Montgomery...Butler: Cubs 3, Marlins 1

Tonight Eddie Butler and Mike Montgomery combined to beat the Marlins and extend the Cubs’ gradually respectable winning streak to four games. Backed by home runs and mostly pristine defense behind them, they made quick work of Miami, holding them to just one run.

The Cubs scored their first two runs in the 1st inning thanks to a double by Ben Zobrist and then a deep homerun to left center from Kris Bryant. From there, former Cubs farmhand Dan Straily generally settled in, keeping anything from spiraling out of control after that rough first inning. In the 4th, the Cubs got to him again, and could have done much more damage, if not for the wind. In the inning, Willson Contreras powered Straily’s 1-0 slider deep to left, but the wind plunged it into Marcell Ozuna’s glove instead of the seats. The next batter, Jason Heyward, fired a rocket to right field, but again, into a player’s glove instead of a fan’s.

But given the hard contact in that inning, someone was bound to hit one just hard enough. Albert Almora, Jr., next up after Heyward, worked the count in his favor to 3-1, and then Straily tried to sneak his fourseam fastball by him for strike two, but at 88 mph and badly located, Almora sent it out of the park to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead.

For his part, Eddie Butler kept the Marlins quiet until the 6th. They’d mustered little until then, but their lone spark started on a leadoff double from J.T. Riddle. Straily chipped in on the cause by moving Riddle to third on a groundout. Then Dee Gordon’s sacrifice fly to Almora in center gave Riddle the chance to score and end the shutout.

Butler followed all of that by surrendering a double to Giancarlo Stanton, and Joe Maddon decided his night was done. It might have seemed like an early hook to some, but the time was right. Butler is simply not experienced enough to be trusted to work out of that spot. Enter Mike Montgomery and the end of the threat.

The lefty took care of the rest from the mound, prohibiting Miami from any further hints of negating the lead, and the night ended quickly. Cubs win, 3-1.


Source: FanGraphs

So are they good or what?

Right after they dropped six in a row and looked dead in the water, they’ve rattled off four wins in a row and gone right back over .500. Two games above that mark, and now 2.5 games ahead of the Cardinals and tied for the lead with Milwaukee.

I’ve said it before somewhere, but I think the Cubs are perfectly good enough to end up winning the NL Central, but I’m increasingly convinced the Brewers will not give this up easily. When and if the Cubs win the division and move on to the postseason for the third time in a row, I’m not sure they have shown yet that they can survive a five game division series against the Dodgers or Nationals.

In that light, I’d recommend reading this by Rian Watt and this by Tim Baffoe.

Where’s Addy?

He’s struggling with a lot of medium contact at the plate, and it’s been detrimental to his batting average. He did hit just .238 last year, but with a lot more quality contact than he has shown in 2017, so that average has dropped to .213. His HR/FB rate has gone from 14.2% last season to just 6% this year, so he’s become a much easier out. More of his flyballs are landing in gloves instead of seats.

As a result, Javier Baez is spending more time at shortstop, and for the time being, that’s fine. The 2016 Cubs had the luxury of letting Jason Heyward try to figure it out at the plate, but the 2017 Cubs really don’t. They need offense, and Baez has been fine. He’s league-average in wRC+ so far, and he’s keeping his K% at 24.4 after many of us worried about it creeping back up to 2014 levels at the beginning of the season. He could stand to walk more, but now I’m just being picky.

The “piggyback” start

Both Eddie Butler and Mike Montgomery deserve more recognition than they’ll probably get for what they accomplished tonight. They combined to hold a potentially dangerous Marlins lineup to just a single run and kept the rest of the bullpen from doing any work. Especially valuable was the fact that Montgomery was able to take the 9th, eliminating the need for any of last night’s relievers to finish the game.

These little things are important because once the team does get to October, and I fully believe they will, healthy and rested bullpens are crucial. The more they get burned up in the summer months, the more likely they are to falter in the postseason.

Three Stars of Game
Third Star- Albert Almora, Jr. (2 for 3, HR)

Without the benefit of hindsight, that home run stands out bigger than it looks to us with the perspective we have after the night is done. If the 7th inning goes even slightly differently, this run is much more essential than it turned out to be.

