the lineup so far. Maddon is to smart to keep doing this. It will change. I also think flipping Russell & Javy in the order as well as moving Rizzo either up to the 2 hole or down to the 4 hole maybe coming too. It could be away to length the lineup a bit & maybe help get Rizzo a bit more comfortable. I also wouldn't be surprised if he batted Arrietta 8th & put Russel 9th.

  • John, very good narrative to go with and the one we should all stick to. We are in a good position and the game last night was about as good as it gets.

    How many runs did our pen give up? Zero......
    How many runs did Hendricks the ERA leader give up? One.....
    Less than his average for the year.

    We faced their one and only superstar last night and he did what he was paid to do. Unfortunately for the Dodgers he can't do it 3 more times this week...

    Cubs in 6 .........IN Wrigley Field.

  • Home field means very little in baseball. People act like the Dodgers have this huge advantage now. I did not expect the Cubs to sweep the Dodgers or even win in five. The Dodgers were very likely to win at least one game in Wrigley and the Cubs are very likely to win at least one in Dodgers Stadium.

    Overall the Cubs are playing well, they just have a handful of guys in slumps, while really only one guy is hot at the plate. The moment and the pressure does not appear to be affecting them though. I never let myself over react to one game, especially one pitched by the best pitcher in the game, who was followed by one of the best closers in the game.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Agreed and well put. I'm frustrated because that game was winnable. Not pointing to any one play and wishing it would have gone the Cubs' way (Javy's lineout or batting order or whatever) because you open up Pandora's box if you do that. The Dodgers could have had 7 extra hits the way they squared up Lester in game 1.
    But I didn't like the Cubs' approach against Heyward. Taking too many fastballs. I know it's easier said than done, but 5 backward Ks against a guy who lives in the zone doesn't sit well. Running up Kershaw's pitch count with patience was never going to work. Hopefully they adjust their approach for Kershaw's next start. Bryant going down looking against Jansen, who throws 1 pitch, cannot happen.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    We could have won all the games or lost all the games. We have had a lot of breaks and unexpected Heros happen which is all part of it.
    Bryant the only one who whiffed vs Jansen ?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Yeah, you're right. I'm not worried. But believe it or not your comment makes me feel better.
    I mean, no he wasn't. And he likely wasn't going to get a hit anyway because Jansen is a stud. But everyone in the park knew a cutter was coming because he threw it 89.7% of the time this year. What was Bryant looking for? Just less than great approaches all night.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I agree with you on Jansen being a 1 pitch guy. When Bryant got called for strike one that was 3-4 inches inside I had a feeling it wouldn't go well. You can't look to protect 3-4 inches on both side of plate vs a guy like that. Bryant is 1 of few that has been hitting.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    He was the only one who whiffed with the bat on his shoulder in the 9th and down one run.

  • In reply to veteran:

    How many whiffed with the bat on the shoulder the whole game? We were down by 1 for 7 innings. You can't knock Bryant for one at bat. Since he is hitting higher then Zo, Addi, and Rizzo combined.

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    Agreed on the Bryant at bat in the 9th. That was a terrible call on that first inside pitch, but it completely threw him off and he looked helpless against the two pitches after that.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Great post and spot on. Few expected the Cubs to sweep. Put that loss behind us and move on to game 3.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Agree home field makes little difference Pitching match ups are the obvious key. Doesn't matter what park they pitch

  • Well said. I wish I could voice my thoughts as well as you. You have a gift.

  • John-

    You are a great writer. Thank you. I feel like you are kind of our leader here and you just told a lot of people to get off the ledge. It kind of bums me out that people are so quick to tear down these guys that have put together the best Cubs team of our lives because of one shutout loss. To Clayton Kershaw. We've got this guys. I really believe it. This isn't last year. We have t been overmatched. Even in our two losses this postseason the other team had to throw everything they had at us.

    These guys will hit. They will continue to pitch and catch the ball. Enjoy the ride everyone.

