It doesn’t get much uglier than last night, does it? You know if the Cubs had a competent bullpen, they’d be 4-0 on this road trip and they might have won the series finale against the Padres last Sunday at Wrigley Field, too.
As it is, the Cubs are now 8-5 since the All-Star break, which isn’t bad per se, but those losses have exposed all of the team’s weaknesses: poor relief pitching and bullpen management, lack of depth, and inability to get key hits. There are a few that are less obvious, but I see no reason to pummel a lifeless entity any further.
Have to stop using Strop in the 8th. You are giving away games.
— Brad Robinson (@bradrobinson8) July 27, 2019
The Cubs lost 3-2 last night in a game that was poorly managed and played without the urgency that a division showdown heading into the final 60 games of the season demands. There is no blaming the schedule — the Cubs were off Monday and Thursday and are off again this Monday — and there is no use blaming the bats.
Sure, the Cubs should have scored more runs and struck out way, way less against Gio González, but two runs was enough to win last night’s game Unless, of course, your bullpen implodes, which has sort of been an ongoing problem for about the last 18 months or so.
My blood boils whenever I see Josh Hader enter a game. In those instances, I simultaneously know it is game over for the Cubs and I rue the fact that this front office can’t find or develop pitching like other teams do. I have never seen similar systemic failure within a baseball organization in my life, unless you count 108 years between winning championships. The only time anyone in the front office recognizes good pitching is when it’s being thrown at them.
Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. Do I feel better now? No, I do not.
For the love of everything holy, what was the point of pulling Kyle Hendricks last night after only 90 pitches? Find me that answer and I may feel a little better. The starter allowed just two singles over five scoreless innings, but was lifted for pinch-hitter Kyle Schwarber in the 5th inning.
“I had a little bit left but that’s a tough part in the ball game right there and that’s just a National League game,” Hendricks said after the game. “Just thought it was best to do that and give (Schwarber) a chance to extend the lead.”
Wrong, sir. A taxed bullpen that has trouble collectively commanding its pitches requires that your starter get you six or seven innings so you don’t have to deploy your closer before the 9th inning. The Cubs need to pull it together. I really didn’t want to say it that nicely either.
Cubs News & Notes
- Dear Evan, please never use this picture again.
- In case the rest of you missed it, the Cubs made a trade for LHP Derek Holland, and if that doesn’t speak volumes about their financial issues this year nothing does. I get it, he gets lefties out. I’m sure Joe Maddon will deploy him as such.
- Also, if the Cubs somehow acquire Hunter Pence, it may not make them a better team but the impending train wreck will certainly be must-see. Who knows, maybe the Cubs need a little humorous diversion to remove the edge.
- If you prefer the Cubs represent themselves far more professionally, you’ll be happy to know that Ben Zobrist is officially set to return to the team and could see some minor league action on a rehab assignment as soon as next week.
- Indulge me for a moment, if you don’t mind. Given the lack of acquisitions this year, other than Craig Kimbrel, doesn’t it seem like the promotion of Happ, the acquisition of Holland, the imminent activation of Cole Hamels, and the return of Zobrist may be the only changes to the roster ahead of Wednesday’s deadline? They answer all of the team’s current needs, right? The barbarians are standing at the gate as I type this.
- Before I send you into a state of panic, here’s a four-part trade deadline strategy that makes at least some sense.
- Hendricks has a 1.89 ERA at Wrigley Field this season but entered last night’s game with a 5.44 road ERA, which is the fifth-worst home/away differential (-3.55) in the NL.
- The Cubs have high hopes for Happ. Sounds like a campaign slogan.
- The Brewers’ fortunes in one-run games have been pretty abysmal this season. Until last night, that is.
- Willson Contreras was 0-for-4 batting leadoff last night and Kris Bryant batted second, each time without any runners in scoring position. Why? Because Maddon plays bizarre hunches at times. The Cubs failed to get a single runner into scoring position for the entire game. Hooray for hunches.
- Former Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio is being sued by a Tigers clubhouse attendant. Derrell Coleman II, who claims that he experienced discriminatory remarks and actions from Bosio that lead to the coach’s dismissal on June 29, 2018. The suit claims “a culture of racism was tolerated by the upper echelons of management as African-American employees were treated differently than their similarly situated white counterparts.”
- Jed Hoyer has a new home and it’s pretty snazzy, if I do say so.
- If you need a little aural stimulation to help you recover from last night’s disaster, you can’t go wrong with CI-related podcasts Into the Basket, Cubs Related, Wrigleyville Nation, Ivy Envy, and The Son Ranto Show.
It looks like there are 14 teams that should be considered buyers this week and here’s what each team needs.
In fact, 19 of 30 teams are still in contention for a playoff spot, which should tighten the market even more.
A number of MLB executives have noted the exorbitant asking prices for controllable players for lack of movement so far — one called them “sky high” — as teams with those assets are demanding more than potential buyers are apparently willing to pay.
How About That!
A Red Sox outfielder was a savage in the box against the Yankees last night.
The Twins are the fastest team to reach 200 home runs in a season after blasting two taters last night.
Rays opener Ryne Stanek could officially “start” 40 games this season, something that hasn’t been done since Steve Rogers did it for the Montreal Expos back in 1977. Stanek also has pitched in relief 14 times, a pace that would give him 21 before the season ends. Ed Walsh of the 1912 White Sox was the last pitcher with 40+ starts and 20+ relief appearances in the same season.
Friday’s Three Stars
- Mookie Betts – Last year’s AL MVP had his strongest game of the season, with three home runs and five RBI on a 4-for-5 night to lead the Red Sox to their second straight victory over the Yankees.
- Daniel Murphy – The former Cubs second baseman had six RBI last night for the Rockies, including a three-run jack in the 1st inning as Colorado dismantled the Reds, 12-2.
- Nelson Cruz – The “Boomstick” went yard again last night, giving him seven big flies in his last five games. Cruz finished the night 3-for-4 with two RBI as the Twins outlasted the White Sox.
Well this is certainly a surprise. Maybe they should name the asteroid after the Cubs bullpen. After all, nothing has destroyed a city as much as that collection has in the last few months.
‘It snuck up on us’: Scientists stunned by ‘city-killer’ asteroid that just missed Earth https://t.co/ToidVMDdhP
— Stacey (@StaceGots) July 26, 2019
They Said It
- “When you have the lead late, those (losses) are demoralizing, especially for a bullpen. We are doing our best to keep it tight.” – Brandon Kintzler
- “[Holland] is throwing the ball really, really well against lefties. It’s been a long track record of success against lefties. … We have a chance to target his role where he’s matching up against lefties. Put him in a position to succeed.” – Theo Epstein
Saturday Walk Up Song
Round and Round by Ratt. At one point last night, I thought Cubs relievers would hit every batter that stepped up to the plate in the 8th inning. Frankly I’ve had enough.