Darvish's Struggle Holding the Lead, Bullpen Changes Needed, Keuchel's Debut, and Other Bullets

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Darvish’s Struggle Holding the Lead, Bullpen Changes Needed, Keuchel’s Debut, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Little Boy wanted to play ‘Go Cubs Go’ on a loop this morning, which is generally fine, and so he did … but man, when it comes after a Cubs loss, it is actually kind of grating …

  • Is it just an anomaly or is it a thing? Yu Darvish so often seems to give up a lead the offense has given him, and frequently immediately. As Joe Maddon told Cubs.com of what we’re all anecdotally noticing, “Well, primarily, I think once we grab a lead, [Darvish] needs to hold onto it. The inning after [we score] has been kind of biting him a little bit. If there’s anything that I’ve noticed, it’s the shut-down inning. We’ve got to get into the shut-down innings more consistently.”
  • Sure enough, as Jordan Bastian points out, even before yesterday’s outing where it happened again, Darvish was holding batters to .623 OPS when the Cubs are trailing … and a whopping .899 OPS when the Cubs are ahead.
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
  • Of course, the Cubs still might have won yesterday if Brad Brach and Mike Montgomery hadn’t teamed up to give up the lead in the 7th inning. Why they were called upon in that particular situation – with Montgomery once again tasked with being the LOOGY he’s never been – is hard for me to figure with a rested bullpen. Brach, who has allowed runs in 8 of his last 11 outings and was quite terrible even before that, was brought into a tie game in the 7th inning as the first reliever out of the bullpen. What could possibly have been the thinking there? Brach allowed a hit and a wild pitch. And then, when lefty Jeff McNeil comes up, Montgomery comes in for the lefty-lefty match-up … except Montgomery has been slightly worse against lefties for his career and massively worse against them this year. Why on earth is he *ever* being called upon as a LOOGY? He’s not even a strikeout guy that you’d want coming in to clean up dirty innings anyway. Oh, and McNeil, by the way? He’s actually hitting lefties better than righties this year!
  • That whole inning was such a mess. Generally love Joe Maddon and think he gets too much grief on bullpen management, but that was a flubbed inning of the highest order. Rowan Wick – give him a chance to show what he’s got! – struck out three in the 9th.
  • Speaking of the bullpen, this guy needs to be up with the Cubs yesterday:

  • As we’ve said, the bullpen is going to get a significant shake-up in the coming weeks anyway, because Kyle Hendricks will eventually return, Carl Edwards Jr. will return, and Craig Kimbrel will come up. I think the Cubs should just get Barnette up around the same time, too, and totally revamp things. The current mix is too frequently not working with what Joe Maddon wants to do, and it might be time for he and the front office to get together on changing up the options.
  • At least the Brewers lost again last night to the Reds, which further tightens things up in the NL Central:

  • This play by Javy Baez is fantastic, but the hat tip at the end – a nod to Adbert Alzolay – is even better:

  • Also … nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing JAVY:

  • Dallas Keuchel, a starting pitcher, made his Braves debut last night – long before reliever Craig Kimbrel debuts with the Cubs – and it was not good. Lasting just 5.0 innings and throwing at the lowest velocity of his career, Keuchel got hit hard, yielding eight hits and four runs over the appearance. Anyone can have a bad outing, but I think there will be plenty of scrutiny about the timing and pace of Keuchel’s return if he struggles going forward. Again I say, I’m fine with the Cubs’ very deliberate pace on Kimbrel’s return.
  • Willson Contreras got to see his friend Daniel yesterday, which is a reminder of just how much more than baseball it can be:

  • And cool that Jason Heyward is supporting Contreras:

  • Bulls summer league time:

  • Heh, the jokey headline was my idea (but with all his weapons and an offensive genius at head coach? I’d put down 10 bucks):



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.