Today is the second anniversary of The John Baker Game – the famed 16-inning marathon win against the Rockies, in which the final inning was pitched by, and the winning run scored by, former Cubs back-up catcher John Baker. In honor of that legitimately awesome occasion, the guys at Ivy Envy and Danny Rocket put together a John Baker Day event at Nisei Lounge in Wrigleyville, and the man himself will be in attendance. Much less excitingly, I will also be there later this morning.
- Well, we got our first glimpse last night of what the back-end of the revamped bullpen can be now, with Pedro Strop pitching the seventh inning of a one-run game, Hector Rondon pitching 2/3 of the 8th inning, and Aroldis Chapman picking up the final four outs. The game situation dictated John Lackey departing after only six innings – his spot came up in the bottom of the sixth with some potential insurance runs available on the bases – as he was at only 84 pitches, throwing the ball well, and probably could have gone deeper. But, it was a reminder that in those starts where one of the Cubs’ arms can’t go any deeper, they’re going to be able to lock down a lot of close wins with this bullpen.
- And, hey, that doesn’t even factor in guys like Carl Edwards Jr., Justin Grimm, Joe Nathan, Mike Montgomery, and Travis Wood who can all shave an inning off the front of that, too. (Oh, that’s the entirety of the rest of the bullpen. That’s a good looking bullpen.) In theory, the Cubs will be able to not only maximize results in an individual game, but also keep their starting pitchers nice and fresh down the stretch. So much of this trickles down from the Chapman addition – once again, from a baseball perspective, it makes all the sense in the world, and those arguing the Cubs gave up too much are missing the enormous range of Chapman’s impact.
- On the four-out save for Chapman, I was actually surprised to see a stat last night that that was only the sixth time he’s had a four-out save in his career (167 total career saves). Given his physicality, I would have expected more, but then, most of his career has been with the Reds under Dusty Baker’s and Bryan Price’s very “by the book” watch. (To be sure, Chapman’s pitched more than one inning a handful of times in his career, just not necessarily for a save.) Joe Maddon will definitely be making use of Chapman’s ability to go more than one inning, though. I doubt last night will be the same kind of extreme outlier for Chapman as it’s been in the past.
- Joe Maddon says he’s working to build a relationship with Chapman because he wants Chapman to trust him (ESPN). And the Cubs, for their part, will be hiring a new translator for Chapman, according to CSN.
- Jaime Garcia and his injury history pitching on short rest for the Cardinals … what could go wrong? (Probably nothing.)
- If you missed it this morning, the Padres and Marlins are getting together on a big trade.
- A Rock Band bundle is a Deal of the Day at Amazon for the musically-inclined gamers among you.