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Monday

8

May 2017

70

COMMENTS

Afternoon Notes: 1st Inning, Rotation, Catchers who Pitch

Written by , Posted in General

After 3 feel-good-ish wins against the Phillies, the Cubs started a weekend series against the Yankees…and through Saturday, the collective spending on acid reducers among Cub fans has increased about 125%.  It’s been a(nother) tough weekend, and moving forward, there’s some questions that need to be answered.  Overall, yeah, the team is still doing well, but the gaps in the armor are getting pretty wide, and that panic button is starting to look pretty good.

Can We Just Start With The Second Inning?

Anyone who has paid attention to the Cubs this year has probably noticed the same thing: it’s like they are ALWAYS playing from behind.  Including the one run given up by Jon Lester on Sunday, Cubs pitchers have collectively given up 41 first inning runs–in 31 games.  This puts more pressure on the offense than they really need, and is likely contributing to shorter-than-desirable outings by the starting rotation: through the first 30 games, only 15 times has the starting pitcher gone at least 6, and only two of those games did the starter get through 7 innings.  In total, relievers have totaled 109.1 innings on the year, and the excessive usage wound up resulting in some roster unpleasantness prior to Saturday’s game: Matt Szczur being DFA’d to make room for Rob Zastryzny, leaving the Cubs carrying nine pitchers in the bullpen, in addition to the 5 starters.  This ended up being a prescient move, however, given that Brett Anderson gave 1/3 of an inning before walking off with the trainer as the result of a swollen ERA lower-back injury, and into Sunday the team continued to carry a 9 man bullpen, just with a reduced rotation with Anderson now on the DL.

Catchers Who Pitch

Despite the loaded bullpen on Saturday, we still ended up with one of our favorite things: a catcher on the mound.  The noise from the crowd as Miguel Montero finished up his fairly clean inning of work seemed somehow inappropriate for a game that had been pretty much out of reach all night, but…you take what you can get, I suppose.  Montero is part of a relatively recent run of Cubs catchers who have taken the mound and acquitted themselves quite nicely; he, David Ross, and John Baker have all gone out to the mound to be the other part of the battery.  In total, those three have provided 5.1 innings, and only one run has been surrendered by them in that time (Montero, in a lopsided loss against the Mets in 2016).  That run, notably, came in the longest relief appearance by a Cubs catcher in that timeframe, of 1 1/13 innings, so that run can probably be excused.

What About That Rotation

As mentioned, the Cubs right now only have four starters on the 25 man roster, and in the short term could end up just using the four they have given the upcoming off day Thursday.  However, longer-term, they will have to look at replacing Anderson; it isn’t as though Saturday’s poor outing was unusual, Anderson just hasn’t been that effective in the rotation.  Combined with the overall difficulty the rotation is having right now, the front office need to look at a different option.  Who could they go with?  Well, if they decide to bring someone up, Eddie Butler will probably be the ideal candidate; he’s been having a pretty solid season down at Iowa, and his last start was also Saturday, so he could start with the big league team pretty much as scheduled.  You could also give Montgomery a go without making a roster move, as he’s been getting plenty of work recently.  Rob Zastrysny could have been an option–he did quite well in his four innings Saturday–but with him being sent back down to Iowa before Sunday’s game, he can’t come back for a bit unless another injury occurs that lands someone on the DL.  Going outside the organization would be hard to do, but before long, I would expect that the trade market for pitchers is going to get moving given the injuries and other issues that are affecting other teams with longer-term affects (Madison Bumgarner in San Francisco, Noah Syndergaard in New York, to name some of the higher profile ones).

  • Dork

    They added the reliever for now and will bring up Eddie Butler when they need the starter

    • Bryzzo1744

      How many pitchers are on the roster now? 13 or 14? Because a pitcher replaced Heyward

      • Dork

        I do think we are at 14. and in a double header you get an extra roster spot so probably 15 by the start of game 1 today. The only bench players are La Stella, Jay/Almora, and Montero right?