Second Star- Kris Bryant (1 for 4, HR, 2 RBI)

Given all of the runs this team has allowed in the first, it was refreshing to do it to someone else for a change.

First Star- Eddie Butler/Mike Montgomery (9 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K)

They are the story of this game, and Mike Montgomery deserves a street in Chicago named after him for the grunt work he is doing.

Comments

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  • Could the Cubs beat the Nationals or Dodgers in five games? Well, in five games this season, they are 2-3 vs. the Dodgers. I like their chances. Besides, right now they wouldn't play either if those two teams; they'd play the Rockies. I hope the Cubs win the series vs. the Marlins, or better yet, sweep. I am looking forward to that Rockies series this weekend. The wind should be blowing out at least for two of those games. It will be a test.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    The "playoffs are a crapshoot" narrative has been well-documented. With the need to attract clicks, and in earlier times fill newsprint, pundits and beat writers alike would attempt to predict the results of these hypothetical match-ups. We want to compress a season's worth of data and results into a few games. None of that matters. The Rockies' team OPS and the Nat's ERA+ will mean nothing when Montgomery eats three critical innings and Jon Jay comes of the bench for a game-winning double down the left-field line for the series-clinching victory in October. I do like what I'm starting to see in the sweep of the DirtyBirds and the Marlins' opener, and do look forward to the series with the Rockies. You made a specific prediction about the weather conditions for that set, and I guess I'm starting to see some more gradual currents. Let's hope they all go our way.

    "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    The whole "the playoffs are a crapshot" narrative has been well-documented, but it's true. We went nearly wire-to-wire last season, but that is an anomaly. The Rockies' team OPS and the Nat's ERA+ won't mean anything come October. We tend to compress a season's worth of data into a single post-season series, but none of that matters when Verlander or Cueto gives us six solid, the bullpen is nails, and Jon Jay comes off the bench for the walk-off double in the decisive game 6 of the 2017 NLCS.

    I'm encouraged by the sweep of the DirtyBirds and the opener against the Marlins. You give a specific prediction about the weather conditions in the telling weekend set against the Rockies, and I guess I'm more riding the tide.

    "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I know the whole "the playoffs are a crapshot" narrative is well-documented, but it is true. We went nearly wire-to-wire last year, but that is an anomaly. The Rockies' team OPS or the Nat's ERA+ won't mean anything in October when Verlander or Cueto gives us six strong, the bullpen is nails, and Jon Jay comes off the bench to deliver the walk-off pinch-hit in the decisive Game 6 of the NLCS. We want to compress a season's worth of data into a single series. That doesn't work.

    I'm very encouraged by the sweep of the DirtyBirds and the W over the Marlins in this opener. This weekend series against the Rockies could be telling. You predict some specific weather conditions, but I'm just gauging the general tide.

    "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

  • Actually there is a Montgomery Street in Chicago near Kelly Park in Brighton Park (Archer and California Avenues)

  • So they worked quickly. Nice.

  • In reply to Jared Wyllys:

    That's funny. Back in the day, there was a push to re-name Waveland Ave. after Dave Kingman. Luckily that campaign moved at normal pace and eventually died.

  • Davis is on paternity leave. Won't be back the next 2 games either.

  • In reply to ricco:

    Oops, I must have missed that. I blame the frenzy of the end of the school year.

  • In reply to Jared Wyllys:

    Know the rush to get grades in sometimes less than a few hours, with makeups what not, clean the room or move, debrief and other meetings all smashed into 24 hours. Then there is the first week of R&R few people know after 10 mos of being on stage and on eval.

  • Maddon is doing a great job sorting out the issues with the team. Don't hear much about him when things go well though, eh?

