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- Last night, Starlin Castro was pulled in the 8th inning. Although I was long gone by then, pursuant to my plan to stock up on sleep before the Blogathon (totally failed, by the way – restless sleep because I kept thinking about what I might be missing), I’m told that there was quite a kerfuffle among folks wondering why Castro had been pulled. Was it a trade? Were there hugs? Was he going to the Padres?
- Even before I read the explanations later, as I looked at the box score and recap, I could see an explanation that had nothing to do with hugs and trades: having made the last out in the previous inning, and having had Chris Coghlan pinch hit, it was the perfect spot to double-switch Castro out of the game in favor of Coghlan. Doing so brings a better bat into the game the rest of the way, and also pushes back the pitcher’s spot as far as possible. Even if you love Castro’s bat – this year, not a fair assessment – I could still see the argument for making the switch, because of the improvement to Coghlan’s spot, the pitcher being pushed back, and the fact that the Cubs were already down three. Earlier in the year, if I’m remembering correctly, Maddon pulled Anthony Rizzo from a one-run game to get a faster runner on base in the 9th inning. When the Cubs are trailing and it’s late, Maddon will do dramatic things to get very small, incremental improvements in the Cubs’ chances of scoring, even if it could create strangeness if the game went to extras. The only downside here was Coghlan playing second base, and, again, the Cubs were already down three, so you roll the dice and take your chances.
- After the game, Maddon was asked about the move, and he confirmed that it was simply a matter of wanting to keep Coghlan’s bat in the game (ESPN). Can you blame him? Coghlan, who’d just homered, is hitting .254/.345/.438 with a 113 wRC+ on the year. That’s the third highest on the Cubs among guys who’ve been around all season.
- So, on paper, there’s a very reasonable baseball explanation for the decision. There are rumors about Castro, and the Trade Deadline is two days away. Yes, there could be trade discussions going on, but, based on what info we have before us, the move last night could have nothing at all to do with that. We’ll see if Castro is in the starting lineup this afternoon for today’s rubber game.
- UPDATE/EDIT: I knew missing even half of a game was going to burn me. As many of you have already pointed out, I clearly didn’t read the box score correctly when I was writing up the preceding Bullets. Castro was not the last out when he was switched out of the game – he was actually due up fourth in the next inning. Thank you for heads up, y’all. I still think the baseball explanation plays, given that there are only so many positions Coghlan could have played where you would be removing a lesser bat (Coghlan at second, Russell to short, for example). But, yeah. Not quite as clear cut as I thought.
- Dallas Beeler is not going to be the Cubs’ 5th starter going forward, and Maddon conceded that the man who replaced him in the game – Travis Wood – is a consideration to get the spot, though Maddon would prefer to leave him in the pen (Cubs.com). To my mind, if the Cubs have to fill the 5th starter spot internally after the Trade Deadline – please don’t not make a deal, Cubs – the guy is Tsuyoshi Wada. He’s been effective at the big league level, keeps Wood in the bullpen (where he’s been great), and at least improves that spot slightly over Beeler or other fill-ins. The other option is going to be Clayton Richard, whose start last night for Iowa – a solid one – lines him up with the 5th starter spot.
- The bullpen is also now a major source of concern, but keep an eye on Zac Rosscup (shoulder), who has now reached Iowa in his rehab assignment.
- If you missed it early this morning, we talked about Eloy Jimenez leaving his Eugene game early last night. And Javy Baez went off in his return to Iowa.
- Addison Russell’s crazy play on Monday spurred a particularly enjoyable GIF:
— Randall J. Sanders (@RandallJSanders) July 28, 2015
- A big, notable, and overdue change:
Hall of Fame decides BBWAA members more than 10 years removed from actively covering the game can no longer vote for Hall of Fame.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) July 28, 2015
- If you want to see BN Facebook posts more frequently when you’re on Facebook, do this (or, if you’re on mobile, just click on the “Following” button on the BN Facebook page, and select “See First”):