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Walks and Homers Are Killing the Cubs in the 8th Inning and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

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  • If you missed the big news after the game last night, Willson Contreras is headed to Myrtle Beach for a rehab assignment, and Jake Arrieta has a mild hamstring strain.
  • Carl Edwards Jr. played the part of 8th Inning Nightmare Fuel last night, though it’s hard to say he pitched all that poorly. A couple bloopers did him in, but it was the leadoff walk that drives you crazy. Edwards will always have his bouts of wildness, but a leadoff walk with a one-run lead in the 8th inning … oof. That’s one that really stings. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that one of the four “balls” in the sequence was, in fact, not even close to being a ball. But the other three were nowhere close.)
  • Edwards has been extremely effective lately, so I’m not going to dump on him too hard – nor on Joe Maddon for relying on Edwards for that inning. The reality is that no one in the Cubs’ pen except Wade Davis is wholly reliable right now (and even Davis, despite his perfect save streak, has seen his shaky moments), and no matter who Joe Maddon chooses for that 8th inning, if it goes awry, he made a mistake. You could argue that he should have made a change after the walk and the firs bloop single, but do you really believe any other reliever is better equipped to try to get some strikeouts in that moment? Edwards was the right guy even after the first two reached in the 8th. It just didn’t work out.

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(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
  • I don’t know why the 8th inning has been such a bear for the Cubs this year, but it’s an absolute train wreck. Checking the splits at FanGraphs, the Cubs have the second worst 8th inning ERA in baseball this year at 5.41, which is nearly a run and a half higher than their overall team ERA. The biggest issues are the walks have gone up (second worst in baseball in the 8th), and the homers have gone up (second worst in baseball in the 8th). You want a recipe for 8th inning disasters? Walk more guys and give up more homers.
  • And it’s not like the Cubs don’t have good relievers! They have several guys who are very good! I swear! They just have all come together in some kind of weird boycott of effectiveness in the 8th inning.
  • Taylor Davis officially joined the Cubs yesterday, and although he’s best known in wider circles for his incredible stare ability, he should be best known by Cubs fans as an undrafted free agent who worked his way up through the farm system for six years, despite irregular playing time, before reaching the big leagues now at age 27. Davis says it exactly right to CSN: “This is the dream. Hopefully, it shows some people: Just never give up. Just look at my career in the past and see what has happened to me. I didn’t really play early in my career. For this to happen at this point shows people that if you have a uniform, you have a chance.” That’s a message the Cubs would do well to broadcast throughout the farm system for years to come.

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  • Joe Maddon offered his perspective on the Red Sox using video and an Apple Watch to steal signs from the Yankees, and I think I agree with him (CSN): stealing signs on base is and will always be part of the game – it’s right there in front of you, after all. But once you start using video and other technology to pull it off, that somehow feels wrong.
  • In stories I don’t want to touch but have to at least mention because otherwise it looks like I’m not paying attention: an adult-themed actress and (as near as I can tell) a social-media-attention-getter (hey, a skill is a skill) posted direct messages on Twitter, purporting to show Willson Contreras asking her to say hi and be friends. There was nothing particularly incendiary in the messages, but it blew up a bit, and Deadspin wrote a sufficiently well-circulated post that Contreras’s reps told the site his Twitter was hacked. Feels like “hey, he’s young and single and he took his shot” would have been a better response from a PR perspective, but I don’t know the particulars, so I won’t cast aspersions. Maybe he was hacked. Maybe it was the Cardinals. Maybe not. This one falls into the “I super don’t care” category of Cubs stories. We good? Can I be done with this one? Cool. Moving on.
  • Heh. I like this:

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  • And from our sister site, he might be the best rookie quarterback, but when will he actually play:


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.