Keep It Real

GAME 56 PREVIEW TORONTO BLUE JAYS (29-28) at CHICAGO CUBS (30-25) Wrigley Field, 7.05pm CT, TV: WGN, RSN
SP *John Koronka SP *Gustavo Chacin
LF Reed Johnson CF Jerry Hairston
RF Alex Rios SS #Neifi Perez
CF Vernon Wells 1B Derrek Lee
1B Shea Hillenbrand 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B Aaron Hill LF Jason Dubois
2B Frank Menechino RF *Jeromy Burnitz
C #Gregg Zaun C Michael Barrett
SS John McDonald 2B #Jose Macias
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
It was about a month ago now that the Cubs stood at 12-17, having lost a record seven in a row under Dusty Baker. There was talk of the season being over. A month later how things have changed. The Cubs have won nine of their last ten, twelve of their last fifteen, eighteen of their last twenty-six, and they stand proudly a few games above five hundred, atop the wild card standings no less. But, just as it was wrong to be too down on the Cubs back at the beginning of May, it's just as wrong to be too high on them now. Baseball is a game of peaks and troughs, good streaks and bad, and that cocktail of a combination has a nasty habit of creating undue optimism and pessimism in near equal disproportion. These Cubs are a good team, but they certainly have their flaws and limitations. That they'll be sending out Koronka, Rusch and Mitre to face the Blue Jays over the next few days could give us an untimely reminder of that. That's not entirely fair though. Rusch has been magnificent so far this season, twice as good as even I had dared hope (no, literally! I thought an ERA around 4.00 would be an achievement for him - he currently stands at 1.96). Naturally, that kind of a figure is only going to head in the wrong direction in the long term, but hopefully he can continue his dominating form a while longer. And I am meanwhile one of Mitre's bigger fans - I see a pitcher with a plus sinker that induces multitudes of groundballs (the kind that stay in the ballpark), a decent slider and an improving changeup that get a fair if unspectacular numbers of punchouts, and acceptable enough control of all three to not walk too many. That, and his youth and paycheck, make him serviceable in the short-term, perhaps even a decent starter in the longer term once he's got some experience under his belt. Suggestions that he shouldn't be accruing that experience with the Cubs right now strike me as bizarre given the next best option, apparently, is John Koronka, a pitcher that truly doesn't belong in a major-league rotation. Indeed, it's only Koronka's turn in the rotation right now that I really worry about. Hopefully the Cubs can score some runs tonight and the bullpen be in fine fettle, because an okay fastball, a good changeup and not much else doesn't seem to get you around the lineup too many times at this level. All the same, go Koronka and go Cubs! Interleague play. There's a topic that raises debate. So, debate. Personally, I quite like it. Let's be honest, we're the Cubs, and we're not ever going to see an American League team otherwise! I don't think that'd be a good thing. The current system isn't ideal, it's unbalanced for starters, but it's better than nothing. Don't worry though, I'm not completely anti-traditionalist - the DH should go. PS. Keep an eye out tonight too for Rich Hill vs Adam Wainwright, Cubs vs Cardinals at Triple-A, also starting at 7.05pm CT


Any word/opinion on why BOTH Patterson and Walker are out of the lineup tonight? At least play Enrique Wilson over Macias, geez....

chacin's splits:

vs. lefties
.203/.243/.266 2 BB/15 K 64 AB's

vs. righties
.294/.374/.412 23BB/22 K 187 AB's

Hairston and Walker seem to be on a pretty straight platoon for the time being, and it's probably just an attempt to give Korey a day off

Thanks, Rob, that makes sense. Still don't like it though.

I have a love/hate relationship with interleague play. I have always enjoyed it until last year. At this time last year the cubs were about even with the cardinals, then we had to play the A's and White Sox, while the Cardinals were going against their regional rivals the AAA team in KC. It gave them an advantage that they never let go after going 11-1 in interleague.

