That’s about the nicest thing I can say about the Cubs’ 10-1 loss to the Indians Tuesday night.
Here, have a look at the one Cubs offensive highlight, Ian Happ’s pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning:
The rest of this game was just offensive.
There’s not much good that can be said about Tyler Chatwood’s outing. Walks, again, just destroyed any chance he, and the Cubs, had of winning this game. He managed to get out of the first two innings scoreless despite three walks in those two frames, thanks in part to a slick 3-6-3 double play turned in the second.
Then it all turned bad in the third; the big blow was a three-run homer by Jose Ramirez, which followed a single... and another walk. There were two more walks issued in the inning after that, more scoring ensued, and finally, Joe Maddon had seen enough. Here are the results of Chatwood’s latest walkathon:
Tyler Chatwood has 6 starts this season with at least 5 walks.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 23, 2018
Bartolo Colón has 5 walks all season in 56.1 IP.
Chatwood: most 5-walk starts by a Cubs pitcher in a season since Carlos Zambrano (6) in 2007— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 23, 2018
Tyler Chatwood this season: 45.2 IP, 40 Walks, 41 Strikeouts#Cubs— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 23, 2018
And one last note: Chatwood’s 40 walks are the same number that Kyle Hendricks had all of last season in 24 starts and 139⅔ innings.
I mean... Chatwood’s walk rates in Colorado were elevated, but they weren’t this bad — his walk rate for five years with the Rockies was 4.1 per nine innings. So far this year his walk rate is nearly double what it was in Colorado. The note about Zambrano is instructive. Z had those six five-walk starts in an entire season, 34 total starts. Chatwood has done it in nine starts. His current walk rate of 7.9 per nine innings would translate to 158 walks if, somehow, he managed to throw 180 innings this year. That would be the most walks in a season by anyone since Phil Niekro had 164 and Nolan Ryan 204 in 1977. And those guys were successful, and both Hall of Famers, for other pitching qualities that Tyler Chatwood doesn’t have.
Chatwood wound up in the bullpen with the Rockies in 2017. It might be time to consider that. Whether it’s his mechanics or something else, it’s getting to the point where the Cubs simply can’t send him out there every fifth day. At the very least, with the extra off day this week they could consider skipping his next turn in the rotation, which would otherwise come up next Monday in Pittsburgh.
The game might have been still competitive after all that if Mike Montgomery hadn’t also had a terrible outing. He did get out of Chatwood’s mess in the third with a strikeout, but then created messes of his own in the fourth and fifth, both three-run innings, and I’m sure you don’t want to hear the details.
The lone bright spot of this game was the three-inning outing for Justin Hancock. Hancock allowed just one hit, a double by Francisco Lindor, and issued one walk. He looked sharp and as he has done in the past, touched 97 on the Wrigley pitch-speed meter. I know Joe Maddon has been impressed with him since spring training and I suspect Hancock will be sticking around for a while.
The other thing that was bad about this game was the Cubs’ complete inability to hit with runners on base. They had RISP in every inning from the first through eighth, and with less than two out in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth, and came up empty every time: 0-for-10 with RISP and 11 men left on base. Even though this game was probably not winnable with Chatwood and Montgomery giving up 10 runs, there were times early on when the Cubs could have taken the lead (first and second inning) or at least made it close, down 4-0 in the third. Every starting position player except Addison Russell had at least one hit, and yet... nothing.
This game wasn’t going to be easy to win in the first place, with Trevor Bauer having the best year of his career. He showed it, too, throwing six shutout innings and getting out of RISP jams in every one of them.
Well, you’ve probably had enough of this game. Most of the folks at Wrigley did, too; the place emptied out after the seventh and by the time Happ hit his home run, maybe 3,000 of the original 37,168 (not too many no-shows, and a surprisingly large number of Indians fans, given that this is a two-game set on weeknights) remained.
The Cubs go for a series split, and also a split of the four-game season set against the Tribe, Wednesday evening, Jon Lester will go for the Cubs and rookie Adam Plutko for Cleveland. Game time returns to the normal 7:05 p.m. night-game slot, and TV coverage is via NBC Sports Chicago (as well as a national telecast on MLB Network).