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The Cubs beat the A’s, Matt Garza pitched quite well, and Kevin Gregg got the save. These are all good things, and should be highlighted.

Where there is bound to be a great deal of debate, however, is in how many pitches Garza was permitted to throw – 114, to be precise. Garza was sent out for the 8th inning after he’d already cleared the 100 pitch mark. Some folks probably get angry and say, “why in the world would you risk Garza’s health after he’d already pitched well, and had already show he can go deep?” Other folks will defend the move and say, “yes, but in this way the Cubs really, really showed that they have full confidence in his health.”

The truth – other than the fact that the manager was probably just doing what the manager does and sticking with his starter as long as he thought he could go – is probably somewhere in the middle there. My gut reaction to these things is always “protect the pitcher!” Once Garza had cleared the 100 pitch mark, I’m not sure how much more of a message you need to send to other teams. On the other hand, if health is the biggest thing holding up the return in a Garza trade, well, then, I suppose the Cubs sent a pretty strong message in this one.

But on to other things …

july 3 box

Full box.

  • cjdubbya

    I wonder if Sveum’s recent comments about how the bullpen (Gregg notwithstanding) has been an adventure all season had something to do with it as well. Why use a bridge guy when you can use the starter to bridge straight to the closer, and those bridge guys have collapsed plenty of times?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Definitely.

      Though I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the front office would have liked to see him use Strop or Guerrier there in the 8th. (And I wouldn’t be surprised if they preferred to see Garza throw 110+. Since that’s what happened, and I’m sure these strategies are discussed beforehand, maybe that was there preference after all.)

    • cubmig

      ……..but….if the mindset is: winning is not important this year, why use— (scratch that)— “abuse” Garza with the risk of throwing cold water on a good performance or risk even injury? If there are doubting Thomas scouts out there, let them test their faith on things seen and “no más”.

      • gocatsgo2003

        A major league starting pitcher throwing 114 pitches is now “abuse?”

        • wvcubsfan

          This pitch count thing has officially got out of hand. I’ve got no problem with any starter going 115-130 during any given start. Especially if that particular start has been relatively stress free (not many scoring chances, good weather conditions, etc.). What I don’t want to see is that starter continually doing that start after start a la Dusty and his use / abuse of Wood and Prior during the dog days.

          • Rebuilding

            That might be your opinion, but it flies in the face of all research on the topic. Throwing a baseball is not natural motion. Throwing every couple of days is not the problem. Throwing over 100 pitches in any one start is the problem. Mechanics start to break down and that’s when stress causes injuries now or later. If you look up pitcher abuse points it explains it all and is a pretty accurate predictor of upcoming injuries.

            As to Garza. Him coming out in the 8th in a meaningless game when you are trading him in the next 5-10 days was just pointless. Unless you think that 8th inning makes a team give up a better prospect than they otherwise would have.

            • wvcubsfan

              Please share. if this was the case then EVERY starting pitcher in baseball should be broke down and on the DL every other month.

              • Kyle

                Exactly how common do you think 115-130 pitches is?

                Pitchers do experience an extremely high injury rate relative to other positions.

                • wvcubsfan

                  First, I’m going to admit that I have no facts to back this up, and unlike other commenters that refer to the “facts” but refuse to produce them when asked I freely admit this statement is pulled out of my back side.

                  I would assume that almost every complete game and a high percentage of 7+ inning starts are within that range. If I had to guess a number I’d say at least 40 per month.

            • DocShock

              If 100 pitches is the cutoff then shouldn’t we take into our count warmup tosses between innings as well as warmup tosses in the bullpen before the game? If not then you do believe that the more strenuous an inning or pitch the more effect it has, which current research suggests concerning pitching and injuries. Plus you have to take into account motion and pitche thrown, etc. pitch count is use because it is easiet to measure, doesn’t make it the bet indicator.

              Now if we are talking young guys, even through the minors, or guys just back from injury to build up stamina that is fine, but setting a hard number makes no sense. Especially since there have been studies that show there is very little correlation between pitch counts and injury (there are many more components involved). See studies by Dr. Glen Fleisig, Dr. James Andrews, and several others; read some of Will Carroll’s work; look at the study by James Bradbury and SL Foreman; or the study by the University of Waterloo. They all reject the notion that pitch counts alone can predict injuries or can even be used to predict injuries.

              In 2012 635 pitchers went past 110 pitches in a game. In 2013 there have been about at least 73. That is quite a bit down from the late 1990′s and yet pitcher injuries have not changed to mirror that and may in fact be trending in opposite direction. Clearly pitch count does not correlate with pitching injuries, at least in the ways most believe.

              Just my thoughts.

              • DocShock

                Late 90s there were 1100-1200 pitchers throwing upwards of 110 or more pitches a game. Data is from Baseball-Reference.

          • Rcleven

            Sveum has a different pitch count with each pitcher. Feldman , Garza, Spellcheck have been let go up to the 100 high teens. Wood on the other hand has is stopped out at no more than 100.
            By this time in the year many clubs will let their starters go to high 120′s.

