David Ross Explains That Bunt, But I Gotta Say I'm Still Perplexed (UPDATE)

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David Ross Explains That Bunt, But I Gotta Say I’m Still Perplexed (UPDATE)

Chicago Cubs

The 7th inning near rally for the Chicago Cubs last night was full of strange and vexing managerial decisions from David Ross, and although I can talk myself into at least calling some of them a coin flip or particular style match-up against the opposing pitcher, the one I cannot get past is the bunt.

With the Cubs down a run in the 7th inning, the first two batters of the inning reached base, bringing Patrick Wisdom to the plate. Wisdom had taken a pitch off his wrist in the previous plate appearance, but stayed in the game. Fernando Cruz is a decent righty reliever for the Reds, though he’s one with reverse splits in his limited big league experience. Good opportunity for the Cubs to do some damage.

… and then Wisdom bunted. In the air. To Cruz. For an easy out.

The call came from the bench, and here’s how Ross explained it after the game.

“In my mind, there’s a lot of good there if we get that bunt down,” Ross said after the game, per The Tribune. “There’s a lot of factors within (the question about the wrist). He kept telling me it was good. He’s one of our better bunters, to be honest with you, and got in a 3-1 count.”

Ah, OK, but once he got to 3-1, surely AT LEAST THEN that’s when you don’t take the bat out of his hands?

“I didn’t (let Wisdom swing away), and a bad result, but he’s a really good bunter, really good player. I thought the matchup favored us getting that guy over to second and third and it just didn’t work out.”

David Ross really wanted that sac bunt. And Wisdom also said after the game that he didn’t think the wrist was a factor in the bunt decision.

The thing is, for as much as they’ll say the wrist wasn’t a factor in the decision to bunt (and Wisdom did swing away in his next at bat), I’m not sure that’s a particularly great point! The bunt would’ve made a lot more sense if the wrist WAS a factor. Still bad, but it would’ve made more sense!

If you said something like, “We were 50/50 on whether to bunt there, and the tiebreaker was that we felt Wisdom could be just as successful bunting as he normally could, but couldn’t be as successful swinging away as he normally could,” well, I might be able to buy that. But saying the wrist wasn’t a factor is the same thing as saying we were going to have him bunt no matter what, which is just a bonkers position for your big slugger on a 3-1 count in a bandbox ballpark in the 7th inning and two runners on base. If you felt Wisdom was perfectly healthy, then he should’ve been swinging away. Any other decision is nonsensical.

If Wisdom *WAS* compromised, then he obviously should’ve been pinch hit for in that situation. It’s not like the Cubs don’t have several guys who can play third base, including guys who were available on the bench in that moment.

It feels like the decision to have Wisdom stay in and bunt was the worst of both worlds.

Even if it works (which is not close to a 100% proposition!), you’ve got a lefty coming in to face Eric Hosmer (one-run game, do the Reds play in? Didn’t matter in reality, as Hosmer struck out), whom Ross was apparently not going to pinch hit for. Then you have Edwin Rios, another lefty who is a strikeout threat (and he did get pinch hit for). So it’s not as if a successful bunt by Wisdom sets things up perfectly in any case.

Your best bet to score there was simply to not give free outs away, especially after Wisdom got the count to 3-1! By the way? He bunted ball four.

UPDATE: David Ross was on The Score this afternoon, and further discussed The Bunt. Maybe this adds a little more clarity regarding the wrist impact, but it sure sounds like Ross still wanted the bunt no matter what:

“That was on me, I made that decision,” Ross said. “Guys at first and second, he got hit on the wrist the time before, there were a lot of question marks within that. He was taking swings in the cage the inning before, felt like he was good enough to play – but we all know actual game speed, contact, swings are a little bit different.

“One, (we had) contact behind him with (Eric) Hosmer, and plenty of matchup stuff behind Wis, so wanted to get those guys into scoring position, second and third. Got to a 3-1 count, still an advantage count for Wis, he just happened to not execute the bunt.

“We’ll kind of never know how those things will play out. Maybe he hits a three-run homer if we let him swing away, or maybe he strikes out and we don’t get anything. But yeah, I think it’s one of those, I’ve got a lot of question marks about how he feels, trusting the feedback I’m getting from my trainers and also trusting the feedback he’s telling me of how he can perform.”

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.