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June 2013

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COMMENTS

Game 69: Samardzija Superb In STL

Written by , Posted in General

Box Score / Highlights

Star of the Game – Jeff Samardzija – .214 (WPA)


Jeff Samardzija
We’re starting with symmetry again for this game. Last time out Samardzija had a lackluster start. On Tuesday in St. Louis, the Cubs spotted him 4 runs before he took the mound. He did (almost) everything else and eventually those runs proved to be enough. Tonight Samardzija was throwing strikes early and often. Only six strikeouts on the night, he benefited from a host of called strikes and four double plays; the last of which came after he had exited but sealed the victory in the ninth.

Dale Sveum
We got an inside look at Sveum’s thoughts late on Tuesday. What I’d like to know is why he stubbornly manages this team as if they were just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill baseball team. One of the great dangers for the 2013 Cubs is the bullpen. Dale, understandably, has no idea who is going to perform well and who isn’t on any given night. Case in point, Kevin Gregg just pitched in 4 straight games last week, performing well in each of them. After a couple of days off, tonight his scoreline looks fantastic – his performance was anything but…and I don’t entirely put that on him. Look down there – this bunch is mediocre (and that’s being charitable). Stop treating them like an average bullpen – DO NOT FORCE THEM TO MOP UP UNNECESSARILY AFTER A STARTER! Yes, Samardzija was great tonight. But he’d thrown 103 pitches through eight innings. It seemed an obvious situation to let the closer start the 9th with a clean slate. Yes, that requires that Dale has to sit Samardzija almost certainly against his will. But that’s what Dale is paid to do…raising the degree of difficulty unnecessarily is not helping the bullpen. Frankly, Gregg was lucky to get the twin-killing that ended the game, he looked shaky and Freese (the hitter) was the winning run. Moreover, what starter on this team has ‘earned’ the right to beg successfully for another inning? None of these guys is a Hall of Famer, none are even All-Stars…if Dale can’t look any of the current starters in the face and tell them to take a seat what good is he going to be when (if) this team ever gets a star who HAS earned the right to put themselves back into the game (it happened at least one other time earlier this year with Feldman).

Someone had suggested that perhaps Marmol’s let down against the Mets had given this team a hangover – if it has, Dale has utter disregard for it. Letting Samardzija start the ninth is exactly the kind of crap that sets your team up to fail. Quade used to put his everyday players (either in the field, or in the lineup) in curious positions where they weren’t most able to succeed. Dale has created a habit of using his pitchers in a way that is unfavorable to them. Yes, they’ve still sucked – but he could do more to set them up NOT to suck. Whether it’s Edwin Jackson – who despite being nearly a full run better during night games for his career, can’t buy a night start anymore; or games like tonight, where with an obvious setup to the closer, Dale lets Samardzija create a mess to be cleaned up. Tonight the Cubs were lucky in the 9th, the next time it might not go so favorably.

Still…
I don’t want to end it on that – it was a really great game from Samardzija. When the Cubs tagged Wainwright for 4 runs in the first I was pretty sure we’d roll over on offense for the remainder of the night. What I was less sure about was which Jeff Samardzija was going to appear on the mound. He’s been a rollercoaster ride this year. Cynically, I thought Samardzija’s night hinged on the result of the bottom of the 1st – either he shut them down and used that to catapult him to success; or he gave back a couple right away and spent the rest of his night fending off scrappy rallies every other inning. What I loved is how he stayed down in the zone with runners on base, it’s a big part of why managed to throw so few pitches – the double plays were huge for him. Great win for the Cubs, very nice to see the good Jeff Samardzija on the mound.

  • I admit I was braced for the worst last night. I figured Shark was either going to get shelled or there was going to be a pitcher’s duel.

    I kind of wish he had gone the distance but I admit it was okay for Dale to yank him. It would have been one thing if we’d had a bigger lead over those bad birds.

    Anyone else annoyed by the opponents’ fans reaction to the automatic double play to end the game?

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      I enjoyed the reaction. It was great to see an umpire finally make that call. The cardinals have been getting away with that garbage too long, that is why the fans reacted that way.

      • BLPCB

        Looking at the replay of it, it looks like Castro didn’t even touch the bag

  • I admit I was braced for the worst last night. I figured Shark was either going to get shelled or there was going to be a pitcher’s duel.

