Unicorns, Professors, and $1 Margaritas
I agree, our pen is not what it was last year. Our post-season team Batting Average, well, it’s bobbing around below the Mendoza Line. Hell, our manager is making weird decisions and in many ways I can’t blame him. The runway is very short this post-season and errors in judgement are far easier to run into than they were last year. We aren’t much further off than we were last season though. A quick look back will serve you well.
The Dodgers are our unicorn…
This year the Dodgers immediately threw their two pitchers at us that we cant hit in Kershaw and Hill. If you go back to 2016 real quick you will remember we had a few “dry spells” with the bats. One of those was a 21 inning stint covering three games of the NLCS against these same Dodgers. We managed 6 hits over 21 straight innings of baseball. Games two, three and the start of game four made up this stretch. I remember thinking, what the hell happened? But if you dive in closer you will see that games 2 and 3 were especially awful. Can anyone guess who pitched those games? How about Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill for a thousand Pat! Yes Chet, you are correct!!!! Guess who pitched the first two games of the 2017 NLCS? Exactly!
The frustration in the eyes of Cubs hitters against Rich Hill is visible. They constantly left the batters box staring at their bat or looking off into the distance like they had never seen a 12-6 breaking ball before. This lineup still seems to struggle with off-speed stuff at times.
Now, tomorrow night is Yu Darvish and honestly I have no idea how this will go. The one telling stat from this regular season is that we played LA six times and sported a .191 average against them. What we need is magic, what we need is…
If we do win, it most likely will hinge on a dominant performance from a starter. We need Hendricks to go deep. Our pen is anything from 2013 Carlos Marmol to 1998 Rod Beck. Never really shutting anyone down, always leaving us on the edge of our seats, but success hinging entirely on whether they throw strikes or cant find the plate if they were standing on it.
If I may digress slightly, of all the pitchers I hope we keep, Kyle Hendricks would be the guy I want to see locked up to a long term deal. I honestly think he may be the second coming of Maddux. He isn’t a sexy option. He doesn’t throw 100, but I swear if I needed a guy to stop anybody over the last two seasons, Hendricks is the smart choice. He may give up the house in game three, but I don’t care and it wont change my line of thinking.
Now, back to where we were, we need starters to run the table. We didn’t hit that well last post-season either. We had our share of low scoring wins sprinkled in. If you think about it, that may be the difference between the two post-seasons.
The big picture…
I am going to go back to a mantra from last weeks post as a reminder. As fans we are quite spoiled these days. In three years our team just went -> NLCS (2015 -Lost) -> World Series Champs (2016) -> NLCS (2017-???). We used to act like world beaters when we took a mid-season series from the Cardinals for crying out loud. We dined in the outhouse of baseball and got laughed at for it. Now everybody hates us and wants to see us lose. Why, because they have to cheer on shit teams that have no hope of turning a corner anytime soon. You don’t think the Tigers or the Phillies would kill to have what we have?
Crappy Story, but telling it anyway…..The other day I sat in an Applebees drinking $1 Margs for lunch while listening to two yahoo’s discuss their hatred for the Cubs…By the way, I am in Minnesota. (I realize how that whole sentence sounds, life isn’t that sad, but I did learn that those margaritas are apparently mostly water, which then made me sad.) They both agreed, they hate the Cubs because people seem to like them for no reason. What does that shit mean? WTF is that? He actually said, “People like that team and they don’t even have a good reason for it.” Holy shit guys, I think we made it! People outside of St. Louis and the South side of Chicago hate our Cubs for insane reasons. This is the top of the mountain in the sporting world, you can’t go higher.
We probably didn’t fill all the wholes we needed to in the shortened off-season and we still got to the NLCS. One of our biggest trades at the deadline to fill a weakness didn’t pan out and we still got to the NLCS. This team hasn’t, for any extended period of time, played their best ball all season long and still gets to the NLCS.
Think about all of that for a minute.