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Pirates 3, Cubs 1: The story of Tyler Chatwood

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Perhaps it will have a happy ending, someday.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

That’s it.

I don’t want to see Tyler Chatwood throw in a meaningful game again in 2018.

Oh, sure, if the Cubs are getting blown out sometime later this year (something I’d rather not see, but it happens), Chatwood can eat up a few innings. Or, presuming they do clinch the N.L. Central title, he can start the next day’s game.

But that’s it. Maybe the coaching staff can fix Chatwood in the offseason, or during spring training 2019, but right now, putting him on the mound is tantamount to saying, “We just don’t want to win this game, you can have it.”

The Cubs lost to the Pirates 3-1 Saturday night, and though this loss was not all Chatwood’s fault — I’ll get to that — it was the walks that he’s seemingly been issuing like that Bugs Bunny conga line that got him in trouble. Again.

He got through the first inning without any walks. But then he walked the first two hitters in the second, and a double made it 1-0 Pirates. A groundout and sacrifice fly followed, and each scored a run to make it 3-0.

When Chatwood walked the leadoff hitter in the third, Joe Maddon had seen enough and replaced him with Randy Rosario.

You know, maybe the Cubs should have just made this a “bullpen game” after Mike Montgomery, who was originally scheduled to start Saturday, hit the disabled list. That’s because the bullpen did an outstanding job of keeping this game close. Rosario, Jesse Chavez, Brandon Kintzler and Jorge De La Rosa combined for six shutout innings, allowing six hits and a walk and striking out six. That’s really good work. Those four relievers combined for 91 pitches (61 strikes), which wouldn’t be bad for a starter going six innings.

Chatwood, meanwhile, has walked 93 hitters in 101⅔ innings. The last Cubs pitcher to walk that many in a season was Carlos Zambrano, who issued 101 walks in 2007 — in 114⅔ more innings! There’s a fair chance Chatwood could lead the major leagues in walks this year even if he doesn’t throw another pitch. Lucas Giolito of the White Sox is a distant second to Chatwood with 72.

The other story of this game, of course, is the Cubs’ failure offensively. For the third consecutive game, the entire offense consisted of a solo home run. Saturday’s participant in this “streak” was Ben Zobrist. His blast in the third made it 3-1 [VIDEO].

This figured to give the Cubs at least a chance to get back in the game, but that’s all the offense they could muster. That set this record, for whatever it’s worth:

And they won two of the three games — the first time in MLB history that any team has done that while scoring in that way, one run per game, each on a solo homer. That had been done 11 other times prior to the Cubs’ current run, and only four of those teams had won even one of the three games:

Rk Strk Start End Games W L AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI
1 CLE 2016-08-22 2016-08-24 3 1 2 96 3 20 5 0 3 3
2 DET 2016-08-15 2016-08-17 3 0 3 94 3 15 1 0 3 3
3 FLA 2011-09-14 2011-09-15 3 0 3 97 3 17 2 0 3 3
4 KCR 2004-09-25 2004-09-27 3 0 3 91 3 14 2 0 3 3
5 PHI 2002-08-17 2002-08-20 3 0 3 97 3 18 4 0 3 3
6 SFG 1985-06-21 1985-06-23 3 0 3 91 3 14 1 0 3 3
7 LAD 1979-08-28 1979-08-30 3 0 3 93 3 17 2 0 3 3
8 MIL 1971-04-30 1971-05-02 3 1 2 92 3 14 1 0 3 3
9 LAA 1963-09-22 1963-09-25 3 0 3 100 3 18 2 0 3 3
10 NYG 1957-07-07 1957-07-12 3 1 2 86 3 12 0 0 3 3
11 CIN 1954-07-19 1954-07-21 3 1 2 115 3 18 4 0 3 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/19/2018.

Give some credit to Pirates righthander Joe Musgrove, who kept Cubs hitters off balance all night. Musgrove works quickly and throws strikes (hint, hint) and needed just 87 pitches to complete seven innings, in which he allowed just four other singles, no walks and struck out seven.

The Cubs are going to have to get the bats going, and soon. They’ve scored one or zero runs in four of their last five games, the exception being the eight runs piled up on the Brewers on Wednesday. And they won three of those five.

And I still don’t want to see any more Chatwood.

How, you ask, will the Cubs be able to get through the rest of the year without Chatwood throwing in a meaningful game, especially with Montgomery on the DL? Here’s how they can at least get to August 31 (the day before rosters expand) without him starting, beginning Sunday afternoon:

8/19 vs. Pirates: Jose Quintana
8/21 vs. Tigers; Kyle Hendricks
8/22 vs. Tigers: Jon Lester
8/23 vs. Reds: Cole Hamels
8/24 vs. Reds: Jose Quintana
8/25 vs. Reds:
8/26 vs. Reds: Kyle Hendricks
8/27 vs. Mets: Jon Lester
8/28 vs. Mets: Cole Hamels
8/29 vs. Mets: Jose Quintana
8/30 vs. Braves: Yu Darvish
8/31 vs. Phillies: Kyle Hendricks

You’ll question two games I’ve listed above. The others would all involve four pitchers throwing on normal (four days) rest, helped out by Monday’s off day.

I don’t have anyone listed for August 25. That could be a “bullpen game,” or the Cubs could call up someone like Duane Underwood Jr. or Alec Mills to start that afternoon against the Reds, who will be missing Joey Votto for that series.

And the August 30 start I have penciled in for Darvish depends, of course, on how he does in his rehab starts. The first of those is Sunday afternoon in South Bend. He’s also tentatively scheduled to go again for the South Bend Cubs Friday, August 24. If he does well enough in those outings and feels good, the Cubs could activate him for the August 30 rainout makeup game in Atlanta, and keep everyone else on four days’ rest heading into September.

But seriously, Tyler Chatwood shouldn’t be in a meaningful game the rest of 2018, no matter what the Cubs have to do in order to accomplish that. Fix him for 2019.

Meanwhile, the Cubs go for the series win Sunday afternoon. As noted above, Jose Quintana will be on the mound for the Cubs, and he’ll face Pirates righthander Jameson Taillon. Game time is 12:35 p.m. CT and TV coverage Sunday is via ABC7 Chicago. Today’s game preview will post at 11 a.m. CT.