Contact Struggles, Pulling a Starting Pitcher, and Other Bullets

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Contact Struggles, Pulling a Starting Pitcher, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News, MLB News and Rumors

joe maddon cubsThere is no joy to be taken from what happened 15 years ago, so I won’t pretend otherwise. I do, however, remember that, interspersed among the vast demonstrations of patriotism in the wake of 9/11, including touching and powerful demonstrations throughout MLB, there was a renewed sense of love and affection for our fellow humans. That spirit has since largely faded into the morass of politicking and the daily grind, but I try to remind myself of it regularly.

You can do and say a lot today. It’s important, and I wouldn’t take it away from anyone. For me? I truly just try to remember that, for all our faults, most of us are fine people just trying to make our way. And I love you for it.

  • On the Cubs’ loss yesterday, the team went 0-10 with runners in scoring position, and many of those 0-fers came via the strikeout. It was not a good offensive day. But I’d caution folks against going too far in the direction of “oh, it’s the same old thing, bad situation approach, etc.” Sometimes guys just strike out – even though it’s not like they’re ever trying to strike out. For the most part, a dude’s job is to really try and drive the ball (if he gets a drivable pitch) until there are two strikes. Then, generally, you’d like to see a dude shorten up and put the ball in play. Some guys are better at that last step, some are worse right now. Even the guys who are good at that last step sometimes strike out, because once you’re at two strikes, your margin for error is a single pitch that maybe you misidentify or maybe you just put a bad swing on.

  • The Cubs struck out four times in the 8th and 9th with runners on base, but let’s keep in mind, the guys doing the K’ing were Ken Giles (36.1% K rate) and Luke Gregerson (30.0% K rate). They have a say in the outcome of those at bats, too, you know.
  • The big story from last night was in Miami, where Rich Hill was spinning a perfect game through seven innings (and just 89 pitches) … when he was taken out of the game. It was a stunning and disappointing turn at the time. As you took a little time to digest the fact that this is a guy who is critically important to the Dodgers’ playoff hopes, and has pitched 19.0 innings TOTAL in the last two months, you understood it a little more. At least that’s where I landed, and I felt even more strongly that way after manager Dave Roberts revealed post-game that the training staff told him Hill was feeling “heat” on his finger where a recurrent blister problem has kept him out of action. Given all that, I think pulling Hill was the right move, even in the face of a chance for history. Close call, though.
  • … do you agree? I think I can’t complain about anyone who says I’m wrong, though to do so, you’d have to acknowledge that you’re saying it’s more important to take a shot at a perfect game than to optimize health down the stretch for the playoffs. I’m thinking of John Lackey’s return from his shoulder strain two starts ago, when he carried a no-hitter into the 5th inning. Let’s imagine that was actually a perfect game, and that he was out there having finished the 7th inning, but he’d thrown 80 pitches (recall, he was limited to 76 pitches in that start, and that was about the max he was supposed to throw). Do you send him back out for the 8th? (I mean, Lackey might physically rip you in half if you took him out of that game, so let’s set that part aside.)
  • A minor shame from Hill being removed? In the 7th inning, Yasiel Puig made an absolutely incredible catch in left field, which could have been the kind of catch you remember for years if Hill had continued. (I am reminded of the catch Steven Souza made to finish Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter a couple year’s back (and I then immediately think of a better catch Souza made earlier this year … but no one remembers that one as better, because it wasn’t to preserve a special outing for the pitcher (which I guess proves my point))).
  • One more on Rich Hill, 36: he now has a 1.80 ERA (2.30 FIP) over 95.0 innings on the year. What an incredible story his has been, and what a strange and intriguing free agency he’ll have.
  • Hey, Candy Land is under eight bucks today at Amazon. We’ve played ours so much that the board is broken in half.


Author: Brett Taylor

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