Sick of the Reds, Schwarber and Garrett Get Mad, Struggles Against Sliders, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Sick of the Reds, Schwarber and Garrett Get Mad, Struggles Against Sliders, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Reds can’t hurt the Cubs any more this year. So at least there’s that. It was an 8-11 season series loss for the Cubs – the first time they’ve dropped that particular series in five years. I can’t help but wonder if new Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson, formerly of the Brewers and formerly-formerly of the Cubs’ farm system, had something to do with it.

  • Tyler Mahle has good stuff – we’ve seen it before – and it must match up well with the Cubs, in particular. Let his dominance last night be a reminder that the Cubs’ lineup just gets shut down by certain types of pitchers (fastball/slider righties, and junkballing lefties seem like the trick), and more diversity is necessary. When Anthony Rizzo is out, the grinding thins even further.
  • Oh, by the way, tonight’s starter Jack Flaherty is one of the best fastball/slider righties going right now, so … maybe a good time to sit the guys who struggle the most against the slider? Among the current Cubs regulars, that would actually be Nick Castellanos and Jason Heyward, and Albert Almora has been even worse. Tough outfield options tonight. On that basis, and by the fact that he’s actually been pretty good against righty sliders, it would be a good night to at least get Ian Happ in the starting lineup (second best on the Cubs behind Anthony Rizzo). Both Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini have been handling them well this year, too.
  • Interesting data when you start looking about how teams, overall, perform against certain pitches. The Cubs are strongly negative against sliders (and it gets worse when you take out Rizzo), but so are virtually all teams. But if you’re effective as a team against sliders, holy crap you’re effective – no surprise at the top:

  • About that wild moment in the 9th, with Amir Garrett striking out Kyle Schwarber and celebrating, and then Schwarber losing his cool: it was pretty much entirely fine throughout! First, the moment if you didn’t see it:

  • First, on Garrett, his reaction to a big strikeout in the 9th inning was perfectly fine. He was pumped to strike out Schwarber, as he should be. Second, on Schwarber’s reaction, yeah, he went a little too far in shouting down a dude who wasn’t even looking at him, but you *do* understand a frustrated competitor, especially when it’s a guy in Garrett who has a little history of beefing with the Cubs. Remember when he and Javy Baez got into it last year because Garrett held a grudge about a Baez celebration the year before?

  • So, you consider that there’s history there, you throw in a big moment where Schwarber was ticked to strike out, and when the adrenaline is flowing, sometimes you can’t help yourself. I’m not *defending* it, mind you, I’m just saying I can see how it happens, and I don’t really have a problem with Schwarber there. And then Garrett’s reaction to Schwarber telling him to, eh hem, head back to the dugout? Running off and putting his hands up? That was awesome. Set aside your Cubs fandom for a moment – that was just funny and good.
  • As for Schwarber, after the game he said he knows he shouldn’t have reacted:

  • There is a “strong possibility” that Craig Kimbrel (elbow) is back as soon as today, though I can’t help but wonder how the Cubs will choose to work him into the mix. They need every contributor they can get, but would Joe Maddon put Kimbrel right out there to hold a one-run lead against the Cardinals after missing three weeks, with no rehab outings? I think that would not be the preference, but if that situation arises, I think we might nevertheless see it.
  • He’s not wrong:

  • Too bad this came in a loss, because it’s a great shot:

  • Speaking of Nick Castellanos there, he continues his march toward 60:

  • Eff this:

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)


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.