Michael is off to Greece for his honeymoon, so I’ve got the keys for a while. Well, I mean, I guess I already had the keys, but now I don’t have to share them. Except with Luke, and also with Luis when I need an assist. This metaphor sucks. I blame the Reds.
- At a very generic, non-analytical level, you’ll just have games like last night’s sometimes. A pitcher you count on facing a terrible on-paper pitcher in a ballpark where the offense hits really well, and also the other team stinks. You really want to win that game. But sometimes, stuff happens, and you don’t. Fine, fine.
- It does, however, set up an even stronger “oh man, they really gotta win tonight” situation. Although it isn’t literally a must-win game, consider that the Cubs have Jose Quintana going tonight in game two of a four-game series against a terrible team, after having already lost the first game. They are likely going to have to go with a bullpen day tomorrow, and then their Sunday starter is up in the air, too, with Tyler Chatwood’s wife expecting. Moreover, the Cubs are facing a struggling pitcher tonight, and will be facing two pitchers who’ve been having more success this weekend. Baseball is silly and weird, of course, but after losing last night, if the Cubs want a good shot at splitting this series (at a minimum), they’ve gotta win tonight.
- As for what happened last night, on the pitching side, it really isn’t complicated: Kyle Hendricks totally lost his command, Joe Maddon was forced to make a change in an ugly spot, and Randy Rosario missed his spot with a fastball that Jesse Winker turned into four runs. It isn’t complicated. No one made a poor decision. Guys missed spots, and the Reds did what pros are supposed to do. It’s baseball.
- On Hendricks: he says his mechanics fell apart in that sixth inning, which, well, I’d certainly hope so. His 7.4% walk rate is certainly not high, but it’s the highest it’s ever been with the Cubs (in fact, his walk rate has ticked up every single year since his debut in 2014), and his 18.9% strikeout rate is the lowest it’s been since he was a rookie. His home run rate (1.41/9) is by far the highest of his career, his groundball rate is down, his soft contact rate is down, and his hard contact rate is up. Everything on those fronts are worse since May 19, when he started a streak of at least one walk in every single start through last night (7 starts). The mechanics may have been way off in the 6th inning last night, but it seems like something has been off for much longer than that. If he’s healthy, he’ll figure it out eventually.
- On Rosario: we’ve been pointing it out for a while – he’s had great results, but there was just nothing underneath those results to suggest he could keep it up unless he suddenly started limiting hard contact MUCH more and also started striking out a lot more batters. That’s not to say he can’t improve, as he only just turned 24, had almost no experience at AAA, and only became a full-time reliever two years ago. But right now, he’s probably going to give up some damage from time to time.
- On Harvey: can we give a little credit to a guy who pitched well, rather than assuming the Cubs choked? Matt Harvey has been really crappy for a while, and there’s no arguing that. But last night, I saw a guy throwing 96 mph (pumping it up to 98 mph) and generally hitting his spots (he was LIVING on the glove-side corner, man). The Cubs didn’t have *that* many opportunities against him (they were 1 for 5 with runners in scoring position), so it wasn’t like one of those games where they were gifted chances repeatedly and failed to come through. Harvey, a former ace of the highest order, simply pitched well. Maybe the surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome has truly helped him, and it’s just been a process of getting back on track. Who knows?
- The execution on this play was impressive as heck, and deserves spotlighting even in a loss:
"That's what we do, man." pic.twitter.com/qt1hIlhcUd
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 22, 2018
- Working hard inside The Old Scoreboard:
Even our scoreboard works hard. #EverybodyIn
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 21, 2018
- Speakers, waterproof bags, desks, and Jurassic Park are among the Deals of the Day at Amazon today.
- And it’s a summer clearance day at MLB Shop, which means you should stroll on over there and check it out:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) June 22, 2018