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June 2017

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Waiting for a Streak

Written by , Posted in General

Not much to write about in this one. Once again a team scores early on the Cubs and while the offense produced, they can’t string anything together or get the big hit and the Cubs fall to the Marlins 4-2,  splitting the opening four game series of an 11 game road trip. With four against the Nationals coming up, this would have been a nice one to have.

The first inning trouble was exasperated by an error on Addison Russell against the lead-off hitter, Ichiro Suzuki. While Suzuki is still fast, Russell has to make that play every time. A line out from Giancarlo Stanton and then a walk to Justin Bour was followed by a single from Marcell Ozuna that scored Suzuki. A better throw from Ian Happ from center would have had the runner but it was way up the line.

A strikeout of J.T. Realmuto was the second out and made any additional runs unearned. Unfortunately there were two additional runs as Martin Prado hit a gapper into left-center to make it 3-0 after one inning.

Mike Montgomery pitched well after the first inning. He ended up going six innings giving up four hits (two in the first) and two walks with six strikeouts. I’m liking him as a fifth starter next year.

The Cubs ended up leaving 11 men on base as they had eight hits and seven walks but as previously mentioned, they couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities.

Game Notes

  • Russell left the game in the 4th inning with what is being called shoulder discomfort. In an article from the chicagotribune.com, he’s quoted as saying “With this type of discomfort, I don’t think you work through it. You have to pinpoint what’s really aggravating you with the shoulder.” That’s never good.
  • In the same article, it’s reported that Kyle Hendricks threw for the second straight day, pain free. A return immediately after the all-star game would be very welcome.
  • The Marlins Suzuki became the oldest player to start a game in center field according to Elias Sports. Suzuki is 43 years and 246 days old, passing Ricky Henderson by 35 days. I’ve always like Suzuki and appreciate the way that teams are giving him ovations when he pinch hits in road games.

Lineup Construction

I saw an article on fangraphs.com a while back that basically said that the order in which you bat players makes little to no impact on the outcome of the game. I heartily disagree. As a coach, which many of you are as well, do you put your fastest player right behind the slowest? Or the player with the highest on-base percentage in the lower part of the lineup? Of course you don’t.

Well, let’s have a discussion on the construction of the Cub’s lineup, specifically as it impacts the number of double plays they seem to produce. Before getting into specifics, I had to research who the leader’s in GDP were. I assumed the Cubs were the runaway leader but surprisingly, they are only third worst in the National League behind the Braves and the Cardinals according to baseball-reference.com. On an individual basis, Willson Contreras leads the way with nine while Anthony Rizzo, Albert Almora, Jon Jay, and Ian Happ each have seven. Ben Zobrist has six and no one else has more than four.

So what’s this mean? One, when those six are up, if someone is on first, they need to use a hit and run more often, especially with Rizzo, Jay, and Almora as they each keep their strikeout rate relatively low.

So if they Rizzo experiment is going to continue, I like Rizzo (1B) then Kris Bryant (LF) at the top. I would bat Happ (2B) third and Jason Heyward (RF) fourth (once healthy). Fifth would be Russell (SS) followed by Javier Baez (3B) and then Contreras/Miguel Montero (C) batting seventh and Almora/Jay (CF) batting eighth.

So that’s the lineup I would run with the majority of the time, do you agree or do you have a better configuration?

Around the League

  • The Dodgers won their tenth straight game with a 12-6 victory over the Rockies. Colorado had five wild pitches and Dodger rookie outfield Cody Bellinger hit his 23rd and 24th homers.
  • The Twins swept the Indians in a double header to move back into first place. Somehow Twins starter Ervin Santana continues to dazzle in 2017, throwing six shutout innings to get his tenth win of the season.
  • While the Cardinals avoided the sweep, they still lost the home series to the Pirates. The Birds are still six games under .500 and I think Mike Matheny might be on a pretty hot seat at this time. Though as a Cub fan, I hope Matheny sticks around a lot longer.

Down on the Farm

AAA: Iowa (32-43) – Rain in Texas led to a suspended game between Iowa and Round Rock with Round Rock having a 1-0 lead in the second inning. The game will be picked up in Des Moines next week when the teams meet there.

AA: Tennessee (37-36) – Tennessee snapped a six game losing streak as a rehab start by Brett Anderson jump started the team into a 2-1 victory over Mobile. Anderson went four innings giving up one run. The Smokies relievers were fantastic as James Pugliese went three scoreless innings and Justin Hancock and Dillon Maples each threw a scoreless inning.

High A: Myrtle Beach (44-29) – Rained out

Low A: South Bend (40-33) – South Bend dropped a close one to Great Lakes 2-1. The question that Cubs fan have is “how did Dylan Cease do”? Well, he threw four innings of no hit ball. He walked two and struck out five while throwing 52 pitches. The Cubs continue to move him along slowly though a promotion to Myrtle Beach after the all-star break doesn’t seem to be out of the question.

R: Eugene (6-5) – Eugene picked up four hits from designated hitter Joe Martarano, including his first homer of the year, as the Emeralds defeated Salem-Keizer 7-4.

Up Next

The Cubs head to Washington D.C. as they square off against the Nationals for four games. Maybe the team will dress as their favorite former President for the road trip. Eddie Butler will square off against Gio Gonzalez (7-1 2.96 era) in the opener Monday evening.

48 Comments

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