Cubs @ Brewers (Game 47)

The Brewers defeated the Cubs in a 1-0 pitchers' duel and the series stands at 0-1 in the Brewers' favor. The Brewers are now 4 games behind the Cubs and 1 behind the 2nd place Cardinals. Are these games part of the "stretch?" It is September, and only 14 games remain. On the other hand, that's nearly 25% of the season. Both teams have had to manage so far without major contributions from their star hitters. On the Cubs' side, Bryant, Rizzo, Baez, and Schwarber are all near the Mendoza line, and Contreras only recently woke up. For the Brewers, Yelich is also batting near .200 and Keston Hiura has struck out 33.3% of the time while batting .224; their top performers have been Avisail Garcia and Jedd Gyorko. Will role players continue to prop up each team as they drive to the season's conclusion?

CHC (26-20): RHP Kyle Hendricks (5-4, 3.41 ERA)
MIL (20-22): LHP Brett Anderson (2-3, 4.64 ERA)
First pitch 6:10 pm central

When was the last time a starting pitcher earned a decision in every start of a season? Hendricks is perfect so far in having a W or an L pinned to his back for all 9 games. He's won his last two starts and has allowed 2 earned runs in 14 innings pitched while striking out 10 and walking 2. He last faced Milwaukee for that Opening Day shutout that seems like a decade ago. He's dominated most current Brewers, although Orlando Arcia has proven himself fairly pesky at 8-26 with 3 doubles and only one strikeout.

Brett Anderson made 31 starts in 2019, his second year of a return to the Athletics. It was his best year since 2010, and he earned a career high 13 wins. This year hasn't matched that level, although he has maintained a very strong 61.6% ground ball rate. He's allowed 4 earned runs in each of his last two starts and he earned a loss at Wrigley back on August 13 despite allowing only 2 earned runs and striking out 5 in 4.1 innings. Current Cubs have collectively slashed .287/.341/.476 off of him in only 58 at bats. Bryant and Schwarber have a homerun a piece. Scratch that. Brett Anderson will sit this one out and Brent Suter (plus the rest of the Brewers' fantastic bullpen) will oppose Hendricks. Since making 18 starts for the Brewers in 2018 and a subsequent Tommy John surgery, the soft-tossing lefty has worked primarily out of the bullpen. He's made only one start this season, in which he went 3 innings and allowed 2 earned runs to the Pirates (on August 31). He's had an uncharacteristically high strikeout rate this season, striking out 24 batters in 20 innings.

Comments

happ / bryant(1st) / contreras / schwarber / baez / bote(DH) / heyward / vargas(2nd) / hoerner(3rd)

maybin was originally in the lineup, but he was a late scratch ("feeling ill").

the single positive that tripped up the SF/SD series has tested negative, as well as the rest of the team/support.  looks like a false positive.

lol hader.

Yowsa!!! First and Second HRs off Hader all year.

Love to get any team's best reliever, but Hader is extra special.

Ildemaro Vargas has made some pretty solid contact tonight. Hit a ball well off Peralta too

i would celebrate kimbrel's save, but that wasn't pretty even if no runs scored.  nice he got the save (only his 2nd), though.

It's really frustrating to see him getting all these chances. Like, he has 2 or 3 good outings in mop up duty and someone says "yeah he's back!" He's never going to be the guy they signed. That pitcher is gone.

He escaped tonight but my concern is his escaping gets him another look that he blows, or 2.

Glad he held on, this was a nice win. The type of win the Brewers tend to inflict on us late season in recent years.

He'd only allowed runs in 1 of his last 10 appearances (plus one inning he didn't finish), and now over his last 11 appearances including tonight (10.1 IP)  he has 22 Ks, 7 BBs, and 2 ER (1.74 ERA). He didn't walk anyone tonight, and the Brewers didn't make especially hard contact. It was scary and I don't know if I feel super confident in him in close games yet, but I think they have to try because a good Kimbrel is going to make a huge difference in October. 

The problem with that logic is Kimbrel, even when he was a force, has struggled in October. He ceded the closer role the year Boston won the series. Couple friends of mine are big Boston fans. They despise Kimbrel. I called them nuts when we first signed him. I wouldn't go as far as them on feeling, but he's difficult to watch.

This is a genuine question: of the stats you list above, how much of it is in high leverage spots? And moreso, how comfortable do you feel if we're up 1 in a game we need to win to stay alive and he trots in from the bullpen?

I don't think the issue with Kimbrel was leverage (he's not suddenly nervous pitching the 9th or whatever) so much as mechanical (and last year also a little bit of injury). I'm more interested in how he's thrown in the low leverage outings, and the stuff was good (and good again tonight). I also don't consider performance in the playoffs one time to be predictive. If the stuff and command are good I think he'll be good. 

I suspect the issues for Kimbrel dating back to his last year in Boston are age and workload related. I think he just has to fight harder to do what he used to do which affects his release point and body control and his command disappears. He seems to have cleaned up the delivery and the velocity is there again. Not sure the command will ever be the same, but he's still got a lot to work with. 

I disagree about the part that he wasn't suddenly nervous. There's an enormous difference pitching the 9th in a 1 run game in June than one in October.

All of this said, I'm hoping you're correct. I'd love nothing more than to see him turn into 90% of the pitcher we thought we were getting. I just don't know the last time I've seen him come into a game that is on the line and look comfortable. 

