The 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.