Game 61 Thread - Maholm vs. Scherzer
The Cubs are actually an almost reasonable 12-15 at home, so maybe they won't get crushed tonight. But as Cubnut noted on Twitter the other day, the Cubs record in last 22 games that didn't involve the San Diego Padres is 2-20.
Big news the last 2 days out of Cubs camp is the signing of Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler and the firing of hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. For Jaramillo, he was obviously done the moment they hired Epstein and Hoyer, but there was never a rush to get rid of him. He was under contract and it was one less thing they had to scramble to replace before spring training. And it didn't hurt anyone giving Jaramillo a test run, check out his ideas, see how well he meshes with the new group and maybe they'd learn a thing or two from each other. It's not what the new group envisions so they've put in their own guy for the time being, James Rowson. He was serving as the current minor league hitting coordinator, a job he held with the Yankees over the last 4 years (6 in total with the Bronx Bombers). Phil Rogers heaped this praise upon him in a tweet.
James Rowson, the minor-league hitting coordinator who is replacing Rudy Jaramillo as the Cubs' hitting coach, had impressed Theo Epstein & Co. with his work on prospects like Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo. He's considered excellent in helping hitters improve their plate discipline and learn to "grind out'' at-bats, and benefited from working under Kevin Long with the Yankees.
Nevermind that Baez had one walk in Extended Spring Training (he does have 4 in his very brief time with Peoria though).
As for Soler, it's a minimum 9/$30M deal that could escalate far higher as he'll have the option to go to arbitration each year he's eligibile versus whatever he's guaranteed in his contract. It's certainly not cheap, but the Cubs were desperate to add assets to their talent pool and this was one of the last times they'll be able to simply outbid opponents on prospects. So there were more forces at work here than just, "Is Soler worth that many years and that much money?" Regardless, he'll certainly shoot to the top 3-5 prospects in the system depending on who gets promoted this year and has All-Star potential with big power and a big arm. And the Cubs own his right until he's 29. Hard to complain unless he's a complete wash out.
As for the game, happy to see Campana in there just because if there's ever a team that you want to test their infield defense, the Tigers are that team. Choke up on that bat and put that ball in play Crazy Legs.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.