  • In reply to wastrel:

    It's weird that way.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    I don't listen to a lot of sports talk radio because it's necessarily hyperbolic, but most of the anti-Maddon comments seem to reflect that format. Is he perfect? Of course not. But he was nearly perfect for what we needed at the point of our organizational development when he suddenly became available. I watched us draft Bryant, trade for Arrieta and Russell, and sign Lester and Heyward. I was as excited over the Maddon acquisition as any of those events.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Maddon was definitely the right manager for the 2015-2016 Cubs. It was (is?) a young, fun-loving group of people. Occasionally they were a little over the top like Castro "miming" Bryant in STL (can you imagine Matheny's response if Diaz did that with Peralta?). My guess is that the 2017 Cubs are similar enough to the 2016 Cubs that they will be fine with Maddon's style. But Maddon's style would NOT mesh well with the culture/style in STL for instance. They have a completely different culture. One that I view, from the outside, as more staid, more "dignified" and more self-conscious. Can you imagine Matt Holliday or Yadier Molina on a "pajama themed road-trip"? It isn't that one system is "better" than another. Simply that one system works better in a given situation.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I was was petty 'taken' by the Maddon magic from the start, even though some of the off field stuff seemed a little silly(I am in my 70s). It was his managing in the Series that gave me pause, but his steady and big picture 2017 style has got me thinking that Joe is right for 2017 as well.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    This is exactly how I feel. I think he is a big picture guy and my guess is that short series are not as easy for him as navigating an entire season.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think Maddon's value comes (mostly) from off the field stuff. He's not the absolute best game manager (I actually seldom see anything egregious with his in-game decisions), but he's a great manager of people. That is something non-quantifiable, but probably much more valuable than pushing the right buttons between the lines.
    Maybe that is why guys like Ned Yost, who are atrocious in-game managers, get the respect and confidence from players and FO guys like Dayton Moore.

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    I agree with 44slug, John, and you, Kr. Maddon is really good at managing this group of Cubs. He had instant credibility with them and they have prospered under his tutelage. Obviously the 2015 team was more talented than the 2014 team, but I don't think anyone thought they would go to the NLCS after beating a very talented Cards team.

    Some of his management decisions in the WS last year were head scratchers. Particularly his using Chapman SO MUCH in games 6-7. In my mind when you have a 5-run lead you DON'T use the closer until you have to.

    Sometimes I wonder, too, how much of the outrage of his handling of Chapman was spoon-fed by the broadcasts. It fit a compelling narrative they were trying to sell as much as it was good analysis. We forget that part of the reason the Cubs won Game 7 was because Francona had already used up Miller (not very effective), Allen and had Shaw pitch on both sides of a rain delay. The Cubs simply had more good bullets in their gun (Edwards and Montgomery) than Francona did. That is never questioned. The better "narrative" is to question the Cubs for how they used Chapman rather than how the Indians used Miller.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I actually liked him going to Chapman in game 6. It was 7-2, but the Indians had 2 runners on with their best hitter batting. If he hits a double off Strop or someone, it's 7-4 with the 4-hitter up and now you're going to Chapman anyway. After hearing Maddon explain himself, I don't have a problem with how he managed game 7 either.
    The only misstep was not having someone fresh for the 9th in game 6 when the Cubs pushed it to 9-2. But he admitted he dropped the ball on that one.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    To me if Strop can't hold a 7-2 lead with 2 outs what is the point of having him on the roster? IF Lindor hits a double--not a foregone conclusion--then the Cubs STILL have a 3-run lead and most of the dangerous hitters for the Indians are done. Strop would be, actually, more likely to get an out than give up a double because outs are FAR more common than doubles. It was a move that struck me at the time as "panic" more than anything else.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    The Red Sox have always been my second favorite team so I've watched a lot of AL East baseball over the years and I've always liked Maddon. The demeanor is part of it but he's a manager in the truest sense of the word, something that I learned more about when he got here. I agree with those that worry about his bullpen management some but he's also the antithesis of my most hated kind of baseball manager, the cookie cutter/paint by numbers guy an unsuccessful example being Robin Ventura and a successful one being Mike Metheny. The former being much worse than the latter of course but that style irritates me. Maddon is unconventional but no, as people accuse of of from time to time, lacking a plan. He has one but he's not afraid to go in a different direction if it presents itself. I don't mind that he was stubborn in moving Heyward and Schwarber down in the order in consecutive years because when players do work their way out of ruts they end up being better players for it. I get it even if it didn't work in either case. I don't think they win the World Series without him last year and I don't think Heyward's speech would have been as effective in a different team environment. He's a top 5 manager in MLB IMHO.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I hear you. It's definitely not a black/white situation. I juts looked at is more proactive than panic.
    He didn't trust Strop at all in the series, and in that scenario he couldn't risk it. If somehow the Indians rally against someone other than Chapman, Maddon would have been crucified.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    That is kind of where I am at. I question his bullpen use at times and I expected a slightly different allotment for PT in the outfield this season, but I appreciate his calm demeanor and the appearance that he rarely if ever panics.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I was excited about Maddon as well. Last season went so well I didn't armchair manage how he ran the club. I questioned letting Heyward play as much as he did but it didnt hurt the team results because they were scoring at will during the regular season so his defense was enough to somewhat justify it. Then came the playoffs. Every pitch was scrutinized and frankly I wasn't impressed by his in game moves. In fact I felt we won in spite of him.
    Now 2017 arrives. We have struggles and when our young hitters have a good day, he sits them the next day? He persists upon starting Jay and putting Zobrist in as a defensive replacement over Almora, who needs to play as much as possible. I believe showing confidence in young players is key to their development. The shortstop rotation baffles me as well.
    Sorrry, I just can't stop questioning Joes head scratching moves since the playoffs and World series. I need mental help!

