Nationals 7 @ Cubs 4
For the second straight day, the Cubs blew a game they most certainly should have won. Both were lost in almost identical fashion. It was hard to stomach the opening day loss because of all the emotion coupled with the fact that we had an off day in between. Now we’re stuck with another rough one.
Roster Move – Before the game, the Cubs made the move to outright Luis Valbuena to make room for a 12th pitcher on the staff, which turned into Rodrigo Lopez. If you’ve followed the blog for any period of time or have had a conversation with me on my philosophy on how I make up my roster, you know that I absolutely despise the 12 man staff. It’s a complete waste of roster flexibility and causes members of the pen to get rusty from lack of use. There is no reason why you can’t get through a season using six men out of the bullpen. If you run into the issue of a game that sees the team go deep into extra innings or a terrible outing by one of the starting pitchers and you have a pen full of tired arms, you shuttle someone up from AAA. By carrying the 11 man staff, it gives you the ability to use that 14th position player in so many different ways. I tend to structure my bench to include a backup catcher, a backup corner and middle infielder, and backup corner and middle outfielder. That sixth guy that you get as a result of carrying the 11 man staff can has so much potential. You can carry a guy strictly for his speed like Tony Campana to use as a pinch runner and really put the pressure on the pitching staff. You could carry a third catcher, which would allow you to pinch hit for your catcher if the situation calls without worrying that you’ve got an issue should your backup get hurt. So many options, but those are taken away with the 12 man staff.
Bullpen Woes – When Dale brought in Rafael Dolis to pitch the 7th, I was excited that we were going to see him and then James Russell, as he was warming up. Instead we saw Dolis and an implosion. Svuem went to the pen with Kerry Wood again in the 8th. He got to the two out mark and saw the wheels fall off again. Exact same situation only today we pulled him before the damage could be done. The problem was that we brought in Carlos Marmol, who also can’t get an out. Why Marmol is still listed as the closer on this team is beyond me. The only reason I can see is for lack of another option. At this point, I’m done with him as my closer. It’s not a good role for him.
Offensive Approach – I was more encouraged by what I saw at the plate today by the offense as a whole. It seemed like they were more apt to work the count and make the pitcher work, which showed up in the box score as we averaged almost five pitches per plate appearance. It showed by the fact that they ousted Gio Gonzalez from the game before he completed four. Usually that serves to allow for more offensive output. When you can get to the pen that early you see guys that really aren’t as talented as the guys in the back end of the pen. Unfortunately those guys shut the door once they took over for Gonzalez. Overall, it was enough offensive output that was put up and the game should have been registered in the win column.
Head Scratcher of the Day – Yesterday it was the situational running by both Alfonso Soriano and Joe Mather. Today, I have to scratch my head by the at bats by Matt Garza. Both of his at bats resulted in a strikeout and both of the strikeouts came as a result of him bunting with two strikes. Either he doesn’t know the rule, which is entirely possible after how he looked after the ump called him out after the first one, or he thinks he’s a better bunter than he is. Bunting with two strikes is very tough to do. It’s even harder to do if you suck at bunting to begin with. I left both of those at bats scratching my head and asking why?
Positive Thought of the Day – A couple of positives. First, we saw a nice outing by Garza. We saw offensive production from the bench, with Reed Johnson and Joe Mather both contributing. Other than that, not much. Hopefully Jeff Samardzija can control the nerves tomorrow and salvage a game out of the series because it would suck to get swept in the first series of the season.
Post Game Thoughts from Dale