      • Michael S.

        That sounds about right. Means we might get treated so some more starting pitcher pinch hitting today. Awww yeah.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I want a LF game again

      • Bryzzo1744

        I thought the 26th man is only if the double-header is schedule more than 2 days in advance and doesn’t apply for split twin-bills.

      • Michael S.

        The 26th man will be available, but only for the 2nd game of the DH in this instance…

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/26th_Man_Rule

      • Bryzzo1744

        Didn’t know that. Thanks.

      • Michael S.

        No worries. Seems kind of awkward to have it that way, but…they haven’t made me Commissioner of All North American Sports yet. Hoping to hear back from the committee soon though.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I agree with you. That is kind of weird to have him only available for the 2nd game, but if it’s scheduled 2 days prior you can use them for both games. And if it’s a straight double-header, you don’t get the 26th player at all.

    • You hear that jswan? And I bet you’d done forgot about that Eddie Butler.

      • Oh shit nevermind. It was Corey Black that you forgot about.

      • I forgot about Von Butler as well.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    Is Doug going to both games today?

    • Doug S.

      Yes. Afternoon rain is likely, could be a long day.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Have Fun!

      • Better stick with the Coors Light.

      • Doug S.

        I’ll guarantee it’s stronger than that, down 10-3

  • Dork

    From what I am reading the Cubs basically got nothing for Szczur. It will be a credit to the cubs development operation if the guy ever see’s a cup of coffee in the MLB for the cubs. The one encouraging point is that he was originally drafted by Hoyer and Mcleod when they ran the padres.

    • Michael S.

      I suppose it is better than getting actually nothing, which was a possibility…

    • Adam Peters

      Hopefully Szczur gets playing time now. He deserves it.

      • Buddy

        Maybe against some LH pitching, but he’s really a pretty crappy hitter overall. Not trying to bash Mr. Szczur of course, but he’s just a 4th/5th outfielder. The league is littered with guys like him.

      • Dale’s Fat Tire

        If you haven’t seen the ESPN 30 for 30 on Szczur you should check it out. While I’m no longer a huge fan of ESPN, the 30 for 30’s are quality programming. While I don’t disagree with your assessment that he’s just a 4th outfielder, I would argue that there are very few in the league with his depth of character and mentality. I am sad to see the Cubs give up on him. He was a solid piece.

      • Adam Peters

        Yeah, I’m bummed too. And while I recognize that winning programs don’t make roster decisions based on sentimentality, I think Sczuzr has intangible qualities a pinhead like Tommy LaStella simply does not have.

      • Physically showing up to an assignment seems fairly tangible.

      • Adam Peters

        I agree.

      • Buddy

        I’ve obviously never met him, but he seems like a good guy, at least on TV. I wasn’t trying to tear him down. I just meant he’s a very replaceable part of the Cubs bench, or any team’s bench for that matter.

      • Adam Peters

        He donated bone marrow in the middle of the baseball season during his senior year at Villanova and saved a little girls life.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpXB7g92Wzo

      • Buddy

        Yes indeed! Again, I’m not knocking him as a human. Just as a baseball player. And I’m not even really knocking his as a baseball player. Just saying that he is a spare roster part that can be easily replaced. I’m sure he also loves America, treats animals well, volunteers at the local Lions Club, dances like Fred Astaire, etc.

      • Dork

        So if I am getting your point you think he is a good guy just not a Impact talent baseball player. I got a little confused there.

      • Eddie Von White

        The way I see it, Buddy is an all around very nice guy who sees life as it is even though it pains him to talk about it.

      • Dork

        He is also not afraid to try to make a point even if it might be somewhat unpopular.

  • Doc Raker

    You know what could solve all these roster problems? Playing good smart baseball.

    • Buddy

      Solid starting pitching will cure many of these issues. A Cub starter has seen the 7th inning only twice this year!