  • Think you are 90 or so days too early to make playoff predictions. As for the Cubs they are beginning to play inspired with a sense of urgency. That said they have another roster spot move up their sleeve before August, rest assured.

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    It looks like Almora doesn't want us to forget about him. I really believe he can be a good offensive player in this league. Also it seems like he's a good teammate--I haven't heard anything about him complaining about not playing or even having his position taken over by Happ.
    Butler showed good stuff but in his first start he was throwing 95 and now it's 91-93. I'm not complaining, he can pitch and he needs more starts, just like a batter needs at-bats to get used to the pace up here.
    The StL wins started something and I think this is the beginning of the run of the summer we've been waiting for.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Almora is like many very very good players in the right situation and facing the right pitchers, and his scouting report as a platoon/4th OF'er for a championship caliber team is spot on. He is much like John Jay earlier in his career, someone who contributed mightily when the Cards were dominant, but a semi starter who was moved around. There are 25 spots on a team, 14 starters (incl SP'ers and closer), meaning 11 others have differing roles. Almora could emerge as a solid starter on a lessor caliber team, as there are a boat load of those teams.

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    Almora is impressing me. The sample is still a little limited (114 PAs) but he has a relatively solid 7% BB% which is at the very top end of what I hoped for from him. He also has 3 HR which, over 500-600 PAs would be 15-20 HR rate. I think as he matures he will get more power and will get his OPS up into the upper-700's maybe scratching at .800s. That is a pretty solid player to have on a team when we consider his usually stellar defense.

    Sometimes the guy he reminds me of is Aaron Rowand at his best, though with a little less power.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Possibly, he could emerge with that kind of resume. Trouble for Almora in this club going forward as a starter with 600 AB's is he hits RH'd. Since Epstein got here he said the team was 'too RH'd' and he has worked steadfastly to put more and more LH'd power type hitter into the Cubs lineup. With Happ (and beforehand, Fowler), Cubs against RH'd pitchers have 5 or 6 LH'd bats depending on Montero. You can see that on paper Caratini, S/W hitting catcher is being groomed for the backstop platoon role. So this limits Almora's opportunities to game situations and platooning against good matchup's like Straily. Maddon specifically mentioned that before the game on the radio, I like to listen to decision-makers in walks of life as to their underlying reasoning to making tactical decisions. Almora started over Happ who had a career day yesterday and because of the LH'ed starter bet Almora is in CF tonight while Zobrist probably slated for LF.