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    Most of these games could go either way. Look at the Giants series--Javy's HR was very nearly an out. Every 1 or 2 run game has a number of points that could go either way, and with the hard hit balls and the line drives that Dexter caught again could have gone against the Cubs. Likewise, if the HR the other night had been not so squared up it would have been an out, and if Javy had swung slightly sooner it would have been out. That's why all aspects of the game are so important, from defense to running to umps calls to baseball IQ (hello Javy).
    The Dodgers don't have the pitching or defense we do and we play our game there's no reason we can't win and maybe even win all three out there. Win #1 with Jake, and if possible score first and put the onus on the Dodgers. With a win tomorrow all the pressure goes on them and we have Lackey pitching and he knows all about pressure pitching.

  • Definitely no need to panic. But if we lose tomorrow night . . .

  • All the dislike seems to be going towards Heyward, which is understandable, but he's been more offensively productive than Rizzo & Russell. He should sit tonight versus Hill. Russell will most likely be @ SS just for the D alone.
    Bat Russell 9th and flip 2/3 or 3/4. That's the biggest move I can envision them doing.

  • Okay, I'm going to beg EVERYONE here to stop using the word "ledge" in any of your posts. God forbid any fan isn't blinded by optimism and has legitimate concerns. Do you really think that a fan with concerns is about to jump off a building? The Cubs are 4-2 in the playoffs, but their offensive struggles have been for real. They hit well against ONE out of 6 starting pitchers (Jeff Samardzija).

    Would it surprise me to see the Cubs offense come out strong tonight and score 3+ runs off Hilll? Absolutely not, but at the same time, I can also see it being a struggle again.

    Anyone who just assumes that the bats are going to come alive or assumes that the "good" Arrieta is going to show up tonight or that Lackey pitches more than 5 innings and doesn't give up 3+ runs reminds me of the fans that say "hey, it was a fun season, let's get them next year". Well I, for one, am done with the "Wait until next year narrative". I don't think this season is a bust if we don't win the WS, but I do think we need to see this team make it to the WS an for that to happen, they need to hit. It's not rocket science. And it's also not ledge jumping for seeing the problem and pointing it out / sharing it with other fans.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    This. Exactly.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    I think there is a huge difference between you and some of the commentors Saluki and my apologies if you are lumped in by myself and others.

    That being said get off the ledge. (just kidding go Cubs)

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    I don't assume anything. I think this is a team capable of winning a World Series, that doesn't mean they will. Could it be our best chance? Maybe but I doubt it. Yes, there have been problems with the bats and no I don't think they will magically fix themselves but this is baseball and they generally fix themselves. That said I don't think Heyward or Russell are coming around this season and I've said many times that Heyward should probably sit tonight. I don't feel the same about Russell because if you would be weakening 3 positions defensively and we're not going to win this thing with our bats. We're going to win with stellar run prevention and timely rallies.

    Frankly I'd probably put Almora in RF tonight and move Russell down to the 8th spot in the lineup with Baez moving up to 5th and that's about it. I get the feeling though that it's going to be Soler in LF with Zobrist in RF weakening 2 defensive positions. If it works then great, I trust Maddon. My focus, as I said, continues to be on run prevention. If you're looking for offense though I think Rizzo is close to breaking out based on how he's been seeing the ball better in the last 3 games and the power he showed in the long foul on Sunday. That's encouraging.

    I've spent this entire season mentally preparing myself for a new way to look at our team in the playoffs. This team is built for the long haul. There will be thrilling postseasons and disappointing ones. I'm hoping this is the former but prepared for the latter. Personally I think this is the year because I see no quit in this team. They could have easily rolled over against Kershaw the other night but the pitching held them to 1 run and there were some competitive at bats until the end. This isn't a team I start to doubt with the series at 1-1. If it's 2-1 Dodgers after tonight I'll likely start to worry more but I like this matchup tonight so I don't think that's going to happen. Everyone is entitled to think of this as they will, I've never said otherwise, but I'll tell you after talking with a bunch of baseball fans yesterday from around the country they just see two very good teams going at it. That's how I'm looking at it right now. It's the baseball playoffs there are no guarantees.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Think its Soler in RF and Zobrist in LF, or Zobrist in RF and Contreras or Soler in LF tonight. I would be somewhat surprised if Almora got a start

  • In reply to TC154:

    I kinda doubt Zobrist goes to right, I see Almora playing RF tonight. You have to remember Dodgers are a left handed hitting team, meaning you want you best defenders on the right side. Maddon is not gonna sacrifice defense on that side of the field.