Why do people only talk about the "unbalanced" interleague schedule in 2004 and 2005? The 2003 Cubs played the Yankees at home, but also got the DRays. Meanwhile, the Cardianals went to both Boston and New York, and the Royals (at the time) were in 1st place in the AL Central. Considering the fact that the Cardinals only finished 3 games out of 1st that year...

The answer's obvious Robb, you're talking to Cubs fans. Of course we're going to complain about things that affect us most directly.

I'm sure White Sox fans don't like that the Twins get 6 against the Brewers every year while they have to play the Cubs. I'm sure Mets fans complain about having 6 against the Yanks, while the Marlins get 6 against the Rays.

Have any of the WGN announcers (radio or tv) said "Koronka has kept the Cubs in the game so far"

You know they're going to say it.

I'm no big fan of the screwed up schedules in inter-league play, either. For that matter, the unbalanced schedule as a whole is pretty dumb in regard to the wild card, too. But over 162 games, it's hard to complain about 3 or 6 games vs. the Royals or White Sox. What about the teams getting to play the Giants without Bonds? Or the Cubs without Wood/Prior? Etc.

Fun while it lasted
Exhausted by rhetoric
Now calm mellow peace


What? Dusty let Macias bat? Well, there goes that game. Bye-bye game.

Well, it was either that, or let me hit for the pitcher still down at least a run should Walker have pinch hit and done anything other than gone yard or hit into a double play.

Dusty's mistake was pinch hitting Patterson for Hairston the inning before.

Truthfully, you're right. That was pretty bad.

This game just sucked. The Cubs didn't take pitches and Koronka had one horrible inning and it came back to cost them the game. Ah well... we'll get them tomorrow.

Was at Autozone to see the I-cubs and Rich Hill gave up one walk, 8 strike outs and 3 Hr.s I-cubs 7-6 victory . Greive and Nate Frece went deep.

So, there's another guy in the draft that I've found named Micah. Think the cubs will draft him too? They seem to love guys named Micah

I was at the game tonight. In the 9th, when Barret was up and Dubois was at 2nd, I saw Todd Walker in the on-deck circle, and I was soooooo excited. All I was saying was: Barrett, you better get on base! And then, he did, and I saw Todd go to the batters box. We were cheering like crazy. And then... he got recalled???!!??? My heart just dropped when he walked back and Macias entered. What was Dusty thinking???? I know Macias was 2-3, but Walker was the guy who could have tied the game! He had a pinch-hit HR last time he pinch hit!

Rich Hill's line last night
7 IP, 5 H, 3 HR, 1 BB, 7 K, 5.14 ERA (4 ER)

All the runs scored on the home runs.

For his last nine starts now
62 IP, 37 H, 8 HR, 18 BB, 102 K, 2.47 ERA (17 ER, 18 R)

Of those 18 runs, 10 have scored on home runs (that's 6 solo shots and 2 two-run shots).

If his new found control is for real, his only problem now is those home runs. If he can learn to limit them, he's simply going to be dominant. But, right now, those home runs are a definite concern, because longballs tend to spike upwards when pitchers first reach the majors. In the majors, mistake pitches are punished a lot more ruthlessly, and even good pitches can find their way out. Come on Rich!

I should add that, because Hill wasn't in the game when two of those eighteen runs charged against him scored (relievers allowing inherited runners to score), he's actually himself only given up six runs not on the home run in those 62 innings. That's pretty staggering, but that's what that many strikeouts and that few walks will do for you.

Recent comments

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  • based on what SF has been doing every other year lately, getting access to the postseason playoffs seems to be what's important. bring on dat short series!

    that said, skipping the sudden death 1-game WC would be nice from here on out.

  • I know what you are saying, but I feel compelled to point out that there's no such thing as luck, curses, etc. The Cubs this year have as good as a chance as the Pirates to move on to the next round. If the Cubs proceed to the next round or not tomorrow, it will not be because of luck, but because one team outlasted the other. When/if the Cubs are lucky enough to make it to the league series, that's where they may find their biggest challenge. The Dodgers have a good, deep pitching staff.

