View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003

Sunday

24

September 2017

18

COMMENTS

Davis, Cubs Blow Opportunity to Increase Central Lead

Written by , Posted in General

Well, give it to Wade Davis. When he blows up, he really blows up – he leaves little room for question.

The first blown save in 32 chances for Chicago’s All-Star closer allowed the second-place Brewers to steal a 4-3 victory from the Cubs at Miller Park. (Technically, it’s two blown saves, right?)

Alas, the Cardinals, too, lost on Saturday night – an 11-6 setback to the Pirates – to minimize the damage and drop the Cubs magic number to 4. The Cubs’ lead in the NL Central is 4.5 games over Milwaukee and 5 over the Redbirds.

Now … let the second-guessing Joe Maddon’s use of closers begin … again. Guess it’s that time of year!
Let me first say this – this is no time for panic. If Cubs fans learned anything from last year, it’s that this team can rebound from what would seem to be a crushing defeat. That said, this isn’t exactly how you want to go into a rubber match on the road against your rivals.

Let’s take a look at the decision that really spurned the loss, leaving your closer in the game right after he blew his first save in 32 chances this year. I’ll say this – Maddon has made greater head-scratching calls in his tenure as manager, and he likely was trying to show Davis that he gives zero bleeps about streaks or what they mean. This is why Maddon is so beloved in the clubhouse – it’s why he wouldn’t move or bench a struggling Anthony Rizzo in the lineup when the Cubs offense went missing in last year’s NLCS. He’s loyal through it all, and everyone has to live with it. We learned last year that it pays off in the end.

However, the decision does beg the question that perhaps bringing a razzled Davis back out in the 10th was fool-hearty when your very streaky team is in its most crucial stretch of the season. We know that unlike Game 7 of the World Series, both Carl Edwards and Mike Montgomery were unavailable because they combined to throw 3 innings of scoreless relief on Friday and Justin Wilson (more on him later) tossed 1.1 innings earlier in the game.

Who else was Maddon supposed to turn to that was better than his All-Star closer? It’s not like he rang up 40 pitches in 1.1 innings like Chapman became accustomed to doing during his stint as closer last year?
But I’m sitting here looking at the options – Koji Uehara, a back-to-back day for both Hector Rondon and Brian Duensing … anyone else? Sorry Justin Grimm and Carlos Pena, but no thank you. I’ll go with the guy whose confidence is mush at the moment.

Maddon went with who got him there, and that should have been Davis. And my guess is, with only those 23 pitches on Saturday, if the Cubs have a save situation today, Maddon will go back to the well and bring in Wade Davis. This is how he motivates this time of year …  just as long as we have a save situation today.

My overarching worry that’s entirely illogical because of last year but entirely natural because of lifelong Cubs fandom is the confidence this win gives the Brewers (and the step back in confidence it takes from the Cubs). That said, I still bet on the world champs with Jose Quintana on the mound today. We need to get rid of those pits in our stomachs.

The magic number is still only four with eight to play. The numbers still add up. And Antonio Alfonseca or Carlos Marmol are STILL not the closers on this team. It’s gonna be OK.

Silver Linings for Today

• It’s official, Travis Shaw is becoming a Cubs killer. His 2-run bomb to win the game cements Jeff Blauser/Rob Mackowiak status on Cub-Killing.

• Hey, the guy’s been dumped on for his inability to find the strike zone since his acquisition from the Detroit Tigers, but on Saturday, lefty reliever Justin Wilson pitched like a boss. He opened the seventh with two Ks and looked pretty good doing it – given his pedigree, I’m OK with Wilson being our seventh or eighth-inning guy in the playoffs.

• The Brewers starting pitching has been damn good – though, outside of Zach Davies and today’s starter Chase Anderson, I have no clue who the hell some of these guys are. I thought Brent Suter played for the Blackhawks. I certainly think Suter and Friday’s starter, Brandon Woodruff, are not the caliber of playoff aces like Max Scherzer or Clayton Kershaw. So the fact that our offense is so lifeless against them is a little concerning, but I give the Cubs credit for scoring when it matters most in three straight extra-inning games.

