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Bullpen Woes, Hitting Woes, So Many Game One Woes, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

The Family is taking a little day trip to King’s Island, and I definitely need a little distraction. Like you, I get so sucked into these playoff games that it can be really hard to shake things off when it doesn’t go well. And heck, last night’s loss – wasn’t really all that close, several innings to expect and process a loss, no single play that cost the Cubs the game – was about as easy as any to shake off, emotionally speaking.


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So I’m gonna get all twisted up on some roller coasters, eat some crap, and come back fresh and ready for Game Two.

  • As always, Joe Maddon caught heat for his bullpen usage last night, and most specifically the decision to pull Jose Quintana after five innings, and then go to Hector Rondon, who quickly gave up a solo homer to Chris Taylor. To me, pulling Quintana was a no-brainer given his appears two days prior, his obviously diminishing command (not only did he walk two in that fifth inning, he was no longer putting the fastball where he wanted, and he got punished for it), and the two righties set to come up the next inning. Going to Rondon there was certainly debatable, but if you want a match-up righty for two batters, who else was it going to be? It’s easy to say “Pedro Strop, obviously!” but there were still more than three innings to cover at that point. Either Rondon was going to pitch then, or, if the Cubs were fortunate enough to keep things tied or take the lead later, Rondon was going to be needed for match-ups later. And then you’d *really* be blasting Maddon.
  • That is to say, the problem wasn’t so much the bullpen choice there … it was that it’s hard to get through the playoffs with a host of relief options all struggling at the same time. Even Mike Montgomery, who’d been as reliable as anyone, is mired in a deep stretch of ineffectiveness. Maybe it makes me a temporary meatball fan, but if it isn’t Strop or Wade Davis coming into the game right now, I don’t have a lick of confidence.

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  • I thought the decision to go to John Lackey in a dirty inning was an odd one. Him going a couple innings at the end of a game the Cubs are probably not going to win is, I suppose, fine by me, but there was just something about the way he was used that struck me as strange. Not necessarily good or bad, just not what I was expecting. In the end, though, since the Cubs’ bats did absolutely nothing in the later innings, it’s probably good that the meat of the bullpen all got another day of rest.
  • Speaking of which, that Dodgers bullpen is going to be a bear this whole series. The Cubs did not muster so much as a hit in their four innings against the bullpen after five innings of hard contact against Clayton Kershaw. It’s hard to believe I’d ever be disappointed to see Kershaw departing after five innings, but last night, I was. Cubs had their chances to score against Kershaw, and outside of a beautiful Albert Almora blast, they didn’t get it done.
  • And that’s the obvious other big problem for the Cubs, both last night, and in the playoffs so far: they aren’t hitting. They’ve faced excellent pitching, and that doesn’t make it easy, but you won’t win many games with four hits, especially if the bullpen continues to struggle. Here’s hoping the bats have much more success against old friend Rich Hill tonight.

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(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
  • It turns out that the family medical emergency that diverted the Cubs’ plane from Washington was with Jose Quintana’s wife, who is doing well now (Cubs.com). After she was feeling better, Quintana was comfortable with pitching (and he felt physical fine), so the Cubs proceeded that way.
  • As for the rest of the team, none will use it as an excuse, but I suppose we do have to keep in mind that they were all probably extra tired after a late-night travel situation that turned into them not getting to their hotel until the afternoon the next day in a different time zone.
  • Capacity at Dodger Stadium is 56,000, which means you literally could have walked up to the box office yesterday and bought a ticket to the freaking NLCS:

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  • Also, how horrible are the HYPE YOU SOUND EFFECTS at venerable Dodger Stadium? They might as well have this on the big board:

  • Oh, Yasiel Puig. Why you gotta be entertaining when I really do not want you to be entertaining:

  • Back to the bullpen for a moment, I think Luke is right about both of these things:


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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.