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
d>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

Comments

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

WHOO RALLY RALLY RALLY

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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  • See ya on parrot chat

  • In what was probably the last start for RHSP Jeremy Null at EXST... 
    Intrasquad game this morning on Field #5 at Riverview Baseball Complex: 
    4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 WP, 1 GIDP, 5/4 GO/AO, 75 pitches (50 strikes) 

    Next stop is likely either South Bend or Myrtle Beach (TBD)  

  • There does seem to be something funky about closers pitching in non-save situations -- they never seem to be as effective. But, to your point, there could not have been a save situation in that game, so why not use your best reliever?

  • Heyward getting the night off.

    Grand Slammin' Sczcur in RF - La Stella batting 2nd

  • Your thought: don't pitch Rondon at all, since a save can't happen in extra innings at home.

    Maddon's thought: might as well pitch him now, because there's no later.

  • It looked like the baserunner might have screened Russell some though it's still a play he should have made.

    I wasn't thrilled with the use of Rondon in that situation. In save situations opponents have a 77 OPS. In non-save situations it's a 116 OPS. We had other relievers for that spot we could have used.

  • I'm not sure if it's his normal swing but it's obvious he can hit and he's always hit for power just not HRs so if it is his normal swing there's something else going on.

    This article from spring training said he was trying to pull the ball a lot more:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/making-too-much-of-...

  • Oh, thanks. I guess I should actually look at the schedule. Yay, 3-game road trip!

  • Good call, indeed. This ought to be a good series.

  • Sorry to nit-pick -- but the games against the Nats this week are at home.

    Can't remember a worse weather-start to a season. Yuck.

  • Basically Russell booted a slam dunk DP grounder letting a run score. But he drove in the tying run in 9th. Just not their day, Rondon notwithstanding.

  • Didn't see the game, but it sounded like the Cubs gave away 2 runs with poor fielding. Bummer.

    Well, it's been a fun diet of Reds, Brewers and Braves, but now the Cubs have to play real teams in May (Pirates, Nationals, SF, Cards and Dodgers) -- hope we are all still smiling when we wake up on Memorial Day.

  • He does seem out of synch. His body seems to start forward, then his arms sort of try to catch up -- if that's his normal swing, he will never hit for power. It's an all-arms slasher swing, but the timing seems off.

    He is currently slugging .256 -- I realize the weather has been bad, but that's epically bad. Currently 92nd out of 94 qualified NL batters. Yikes.

  • Weird home stand -- 3-1, with 2 rainouts, vs. two teams that will lose 100 games. Feels oddly disappointing.

    Miserable baseball weather all week -- hopefully better weather will get the bats going. Not just walking, but actually hitting.

  • That strike call on LaSterlla was terrible