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Cub Tracks puts it right there

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Record-setting pitching performances by bullpen irregulars, and other bullets

St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

I know you know so let’s not even talk about it. That was fugly, and no mistake about it. But it isn’t gonna matter when the deadbirds are watching TV in October. Let ‘em have their day in the sun. Let’s zoom in on the fun part, since Al did the recap already...

laughs

It’s 105 here right now, and like 85% humidity, and I’ve already sweated the small stuff. And this one game is just small stuff. I turned it off in the fourth and tuned back in in the seventh, just as Tommy La Stella was taking the ball. He looks like he throws a breaking fastball. I dunno what that thing is. The St. Louis batters quite clearly “took full advantage” of the situation (thanks, JD). But Tommy “dialed up a ground ball” and pitched out of it with an assortment of 54-mph whatsitballs and 77-mph fastcurves to our old friend Dexter Fowler.

It looked like Dex was saying something to Tommy as he loped off the field. I woulda loved to have been a fly on the wall.

Victor Caratini has quite the arm, but not the mound presence that La Stella and Ian Happ showed. Too bad Anthony Rizzo didn’t pitch. I bet Javier Baez could sling a ball, too. One could hope we’ll never find out, but baseball baseballs every so often, like today, so you never know. Who would you like to see pitch an inning? How about Willson Contreras? Would you like Willy to tread John Baker street?

I really like Happ. That bulldog aspect, where he just grits his teeth and grinds, that’s great stuff. I thought he looked damn good on the bump, at least, until he threw the ball. Better than Brett Cecil and his socks, anyway. One day Happ will learn to strike out less, I suspect. Perhaps over the winter. He’s just 23. There’s a long way to go.

And hey! He threw a scoreless inning. That was a relief.

ducks

All three of those guys should get saves for saving the bullpen three innings.

And that seventh was the real deal. There’s your silver lining. And now for the news — as always * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs News and Notes:

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was aware Lester had been working on his mechanics, but even he was surprised that Lester’s start went downhill so quickly.

”I thought he had good stuff to start the game, hitting [92-93 mph] and I’m thinking this might be a good day,” said Maddon. “But you could just see from the beginning he was off just a little bit.” — Sean Sears.

“I’m having a hard time coming up with words to describe a day like this,”Matt Carpenter said after the second five-hit game of his career. “I think, more importantly -- and I don’t want it to get lost in the shuffle -- that we beat a really good team today against a really good starting pitcher who is having a great season. I think it would be a disservice to our club if we don’t acknowledge the great team effort that we were able to do, offensively, against a great team. I’m really happy with the way that played out.” — Jennifer Langosch.

  • Sam Miller (ESPN*): Winning isn’t the only thing: Realistic second-half goals for all 30 teams. Scroll down to the middle for the Cubs.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Quantifying Hope: Cubs have 98 percent playoff odds, fall way behind Dodgers for WS. “Now that Machado is officially a Dodger, LA has surged to a 17.2 percent chance while the Cubs have dipped below double digits to 9.2 percent.” Machado about nothing?
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Jon Lester tagged for 8 runs in Cubs’ lopsided loss. “I would’ve liked to have minimized the damage,” Lester said. “Mechanically, this has kind of been coming. I’ve been battling myself for the last three, maybe four starts and have been working underneath the ball too much. It nipped me in the butt today. I’ll move on from it, learn from it.”
  • Sean Sears (NBC Sports Chicago*): Lester saw a start like this coming. “You know, I don’t want to chalk this up as bad days happen,” said Lester. “I think mechanically this has kinda been coming.”
  • Sahadev Sharma (The Athletic {$}): Lester doesn’t concern himself with ‘analytics bs’. “Lester has a message for all those numbers​ nerds out there:​​ Save it.”
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Yu Darvish won’t be back for at least a few weeks, but at least Cubs can act with clarity at the deadline. Instead of faith and hope, I expect.
  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times* {$}): Is Cubs’ Tyler Chatwood running out of chances to get his act together? “We’ve already spoken to Tyler, and he’s aware,” manager Joe Maddon said.
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Brandon Morrow’s MRI revealed “stuff in there,” but the hope is that this is a short-term injury. “...neither Morrow nor the Cubs seem to be particularly concerned with the injury Morrow nor the Cubs seem to be particularly concerned with the injury...”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Cubs tie record using 3 position players to pitch. As above: “La Stella, Caratini, Happ save bullpen with 3 1/3 innings.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Reliever Jesse Chavez’s ‘versatility’ a boon to Cubs. “If you have a problem early in the game, he could easily fill that spot up. If it’s in the latter part of the game, and some guys have been utilized a lot, you can fill him in there. He’s kind of interesting. He’s kind of a ‘super [utility]’ guy in the bullpen,” said Joe Maddon.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Cubs add Chavez, probably not done making pitching moves. “...recent history tells us they’d do well to create a little more redundancy.” More on Chavez from Brendan Miller.
  • NBC Sports Chicago*: Maddon doesn’t know when he’ll pull Rizzo from leadoff [VIDEO].
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): Maddon is liking the look of Cubs ‘backwards’ lineup. “I’m just gonna let it play for just a little bit and see where it takes us,” he said.
  • Teddy Greenstein (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber says Home Run Derbywasn’t rigged’. “The guy did an unbelievable job,” he said.

Food for thought:

Thanks for reading. I did a review of Muscle of Love here, if you want to read it.