    I kind of wish he had gone the distance but I admit it was okay for Dale to yank him. It would have been one thing if we’d had a bigger lead over those bad birds.

    Anyone else annoyed by the opponents’ fans reaction to the automatic double play to end the game?

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      I enjoyed the reaction. It was great to see an umpire finally make that call. The cardinals have been getting away with that garbage too long, that is why the fans reacted that way.

      • AC0000000

        Looking at the replay of it, it looks like Castro didn’t even touch the bag

  • Mark_from_Toronto

    Having been forced to watch the St. Louis broadcast (if ever there was a homer broadcast crew, they are it), I was happy to see to Cubs jump out to an early lead. That said, as I went to bed with the Cubs up 4-0, I didn’t hold out much hope that they would hold on. At least that made for a pleasant surprise this morning.

    • mrbaseball2usa

      They really are terrible… I think the only non-Cubs crew that annoys me more are the White Sux crew.

      • Doug S.

        Whoever is on the Braves crew over the years seems to have the gift of ultra-annoyance.

      • I’m with you Doug. The Braves are the only team I really hate, purely due to the TBS staff when I was a kid.

      • Eddie Von White

        … and Dale Murphy (I think they sainted him now).

  • Mark_from_Toronto

    Having been forced to watch the St. Louis broadcast (if ever there was a homer broadcast crew, they are it), I was happy to see to Cubs jump out to an early lead. That said, as I went to bed with the Cubs up 4-0, I didn’t hold out much hope that they would hold on. At least that made for a pleasant surprise this morning.

    • mrbaseball2usa

      They really are terrible… I think the only non-Cubs crew that annoys me more are the White Sux crew.

      • Doug S.

        Whoever is on the Braves crew over the years seems to have the gift of ultra-annoyance.

      • I’m with you Doug. The Braves are the only team I really hate, purely due to the TBS staff when I was a kid.

      • Eddie Von White

        … and Dale Murphy (I think they sainted him now).

  • Doc Raker

    So your giving Swammy a hard time for not taking his ace starter out at 103 pitches after the 8th and automatically going to the below average bullpen in the 9th? So you are arguing for the necessary use of the Cubs bullpen just because it is the 9th inning and the ace is at 103 pitches? Don’t you want to your ace to be able to finish a complete game in under 120 pitches if he can? I think Smarja deserved a chance to finish the game and I think it is a healthy thing to have an ace who can complete a game. I don’t think there is much difference between 100 and 115 pitches.

    • Noah_I

      I’m with you on this one, Doc. 100 isn’t a magic number where a pitcher is going to be suddenly less effective if he starts an inning with greater than 100 pitches. Samardzija had been effective with a 1-2-3 inning in the 8th, and has shown an ability to be a workhorse type of pitcher since becoming a starter (he’s on pace for 220-230 innings this season). I also don’t see how Gregg was really looking ineffective last night. He faced two hitters. One got an opposite field single, the next hit a tailor made GIDP.

      • Jedi

        You’re just looking at the results. Molina swung at the first two pitches, trying to tie the game with one swing. Both were balls that he fouled off. Then Gregg nearly launched one over Castillo’s head to the backstop on 0-2. Before throwing another ball and then one right down the middle that Molina was late on. Not exemplary stuff.

        The second batter was even better…if Freese leaves the bat on his shoulder he has a four pitch walk (I thought the second pitch was inside – Freese fouled it off). Instead he swung at a 3-1 pitch that was outside and an interference call completed the double play…

        I’m not exactly crediting Gregg with a good outing because the Cards got too excited when they saw him throwing BP on the mound.

      • Doc Raker

        You are making a case for leaving the starter in.

      • Jedi

        No – I’m making a case for making it as simple as possible for the reliever…not as difficult as possible (which is what Sveum wanted to do…”how much of a mess will I let Samardzija make before I go get my shaky bullpen?”).

      • Doc Raker

        That is hindsight. Swammy didn’t know what kind of mess Smarja would get into in the 9th. No one knows the future. You are making a ludicrous argument that Smarja should of come out before he got into a jam. Ludicrous. I am sorry but you are out of bounds and I am right. Rack it Lizzie. Al’s Beef with hot peppers on me.

