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hector rondon cubsThe Little Boy is still under the weather, and still home with me. You shouldn’t notice it much in the way of content, but, as is usual in these situations, you likely won’t see me as much in the comments/Twitter/Facebook/dancing on the roof.

  • Although I didn’t care for using Hector Rondon for the third straight night and fourth time in five games (and then not going to the warm lefty to face a lefty after Rondon was showing signs of slipping), I did like Ricky Renteria’s willingness to use one of his best relievers in a high-leverage, tie-game situation, regardless of whether it would result in a “save.” Given that usage of Rondon, he’s pretty clearly the closer now, right? Nope. Not officially, anyway, according to Renteria’s comments after Saturday’s win, the third straight game closed out by Rondon (Cubs.com). I’m pretty ambivalent about having a named “closer,” so this doesn’t really bother me much, but I do find it interesting that everything in the last week has indicated that Rondon is the closer … he just doesn’t have the title. Does a closer by any other name smell as sweet?
  • After last night’s ugliness, though, is all that out the window? I doubt it. Ricky Renteria certainly didn’t have anything bad to say about Rondon after the game, and it’s pretty clear that he’s still going to be in the late inning mix – though he’ll likely be out for the next couple days after pitch so many games and throwing 30 pitches last night. My bet is, come Wednesday, if there’s a save opportunity setting itself up in the 7th and 8th innings, Rondon will be the guy called up in the 9th. Quack quack.
  • And what about that decision to keep Rondon in the game to face lefty Matt Carpenter, rather than going with Wesley Wright? Sahadev Sharma writes that Renteria simply preferred to give Rondon a chance, and to keep him in the game in case it got to Yadier Molina. That’s fine, and Rondon has been a stud. I can’t argue there. But, what about getting another righty up, in tandem with Wesley Wright, in case things played out like they did? The Cubs are carrying eight relievers, after all. I suppose, in a tie game, you don’t want to be getting relievers up and down constantly (that’s a hidden problem in bullpen usage), so I guess I could convince myself to let it go.
  • For his part, it sounds like Rondon feels pretty good about that Yadier Molina at bat (he made some good pitches), but Molina is Molina, and he got just enough wood on a grounder to push it up the middle past a diving Starlin Castro (Cubs.com). Hopefully this is a learning experience for Rondon, and he doesn’t put too much into one game – it happens.
  • Sahadev Sharma also writes about what a freaking animal Anthony Rizzo has been so far this year. If you want to get over last night’s loss, that’s what you should read.
  • Jake Arrieta says he has no discomfort after his first outing of the year, which is swell. (Cubs.com)
  • That same piece explains, by the way, why Junior Lake was not in the lineup last night after his breakout game on Sunday – the short version? The Cubs are trying to put him in positions to succeed as a way of building confidence. (And, from where I sit, getting dominated last night by a guy who tends to dominate righties – Lance Lynn – could have unraveled whatever confidence that big game on Saturday built up in the first place. I have no issue with the lineup last night.)
  • You’ll note that, as of this morning, Bears coverage has resumed over at BN Bears. I leave it to Jay to discuss why a temporary hiatus was necessary from his perspective, and I offer to the Bears fans among you that the time off is not something we expect to repeat any time soon. Just a confluence of a lot of circumstances that made it necessary to step back at that time, including me needing time to better understand how to incorporate a realistic and sustainable Bears blog into the way we do things at BN. I have said all along that adding Bears coverage was something of an experiment here, which means successes and failures along the way, and a bit of tinkering. The vast majority of you weren’t around for the first few years of BN, when I was writing about the Cubs as a hobby while lawyering 60 hours a week. It took me a long time to get my footing, and to settle into a rhythm that worked for me and for the readers. That’s the process we’re working through with the Bears coverage, and I’m excited to get back to it in a way that can build over the long haul.
  • ssckelley

    It is worth pointing out that Molina’s hit was no line drive, the ball barely hit the bottom of his bat. But he hit it in the perfect spot to get through the infield. I have no problem leaving Rondon in to finish the job but I do question bringing him in after he had pitched the previous 2 games. So now the Cubs start another rival series against the White Sox without their Closer, oops I mean late inning guy, for at least the first game.

  • Petey28

    Yadi was punishing the baseball gods for slipping a pitch past him.

  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

    My big question about the Molina at bat is where the hell was Starlin positioned?? Molina is not a pull hitter and they were pitching him away, he should have been more up the middle. Off the bat I thought it was going to be a routine grounder but then realized there was nobody there and was shocked. I’m curious to know if this was Starlin on his own or if this came from the bench (usually the bench coach or infield coach does defensive positioning).

  • Petey28

    As bad as I wanted to sweep the Cardinals (and it was really bad), I’m hoping that the leaving Rondon in there last night will be beneficial to him and the team in the long run. At least the silver lining I’m trying to find.

  • Jon

    It’s so easy to hate the Cardinals, did anyone catch the constant whining and crying about the strike zone from players and their douche manager last night? All they do is cry all game long.

    • DarthHater

      Yea, I mean, what kind of person just complains constantly? Sheesh! :-P

    • Cizzle

      I had the mlb gamecast going with the game and they were complaining about not getting strike calls on pitches that were 6″ outside. They are so pathetic.

      I actually wondered last night if the umps are becoming aware of the “pitch framing” metric and if they will be less likely to give borderline calls to catchers (like Molina) who are known to get umps to make incorrect calls.

      I guess I’m saying that if I were an ump, and a team was throwing out a guy who I knew was likely to frame a ball in a way that would get me to call it a strike, I would be aware of it going into the game.

  • Darth Ivy

    “Jake Arrieta says he has no discomfort after his first outing of the year, which is swell. ”

    I hope there was no pun intended

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That phrasing was not unintentional …

      • ssckelley

        I bet you own this tshirt, right? :D

        [img]http://cache2.allpostersimages.com/p/MED/56/5672/7MHUG00Z/posters/youth-leave-it-to-beaver-gee-that-s-swell.jpg[/img]

        • Darth Ivy

          That should be RR’s face

  • Darth Ivy

    oh, and seeing Rizzo beat the shift with that single over Adams’ head was a thing of beauty

  • http://BN Sacko

    I think a lot of people would have been saying where’s Rondon if someone else was used in that situation with bad results. It’s a tough one to call, Rondon was doing the job up to last nite. Another available righty in the pen is the hind sight now.
    We’ve been in almost every game, let’s take it out on the Sox!

  • notcubbiewubbie

    Someone tell Ricky Ricardo he has got a lot of Splainin to do after last night’s game.Please don’t take rondon and turn him into everyday james who is no longer effective due to pitching and warming up 1,000,000 x’s over the last few seasons. Warming up Wright to pitch to Carpenter and then letting Rondon walk Carpenter???? Oh and by the way then eventually using Wright anyways?? So far his in game managing and his lineups BRUTAL!!!!!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      His name is Ricky Renteria. Don’t do that again.

  • BlameHendry

    I would be extremely hesitant to call Rondon a closer after last night. He had looked very good so far but we all should have had guarded optimism against his small sample size. His mechanics came unglued last night and he looked like Marmol on some pitches with a bouncy, off-balance delivery, no idea where the ball was going.

    Yeah it’s tough to pitch for the 3rd straight day, but a true closer needs to be able to handle that , and if he can’t, then he’s just not closer material.

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