    I do agree Baez will be flipped with Russell & I also think there is a slight possibility Russell hits 9th & Arrietta 8th.

    Maddon mentioned this yesterday but I could also see Zobrist or Rizzo moving up to the 2 hole with the thought of "lengthening" the lineup a bit.

    While it was a poor strategy against Kershaw, the best way to go against Hill & Urias is to make them work. Yes the Dodgers pen is pretty good but middle relief is every teams weakness.

  • In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    I hope you're right on Almora in RF. That's what I want to see but most of the media talkers seem to think it's going to be Soler in the lineup which would push Zobrist to RF.

  • In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    I think there's a strong possibility we see two of Soler, Zobrist, Contreras in the corner OF spots. Maddon seems more willing to sacrifice OF defense when Arrieta is pitching because Arrieta is maybe the hardest guy in the league to generate good contact against. He's the starting pitcher you can afford to gamble with I think.

  • In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    You know, of all the suggestions on how to shake up the lineup or to make a change anywhere I have to agree moving Russell down to 9 is a really GOOD idea. Joe had him there a lot last year, Arietta hits well and it could very well give Bryzzo more RBI opportunity. He would only get perhaps 3 at bats in the game whereas 3 thru 7 could get 4. All this is a mute point however if the bats do break out and we score a bunch but that is the kind of tinkering that is more than plausible.

    The team that really is taking the dirt nap is Toronto. That to me is the biggest surprise of the post season especially after they cut through Texas.

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    In reply to INSaluki:

    Excellent Post. I wish more people could be honest with themselves like you. Stand up guy !

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    Can we stop with the sky is falling idea? After the loss at SF it was "Cubs heartbreak" It was a great game that was lost in extra, it wasn't heartbreak. Now it's oh no the Cubs got shut out, yeah by Kershaw, with a wide strike zone. And we were about 5 feet from a 2-1 win, in fact Cubs hitters hit more hard hit balls in the game than the dodgers.
    It's baseball, you don't win every game, sometimes a great pitcher throws a great game, and gets some good breaks.
    Now we can go win 2 of 3 or sweep and all is well.

  • In reply to Dan Strickland:

    Can we stop with criticizing everyone who dares point out that the Cubs have some issues? Mention that Rizzo isn't hitting and there are 15 responses claiming someone is "doom and gloom," "on a ledge," "crying," "whining" and "giving up." It's a discussion forum, not a pep rally.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Amen!

  • Sorry Cliff if I've offended you- I think I'm one of the people you speak of. I love this team and I have watched enough baseball to know that six games tells you absolutely NOTHING about a players ability. It bums me out to see people turn on Addy and Rizzo and Joe. Heyward I totally get and I don't mind when people say Addy should be moved down but to me at least, it's to a different level after we lose.

    I don't question your fandom or anything though. We are just going at it from two different angles. I'm not trying to be snarky or get in the last word but I'll just mention that I could just as easily flip your last sentence and say to all you crying, whining, ledge jumpers (I hope you know I'm joking :)) that It's a discussion forum not a wake.

    -signed the head cheerleader at the pep rally.

    (Go Cubs)

  • In reply to Torcosign:

    My stunningly brilliant reply is caught in the spam filter...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    You must've dropped some serious language on me. Just kidding Cliff. I mean no hostilty buddy.

  • In reply to Torcosign:

    No offense taken. It was a rather long reply - that's probably what triggered the filter.

  • Was an injury to Szczur the reason he was kept off the roster vs Dodgers?

    Lifetime vs Kershaw

    3 hits in 7 trips, 2 doubles, one HR,, walk and no K's

    If healthy ^^^^ could start vs Kershaw and carry instead of Almora

  • In reply to chibob:

    Knowing that the Dodgers don't hit lefties well, I think the Cubs wanted Zastryzny in the BP instead of another RH OF on the bench. Almora and Szczur have some similarities, but Albert hit better (albeit SSS) and is a better defender.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    right, and they made that decision and dropped LaStella for Z.

    it came down to Szczur or rookie Almora

  • Last night I dreamt I was at a train station and on a boat and unable to watch the Cubs' game. What do you think that means?