      • Jedi

        No it’s not – and there’s no seeing into the future required. It’s really simple, if you’re going to bring Gregg in if Samardzija gets into any trouble – don’t give Samardzija the chance. It’s not an overall strategy for every inning; but in that game, in that inning – Gregg was already warm and ready to go…just give him a clean inning to start from. I know you don’t agree, but it’s really not that difficult to understand.

    • Jedi

      1) He’s not our ace. We don’t have an ace…that much is clear. 2) With the state of our current bullpen, if you’re pulling Samardzija after he puts one or two on base, then just yank him to start the inning. At this point in time pulling a starter with multiple men on base, late in a close game is borderline suicide. I’d rather see a more conservative approach…has very little to do with Samardzija’s pitch count, and more to do with what Dale’s limit for him was (whether it was 115 pitches, the tying run on deck, whatever…). As delicate as the ‘pen is now, I don’t see the need for putting them behind the eight ball.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I see Samardzija being a quality number 2 pitcher. He pitches well when he thinks it is a big game. What he needs to learn is that almost every game is a big game. Then maybe he will be a consistent 15 game winner.

      • Doc Raker

        Swammy doesn’t have a crystal ball. Smarja deserved to start the 9th. If he gets into trouble any manager would pull him. To argue you leave a starter in after he gets into trouble in the 9th is ludicrous. Swammy gave a young strong developing pitcher a chance to complete a game and give his bullpen a rest. That was the right move. I don’t see why that is such a managerial faux paux. You guys are so worried about the scoreboard you are second guessing everything with hindsight being 20/20. A manager needs to see different players in different rolls, to assume Smarja can’t start the 9th after 103 pitches puts an imaginary glass ceiling on him. Championship teams are made by pushing people to their limits and last night was a good time to see where Smarja’s limits are right now. Maybe next time he is successful in the 9th after 100 pitches, your body can’t do it if you don’t build to do it.

      • Jedi

        I’m not second guessing everything – it’s a single point…and I don’t like it every time he’s done it this year – when it’s worked and when it hasn’t. We have a crappy bullpen, I’d like to keep their job as simple as possible…whenever possible. Last night it could’ve been simpler for Gregg.

      • Doc Raker

        You are correct, if only Swammy had a crystal ball so he could know what kind of jam Smarja would of gotten into so he can keep it simple for the bullpen. “Hey crystal ball, what will be easier for our bullpen, leaving Smarja in for the 9th or taking him out? Please answer before the commercial break is over.”

    • Seymour Butts

      For over a decade of his 19 year MLB career, Fergie Jenkins AVERAGED 120 pitches per start, and over 300 innings per season. Current concepts of pitch counts molly coddle players who may not be the pussies their clubs obviously think they are.

      • Jedi

        Nothing magical about 100 in my mind either – but it’s reality now. I definitely agree that pitchers are coddled; but it’s not like there’s anything that even Sveum could do about that. It’s an organizational decision and if he was leaving guys out there for Nolan Ryan/Fergie Jenkins pitch counts he’d be fired before he made it one turn through the rotation.

  • Doc Raker

    So your giving Swammy a hard time for not taking his ace starter out at 103 pitches after the 8th and automatically going to the below average bullpen in the 9th? So you are arguing for the necessary use of the Cubs bullpen just because it is the 9th inning and the ace is at 103 pitches? Don’t you want to your ace to be able to finish a complete game in under 120 pitches if he can? I think Smarja deserved a chance to finish the game and I think it is a healthy thing to have an ace who can complete a game. I don’t think there is much difference between 100 and 115 pitches.

    • Noah_I

      I’m with you on this one, Doc. 100 isn’t a magic number where a pitcher is going to be suddenly less effective if he starts an inning with greater than 100 pitches. Samardzija had been effective with a 1-2-3 inning in the 8th, and has shown an ability to be a workhorse type of pitcher since becoming a starter (he’s on pace for 220-230 innings this season). I also don’t see how Gregg was really looking ineffective last night. He faced two hitters. One got an opposite field single, the next hit a tailor made GIDP.