  • debuting the new format 1 game "sudden death" WC matchup at yankee stadium does a perfect job of showing the intense emotion and drama this game can be.

    that said, i'm ready to not see yankee stadium or hear fans at yankee stadium for another 5 and 1/2 months. at least i don't have to sit through the braves with their "tommy hawk chawp" this postseason.

  • i'd like to know why the internet radio feed of the game (which is always delayed by a few seconds at best) is almost a minute faster than the ESPN cable TV coverage. wtf?

  • i dont know what order they'll be in, but i pretty much expect fowler/schwarb/rizzo/bryant/montero/castro/lastella/arrieta. any change at all (aside from the first 4 guys) wouldn't shock me, though. coghlan is still a wildcard in the lineup joe could always march d.ross out there with very slow arrieta pitching.

  • Yup. Have to agree. Baseball, like golf, certainly has that psych component for the player. There is no real reason why a fielding position should affect a batting average. The Cubs are 106 years over due for a little luck. Don't you guys think so? Maybe the rookies can bring some dumb luck on.

  • probably stacking capable lefties vs cole while keeping the "hot" castro in the game. fwiw, he's 1-6 lifetime with 0 bb/k vs cole (double).

    i chalk bryant's issues at the plate while playing OF up to coincidence so far.

  • I will call your dead horse, "Trigger".

    In one game, when anything is possble, I am glad that Joe Maddon is our Manager.

    He knows the stats better than all of us. It would seem, IF La Stella gets the start at 3B, it will be only up to the point that they were to get the lead (crosses fingers). From everything I have read, the game will be managed like a hoops game: offense/defense. So expect La Stella to be out of the game by the 5th. This team is incredibly deep which is so surprising. We never woulda thunk it.

  • i don't know what their roster plans are, but j.herrera is out there practicing with the team.

    i can't imagine him making any roster, though. dude had 4 PA the entire month of sept. him being a good dude to be around while keeping the clubhouse loose seems to be his main role at this point.

  • I know it's my own personal dead horse to beat --but Bryant has been a lousy hitter when playing the OF this year. Given that it's his first playoff game, I really hope they keep him in his natural position and don't mess with his routine.

    Lousy as in 8-for-45 with one XBH and no HR. Small sample and all that -- but why take the chance?

  • hard to tell what's up given they'll probably want to stack as many good lefties into the lineup as possible.

    castro being a bit hot doesn't help things. if he was still cool they'd probably stick la stella at 2nd and call it a day.

  • Madden won't announce lineups but Stella is practicing at 3rd and Bryant in LF today. I'd rather see Bryant at 3rd but I guess Stella has been hotter than Coghlan.

    /edit. Though I guess they could be practicing this with the idea Stella would come in as a PH then double switch him to 3rd base and Bryant to LF. Hope that's the plan instead

  • I really like the sound of that idea about expanding the AFL to ten teams. Each org. gets to field more players.
    They should do that anyway, regardless of Adv. Instructs.

  • Dallas Beeler, Corey Black, David Garner, Pierce Johnson, Steve Perakslis, James Pugliese, Duane Underwood Jr, and Rob Zastryzny threw early-morning bullpen side-sessions at Riverview yesterday.  

    Underwood threw last, and received specific one-on-one instruction from pitching coach Mike Mason. 

  • HAGSAG: There are only five advanced instructs squads left, and presently the only "co-op" team operating is the Angels/Cubs.

    The league was originally established as a "parallel" league to the AFL (a sort of "junior AFL"), for players too advanced for traditional ("basic") instructs but who were unable to get placed on AFL rosters due to AFL player-limits.

  • He is but I would think it'd be better to start out with offense and then bring in Jackson and LaStella once they have a lead. Stella has very good PH #s too.