The 9th Inning Told You Everything You Needed to Know About the Cubs’ Roster and Lineup Failings
Your team is down a run in the 9th inning. But the guy leading off the inning singles. Tying run on base. Nice. Then the second guy singles! Tying run in scoring position, and lead run on base. With nobody out! Even better, the next guy up is your designated hitter. This is a dream scenario!
… unless you’re the Early-May 2023 Chicago Cubs.
That’s because last night’s designated hitter is a guy hitting .250/.294/.363, and who is 21% worse than the average hitter. A guy who has been a below-average bat overall going on FIVE YEARS now. That’s the guy chosen, among the options on the roster, to be in the lineup for this bat.
So dominant is he with the bat that the guy is then ASKED TO BUNT. He does so, poorly, nearly bunting into a double-play (because he has three sac bunts total in his 13-year career). After a force-out at second base on the bunt, the next batter grounds into a double-play to end the game.
I am breaking no new ground here when I tell you that everything that happened in that 9th inning SCREAMED about the mistakes the Cubs are making with this roster and with their player usage surrounding Eric Hosmer. We all already know it, and frankly I hate to beat up on the guy. It’s not his fault that he had ZERO business being the DH last night and had ZERO business batting 6th and had ZERO business still taking that at bat and had ZERO business being asked to bunt.
If you have so little confidence in the guy in that spot, why on earth did you DH him in the first place? Why didn’t you pinch-hit for him? Why is he on the roster if that’s how he’s going to be used? What is the thinking? Is there any thinking?
The decisions that led to Hosmer being in that spot in the first place are ill-considered. The Cubs have flushed winnable games down the toilet this week, and last night’s was easily the most egregious. I’ll just say it flat out: Matt Mervis should’ve been on the team by last night and should’ve been in the starting lineup in place of Hosmer. That’s not me being a meatball fan; that was the clear decision MANY days ago, and what happened last night – not just in the 9th, but in all of Hosmer’s plate appearances AS THE DESIGNATED HITTER – was wholly predictable.
The whole Hosmer-Mervis thing is hardly the only issue with the roster and player usage over the past week or two, but it’s certainly the most glaring and the most galling.
The Cubs have chosen to shoot themselves in the foot (or worse), and now they’re hopping around wondering why they are in pain.
The good news is that it’s only May 4th. There is a LOT of season left, and they don’t HAVE TO keep doing this to themselves. Make the roster changes. Stop giving key plate appearances to guys who are not going to contribute. Stop overcomplicating these decisions.