    By no means am I bashing Almora, I hink he plays CF in Chicago for a number of years and possibly earns a starter status. Now what is more intriguing is the competition between Russell and Baez. Maddon also said for the short term he is going to play Russell every other day. Again like Heyward last year, I think Russell is hurt and his shoulder is affecting his timing and swing. Maybe we should expect to see Chesn Young soon for 10 days or the return of La STELLA.

    My other guess is that some kind of trade is in the works before June 30th. Though for now he 5th starter tandem of Butgomery appears to be one solution, for now. Butler would have value to a rebuilding or soon to be rebuilding or current rebuilding club. The question that changes the team dynamics is what happens if(when?) Cubs put Archer in the rotation, without damaging the core.

    Ask yourself, is Happ a piece that Ray's like now or Schwarber (or Almora, probably not), I think they would like Happ as part of a cornerstone along with a prospect of considerable weight and then a handful of good role players still prospects. Happ by a solid scout rates him like a Kinsler, that's pretty high. Match up Happ with Butler + Russell with a few add ons and I think you have a SP'er who is signed to 20121 and probably willing to sign an extension 2018-2022 or 23.

    Again I am not writing off Russell or Happ but I think if Baez eventually beats out Russell for the SS position what then? Winning the WS again this club needs another hammer ace in the rotation and unless some lightening strikes a tree near by Arrieta is not that ace, neither is Hendricks or Lackey. They are all good and fill out a good rotation but Cubs need another ace and one who will replace Arrieta this year and the next.

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    I am bullish on Almora, maybe more than most. My studies of baseball indicate to me that the ability to make contact, and contact of decent force, is a huge offensive weapon. A player has to be VERY good to overcome a high K%. For instance, we all drool over Baez ability to hit HR and his K% has improved. But he is still a net negative on offense (wOBA, wRC, oWAR--though they are approaching leage average) and almost all of his value has been on defense.

    Almora also has good defensive skills at a premium position. And is routinely described as a "baseball rat" similar to Baez. Baez is more freakishly athletic but I am not sure, given my choice, if I would rather keep Almora or Baez.

    I do think that TLS time with the Cubs is over but not because of his actions last August. Quite simply, the Cubs have other guys who are filling his role of "good contact" and "LHB" (though not always the same person) as well as giving greater defensive versatility. I think they'll keep him around as long as he has minor league options but when those are gone I think they try to negotiate a trade OR have him sign a minor league contract which I doubt he will do.

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    This is the 2nd time that Maddon has done a "Butler/Montgomery Complete Game" and I think that is intentional. It assures the bullpen of a night off 1x each time through the rotation. I don't think that is a coincidence or an accident.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I don't think it "assures" the bullpen gets rest every time Butler/Montgomery pitch. I think it has worked out twice. I think it shows how valuable Montgomery is by being able to go several innings when he is on not matter who the starter is.

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    But if Butler can go 4-6 innings and then Montgomery can go 3-5 innings that means that the bullpen will remain in their relatively comfortable roles (pitching 2-4 innings, usually closer to 2). It is easy to overlook the value of NOT having to pitch Strop, Edwards, et al. and not having Davis available. After they were used relatively extensively during the Cardinals series giving them a day off is extremely valuable.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    If everything works linearly. Butler had a good start he is 3-1 on short leashes. Montgomery is now used up for at least one, probably two days. With Wade Davis out till Thursday so on one hand the rest of the relievers are getting some rest but that also includes Flolo

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    Yes, I agree that it means Montgomery is unavailable today and is available only tomorrow in an extreme circumstance. However, having the rest of the bullpen have the day off yesterday is really valuable. Through normal use they can probably cover the next 2 days and then Montgomery is available again.

    Somtimes it won't work out but I think Maddon is looking at it like this: Go with Butler as long as he is effective, then put in Montgomery and leave him in until he loses effectiveness OR the game ends, whichever comes first.