        • cubmig

          It’s all about “context”. Sure Garza can handle throwing 114-or more, but this is NOT about that. It’s about a decision related to showcasing a good performance and when risks taken can undo one.

          • wvcubsfan

            Problem is none of us now if there weren’t some teams that wanted to see him go 110+ before they were convinced he was all the way back.

  • cyberhog

    Wow!! NO strikeouts!

    • dob2812

      Yeah, man, Mariners, get it together.

    • Tim

      Makes me a little confused about Rizzo.
      Didn’t get to watch the game. So what I see is yes…0 for 4, but no strikeouts. Was he just unlucky or how did he look?

      • waittilthisyear

        i recall one at bat where he stuck with a 2 strike pitch and squared it up pretty good. somewhere in between a flyout and lineout to left

  • EricR

    I wanted to get a look at Strop in a Cub’s uniform, but Garza was on. Hopefully we get a good return on the guy. Heck, if he would just stay healthy, I’d love to sign him up long term.

  • Die hard

    Like it– pitchers are babied with this arbitrary limit that slowly invaded pitch think like a virus… Go back 50 yrs and there was no such thing and there were some awesome pitchers back then— kudos for Sveum… More decisions like this and I may become a fan of his

    • Timothy Scarbrough

      But there are pitch counts now, and there are awesome pitchers now! So that must mean there are a good thing.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      So, how did you feel when Dusty Baker ran Prior and Wood out there like he did? That was wonderful right? There isn’t a reason things like this are in place. I mean, if it happened 50 years ago before modern medicine it must be right.

      • bbmoney

        Well at least garza a not 21

      • Die hard

        both were damaged goods before Cubs .. Would’ve happened no matter what happened … S*^T happens

        • Cyranojoe

          LMAO

  • MadisonCub

    So this is how it feels to have a firmly established closer that won’t make your blood boil in the 9th…

    No more Marmols, or Greggs, or Woods, or Dempsters, or Hawkins throwing the game away in the last minute; just Kevin Gregg throwing the ball as if he were playing catch without a care in the world…

    It feels good…

    *snickers*

  • Jon

    Castro 2-4 with a walk!

    • baldtaxguy

      Yes, nice game

    • cubmig

      An observation and thought on Castro: In an at bat after Castro had gotten a hit, I saw him reach for a low outside pitch. He missed it. He stepped back a bit and one could see an expression on his face that could be read as a sad disappointment. It was almost as if he had done what he is learning not to do, flail at bad pitches and he had caught himself in that moment. Without checking I don’t recall how that at bat came out, but he did have a .500 day at the plate.

      One other thing. I’ve wondered why Sveum has persisted in batting Castro second and not lower down in the lineup, given his struggles. I get it now. Castro is re-learning how to focus on hittable pitches. And……he needs all the at bats he can get to develop effective instinctual habits. He can continue his free-swinging style, but he needs to be much more discriminate. Castro will continue to be erratic, but in the big picture of things-to-come, he’ll be better ….and more importantly, more reliable as a hitter. He not an “old dog” incapable of learning new tricks.

      • baldtaxguy

        I saw similar on that outside pitch. He also looked disappointed on a flyout, as if he understood he missed a pitcher’s mistake. It appears evident he is working on it.

        Interesting thought on batting 2nd, that is plausible, i.e. getting more at-bats, pitches to apply what he is learning.

  • fortyonenorth

    Did Castro kick the sunflower seed habit? I wonder if his slump coincided with him getting on the wagon.

    • Die hard

      He may be hearing footsteps which is a great motivator

      • JoeyCollins

        He’s not

  • David

    What are Casto’s numbers since his day off?

    • Dynastyin2019

      Don’t get Die hard started. But here you go:

      .303/.324/.424
      3 k’s (12%)
      1 bb (3 %)

      • Dynastyin2019

        Btw, the Cubs are 5-2 during that time.

        • Die hard

          Case closed… Only 40 games too late.. Sveum steep learning curve

          • Dynastyin2019

            Enjoy the holiday….

          • King Jeff

            Wait, I thought it was moving him to center and batting him leadoff that was going to fix him? I guess if you throw a bunch of reasons out there, one of them is bound to be right eventually.

            • Die hard

              Center and lead off is essential legs of three legged stool to his success … Check earlier posts– you’re forgiven.. Lots of material on BN to digest.. Not easy

              • Cyranojoe

                Not easy to digest, that’s for sure.

  • Tim

    Kevin LIGHTS OUT Gregg

    • King Jeff

      We like to call him “Groggles”.

  • Beardface

    I know the season is all but over, but it’s pretty sweet that we can take 4 straight series’ with a win today!

  • When the Music’s Over

    It would be cool if his bat could at least approach the realm of average for a middle infielder, but unfortunately Darwin Barney is likely performing his way into a long term utility role. Still a super nice niche to carve out.

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    Pitch counts are overrated. More important than the number of pitches is how taxed the pitcher is during the start. Has he endured some high leverage situations? Is it a hot night? What were his last couple starts like?

    I think when a guy is in a groove like Garza, he gets more leeway on number of pitches.

