When Will the Pitching Problems Be Resolved?
Man, this series was sort of depressing, huh? That is, until tonight! Tonight we had a game, which as of this writing and me going to bed is not yet over.
When Kris Bryant came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, I was putting the finishing touches on this post and said, “They should pitch to Anthony Rizzo instead of Bryant, but he stands on the plate. They might hit him, and if they do, it’s tied.
Well, it happened, and here I am past my bedtime making additional edits to this post. I’m gunna be honest, I stopped watching in the 11th. I have a life to live, people. I couldn’t stay up anymore. The following post stands no matter how the game ended.
After this weekend, I am genuinely concerned about the starting pitching situation—and really the pitching situation in general. Thankfully, Jon Lester gave the Cubs a really solid outing last night, despite the first inning issues detailed below, but the starting pitching situation is still pretty grim. Not to mention that, on Friday night, Hector Rondon further confirmed my theory that he is, indeed, the second coming of Carlos Marmol.
First Inning Woes Continue
The Cubs have given up 41 runs in the first inning this year. According to Jesse Rogers, the record for most runs given up in the first inning in a single season is the 2000 Texas Rangers, who gave up 154 runs in the first inning that season.
This has to stop.
I, admittedly, have never played professional baseball and cannot speak from experience, but the struggles our starting pitchers are having certainly cannot be helped by the fact that they’re digging themselves into a hole in the first inning. The psychological effect of that alone has to be pretty toxic.
This might be more of a problem for me as a fan, though, than the players themselves. They’re going to play hard and try to score no matter what. But, as fan, it is kinda depressing to start in the hole so often this year.
Lester Looked Solid, Relatively Speaking
I mean seriously, he lasted more than an inning. HALLELUJAH!
After struggling in the first inning, or if not “struggling,” at least, giving up a run, Lester looked pretty strong. He pitched more pitches this outing than he has all year—he was pulled after the seventh inning and 120 pitches. Any time Lester or John Lackey gives up a run early in the game, you sorta have to be worried about it going to their heads. Thankfully, giving up that pesky first inning run didn’t seem to bother Lester too much.
I was also pleased to see that the Yankees didn’t try to break Lester by running on him like crazy. This Yankees team isn’t really known for its speed, so it wasn’t surprising that they didn’t try to run a whole lot, but when you have someone like Lester on the mound who would rather perform a root canal on himself than throw to a base, you never know what the other team may try on the base paths. It hasn’t happened yet, so maybe it will never happen, but I am always afraid some team is going to learn how to break Lester’s psyche and he won’t ever recover (similar to what happened when the Cubs walked Bryce Harper last year and he wasn’t right the rest of the season).
The Bullpen Is Almost As Bad as the Rotation
Like I said above, Friday night gave us even more evidence that Rondon is the reincarnation of Marmol, and last night, Justin Grimm gave up a two-run home run in the eighth in relief of Lester. The difference between a 2-1 game in the eighth and a 4-1 game in the eighth feels like a lot more than just two runs. You know what I mean?
If the Cubs don’t make some significant improvements on the mound between May and September, there is zero chance this club is going to make the World Series again, let alone win it.
Obviously, as bad as the pitching has been, it’s pretty remarkable that the Cubs are still above .500. So, I still don’t think it’s time to panic.
But, the pitching situation will prevent a deep playoff run if it isn’t fixed, without a doubt.
This week, the Cubs are on the road again for two series. Tomorrow, the club will be in Denver, Colorado, to play the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, aka “Home Run Heaven.” The Rockies are leading the NL West with a record of 20-12. After visiting the Rockies in Denver, the Cubs will head to St. Louis to play the Cardinals, who are 16-14 and as repulsive as ever.
The starting pitchers have to hate that they’re heading to Coors Field after the week they’ve had, but that’s just how it goes. Have to wonder how long it will be until Eddie Butler is called up.