What’s Good and What’s Bad After Game Two
The words of consolation that circulated the party that I attended on Saturday night were, “If someone had said before the series started that we would split in DC, then we would have said, ‘Good. We’ll take that.'” And that is what is good right now. We are 1 and 1 with the next two games to be played in Wrigley Field.
What else is good is that we have Jose Quintana going Monday night and he has been going very well. The Nationals, on the other hand, have Max Scherzer going. And he is not going well. We should take that gladly too.
I am also optimistic about our offense. Saturday night, it never felt to me like three runs would be enough. But I like that Rizzo has stepped up with four RBIs and Bryant has scored three runs. Those are our core guys and they have put up decent numbers. We need more runs in the coming games, but remember last year? We had two serious offensive droughts during our post-season last year. With Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant doing their thing now, it feels like we won’t have to endure anything like that again this year.
What is bad right now is obvious. Will Joe Maddon find someone he trusts to handle the eighth inning? Pedro Strop probably has Maddon’s trust for the seventh. But given the C.J. Edwards, Jr./Michael Montgomery blow up Saturday night, who will be trusted to take the eighth? This is going to be a real test for Maddon. We know that trust in big moments is his biggest issue. He doesn’t seem to have enough. And lack of trust leads him to do weird and questionable things. Some might call it choking. It is unfortunate, but the tough loss Saturday night puts this question back into sharp focus. Can Joe control his emotions to avoid over-managing when the going gets tough?
We should be able to scratch out a win at Wrigley this week. I am not discounting that we can win both with Quintana and Jake Arietta starting for us. But if we do head back to DC for game five, I envision Maddon starting Kyle Hendricks and bringing in Jon Lester in the fifth or sixth to get the game to Wade Davis in the ninth. Then, if we advance to the Championship Series, I see John Lackey getting a start early in that series to get the rotation back on a semi-normal schedule. But God help us, let’s hope that I am wrong. Not because I don’t trust Lackey. But because if Joe starts over-managing in the first round of the play offs, it is hard for me to believe that we will survive to the last round.
But here we are in the post-season with a fine team that is playing well and heading home to the best stadium in major sports. That is very, very good, indeed.