I don’t like losing and even more so to good teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s even worse when you have a 3-0 lead and the face of your pitching staff on the mound. And it’s even worse when you could take a game from Clayton Kershaw to start a 4 game series. So needless to say last night could have gone a lot better.
That said – this doesn’t need to be a total bitch fest. Like I say in the title, I’m Not Mad I’m Disappointed. I know all too well at this point that bitching up a storm would be a waste of time and breath, not to mention extremely bad blogging. No one likes a crybaby so let’s move through this objectively and try to get our heads on straight for the next 3 games. On the bright side they should be good ones. You don’t get to play the league’s best every day.
Scwharber’s Early Lead
Schwarber got things cooking on the 1st pitch of the game of Kershaw
That’s just the 2nd time Kershaw’s given up a 1st pitch home run in 171 career home starts.
The other time came in 2012 against former Cub Legend Chris Denorfia so if you want to get real cocky you could say Schwarber had the most successful left handed lead off plate appearance against Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium EVER. It’s a mouthful but you wouldn’t be lying so let’s talk about Schwarber leading off for a second.
He’s been very good lately hitting .313 / .358 / .688 in 53 plate appearances over 12 June games with 5 home runs. A lot of that has to do with him in the leadoff spot in front of KB/Rizzo/Javy because that means a steady diet of fastballs. But it also has to do with Schwarber taking less walks and doing more damage.
In May, Schwarber’s walk rate was 18% vs. a 28% strikeout rate. The combined 46% was just ridiculously astounding to me because when you can Thump, you Thump and Schwarber’s .424 slugging% over that time is far from Thumping.
Don’t get me wrong. I like walks and working counts. But you always play to your strengths and Schwarber’s #1 is being able to hit the shit out of the baseball.
In June, Schwarber’s walk rate has dipped to 7% and strikeouts to 22% which means he’s putting balls in play this month about 30% more than May and the result on his power is staggering = .688 slugging%
There’s a bunch of other reasons that Schwarber is squaring up the ball and looking like a Bad Man right now. It’s later in the season, he’s building off success, the team is settling in, he’s getting consistent reps in the leadoff spot, blah blah blah.
But another simple explanation is Kyle Schwarber could be tapping into a greater sense of urgency to hit the cover off the baseball, which is exactly the kind of Kyle Schwarber I want in the lineup.
Remember: you can’t hit a home run if you don’t swing.
Cody Bellinger Is Very Good
I said this week on Red Line Radio that the Cubs next and likely final notable roster move is finding a reliever to match up with Bellinger. And I say that because common sense says if you’re going to the WS out of the NL, then you’ve beaten the Dodgers in the playoffs. They’ve been to 3 straight NLCS’s, back-to-back World Series, 4 of the last six NLCS’s and they’ve actually gotten better. But then you’d accuse me of getting ahead of myself and saying Yelich is a bigger left handed threat because the Cubs play him almost 3x more than Bellinger. So we could mix that angle in too but I don’t think it really matters. The point remains that they need a nasty lefty specialist, either for the September games in Milwaukee or October games in Los Angeles.
Unless of course you think Theo’s content with Tim Collins, Mike Montgomery and Kyle Ryan sharing that load.
At this point I’d like to admit that it was way easier complaining about not having a closer. The left-handed specialist argument is a little more nuanced so let’s just agree we can find someone to take advantage of Cody Bellinger not being the sharpest spike on his cleat
Jon Lester Did The Same Thing 2 Weeks Ago In Houston
Sound familiar? Cubs jump out to an early lead against one of baseball’s best teams on the road and then Jon Lester can’t get through the lineup 2nd time around. On the bright side, Lester bounced back as expected and threw 2 masterful games against the Angels and the Cardinals after bombing against Houston in the 4th inning just like last night. So there’s good to be had from a Jon Lester bad start – he has an overwhelming tendency to bounce back.
Now is usually the time though you’ll see a lot of Regression Talk from the experts and it makes sense when you look at the numbers. His swing-and-miss rate is down. His hard contact is up. All the peripherals suggest he shouldn’t be that good, but then you remember Jon Lester can command 3 pitches into a tea-cup and is going to the HOF for a reason. So. Be patient and let the veteran do his thing.
Not in the least.
I’m removing Yu from this hypo because you didn’t include him but I’m of the mindset he needs to be pitching like an Ace in October for any of this to matter. But let’s assume for the sake of argument he sucks come then and the Cubs have their work really cut out or them…
I’m less inclined to think about Lefty-Righty-Lefty and more to think about who pitches well at home vs. the road. Lester might be the better option for Game 3 if you have a 1-1 series or worse 0-2 series, he’s the guy you want at home in a swing game assuming the Cubs don’t have home field advantage.
Hamels/Hendricks would be really hard in an NLCS environment because how much they rely on their changeups. They’re both very similar in demeanor and style, just wildly different in how it looks. You could probably flip a coin and have the same result, but I’d probably go Hamels – Hendricks – Lester because I think Hendricks is a stronger match up game 2 and I really like Lester in Games 3 and 7.
Do NOT trade Schwarber. I don’t even know what or who you’d be pursuing? Idk about “being back” either because he’s done nothing but evolve and change since coming up. Nothing has been the same so idk what he’d be going Back To. Instead I look at him being v. close to figuring himself out which could be happening right now in front of our eyes. Less walks doesn’t mean no walks, but he should continue to be more aggressive.
3. A long time is my guess. He might be the most undervalued player in MLB right now and Theo loves undervalued players. Contract time comes and he’s about to get raked over the coals. In the meantime, he’ll be doing whatever the Cubs say because they could end his career tomorrow if they wanted. That’s called leverage and it’s makes the world move.
Scwharber by 4 over KB final answer.
I can’t wait for Darvish in LA. I think we’ve seen Darvish slowly turn the corner and now we’re waiting for that 8 inning, 14 strikeout game that makes you fantasize about him in October. Does it happen this weekend? Probably not, but if it does then I will be having at least two dozen responsible great tasting less filling Miller Lites.
I wouldn’t mind him getting the Bryce Harper treatment when we talked him 11 times in a 4 game weekend or something crazy a few years back. Not opposed to that at all.
No Sean. Despite what you and the half dozen bros occupying your Elmhurst garden apartment Friday thru Sunday Funday may think, I do not feel personally responsible for jinxing Lester because inherent in your ridiculously stupid question is the idea that someone can jinx a Hall Of Fame Cancer Surviving 3 Time World Series Champion Legend, and that someone could be me: a fringe smut blogger some 2,000 miles away idly playing with his balls and chain smoking Marlborro lights next to the kitchen stove’s exhaust fan. That the former could be influenced much less impacted by the latter is to spit on the Legacy of Jon Lester and for the fucking life of me Sean Sutton I won’t stand for it no matter how many car Chicagoland auto dealerships your Uncle Nate owns you fucking ketchup enthusiast.
Because the Cubs are a 16 inch softball team.