  • In reply to Oneear:

    dreams about the Cubs don't mean anything

  • In reply to Oneear:

    boats are typically associated with emotion and/or how you are dealing with them. so you are probably stressed about the cubs game

  • Can we get some more gloom-and-doom comments, and other, more mature, commenters slapping them down? It's all so informative.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Sure... Does it even matter if they win the NLCS? As they would get to the world series only to be swept by the unbeatable team from Cleveland.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Rizzo has hit so poorly this postseason that I think we should trade him. You think if we packaged him and Russell we could get Ethier from the Dodgers?

  • In reply to Torcosign:

    Ya'll bandwagon fans need to shut up. Do you even watch baseball? I have for 40 years. We will crush Cleveland, you are so stupid for saying that! Rizzo and Russell for Eithier? Go back to your White Sox blogs, troll! Go Cubs!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I truly believe torcosign was kidding. If not that's a very, very bad baseball thought.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I think we lose this trade based on the offense. But Ethiers defense would really improve this team. :)

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    You are correct I'm wearing a Konerko jersey and jean shorts as we speak.

    I'm making fun of the bandwagon fans buddy. :)

  • In reply to Torcosign:

    Barley's having fun with you, Torco.

  • In reply to NoDoubtAboutIt:

    Oh man after you pointed that out I see it now. Watching baseball for 40 years hahaha.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Sorry Barley, guess I wasn't being sarcastic enough. Was just trying to oblige wastrel with some negative comments.

    I like the Cubs chances if they can get to the WS, and seeing that LA has only won games that Kershaw has appeared in. I like our chances to get there.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I believe they were jesting in response to the request for more negative comments.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    And I was playing the game with slapping them down. It was all wastrel's fault.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    That was a good grouping of about 10 tongue in cheek responses......I liked it lol

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I accept full responsibility.

  • In reply to Torcosign:

    We'd have to throw in Arietta, but he sucks now, anyway.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Ha wish we had that Clevanger kid back. We don't have any young guys that can fill in behind the dish.

  • Anyone else think it is a little weird that the Indians can clinch a spot in the WS before the Cubs play game 3? I know it is TV, but I don't like the series being staggered. If I counted my days right, the game 5 starter could start game 1 of the world series on normal rest in the NL, whereas in the AL the game 6 starter could start game 1 on normal rest. This could play into Roberts decision to start Kershaw on short rest on game 5.

  • In reply to jimbullinger:

    Yes. It's all about TV dollars...

  • In reply to jimbullinger:

    The almighty $ at work and on full display.......

    LA and Chicago being the marquis markets generating the ad revenues get the prime game time slots....

    Cleveland and Toronto.......being Cleveland and Toronto get the 'in the shadow' times......

  • In reply to jimbullinger:

    I think its more to do with Cleveland and Toronto both sweeping their ALDS series'. Both were done on Monday and waited until Friday to play each other, whereas the Dodgers went 5 games against Wash. We are only one day behind the AL. Game 4 today for them, game 3 for us.

  • In reply to jimbullinger:

    Jim-

    I think it is somewhat bogus but I will say this. From a strictly fan perspective I like where the Cubs are. I can watch day games out of the corner of my eye at work (I'm very lucky) but I would be pretty bummed out to have to watch my team fight off elimination or win the pennant at work.

    So strategically it stinks for the Cubs, but as a fan I'm happy we have the primetime slot.

  • In reply to Torcosign:

    I would think that it'd be better to have them both at primetime spots. They are on different networks anyway. I don't know of many people that can afford to watch baseball for 7 hours in one day anyway.

  • In reply to jimbullinger:

    Agree, but I wouldn't be surprised if the contracts with FOX and TBS specify that games can't be simultaneous.

  • Kyle Hendricks led the NL with an ERA of 2.13 (I believe). For those who assume we're going to knock Rich Hill around you should know this. His 2016 ERA....... 2.12. His ERA for the LAD (reg season) ? 1.83.

    Do NOT get me wrong. I'd MUCH rather have Arrieta (today) on the mound than Hill, but I would not bet that we will bash him around like I figured we would against Jeff Samardijza (sp?)