      • Dork

        They did at least make it out of the first today, i am a bit miffed at Javy today though.

      • Speaking of miffed, remember when Javy and Soler used to rock muffs?

  • Adam Peters

    Remember day-night doubleheaders, or Twilight doubleheaders, where you paid once and got to stay for both games? My how times have changed. Now you pay twice and I would venture both tickets are 5 times more expensive, even adjusted for inflation.

    • cap’n beefarino

      Players salaries haven’t adjusted for inflation over the last 20 years, so it wouldn’t make a ton of sense if ticket prices did. Since 1968, player salaries are up 20,700%. Inflation is up only 595%. Now go to the ballpark and enjoy that $14 beer.

      • Adam Peters

        1968 was 49 years ago. I know, that’s the year I was born. But I get your point.

        Not to mention your $60 (pre-fees) bleacher ticket. When I was a kid they were $3.

      • Bryzzo1744

        And you could cut school without consequence.

      • Eddie Von White

        No, not really.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Not as severe as today

      • Cap’n Festivus

        Much of that depended on who your parents and school administrators were. I wouldn’t have cut school ever, as the penalty would have been a great deal of physical pain.

      • Ditto.

      • Dork

        They also had dollar days as a promotion – I think those are the days I got to go to the ballpark.

      • Adam Peters

        They should bring that back. But now it would be C-Note Sundays.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I remember in 2001 when my dad took me to a Cubs game as a birthday gift, me him my mom and my brother went in the bleachers, 4 tickets were $80 ($110 in today’s money) with fees. Today, you’re lucky if one ticket is that much.

      • Cap’n feats of strength

        Lemme guess…you were born on a Thursday.

      • Adam Peters

        Does anyone know what percentage of the Cubs revenue comes from ticket sales and how much comes from TV, merchandise, licensing, etc?

      • Buddy

        Not sure if it’s accurate, but I saw a story last year that said the Cubs earned about $140 million in tickets sales in 2016.

    • Michael S.

      And you had to walk uphill, in the snow, both ways to and from the ballpark?

      • Adam Peters

        #lame

      • #len

      • Eddie Von White

        #yes

  • Bryzzo1744

    Arrieta escaped the first inning without allowing a run, but the Rockies have scored 3 in the 3rd and have a rally going still. Great. Just great!

    • Buddy

      It’s a good thing there are nine relievers on the roster.

      • Bryzzo1744

        How the hell do 3 runs score on a single? 6-1 Rockies

      • Bryzzo1744

        The Cubs are playing like the Cubs of old and it’s pissing me off. My blood pressure isn’t rising as much since we won the World Series last year, but as I said to White Sox fans in 2006 who wanted to keep rubbing it in, they won it LAST YEAR. It’s not 2016 anymore. It’s 2017. I don’t care about 2016 anymore.

      • Bryzzo1744

        At this rate we’re going to need 10 relievers

      • Adam Peters

        Oh where have you gone Travis Wood, our (Cub) Nation turns it’s lonely eyes to you…

    • Kyle

      Well, this is going well… What happened to our pitching?!

  • Adam Peters

    Another train-wreck. Christ almighty! NINE runs in 3 2/3 Jake? You are aware that this is your contract year, right?

  • Bryzzo1744

    Maddon has all 3 catchers in the game again, and only Russell is left on the bench. Nobody better get hurt this game

    • Hendricks can catch. That would be quirky as hell.

      • Dork

        That would be a new level of quirky! But he does have 4 days that he does nothing, so it totally makes sense.

  • Eddie Von White

    Note to Doug: In the future, stay away from Denver.

    • Doug S.

      Eddie Von PinthisonDoug.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Doug should be given free tickets to every game Lackey starts.

  • Dork

    Just when you thought you hit the bottom, there is a new low.

  • I could be wrong, but I’m betting Doug is having more fun than he did this afternoon! At least for the moment!