      • Jedi

        You’re just looking at the results. Molina swung at the first two pitches, trying to tie the game with one swing. Both were balls that he fouled off. Then Gregg nearly launched one over Castillo’s head to the backstop on 0-2. Before throwing another ball and then one right down the middle that Molina was late on. Not exemplary stuff.

        The second batter was even better…if Freese leaves the bat on his shoulder he has a four pitch walk (I thought the second pitch was inside – Freese fouled it off). Instead he swung at a 3-1 pitch that was outside and an interference call completed the double play…

        I’m not exactly crediting Gregg with a good outing because the Cards got too excited when they saw him throwing BP on the mound.

      • Doc Raker

        You are making a case for leaving the starter in.

      • Jedi

        No – I’m making a case for making it as simple as possible for the reliever…not as difficult as possible (which is what Sveum wanted to do…”how much of a mess will I let Samardzija make before I go get my shaky bullpen?”).

      • Doc Raker

        That is hindsight. Swammy didn’t know what kind of mess Smarja would get into in the 9th. No one knows the future. You are making a ludicrous argument that Smarja should of come out before he got into a jam. Ludicrous. I am sorry but you are out of bounds and I am right. Rack it Lizzie. Al’s Beef with hot peppers on me.

      • Jedi

        No it’s not – and there’s no seeing into the future required. It’s really simple, if you’re going to bring Gregg in if Samardzija gets into any trouble – don’t give Samardzija the chance. It’s not an overall strategy for every inning; but in that game, in that inning – Gregg was already warm and ready to go…just give him a clean inning to start from. I know you don’t agree, but it’s really not that difficult to understand.

    • Jedi

      1) He’s not our ace. We don’t have an ace…that much is clear. 2) With the state of our current bullpen, if you’re pulling Samardzija after he puts one or two on base, then just yank him to start the inning. At this point in time pulling a starter with multiple men on base, late in a close game is borderline suicide. I’d rather see a more conservative approach…has very little to do with Samardzija’s pitch count, and more to do with what Dale’s limit for him was (whether it was 115 pitches, the tying run on deck, whatever…). As delicate as the ‘pen is now, I don’t see the need for putting them behind the eight ball.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I see Samardzija being a quality number 2 pitcher. He pitches well when he thinks it is a big game. What he needs to learn is that almost every game is a big game. Then maybe he will be a consistent 15 game winner.

      • Doc Raker

        Swammy doesn’t have a crystal ball. Smarja deserved to start the 9th. If he gets into trouble any manager would pull him. To argue you leave a starter in after he gets into trouble in the 9th is ludicrous. Swammy gave a young strong developing pitcher a chance to complete a game and give his bullpen a rest. That was the right move. I don’t see why that is such a managerial faux paux. You guys are so worried about the scoreboard you are second guessing everything with hindsight being 20/20. A manager needs to see different players in different rolls, to assume Smarja can’t start the 9th after 103 pitches puts an imaginary glass ceiling on him. Championship teams are made by pushing people to their limits and last night was a good time to see where Smarja’s limits are right now. Maybe next time he is successful in the 9th after 100 pitches, your body can’t do it if you don’t build to do it.

      • Jedi

        I’m not second guessing everything – it’s a single point…and I don’t like it every time he’s done it this year – when it’s worked and when it hasn’t. We have a crappy bullpen, I’d like to keep their job as simple as possible…whenever possible. Last night it could’ve been simpler for Gregg.

      • Doc Raker

        You are correct, if only Swammy had a crystal ball so he could know what kind of jam Smarja would of gotten into so he can keep it simple for the bullpen. “Hey crystal ball, what will be easier for our bullpen, leaving Smarja in for the 9th or taking him out? Please answer before the commercial break is over.”

    • Seymour Butts

      For over a decade of his 19 year MLB career, Fergie Jenkins AVERAGED 120 pitches per start, and over 300 innings per season. Current concepts of pitch counts molly coddle players who may not be the pussies their clubs obviously think they are.

      • Jedi

        Nothing magical about 100 in my mind either – but it’s reality now. I definitely agree that pitchers are coddled; but it’s not like there’s anything that even Sveum could do about that. It’s an organizational decision and if he was leaving guys out there for Nolan Ryan/Fergie Jenkins pitch counts he’d be fired before he made it one turn through the rotation.