How the Cubs can come back in this series. Part II
Yesterday I broke down what the Cubs pitchers needed to do in order for us to get back into, and even win this series against the Dodgers. Yes, pitching and defense win championships. But so does being disciplined at the plate and not looking like a fool on every pitch that you see. Is it me or does every other team look like they know what they are doing at the plate other than the Cubs? Starting with Yu Darvish tonight, the Cubs need to have the right mindset at the plate and get the bats going.
Jon Jay: Mr. Jay has his moments. One minute he looks like the center fielder/lead off hitter that we needed all season and the next minute he looks as if he took a few pages out of Jason Heyward’s hitting playbook from last season. No matter where he hits in the lineup, Jay needs to be constantly hitting to where the pitch is thrown. Quit trying to pull the ball on outside pitches. Get on base and trust the other guys behind you. Trust is the key word.
Kris Bryant: Boy, O, Boy. Kris looks as lost as I have ever seen him at the plate (take away the 4 strike out performance his first game in the majors). His confidence is at an all time low. Every pitch that he gets, as a strike, he cannot make contact. Runner on third, less than two outs….put the ball in play and get the runner home. You know it only takes one swing of the bat to turn his confidence around. Let’s start tonight.
Anthony Rizzo: Couple him with Bryant and this has been a horrid playoff run (.154 and .179 avg. respectively). Last week during the Nationals series they asked Joe Maddon who was the one person in the locker room that is trying to fill the void of David Ross with leadership. The closest player he could name was Rizzo. Rizzo, being the elder in terms of years with the Cubs, needs to grasp this leadership role and have others follow his lead. Again, one swing can turn his confidence around.
Willson Contreras: Fast balls around your eye balls does not equal hits too often. This is a player that wants to do way too much at the plate. Down four runs and wanting to jack a ball out of the park is not the great approach at the plate. Be the “stringer”. Start the string of hits that puts crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
Albert Almora, Jr.: Albert is probably our most consistent player at putting the ball in play. Problem is: 1) he doesn’t know, along with us fans, whether he will play day-to-day 2) not the most disciplined player at the plate as he swings at balls out of the strike zone which leads to little dinkers in the infield. This kid has potential. He, along with Rizzo and Bryant, can do some damage if their pitch selection is better.
Jason Heyward: Granted, Jason is better than he was last year. He is still pulling off the ball quite a bit which leads to easy ground ball outs. Jason is not going to threaten a team with his power. When he squares on a pitch he can hit it sharply. Starting tonight, taking the speeches out of the game, Jason will need to execute both foul lines and get the extra base hits.
Addison Russell: Addison is probably our most consistent performer of the series thus far. He enters the game with a .208 avg. but also provides the pop that others in the line up have failed to produce. He has provided the key hit to get runners in to help us advance in the playoffs. We will need his clutch hitting moving forward.
Javier Baez: Hmmmm…..well…..uh……swing at strikes (not from your ass) and see what happens.
Ben Zobrist: In my opinion, Ben needs to be in the lineup. Yes, he has had a down year. But when October rolls around it seems like his bat comes to life. Plus, it never hurts when you have a player who had the playoff experience he has. He isn’t going to win gold gloves in the outfield…but the last I checked we haven’t scored runs. Get him in the lineup.
Kyle Schwarber: Pretty sad how much this kid has regressed in the course of a year. Yes, he was out all of last year with the injury but did at least provide that “oh god he’s up” moment for opposing teams. Now, other than the pee rod against the wall during the Nationals series, Kyle doesn’t bring much fear to opposing teams. Kyle needs to be ready coming off the bench to hit. One can only hope.
Ian Happ: Wonder where this guy has been? I’m still wondering. Probably will continue to wonder for the rest of the postseason. 4 at bats this postseason after hitting .253 with 24 home runs and 68 RBI’s. This during a short stint in the show this year. He needs to be hitting more often. One swing from this kid can make a difference in the outcome of a game.
Alex Avila: The true veteran of the team after coming over from the Tigers with that Wilson guy. 0 at bats this postseason but can provide pop after hitting 14 home runs this season between Detroit and Chicago. I was thinking back to our loud mouthed back up catcher last year and the granny he hit against the Dodgers. Was also thinking this could be Avila as well.
Leonys Martin: Run, baby, run. Keep you legs loose and your hammy’s fresh. A gapper will score you with your speed. Defensively we hear that you have the best arm of our outfielders. There will come a time, late in the game, when Zobrist will get on and you will pinch run. Head down and run like hell. We will need you.
Tommy La Stella: You seem to be clutch. Some people call you 3 A.M. Whatever it is, please be disciplined in your approach and get on base.
Last year’s team used to pride itself in working the pitchers into high pitch counts early in the game. This is not the case anymore. They have to make the pitchers labor on the mound and get gassed. They have to be very selective in their pitch recognition. They have to do a lot of things. If we are to get out of this hole and past the Dodgers, our plate discipline and bats have to wake up. Whatever line up Joe decides to throw out there, every one of our guys needs to be ready. Soon there will be no tomorrow.