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    There's good and bad to look at with Hill. The good is the gaudy ERA for the season and even gaudier ERA with LA, his very good September and the fact that he throws a nasty curve more than 50% of the time from multiple angles. That and the Cubs have a hard time with breaking balls. The good part is that he was awful in the NLDS with an ERA over 6 and a WHIP of about 1.8 and the fact that blister is said to be bothering him again. We can get to him but it won't be easy.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Good point but you have to take into account that:

    1. Hill missed a bunch of time w/ that blister aka small sample size.
    2. I think his stuff is a good matchup for the Cubs, they Cubs tend to struggle against hard throwers & change-up guys. Hill throws different variations of his curveball but curveballs can "hang" of "spin" if its not on.

  • In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    The Cubs have 1 player who has faced Hill more than 5 times. That guys is David Ross who is 1-13 with 7 K's.

    No one else has more than 5 at bats. Scouting reports and video will be crucial in the prep work. He has nasty splits against both sides--actually a lower BA vs. RHB although his OBP is lower versus LHB (fewer walks).

    I hope Mallee has a better plan tonight than the one put in place versus Kershaw.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    From a Jason Stark tweet:

    Top 5 NL pitchers in ERA since 9/1

    1. Kershaw 1.69
    2. Hill 2.00
    3. Hendricks 2.26
    4. Lester 2.43
    5 Arrieta 2.59

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Yeah this isn't your grampa's Rich Hill. He's a stud. That said, he's thrown 110 innings this year, which is the most he's thrown since 2007 with Baltimore when he threw 53.
    5 PM at Dodger Stadium is a tough time to hit and Hill has a silly-good curveball. It won't be easy to see the ball against Arrieta either.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    And given Jake said he has "found" his cutter which has been non-existent all year, that especially bodes well for him and helping beat their LHB's.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    When did he say that? I must have missed it. If he really has, it's a game changer for this team.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    On the broadcast during game 2 when talking to Buck and Smoltz. I have thought that all year. It was nice to see Jake say that and how his side sessions have him ready to pitch.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    game 1 -- not game 2. sorry. He was talking when Dex laid out and caught the ball in RCF.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Thanks, I completely missed it. My confidence just rose a little bit. Mmmm thoughts of good (really good) Jake make me giddy.

  • Just listened to Maddon's WSCR show and it does not sound like Heyward is taking the night off. I guess I could be wrong but that's not what it sounded like.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Well, you also reported last week that Edwards wouldn't pitch, and then he did. So I question your interoperation (he said playfully). :). If Miggy catches, three lefties vs. Hill....i donna know.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    True but as soon as a I thought it both hosts (Speigle and Goff) had the same thought. Trust me I hope I'm wrong. I think Ross is going to catch though for what it's worth...;)

  • In reply to TC154:

    Jesse Rogers, for what it's worth, has said that Montero will catch. I feel like Soler is a good match up for Hill. That's what I am hoping. Homeruns are such game changers in the playoffs. We'll see.

  • Offense isn't looking much different than against the Mets last postseason.

    The defense is great, but thr offense is inconsistent. I thought the offense was supposed to be built for postseason matchups, not to merely "line up with what got us here." Postseason baseball and regular season baseball are different. You play the matchups. That means changes need to come. Rizzo needs to be taken out of the lineup for a game. So do others. Second year in a row he's disappeared in the post season. If he keeps it up, Bryant needs to play 1B the rest of the playoffs and we can get somebody who won't press in the anemic lineup.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    For the most part I agree. The Cubs got here by mixing and matching, and now for the most part everything has frozen. I think the hard part is that Javy is the guy that would go the the bench to get another outfield bat.

  • There will come a day soon when Rizzo's slump ends. I'd hate to think when that day arrives our best hitter, best run producer, and team leader was on the bench. I'll live and die with the guy til the end of the season.

  • I agree with the poster who said this is a discussion not a pep rally. But I love all the positive vibes and also the humor today - funny stuff.

    The one point that I still struggle to understand is why Contreras has not gotten more at-bats in the play offs. He's 5 for 9. I believe also that his youth, like Baez, gives the cubs a spark, and that's a trademark of a Joe Maddon team. It's disappointing to me because there are various spots you could insert Contreras (left field, catching tonight with JA - especially if Montero is not 100%). I hope he gets some more at-bats in these games to come.

    Go cubs!

  • In reply to Bill Buckner #22:

    I agree. Contreras and Javey are our best hitters right now. Cant believe hes gonna play (auto out) Heyward and Miggy against the lefty.

