Losses Like Yesterday’s, Steele’s Dominance, Why Assad Stayed In, Why Mastrobuoni Didn’t Dive, and Other Cubs Bullets
The Cubs can still win this opening series by beating the Brewers today. And, yes, in any series that features Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, you’d gladly take a series win. I’m still sour about yesterday’s game, because it felt like a win that slipped away, but I also know that we put so much weight on these early games. The Cubs will lose another 30 games just like yesterday’s, even if they have a “good” season.
- It’s funny to think about how that first game, we said it was a pretty good encapsulation of how the Cubs will need to win this year (great starting pitching and lined-up relief, great defense, limited mistakes, and peskiness at the plate), and yesterday’s game was a pretty good encapsulation of how the Cubs can lose this year. Very little power? Check. Making mistakes at inopportune times? Check. Margin for error so small for the bullpen that any goof could lose the game? Check. Defense not perfect? Check.
- Obviously the one very – VERY – good thing from the game was Justin Steele’s outstanding start. By Game Score, he had just ONE start last year that was better than yesterday’s (a two-hit, one-walk, nine-strikeout, six-scoreless-inning effort against the Brewers in August).
- We’ve talked a lot about Steele’s magical fastball, and this is an excellent visual on what makes it magical:
- If your four-seamer cuts that much, then you can absolutely bust righties in and they will have such a hard time not offering at the pitch. That means you get a lot of whiffs on the slider down and in, and also means you get a load of crappy contact off the barrel.
- Steele also made this outstanding play:
- According to Marquee, Marcus Stroman and Justin Steele became the first pair of Cubs starting pitchers to begin the season with scoreless outings since at least 1906. No pressure today, Jameson Taillon.
- As for Javier Assad, with the distance of a day, I can say it really was just that one walk. He was otherwise just as good as you would hope he would look. The walk – when Garrett Mitchell was trying to sac bunt – was a really bad, and obviously really impactful, one. So I’m not minimizing it. But I just want to be clear that it wasn’t like he had a “bad outing.” He had one really bad plate appearance.
- For his part, David Ross said he’d had “no hesitation” about sending Assad out for that second inning. He cruised in his first inning and then was facing the bottom of the order. And frankly, if he DOESN’T walk Mitchell, he maybe still gives up the tying run on the Jesse Winker crummy groundball single (.230 expected BA). Hardly a capital offense.
- And as for Miles Mastrobuoni’s now-infamous non-dive, it’s kinda like, what do you expect the guy to say? “For some reason, I shut it down in my head,” Mastrobuoni said, per the Sun-Times. “But looking back on it, I definitely wanted to dive and leave all the uncertainty out there. I think [I was] maybe a little late on the jump. I thought I had a good track on it, but it was pushing away from me.” You could tell that’s what happened: a momentary internal flinch, and he pulled up. But you would have wanted, in that situation, a pre-existing mindset that you were going to ball out to make any catch possible. Because, like we said at the time and like proved true, that ball dropping was the whole ballgame anyway.
- 2 for 47 should be *almost* impossible:
- I say that more out of wonderment than criticism. Facing Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff and Devin Williams is a major factor. Cold early-season conditions at Wrigley Field is a factor. And it’s two games. Whatever. I’m more just saying it’s willllllllld to look at, as Michael indicated.
- Former Cubs outfielder Trayce Thompson, who started to wreck the ball in his brief time with the Cubs … but they let him go … just had a three-homer game for the Dodgers:
- And speaking of Dodgers outfielders whose performances yesterday would’ve been of assistance to the Cubs:
- (No, I’m not saying the Cubs should’ve kept Jason Heyward! But, yeah, like Luis suggests, I’m thinking Heyward would’ve made that catch …. )
- Christopher Morel is showing out at Iowa through two games:
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