• Quintana is 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA in three starts against Milwaukee, so the right guy has the ball to right the ship after a sour taste on Saturday.

• Get ready for Josh Hader today. With Chase Anderson sporting a 5.14 ERA in three starts against the Cubs this season, I’d bet Craig Counsell is going to go to his talented bullpen to see what, if anything, they have left in them. That means plenty of Hader if Anderson gets into any kind of trouble. Hader gives the Cubs hitters fits – so hopefully they can finally solve him like David Ross solved Andrew Miller last year in the World Series. He will be their ace for years to come.

• Speaking of bullpen issues – did you see the number of relief appearances of the Brewers bullpen over the last month? I mean, wow. That’s a lot of appearances. From 10 appearances for Jacob Barnes and Jared Hughes to 9 for Anthony Swarzak and Corey Knebel, no wonder these guys are laboring late in games. (Like the Cubs have any room to talk, right?) Again, Counsell is emptying his arsenal, so expect those numbers to go up today.

  • Sherm

    I had no issues with the use of the bullpen yesterday – Davis was eventually going to blow a save…glad it wasn’t in the post-season. Plus, after those first two wins in Milwaukee – 2 of 3 thus far is very fortunate. Both teams know they could have won – or lost – all three at this point.

    Milwaukee is going to be a good team for a while. Better get used to that.

    Lot of silver linings – Wilson. Happ was terrific. Heyward for the bunt down. Smoltz is terrific in the booth – and props to Vasgersian (guessing st the spelling) who was the Brewers play by play guy for five years for not coming across as a homer. Another great broadcast team. Smoltz talks about baseball nuance from a pitcher’s perspective like none other – I find myself hanging on every word.

  • Doug S.

    Davis gives up a HR, first batter in the 9th, then retires the next 3. He seemed fine. When we scored in the 10th I had visions of 3 Ws in a row in extras that could be a Brewer back breaker. Very OK with Davis coming in to pitch the 10th. It just didn’t work out.

    • Bryzzo1744

      This

  • Doc Raker

    A chance to take 3 of 4 from the Brewers, with the first three games that could of gone either way, I will take it. Cardinals lose, magic number is 4. It is our division to win or lose. If we win 2 of the next three the division is ours.

    What did Len and JD speak of while Sherm was listening to insightful baseball talk from Smoltz and Vasgersian?

    • They spend a few innings dissecting the metaphor “hung out to dry.” It was unbelievable how long it lasted.

      • Bryzzo1744

        There was a Len broadcast? I watched it on my MLB at bat app and the national fox broadcast was the only option I had. How some people were blacked out and I got it I don’t get.

      • Michael S.

        The MLB blackout rules are more arcane than the I before E rule.

      • Bryzzo1744

        That rule is very wEIrd. Except after c, it’s not a very good sCIEince.

      • You’re right Caps. The hung out to dry conversation was the previous day. My mistake.

      • Bryzzo1744

        So that eliminates that mystery. Still don’t get how swan was blacked out and I wasn’t.

      • Doug and I split a case of domestic beer.

      • Doug S.

        MLB doesn’t black out Len. Len blacks himself out.

  • Missed most of that game at a phoned-in birthday party thing for a neighbor kid. At-Bat was blacked out because the game was on Fox apparently.. unreal. Maybe someday I can buy a ‘just let me watch the goddamned game’ package and be done with this crap.

    • Doug S.

      No shit. You’re paying $$, you get the games. Is Montana an in-market MLB location? Maybe you’re in the “Getting screwed by MLB” market.

      • I think they lump us in with Colorado.. usually only blacked out when the games are on Fox.

    • Bryzzo1744

      I was able to watch it on MLB at bat.

  • Great win today.. glad to see the Cubs put up some runs to back Q.

    • Eddie Von White

      Timely hitting, good base running, good pitching. The perfect combination.