News item, noted to me Friday night on Twitter:
Over the last 35 full seasons there have been 68 teams to start 1-6 or worse. Of those 68, 12 finished above .500 and only 3 made the playoffs. Cubs are 1-5 heading into tonight. (@ESPNStatsInfo)— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 5, 2019
That was obviously sent before Friday night’s loss. Now that the Cubs actually are 1-6 this year (and so are the Reds, so that’s 70 teams that qualify by those criteria), you might wonder: Who are those three teams that made the playoffs?
One is the 1995 Reds, who won the N.L. Central with an 85-59 record in that labor dispute-shortened season. (That winning percentage would translate to 96 wins in a 162-game season.) They won a division series over the Dodgers before being swept by the eventual World Series champion Braves in the NLCS.
The next was the 89-73 Phillies in 2007, who were then swept by the wild-card Rockies in a division series. (You might remember the Cubs won the N.L. Central that year with 85 victories; none of the four N.L. playoff teams that year won more than 90 games.)
And the last of those three was... a Joe Maddon-managed team, the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays. Not only did they start 1-6, they started 1-8, and were outscored 44-20 in those nine games.
They won 23 of their next 30 games and were two games in first place by May 13. They did have to win the last five games of that season, including the memorable walkoff home run by Evan Longoria on the year’s final day, to take that season’s A.L. wild card spot. But they managed to turn 1-8 into 91-71. They then lost their first-round playoff series to the Rangers.
Point being, if any manager knows how to dig out of this hole, it’s Joe Maddon. This Cubs team has talent. It is completely capable of becoming the fourth team to come from this kind of start to the postseason.
It would be nice if a run to that started tonight.
Here are today’s particulars.
Cole Hamels, LHP vs. Corbin Burnes, RHP
Cole Hamels was going along pretty well in his first start this year, then got squeezed on a couple calls, issued some walks, and then boom! Home runs just like last year in Globe Life Park.
Fortunately, he won’t have to pitch in GLP again this year. Last year, he threw six good innings vs. the Brewers September 3 at Miller Park, but the Cubs bullpen blew... you really don’t want to hear this, do you?
Current Brewers are hitting .280 (33-for-118) against Cole. However, most of that damage is by Christian Yelich (7-for-22, a home run) and Ryan Braun (13-for-40, three home runs). Other Brewers are hitting just .232 vs. Hamels (13-for-56, 11 strikeouts). So, stop Braun and Yelich and this should be a good day.
Corbin Burnes made 30 relief appearances for the Brewers last year and this is his first year in the rotation, and tonight is his second big-league start. He allowed four runs in five innings to the Cardinals in his first start this season.
Last year he made three relief appearances against the Cubs; no Cubs hitter has faced him for more than two at-bats. Albert Almora Jr. homered against him in this game at Wrigley Field and Kyle Schwarber went deep against him in this game at Miller Park.
Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago Plus. It’s also on FS1 (no blackouts).
SB Nation game preview
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The 2019 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used in previous years. Here’s how it works.
You’ll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).
At the same time, a StoryStream containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream “Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads” so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.
You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap in the box marked “Chicago Cubs Game Threads” at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in the game’s StoryStream as noted above.
The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.
Discuss amongst yourselves.