Box Score / Highlights

Star of the Game – Santiago Casilla (.571 WPA)

Is it just me or does it feel like the Cubs have been right there with the Giants this entire series? Today was no exception. Let’s get to the notes:

Help in a Pinch – For the second straight game, Dioner Navarro came off the bench in a pinch hit role and drove the ball out of the park. Yesterday’s homer tied the game in the 9th and today’s brought us within a run. It looks a little funny to have three catchers on the roster in Wellington Castillo, Navarro, and Steve Clevenger, but it allows the flexibility for Dale to pinch hit with his backup late in games instead of holding him on the bench to catch in case of an injury to the starter. I don’t recommend the setup of the three catchers on the roster if they are all completely limited to the catcher position, but Clevenger adds versatility with the ability to back up third base as well. Essentially what you want is a position player with the ability to also catch. Unfortunately, today saw Clevenger get hurt. If you didn’t stick around to the very end, you missed the play. He struck out to end the game and has been sent for an MRI to determine if he has some sort of tear or strain of the left oblique. Typically that’s a very slow healing injury so the guess is that Clevenger is probably going to be hitting the DL. That means we get to have roster discussion.

Roster ThoughtsWith Clevenger on the shelf for the foreseeable future, let’s take a look at a few possibilities for replacement. Remember that the 40 man roster is currently full so the replacement would either have to come from that list of names or a spot would need to be cleared to add someone else. In this case, that wouldn’t be hard, considering the probable length of time for recovery for Clevenger. The Cubs would have the flexibility to place him on the 60-day DL to clear a spot. Before we know the extent of the injury, let’s look at possible scenarios:

Option 1 – Play Shorthanded till Tuesday – This is my option of choice unless the MRI shows results quickly. You can get by with a 24 man roster for a day to get you till Tuesday when Darwin Barney is slated to come off the DL. If anything, this allows Brent Lillibridge a chance to sleep a little easier for the next few days as his job was in serious jeopardy had Clevenger not opened a spot on the roster for Barney’s return. Lillibridge has not hit at all and has shown me no reason, other than positional versatility, for why he should remain on this team. If his slump continues, I could easily see his time with the organization come to an end. I see no reason to keep him on the 40 man roster. I’d designate him for assignment, see if you can push him through waivers and assign him to AAA.

Option 2Place Clevenger on the 15 day DL – In this scenario, you recall someone from the 40 man roster and then make a decision as to what should be done on Tuesday with the roster when Barney comes back. This would be the scenario that you go with if you think Lillibridge is done with this team. You let him play Sunday and then DFA on Tuesday. The problem with this scenario is that it’s slim pickings on the 40 man for guys who can play the corner infield position.

Junior Lake – Injured from back in spring training

Ian Stewart – Still making progress, but not ready to return just yet

Christian Villanueva – He’s not ready for a ML assignment yet. He’s not played higher than AA and he’s struggling there so far

Josh Vitters – He was just placed on the 7 day DL down in Iowa with back soreness

Logan Watkins – He’s the last name on the list and he’s the only healthy one with any sort of AAA at bats. He’d be my choice, though I wouldn’t feel great about it. Coming into Saturday’s action, Watkins is hitting .242 / .390 / .424 with and HR. The problem? He’s not had any experience at third base, which would essentially put him as the back up second baseman to Darwin Barney with Alberto Gonzalez backing up Luis Valbuena at third.

Starting Pitching Continues to Be a StrengthThree starts for Jeff Samardzija and all three have been “quality” in their own ways. The last two haven’t been near as good as the first one, but Samardzija continues to shine as the top guy in the rotation and appears to have made the wide decision this off-season when he turned down the contract extension that was offered to him. He knows his value and he knows that should he pitch well this year that value goes up even more. I like watching him pitch. I look forward to the games he starts. When you’re watching team that loses more than it wins, you take what you can get.

Umpire Accuracy RateFor some reason this year I’ve been obsessed with the accuracy of umpire strike zones. As a result, I’ll be posting the correct call rate of the home plate umpire each game I recap. To put it in perspective, we need to establish a baseline. Last season, the average correct call % (CC%) was 87.1%. That is a summary on just pitches that were taken. No swings were involves because the home plate umpire does not have to make a judgement call on those plays. What I find interesting is that the top umpire last year was Chad Fairchild with a 89.7% rate of success. The worst umpire last year was Tim Welke, with a correct call rate of 84.8%. There really isn’t much difference between the two, when you think about it.

Today’s home plate umpire was Vic Cararpazza. He’s one I’ve not heard his name before so I looked to see how he’s done over the last few years and I was pleased to find that he continues to improve each year. Take a look at the data:

That correct call rate continues to climb. Unfortunately today was a rough outing as he posted a CC% of just 84.1%, which puts him at the bottom using our benchmark from last year. A quick look at his strike zone today and you’ll see why. He was consistent vertically, but his zone was wider than you’d like to see and it wasn’t just on one side. Take a look at the called strike rate today.

What’s Up NextI came into this series hoping for a series split. It’s still possible with Edwin Jackson taking the bump against Tim Lincecum. Normally that wouldn’t bode well, but Lincecum hasn’t been his dominant self in a little while so we still have a shot at stealing one before the series with a very good Ranger’s team. Let’s jump on him early and see what happens.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail