The Chapman Decision, Lester's Availability, Watching Tonight, and Other Bullets

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The Chapman Decision, Lester’s Availability, Watching Tonight, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

aroldis chapman cubsA good omen? Last week, when I got my usual morning cinnamon rolls for visits to Chicago, they were woefully – and presumably inadvertently – unfrosted. My sensibilities were horrified. Today, however, not only are my cinnamon rolls drowning in frosting, there was a BONUS two of them in the box!

Now I just have to fight the urge to eat my feelings in the form of six giant, well-frosted cinnamon rolls, causing me to pass out before Game Seven even begins …

  • First Bullet with a, well, bullet: it could not possibly be harder to focus right now on typing words about things. Tomorrow might be tougher, but this is the toughest it’s ever been for me. Tentative plan for watching the game tonight: there’s a viewing party at The Metro on Clark, a block north of Wrigley Field. Doors open at 4pm, but I haven’t the foggiest idea of how packed it will be and how hard to get in. But I’m going to try, because that sounds like a very fun idea to me.
  • Last night’s win was incredible and enormous and magical and all that lovely stuff, but it was not without some consternation among Cubs fans (and, frankly, almost every outside observer) as Joe Maddon brought Aroldis Chapman into the game in the 7th inning, with a five run lead, just two days after he threw 42 pitches. With a couple runners on and two outs for one of the Indians’ best hitters, Francisco Lindor, I could at least understand the move, even if I openly thought it was overkill at the time. Get that out, kill the momentum, and let the rest of the bullpen clean things up. And, frankly, even that take is somewhat generous, as the Indians’ win expectancy was just 3.1% before the at bat, and 1.5% after. As far as high-leverage moments go, that really wasn’t one. But then Chapman stayed in the game – even after appearing to ding up his leg on the play that ended the inning – for the 8th inning, and, even more unbelievably, started the 9th inning on the mound despite the Cubs padding their lead to seven runs. A four-pitch walk later, and Chapman, mercifully, was removed.
  • To be quite clear, I have no issue with the “you can’t worry about tomorrow until you get there” mindset, and I also have no issue with riding an excellent closer much more heavily at the end of the postseason than you would at any other time. My concern is, was, and probably will be into the game tonight, that Chapman might not be at tip-top effectiveness tonight, after throwing 62 pitches in the three days prior to tonight. That’s a ton of work in a short period of time, and, although Chapman has demonstrated the ability to be very effective with a heavy workload, he’s never quite done anything like this. Had he not be used last night, or at least been limited to just that one out, it’s possible he could have been full-systems-go for three innings tonight. Now? It’s certainly possible he still will be. But I’m less sure of it. And with a five (then seven) run lead last night, I might have been willing to roll the dice on another reliever until/unless the game saw the tying run reach the plate. At most, I might have gone to Chapman for the 7th and 8th, and then I would have pulled him for sure. But maybe I’m the one who’s wrong – I’m always open to that possibility.
  • For his part, Maddon’s explanation of the decision is what you’d expect, and not necessarily something with which you can argue directly (CSN): “I thought the game could have been lost right there if we did not take care of it properly. The meaty part of their batting order. If you don’t get through that, there is no tomorrow.” As I said, I can see it. No serious issue with it, except for the part where Chapman came back out for the 9th. On that part, Maddon later explained that he hadn’t had enough time to get Pedro Strop warm and ready after the Anthony Rizzo homer, but I suppose my question there would be on why he wasn’t getting warm in the top of the 9th anyway, just in case. Anyway. It’s fine. I’m not going to dwell on it, and I very much hope this becomes a long forgotten item.
  • On the bright side, Jon Lester should be very available for a relief appearance if necessary tonight, though for obvious reasons, you’d want him to be starting a clean inning. Hopefully Kyle Hendricks cruises along, as he often does, and a lot of the bullpen-related concerns are mooted. Heck, if he goes six, Lester goes two, and Chapman goes one? That’s all very plausible.
  • … of course, the Indians are thinking of their own version of that tonight, with Corey Kluber, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen. At least Kluber is going on short rest again.
  • There will be no “odds” post today, because it’s basically a coin flip. In fact, as you can see, it’s the closest call for a Game Seven in World Series history, according to ZiPS. We are all just specks of dusting, floating aimlessly through space. (Eat at Arby’s.)
  • If you missed it earlier, Michael got into the Cubs’ homer party from last night, and I wrote about the importance of today.
  • A little World-Series-inspired art battle between Cleveland and Chicago museums is a fun diversion. (h/t The Wife) A personal favorite:

  • There’s also been a battle raging between the Cubs’ and Indians’ Twitter accounts, and you can read about the fun behind the scenes here at Big League Stew. The two are easily among the best MLB accounts on Twitter, so it is unsurprising that they’re having a lot of fun with this series. Speaking of which, the Cubs are here to help:

  • Crazy to look back on this now, and a h/t to CubFanPaul in the comments for unearthing it:

Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear


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.