Cubs’ Plate Woes Continue in Shutout; Minor Changes Happening
Unfortunately, the Cubs have been in this position before.
Last year in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cubs went 21 consecutive innings without scoring a run, tossing up goose eggs from Game 2 until breaking out with a four-run fourth inning in Game 4. On Saturday, the Cubs offense reached 18 consecutive scoreless innings against Los Angeles, falling 5-0 in an all-around mediocre performance.
The offensive inconsistency has resulted in some minor changes, though not really related to Saturday’s stinker. The patience for Kyle Schwarber’s struggles vs. left-handers finally reached a climax. ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported that Cubs manager Joe Maddon, when asked if Schwarber is a platoon player right now, said, “If people want to say that, I can’t avoid it.” Until further notice, Schwarber will be sitting against lefties.
After an 0-for-3 (with a walk) performance against McCarthy Saturday, Schwarbs is sitting at a .178 clip for the year with a date on the pine against Clayton Kershaw this afternoon. This is the correct move – he’s looked off at the plate all year, in the lead-off position or wherever he was hitting. I do believe he was a fish out of water starting the year in the lead-off hole and his mental fortitude has struggled since then. He is a cornerstone of this offense and I think we are seeing how his struggles are affecting the entire team.
Everyone is down on offense in the Cubs lineup – Anthony Rizzo at .235; Addison Russell is down to .213 and Ian Happ has cooled off since his blazing start as he’s now hitting .273. Hopefully, Maddon has some more magic in store to get everyone else in this lineup going, but it has become a plague.
The looming question is … if Schwarber’s still mired in a continual slump, when is a demotion to AAA the answer? I think Schwarber will have a long leash, but perhaps a visit to Des Moines is not out of the question this year if the Oh-fers continue.
McCarthy for the Cy?
Brandon McCarthy vs. the Cubs this year: 12 IP, 0 R, 6 H, 10 K. Gonna leave that right here.
There are no words that describe the frustration of seeing the Cubs struggles against him in 2017, especially after beating Johnny Cueto, Matt Moore and Jeff Samardzija in the three games prior to the Dodgers series.
Meanwhile, the Cubs’ starting pitcher Saturday, John Lackey, continued his skid – allowing five earned in five innings. His ERA is 5.18 and he hasn’t made it through the sixth inning in three straight starts – trade talks for another starter can continue. Though, if the bats aren’t swinging consistently, does it really matter if it is Chris Archer or Lackey out there taking the L on the mound?
Boras Running Damage Control
Jake Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, apparently summoned some reporters over to him Saturday to clarify that Jake Arrieta is still elite despite his velocity dip and inflated home runs allowed (10) and ERA (4.92) – noting that Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke all struggled with velocity issues and endured rough starts before maintaining elite starter status.
Take this one of two ways, Cubs fans. For me, I feel sad for Jake – this is a joke of an attempt by Boras to try to add polish to a very disappointing season for one of his clients (and one of my favorite Cubs). Boras is trying to get paid, plain and simple. If you want to take Arrieta’s struggles from another perspective – if they continue – it could crash Arrieta’s expected-to-be-crazy market and maybe bring him back to the Cubs on a shorter-term deal for less money if they are willing to entertain a painful negotiation process with Boras leading the way.
Today is not exactly the way the Cubs want to try to capture a meager game out of a 3-game set against the Dodgers – battling Kershaw while unable to hit much of anything.
Game time: 3:10 p.m. CDT
Television: Comcast Sports Net Chicago
Radio: WSCR Radio 670 The Score
Starters: Jon Lester (3-2, 3.19 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (7-2, 2.01 ERA)
Brief: The last time the Cubs saw Kershaw was Game 6 of the NLCS, when they jumped on him for five runs in five innings pitched. The Cubs tend to get up for tougher competition (because Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy apparently are beneath them), so I think this will be a good 3-2-type game with the Cubs coming out on top and salvaging a W on the road.
AAA – Iowa Cubs 2, Memphis Redbirds 1
SP – Casey Kelly W (2-0), 5 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
RP – Justin Grimm S (3), 1 IP, 2 K
2B – Tommy La Stella 2-3, R
LF – Mark Zagunis 2-3, 2B
AA – Tennessee Smokies 6, Biloxi Shuckers 5
SP = Trevor Clifton ND, 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K
RP – James Pugliese W (4-2), 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K)
RF – Jeffrey Baez 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 1 RBI
3B – Jason Vosler 2-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
A-Adv – Myrtle Beach Pelicans 8, Carolina Mudcats 2
SP – Adbert Alzolay W (5-1), 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
2B – Bryant Flete 2-4, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI
C – P.J. Higgins 1-2, R, 2 RBI
1B – Tyler Alamo 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI
RF – Eloy Jimenez 0-2, R, 2 BB
A – South Bend Cubs 9, Fort Wayne TinCaps 2
SP – Tyler Peyton ND, 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
RP – Dakota Mekkes W (3-0), 2 IP, 4 K
C – Jhonny Pereda 2-3, 2 RBI
3B – Zack Short 2-3, 2 R, 2B, RBI
2B – Yeiler Peguero 1-3, 2 R
DH – Albert Mineo 2-3, 2 R, RBI
RF – Luis Ayala 2-3, R, RBI