Dale Sveum "Explains" His Strange Lineup Decision and Other Bullets

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Dale Sveum “Explains” His Strange Lineup Decision and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I “forgot” that I had signed up to run a 5K this morning (read: The Wife signed us up and probably told me while I was typing a post some weeks ago), so I am beat. A runner I am not.

  • So, you’re probably still stewing a bit about the Cubs’ lineup last night. For those who didn’t see or have already blocked the game from memory, the gist of the issue is this: Dale Sveum had created a righty lineup for the Cubs, as he does, in anticipation of facing lefty Joe Saunders. But Saunders was scratched just before lineups were exchanged, and was replaced with righty Josh Collmenter. Fortunately, Dale had time to change up his lineup back to the normal iteration, featuring the LaHairs, the Campanas, and the DeJesuses, for example. But … Dale didn’t change the lineup, instead leaving Joe Mather, Reed Johnson, and Jeff Baker in to face Collmenter. Obviously, it didn’t go well.
  • Dale offered what kind of looks like an explanation after the game, but it’s going to leave you wanting. “I had time to change it,” Sveum told reporters. “It was more Collmenter, we had no prior history. None of our hitters had ever faced him. He’s so funky …. I’ve seen last year [in Milwaukee] when no one ever faced him before. He’s a completely different pitcher. He’s a guy you need to face three, four or five times before you get a reading on that arm slot.” So, none of the batters had seen Collmenter, and he’s funky, so why bother with match-ups? I mean, is that really his explanation? At least give us, “I’d already told the guys who were playing, they were warm, and you can’t just change the lineup at the last second because it throws off guys’ rhythms.” I don’t know if that would have been BS, but at least offer it. Because the explanation Sveum game leaves me thinking irrational, dark thoughts about tanking, and I really don’t think that’s the case. For now, I’ll file it under: really, really strange.
  • Anthony Rizzo has now been at AAA long enough that the Cubs will have control over him through 2018 (instead of just 2017), but that doesn’t mean he’ll come straight up today. Dale Sveum says Rizzo will be up “soon,” but not in Arizona. The Cubs head home to Wrigley for a series with the Mets starting on Monday, and then they face the Astros to close out the week/month before heading to Atlanta on July 2.
  • Sveum added that Randy Wells is expected to start again on Tuesday, despite his weak outing filling in for Ryan Dempster earlier this week. That plan could change, but, for now, the plan is to give Wells one more shot.
  • About Jeff Samardzija’s rough start, Sveum pointed out that Samardzija tends to start leaving the ball up and walking guys around the 80-pitch mark. The velocity is still there, but not the command or control.
  • As noted in the comments last night, Jeff Samardzija has a third-time-through-the-order problem (small sample size warning ahead). The first time through the order, batters are hitting just .232/.278/.320 off of him, and he’s got a herculean 5.25 K/BB ratio. The second time through, he has a less sexy, but still acceptable .248/.314/.431 line against, with a 2.30 K/BB ratio. But the third time he sees guys in a given game, they’re hitting .325/.411/.403, and his K/BB ratio plummets to just 1.55.
  • None of that is totally atypical for pitchers, but it was precisely the fear we had with Samardzija coming out of the bullpen: unless he’s got all of his pitches working, he doesn’t have enough stuff to fool guys the third time they see him in a game. So, it could be the fastball up thing that Dale noticed, but it could also be a reluctance (or inability) to fully mix up his pitches throughout the game.
  • Speaking of Samardzija, he’ll probably scale back his boot camp preparations in the offseason this year, after two straight Winters of  killing himself.
  • Interim hitting coach James Rowson says he hasn’t tried to change a lot so far with the Cubs, just “attacking the strike zone.” I know that’s just a meaningless buzz phrase, but that’s, like, exactly the kind of thing Rudy Jaramillo used to say.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer wonders whether Starlin Castro will be able to truly buy into Theo Epstein’s preferred plate approach method.

Author: Brett Taylor

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