    I also think this obsession wih pitch counts is the reason we only have maybe a few 20 game winners every year now and why we may never see another 300 game winner.

  • Deacon

    Seriously? He was injured at last year’s trade deadline…..then again in Spring Training…..makes no sense to extended him over 100 pitches. Since most on here feel we didn’t get enough for Feldman what if Garza gets injured in this (or his other 4 starts before the deadline)? Our Idiot Manager is playing with a lighter in a gas station.

    • baldtaxguy

      Other than Dusty, has any other manager in the league ever been blamed for a pitcher’s injury? I can’t think of one, or ever read where “this guy’s TJS was attributable to this mgr’s recklessness”, again, other than Baker. Now its Sveum as the next one if Garza goes down? Please….

      • Die hard

        Leo Durocher 1969 took a lot of heat for not resting players during Chicago heat

        • baldtaxguy

          “….a pitcher’s injury….”

      • Die hard

        In defense of managers the following quote may apply: ” we are not infallible because our decision is final; our decision is final because we are infallible “

  • The Show

    Garza and Gregg for Porcello, VerHagen and some lower level prospect

    • nkniacc13

      I’m starting to wonder with the return that the Cubs got in the Feldman deal if they maybe looking at more prospects that aren’t needed for 40 man with any Garza or Gregg deal at this point. Im still waiting to see who else gets moved for IFA $

  • Cubs_Questions

    I don’t think that keeping Garza in for the 8th had much to do with showcasing him for other teams. I’m a huge believer in the idea that Sveum just doesn’t know who to go to as a setup man in the bullpen at this point.

    The Cubs have won three series in a row, and now are 7-4 in their last 11 games. In those 4 they’ve lost: Kevin Gregg surrenders a run in the top 9th and the Cubs lose 4-3; The Cubs take a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the 8th and squander a Travis Wood start (again), losing 5-4 in 10; and the obvious 8-7 loss to the A’s the other day.

    The bullpen struggles haven’t just been the usual suspects, either. James Russell has given up seven ER on 16 H in his past 8.2 innings of work. Blake Parker has given up a run in three of his past four appearances. These guys are supposed to be his late inning guys.

    Obviously, there has been a lot of turnover in the pitching staff thus far. Fujikawa is on the DL, Marmol and Camp have just been DFA’d and the former traded, and the Cubs have added Pedro Strop and Matt Guerrier.

    The pen looks like: Hector Rondon, Russell, Parker, Strop, Guerrier, Henry Rodriguez and Gregg. Villanueva is likely going to take Feldman’s spot in the rotation for now. The point being that:
    1) Rondon is a Rule 5 draft guy and has to stay on the roster (like Lendy Castillo last season) and has been largely ineffective this season (6.08 ERA, 1.46 WHIP),
    2) Strop and Guerrier have both just been added in the past couple days and are in the midst of not-so-great seasons,
    3) Sveum hasn’t even used Rodriguez since Jun. 23, so I think it’s safe to say he won’t be using him in any close game/late inning situations in the near future and
    4) the aforementioned Russell and Parker struggles.

    With Gregg’s value up so high right now, I doubt they’re going to try and use him for too many saves of more than an inning, and Sveum likely feels like he doesn’t have a lot of good options out of the pen.

    Regardless, Garza pitched exceedingly well against a good club for eight innings over 114 pitches, showing that he’s dominant and healthy, and probably sealing the deal that he’s the number one pitcher available as of right now for the trade deadline.

    • Die hard

      Very insightful but is it possible to condense to 100 words or less?

      • gocatsgo2003

        READING IS SO HARD!!!

        • Die hard

          Less is often more and takes up others space .. Kindergarten lesson — share and nap after snack

          • DarthHater

            “takes up others space”

            Yea, you think those internet tubes are infinite or something?

            • wvcubsfan

              Hey he’s only got so much bandwidth in the nursing home, can’t have all that unnecessary stuff using it up.

          • gocatsgo2003

            Methinks you should have a helping of your own lesson on the “volume of posts” front.

            • DarthHater

              No, you don’t understand. One hundred ten-word posts take up less internet space than a single thousand-word post

              • gocatsgo2003

                And it’s not like I’m just trying to get Die Hard to shut up or anything. Nope.

                • DarthHater

                  [edit] insert sarcasm symbol [/edit]

      • wvcubsfan

        Dale doesn’t know what’s going on. Bull pen blows. Garza and Gregg are good.

        • JoeyCollins

          How have we lost most of our games?

          • wvcubsfan

            You do realize that my post was a sarcastic response to Die Hard’s request for a shorter version of the original post by C_Q right?

            • JoeyCollins

              my bad I see that now

  • sect209row15

    If the cubs had lost with Garza out after seven innings Sveum is the moron.

    • JoeyCollins

      Who would you have used in the 8th then?

  • sect209row15

    Yes. Dude was dealing no bases loaded drama Garza was doing what a good starter does. On the score yesterday Sullivan was talking about the Bromance Shark and Sveum have and that’s the reason given the opportunity Shark will stay in with high pitch counts to complete a game. It seems there’s always more to the story.

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