  • I'd like to preface my comment with...I'm up in the air about robo umps. If I had to say, I'm leaning "for" as opposed to against. I always figure the calls will even out in the end. But in the 9th last night, Montgomery got a nice, liberal strike zone, which helped our cause in a big way. The first pitch to Ozuna, really turned the tide for the entire at bat. And there may have been two pitches to Realmuto that were out of the zone. We needed that, as it kept from having to go to Grimm in the pen, and kept a the tying run in the on deck circle . It was really nice to see a few breaks go our way, as it seemed last week, we couldn't buy one. Nice win, and hoping Arrieta throws a gem tonight! Oh, and I wasn't at all disappointed to see Bour (ex cub farm hand) possibly missing the series due to a bum ankle . I never wish a player to be injured, but he sure seems like he hits some monster home runs against us. Go Cubs!

  • Couple thought. It seems like every game, Heyward just misses a home run. I think when it's hot and the wind blows out/is neutral, we're going to see big things from him. Zobrist made several impressive defensive plays at second tonight. He looked good out there. Butler was much better tonight. Maybe the combo with Montgomery will work for the time being. I still think the Cubs will acquire another starter though.

  • In reply to Mom2futurecubs:

    A LOT of 350 foot outs last night yes.....

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    In reply to Mom2futurecubs:

    Overall I am pleased with Butler. He has had a couple of clunkers but, in the same time period, so have all the other starters And Butler has had his share of really good starts in that stretch too.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I am pleased as well, backend pitchers will have their rough starts, and he has had a couple, but he has given us a chance to win more than not. So far so good.

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    In reply to bleedblue:

    We are more forgiving--probably justifiably--when Arrieta or Lester have a bad outing. But Butler has been really good as often or more than he has struggled this year.

  • In reply to Mom2futurecubs:

    Hey, name this player...
    OPS by month:
    April: .601
    May: .896
    June: 1.167

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    How about Baez? What's his split on k-rate?

  • In reply to stix:

    It is Baez. K rate:
    April- 31.8%
    May- 18.7%
    June, only 6 PA, 2 K

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    If Baez can keep his K% in the low 20's he becomes a force to be reckoned with.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Yep. He has a reputation as a wild swinging, high K rate guy, mainly because when he's cold his Ks are so ugly (and well, wild).
    He actually ran a 24% K rate all of 2016, and is back to 24.5% this year. Not stellar, but man... who would have predicted that for him 3 or 4 years ago?
    People like to throw his name into trade talks because he's streaky. I'd be shocked if they dealt him, and I'd hate to see him go. His baseball IQ is elite. And stellar, versatile defense is difficult to quantify and so much more valuable than we realize. If he can be even a league average hitter, he can sniff 4 WAR.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I was really impressed last night when, after bobbling a ball to eliminate the double play but still getting the runner at first, Javy turned to the LF Jumbotron to watch his own replay in an attempt to learn from his "mistake." No error, since DP can't be assumed. How many players auto-correct that instantaneously and visibly? Don't know if shown or mentioned on TV because I was at the game.

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    In reply to charactercounts:

    What I liked was he didn't panic. He didn't try to be a hero and throw the ball away. He knows he has a strong arm and simply unloaded a bullet to 1B that Rizzo caught easily.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Those aren't bad numbers. I'll take that combined with his other skills. What I like to watch is what he strikes out on. Is he wildly swinging on something way low and away, or is it an actual strike/borderline pitch. Lately, I've felt his pitch recognition, for the most part, is improving. He's good for one bad at bat a game, but the rest look good. If he's allow himself to take a walk occasionally, I'll be thrilled.

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    not that they're the same by any stretch, but Jake wasn't real special when he first started for the Cubs either. He had some flashes of good mixed in with meh .....

  • Somebody on Twitter last night referred to the Butler/Montgomery duo as "Butgomery." I like it.

  • In reply to criggilyk:

    LOL! I like it. The younger guys (Butler, Monty, Baez, Happ, Almora, even Schwarber in the last week) are really helping this team get some wins. To coin a Maddenesque phrase, "This is trending in the right direction".

