It’s always important to breathe at a moment like this. Sweeps at the hand of those from Mos Eisley tend to accentuate the emotions and anger and whatever your particular grievance is with the team at that time. So it is tempting to say that the offense completely sucks, even though it doesn’t. Or that the rotation isn’t good enough, even though they didn’t do anything wrong this weekend. Or that the pen is an absolute abomination…and that would be correct.
The Cubs lost three coin-flips essentially, one caused by a three-hour rain delay which I’m more and more convinced shouldn’t be a thing that exist unless they have to. Both teams looked pretty damn flat this afternoon after a very late night last night, and the Cubs just made one ore two more mistakes and lost the last one.
It’s still important to note that this team is fourth in runs in the NL, second in wOBA. It might not feel like it right now, especially when they just got bladdered by a corpse, but they were also unlucky. Three of those line drives find holes on another day, and then what are we talking about?
It’s definitely a rough patch, 2-8 in their last 10, but that happens. The encouraging thing, if you need, is that the rotation bounced back which is probably the most important thing going forward. Let’s run it through:
The Two Obs
-It seems a bit silly to complain about the bullpen and its handling on a night when the Cubs scored one run, but that’s Friday for you. Miles Mikolas still has that in the bag on occasion, even if this year has been a struggle for him. But I don’t know why anyone would be in a hurry to get to Dillon Maples when there’s already a guy on base, and I’m a Maples guy and want him to be given every chance and more to finally nail down a spot (he probably won’t ever but I’m a hopeful sort). Mike Montgomery isn’t a situational lefty, and yet because he’s the only one out there besides Ryan (who blows but more on that in a sec) he keeps being used as one. I would trust Monty to get through Wong and Bader, though to be fair to Maples he did strike out Bader and didn’t get a call. But now the bases are loaded and you have to do something dumb and Cishek doesn’t really get strikeouts that much and here we are.
-Going over the woes of the pen is probably useless at this point. Everyone knows and there’s little that can be done via trade for another couple weeks at least. Even a Kimbrel Hail Mary doesn’t do anything until July. But it’s just laughable how the Cubs boasted about the amount of arms they would have between here and Iowa and almost none of them are major league pitchers. Ryan isn’t. Brach probably isn’t anymore. Edwards might not be on his bad days. Maples hasn’t proven it. Neither is Webster, Cedeno, or Collins.
-Saturday’s game goes haywire because of the weather delay. It was about how far Chatwood could go, which wasn’t far, but he’s actually been effective this year and is probably allowed a wonky one. There’s just nothing to be done after him, and Strop’s return isn’t a cure-all.
-Rough weekend for my guy Schwarber. He can’t strike out with the bases loaded on Saturday and it looks like the things are snowballing on him again. He remains simply awful with anyone on base, which actually backs up the logic of leading him off, but you wonder how much longer the Cubs can wait on him. It’s been two and a half seasons for him, and the over-glow of a few singles in the World Series can’t count for anything. I still think he has a big boom within him, but I would also say he’s got a month or six weeks to show it, otherwise the Cubs might want to monitor how the Reds handle their Dietrich-Gennett jam at second (probably by just sitting Winker or Puig and playing both and not sending either here, honestly).
-How does a team in the majors not know how to run a rundown or pickoff? The Cubs always make at least too many throws or outright fuck it up more than any team in the league. Only cost them the game today.
-For all the gifts his arm provide, Contreras has had a bad defensive year. He’s been a subpar framer for a few years now, has been lazy blocking balls far too often, and today’s error was another the Cubs can’t have. That doesn’t mean he should be benched or anything, it’s just something we’re going to live with. Teams are rarely going to run on him or even stray off bases that much, so the arm which made up for his defensive deficiencies elsewhere doesn’t even come out of the holster that often.