Mechanics vs. confidence often seems like a chicken and egg problem to me. Lose one and the other will disappear, but it's often hard to see which goes first and which returns first.

I would agree with this. I can see losing confidence or just starting to press because your mechanics are a little off and you get beat, and then everything snowballing as you fight to get it back. 

I really don't think Kimbrel ever gets nervous. Maybe if he was a 21 year old kid up from AA making his first MLB appearance he would, but he's not.  

What I believe happened with Kimbrel was that toward the end of last season he thought he was throwing the same stuff he threw back when he was on the HOF trajectory except he was getting really bad results and so he decided he needed to throw harder and all that did was make him lose command by overthrowing his FB and bouncing his CV.   

I suspect what might be different over the past few outings is that he has finally come to grips with where he is in his career and so he has not been overthrowing and so his command has improved. That doesn't mean his stuff is better, just that he might be (finally) at a place where at least he won't walk the world or throw three wild pitches in the same inning again. 

I was concerned that Kimbrel hardly used his curve at all, opting for the elevated fastball even when he had a double play in order. Of course, he may have been worried about bouncing one and advancing the runners. It worked out--but I don't think he can get by without the threat of the curveball.

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  • Dolorous Jon Lester 8 hours 23 min ago (view)

    I understand why it feels unsettling. I remember the series well (though I, unlike Theo, actually was in high school). Anyway, I view it as a chance to right previous wrongs in the same way we stomped StL out of the playoffs in 2015, or the way the Nationals got to burn through two teams last year that had dumped them out of October in previous seasons.

    But if we lose, of course that was 17 years ago so it's two extremely different organizations.

     

  • Arizona Phil 12 hours 24 min ago (view)

    DJL: All players on Optional Assignment to the minors must be recalled on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season, even if the player has not spent at least ten days on Optional Assignment. Players cannot be optioned to the minors again until Spring Training. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 12 hours 45 min ago (view)

    CHAMP: No option year is spent just by calling up a player to MLB. An option year is spent only if a player on an MLB 40-man roster is optioned to the minors for at least 20 days in a given season. 

    Also, Brailyn Marquez is (was) eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft in December, so the Cubs were going to add him to the 40 on 11/20 anyway. They just did it a couple of months early.  

     

  • bradsbeard 15 hours 55 min ago (view)

    Not sure if serious, but Theo became the Red Sox GM in 2002. It's true though, there probably aren't many people in the organization besides Ricketts and Crane Kenney who have any strong feelings about that series. 

     

  • Craig A. 16 hours 53 min ago (view)

    I wonder if anyone on the Cubs cares or even remembers the odd events when the Marlins played the Cubs in 2003. I think Theo was in high school. To this old fart it will be more than a little unsettling to watch this post-season match-up. At least we can be fairly certain there will no fans grabbing for foul balls. 

     

  • bradsbeard 20 hours 21 min ago (view)

    Which is kind of annoying. Nobody really picked the Cubs to win this division pre-season. I guess Mattingly gets some credit for guiding the Marlins through their positives but even just letting them play that one game with half the team sick should knock him out of consideration. Meanwhile Ross kept a tight ship and the Cubs has no positives all year. I'd say Ross or Tingler should get it over Mattingly. 

     

  • crunch 21 hours 38 min ago (view)

    cubs finish 34-26 (1st, division)...they play MIA on wednesday.

    good start for d.ross, but the manager of the year is most likely going to d.mattingley (MIA) or j.tingler(SD).

     

  • crunch 22 hours 15 min ago (view)

    ...or he won't make it out of the 8th

    0.2ip 2h 3bb 1k, 5r/er...2 wild pitches

    there's some great stuff in that arm.  mid/high-80s slider, "changeup" around 90mph, fastball 97-99mph...all effortless.  21 years old and never pitched above A-ball.

     

  • crunch 22 hours 20 min ago (view)

    -deleted-

     

  • crunch 22 hours 24 min ago (view)

    rough debut...doubt we're going to see him in the 9th.

     

  • Charlie 22 hours 32 min ago (view)

    Reminds me a little of Jeff Samardzija's debut. Adrenaline throwing straight gas but all over the place. Samardzija threw a fastball all the way to the backstop in his debut (2008).

     

  • crunch 22 hours 34 min ago (view)

    back to back 3-2 count 6-pitch walks.

    he's not in the zone.  he's throwing almost totally fastballs, too.

     

  • crunch 22 hours 35 min ago (view)

    alzolay's gotta be locked in for a start given what he's done lately.

    i wonder what role j.lester will be given.  if he's starting, hopefully he's the 3rd/4th starter, if at all.  someone will probably give him a 2021 contract if he doesn't retire...hope it's not the cubs giving that contract, though.

     

  • crunch 22 hours 38 min ago (view)

    dude's thrown a 97mph and 98mph fastball to start and both looked like he was barely expending effort.

    unfortunately, neither were near the plate.

     

  • Charlie 22 hours 41 min ago (view)

    So, Alzolay gets at least one October start, right? He'd be a weapon out of the pen if the Cubs had more than two believable starters ready.

     

  • crunch 22 hours 42 min ago (view)

    Q goes 2 effective (2ip 2h 1bb 2k, 0r/er) and here comes b.marquez...