Walks, Walks, and More Walks: When Do the Cubs Pull the Trigger?
Milwaukee Brewers 6 @ Chicago Cubs 3
Still waiting on that streak. Yes, it was nice to get the three game streak over the past few days. With the division leading Milwaukee Brewers coming into town, the Cubs really needed to get past the season long streak of four games. With a 10 game home stand in progress this is where the Cubs can have an opportunity to get that streak going to possibly show the division and the league that the Cubs are back.
On Friday, the Cubs really hurt themselves on the mound. The Cubs issued 10 walks between 5 pitchers (with the most unlikely pitcher not issuing a walk, Pedro Strop). Eddie Butler got the nod for the Cubs and threw 3 innings while giving up 3 hits, 2 runs, striking out 3, and issuing 5 walks. Like Brett Anderson earlier this season, Butler did not look like the same pitcher who threw a week earlier for the Cubs. Butler tossed 92 pitches during his three inning with the majority of those pitches coming in the first inning (40). It is aggravating to see pitchers get on the mound and issue walk after walk. To put your team behind the 8 ball by walking the first two batters of the game is unacceptable. Those two walks (with another issued two batters later) led to the 2 first inning runs the Brewers scored. Jett Bandy singled up the middle to score Eric Sogard and Eric Thames.
With the Cubs down a run in the 4th innings, it looked as if the Cubs could blow the game open. Anthony Rizzo, Ian Happ, and Ben Zobrist all singles to start the 4th before Willson Contreras drove a ball to center field to score two. Then in a move that you don’t normally see Joe Maddon do in a game, Javier Baez (coming off a grand slam on Thursday) tried to lay down a bunt which ended up being a weak pop up that catcher Bandy caught. Mike Montgomery, who entered the game in the top half of the inning, tried his hand at moving the runners over and was unsuccessful by bunting the ball foul. Jon Jay, who doubled in the third to put the Cubs on the board, then ended the rally by grounding out to second base. Walks and failing to put their foot on the throats of the opponents are why the Cubs can’t put the string of wins together. They are the reason why the Cubs are “only” 21-20 on the season. If this continues, these will be the reasons why the Cubs can’t make the 7, 8, 9, 10 games winning streaks that they have in the past. (After this half inning, the Cubs would not pose a threat again in the game. The Brewers would go on to score 2 runs in the 5th and 2 runs in the 6th to put the game away).
When is the right time to pull the trigger?
So, to me, it is obvious what the Cubs need to go after in a trade. Definitely one or two starting pitchers. Jon Lester has looked decent in his last two outings that would give you hope that he can ride the wave o’ unsteadiness that has been plaguing him all year. Jake Arrieta…who knows what you are going to get with that guy every 5th day. John Lackey could look spectacular one game and then piss down his leg the next. Kyle Hendricks is starting to gain his 86 mph fastball stuff as was displayed last year. Brett Anderson, Eddie Butler, Mike Montgomery, so on and so on and so on. I understand that we had a darn near perfect year last season when it came to our starting pitching. Jason Hamel, who was not my favorite by any means, gave us great starts before the All-Star break. Problem is…we aren’t getting those quality starts from any of our 5th starters that we throw out there. My prediction is that the Cubs Brass will wait to see what occurs during this home stand. Already 3 games behind the Brewers, if the Cubs can’t put a run together with the remainder of this series and the beat up San Francisco Giants coming to town, they may be forced to make a trade early to get new blood in the locker room and provide a spark that seems to be lacking on the mound every 4th/5th day.
You pull the trigger…who you gonna trade?
There have been a post or two on this website and a few articles written by guys who get paid to do share their thoughts about who would be in a trade to bring back quality pitching. Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, Javier Baez, Jeimer Candelario are the names that have come up in trade discussions from the ML team. Do the Cubs explore throwing Eloy Jimenez out there as well to sweeten the pot for a young pitcher or two? Personally, I love everything that each of these players bring to the table. Sure Schwarber is not close to the player we thought he would be at the beginning of the year (he is not a leadoff batter by the way). Ian Happ has provided somewhat of a spark to the lineup that brings excitement to the team. Baez is going to be Baez….you are going to love him to death one game and then hate his guts the next. But you know what you will get with him. With that being said, I would throw Schwarber and Baez in a trade before I would Happ and Jimenez. Yes, I know that experience come playoff time is said to be crucial. But think of this….neither one of those guys had playoff experience before they came back to be Superman and NL Series MVP.
The Cubs and Brewers square off again on Saturday starting at 1:20 CT. Jake Arrieta (4-3, 5.44 ERA) faces Chase Anderson (2-0, 3-43 ERA).
AAA: Iowa Cubs 2 Tacoma Rainiers 1
SP: Jake Buchanan (W, 2-2, 4.75 ERA): 7 IP, 4 hits, 0 Runs, 4 K’s, 2 BB
1B: Jeimer Candelario: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 Run
AA: Birmingham Barons 3 Tennessee Smokies 1
SP: Trevor Clifton (L, 3-2, 2.42 ERA): 6.2 IP, 3 Hits, 2 Runs, 2 K’s, 2 BB’s
1B: Yasiel Balaguert: 1-4, 1 RBI
Advanced A: Salem Red Sox 7 Myrtle Beach Pelicans 6
SP: Oscar De La Cruz (ND, 3-2, 3.24 ERA): 5.1 IP, 4 Hits, 3 Runs, 5 K’s, 1 BB
LF: Daniel Spingola: 2-5, 1 2B, 1 Run
A: Lansing Lugnuts 5 South Bend Cubs 4
SP: Jose Paulino (ND, 2-0, 4.28 ERA): 4IP, 4 Hits, 2 R’s, 2 BB’s, 6 K
2B: Yeiler Peguero: 2-5, 1 RBI