  • In reply to mwillie:

    This personal catcher thing is what is causing some of the issues I think. Hopefully next spring pitchers will be able to get more comfortable with Kyle & Contreras as what is the point of having these great young guys behind the plate if no one will pitch to them.

  • In reply to jimbullinger:

    I don't think Schwarber will catch much next year at all, at least not early. I think Contreras will be the starter, Montero the backup and they'll pick up another Fedorowicz type as a third catcher in the dog days.

  • In reply to mwillie:

    Arrieta was not good with Contreras catching. Frankly I'd rather see Ross tonight as a righty than Montero but with with so much riding on this performance I'm not giving Jake extra challenges with Contreras.

  • I feel good about the Cubs chances the rest of this series. If they didn't make it to the WS I would be disappointed, but this season has been a heck of a ride and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I think I've also gotten a lot thicker skinned about letting Sox fans trolling roll off my back. Let's keep giving them something to hate on by going all the way! Go Cubs!

  • In reply to Denizen Kane:

    Speaking of the Sox, just for grins they were 1-1 heading to LA in 2005. The lost game 1 instead of game 2 by a run. Regardless they won all 3 in LA. Lets hope history, I mean "Chicago Repeats Itself."

  • In reply to Denizen Kane:

    how could a sox fan ever troll succesfully?? thats my question

  • Hot take alert-

    I like Heyward in there tonight. I think with a Lefty heavy lineup that run prevention is the name of the game in RF. I'm not saying bat him cleanup but I just really think that his net benefit is better than having Soler out there. For the same reason I put Rossy behind the plate. With his arm and game calling I think he adds the most to the lineup.

    If Soler (or Almora) starts- I will be hoping he strikes out every time just so my prediction comes true. (NOT!)

  • In reply to Torcosign:

    Actually up until about 15 minutes ago I was right with you on RF defense but someone pointed out Arrieta's spray chart against lefties http://www.fangraphs.com/spraycharts...&vs1=ALL&vs2=L and there's less pulling the ball than you might expect. A lot of balls hit the other way. Maybe you can hide Soler out there. Either way I'm ready to see this lineup and it's going to be a excrutiating 4 1/2 hours waiting for this game.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Wow great info. You might have brought me around to your way of thinking...

    Has anyone told Martinez and Maddon this?

  • In reply to Torcosign:

    I will say that I still think Heyward has a role to play in this thing. He has looked a little lost up there but I have an inkling that he might get a big hit here in the next few days.

    That being said I hope Joe goes with numbers and not my inklings.

  • In reply to Torcosign:

    A little lost? :-) How about just "not good other than a couple of weeks sprinkled throughout the entire year." I think everyone is in agreement he will have to commit to a major overhaul in his swing in the off season. He would be hard to trust to give a quality at bat in a key situation.

    His role should be PR or Defensive replacement for Soler and Coghlan for at least the balance of the LAD series. Maybe give him Game 5 versus Maeda since he can catch up with Maeda's 89-91 MPH fastball.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I didn't want to use the words dumpster fire. :)

  • In reply to Torcosign:

    he already knows. it came up in the wild card game against the Pirates last year. Maddon commented on it

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    No I know that Maddon knows. I was just being cheeky. Although I sort of like the idea of him reading this site. Especially the prospect write ups. Looking at you JA.

  • Fowler CF
    Bryant 3B
    Zobrist LF
    Rizzo 1B
    Baez 2B
    Soler RF
    Russell SS
    Montero C
    Arrieta P

  • In reply to TC154:

    It's disappointing that Jake and Contreras couldn't get assimilated more smoothly in the regular season. Maybe Miggy is saving his best for now. I don't like that matchup much, but we'll see.

    Let's Go Cubs!!!!!

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I don't think Soler will play the whole game, if Miggy make Jake feel more comfortable, then its the right call.

    If anything, these subtle lineups changes lengthen the lineup a bit & 1-5, with 2 switch hitters, can make the lineup go from right heavy to balanced.

    Maddon thinks Hill wont go past the 5th, if he is right it might force Roberts to use an extra arm or 2. You always want to get to any teams middle relief, its the underbelly of every team, well except Cleveland so far, lol!

  • In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    hopefully he is taken out in the first after giving up 6

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Amen!

  • interesting, some changes. but the changes to the OF were as I expected.

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