Rich Looks Hardened; Aaron's Miles Away
He doesn't exactly pack 'em in like Wood and Prior used to.
A crowd of about 7,000 gathered last night at Principal Park. Some portion of it was there for the express purpose of watching Rich Harden tune up for his return to the big leagues this weekend.
I watched Harden warm up in the bullpen before he took the mound. From less than 10 feet away he sure doesn't look the 6'1" or the 195 # attributed to him in the media guide.
The other thing I noticed right away was that his pant legs went all the way to his shoetops. The rest of the team tucks 'em below the knee, knickers style. I'm guessing he paid for the fashion privilege with a post-game clubhouse spread before catching the first plane out of town.
He retired the first six batters he faced on only 22 pitches without topping 90 mph. The second inning required only eight.
In the 3rd his velocity rose noticeably and he struggled a bit. I'm not alleging cause & effect there - just reporting.
A sharp leadoff single was followed by a dribbler to short that went for a hit. After his Round Rock counterpart laid down a sacrifice bunt, Reggie Abercrombie singled in the only earned run Harden gave up. Abercrombie hit the first pitch and it looked like a changeup. In the 1st & 5th Harden fanned him with a steady diet of high fastballs. The changeup and splitter were more effective as out pitches once Harden got hitters down in the count. A Round Rock hitter [think his name is Hyperbole] is quoted in the local paper this morning as saying that Harden, "threw me a split-finger...that was probably one of the best pitches I've ever seen." My goodness!
Anyway, after Abercrombie stole 2nd, Harden issued one of his two walks to load the bases before bearing down and getting out of the jam on two weak flyballs to So Taguchi in right. He threw as many pitches in the 3rd as he had in the first two innings combined.
All six of his strikeouts were swinging. I had him for first-pitch strikes to 10 of the 20 hitters he faced. 44 of his 70 pitches were strikes.
Here's an inning-by-inning breakdown:
1. Strikeout swinging [four pitches]
2. Strikeout swinging [five pitches]
3. G3; unassisted [five pitches]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
4. F7 [two pitches]
5. L9 [one pitch]
6. Strikeout swinging [five pitches]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7. Single to right [seven pitches]
8. Infield single [three pitches]
9. Sacrifice bunt [two pitches]
10. Single to left [one pitch]
11. Walk [five pitches]
12. F9 [one pitch]
13. F9 [three pitches]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
14. Strikeout swinging [five pitches]
15. Walk [four pitches]
16. FC; 1-6 [three pitches - should have been a DP to end inning; SS dropped a perfect throw on the pivot]
17. Strikeout swinging [five pitches]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
18. E3 [five pitches]
19. Strikeout swinging [three pitches]
20. 5-3 [one pitch; call it a night...]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Harden was a little slow covering first on the grounder to the right side that began the 5th inning. Luis Rivas ranged wide to field it before throwing it way behind Harden. The whole play was out of sync and it led to the other [unearned] run charged to Harden.
As for the other rehabber in town...
Miles played 3rd last night after two games @ 2B. The good news is that he made a real fine play on a bunt in the 5th that looked like a sure hit.
The bad news is that he went 0-5 with three strikeouts, one of those on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded and nobody out in the 3rd. At least he went down swinging. I don't look for him to fill the clutch-hitting shoes of Aramis Ramirez, but at least the I-Cubs will get one of their better players [Scales or Blanco?] back.
Last & Least: I got a kick out of Jason Dubois lining a screaming single off the wall in right-center [last time I saw him a routine foul pop to left caromed off his melon into the stands]. He ultimately got where he was supposed to be by scampering [?] to 2nd on a blocked WP. Later in the game he also scored from 2nd, hustling all the way on a more garden variety single by Matt Camp...Samardzija throws today against Bud Norris [future NL Central mound opponents] in a noon matinee...MW
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.
If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?
#Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.
Fun with FIP
- J. Hammel 3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
- J. Arrieta 2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
- J. Lester 2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
- K. Hendricks 2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
- J. Lackey 3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k
he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.
JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.
My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.
Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...
joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1
not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.
really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.
Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.
Classic Scully - great stuff.
Thank God we'll still have Hawk next season. (cricket cricket cricket)
Here's Scully's call on Bryant's 10th-inning homer:
"And it's a long fly ball, a mean fly ball, and a gone fly ball."
When the Cubs were the old, hundred-year Cubs, one bad hop did not undo their opponents.
If only he was clutcher. More clutcher.