  • The Cubs seem to be playing better baseball. We are finally taking advantage of breaks. Whether it is a ump generous strike zone last night and vs fowler night before or defense miss playing fly balls in the outfield. We are getting some nice breaks. But isn't there still a concern the offense???? Last night 3 runs vs Straily isn't that impressive. Seems like most of our runs come via the Hr run ball. What is the % of runs that you want to come from Hr or other hits/sac flys/fielders choice/etc. It seems we might be to reliant on the long ball and could that be concerning down the road?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Straily has been good lately. Wind blowing in too, otherwise the Cubs could have had 3 more HR.
    I think the only concern is how long it will take guys like Russell and Schwarber to get comfortable again. Other than that, I don't think it matters how they score their runs. The team is near the top of the league in OBP. The reason they've struggled to score lately (specifically on the west coast trip) was an inability to hit with RISP, which is largely fluky.
    Len Kasper was on the radio yesterday and addressed this concern. I thought it was interesting. He said that we get concerned when the Cubs' offense relies heavily on the HR. On the other hand, we recognize that the HR ball is killing otherwise good performances by our SP (namely Arrieta and Lackey). If we're frustrated that our SP are prone to HR, then that means an offense that hits HR is doing something good. The opposition doesn't pitch comfortably against the Cubs because they can leave the yard at any time, and HR are so disproportionately damaging.

    In short, no there isn't some percentage of runs that you want to score via the HR or any other avenue of offense. Sounds simple, but you just need to score more runs than you allow. There isn't one "right" way to do that. HR are one of the best ways though!

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    At the very least HR are a very efficient way to score runs (only takes 1 swing rather than multiple baserunners). I notice it too that we worry about scoring runs on HR and then complain that our pitchers are giving up too many HR.

    I also noticed how bad the Marlins were last night with terrible strikeouts. Sometimes we forget that the other team is trying to strike guys out or get them to hit into the shift. It isn't always just stubbornness and immaturity that have guys hitting into the shift or striking out in bad situations. And it isn't as simple as, "just hit the ball the other way" and "don't strike out in those situations."

    That being said, I would like to see Schwarber lay down a bunt down the 3rd base line when there isn't anyone with 75 feet of it. Even with 2 strikes he might be able to bunt the ball as well as make contact with it. And if he can get teams to loosen up their 2-strike shift on him it will start to open some holes. And he has a good enough understanding of the strike zone to pull the bat back if it is a ball. If we are worried about him bunting foul I think he is capable of laying off pitches out of the zone and he currently has K'd on 66 out of 131 PAs so it isn't like he is great at making contact in those situations. And he doesn't have to do it every time, but enough to make the defense stay honest.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I'd be curious what was Cubs percentages of total runs that came from homers the past few years??

  • Couple thoughts... Butler's starts have been encouraging. 1HR allowed over 5 starts, 24IP. This was a big critique of him coming from CR. Quick leash reminds me of Hendricks a couple years back. Might not see him deeper in games until next season

    One of the WGN announcers said Schwarber is only seeing/getting 40% strikes, which is already Bryce Harper treatment. This shows me that pitchers already fear the guy but also that Kyle is gonna have to embrace the walk and make adjustments.

  • In reply to LAX2ORD:

    He's embraced the walk, he's just not hitting. His 13.8 BB/9 is stellar, the issue there is that he has more walks than hits.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Actually he has as many hits as walks (30) . He only has 14 singles, which by themself would constitute about a .100 batting average. He obviously needs to improve contact and maybe going to the opposite field would help loosen the shifts he's seeing.

  • Is it just me, or is Schwarber's defense okay?

    Here me out. He looks awkward as hell out there, but he appears to me to get good jumps and take good routes, which with Wrigley wind it's actually an accomplishment. His speed as well, isn't as bad as he looks, given his size, I think he covers only a slightly below average amount of ground.

    He looks very unnatural out there, but I wouldn't be surprised if his defense, comes out pretty close to average by the end of the year.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    He has looked a bit better of late, but the numbers all suggest he is below average (at best) in LF this season. I think his hustle and all out effort can lead to a belief that his range not being as limited as it actually is. Schwarber main focus needs to be on consistently making the routine play. He is never going to be a gazelle out there running down balls in the gap. He just can't compound that lack of range by making an abnormal amount of errors as well.

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