Sometimes I hate being a Cubs fan. When the Cubs won their fourth straight and completed the three game sweep of the A’s, I was downright euphoric. When they came home and lost three of four to the Dodgers, it was easy to be dismissive. Then they won two of three against the Padres. Cautious optimism returned.
And now, they lose a hard fought opener in Miami Friday night. The sky is falling! They’ve lost five of eight overall. This has happened all too many tines, the fake-out tease. They appear to be good and suck us back in and then the losing starts
Only it’s a 3-5 stretch. Every team in baseball will experience several of them this year. The Rays haven’t yet, but they will. They’ve certainly already had a spot where they lost three of four. It’s just that they then won six straight afterwards. I certainly would feel a heck of a lot better if that were the next step for the Cubs. Probably not, but it would be great.
Take a few deep breaths. All right. Now we move forward. The big shame on Friday night was that Marcus Stroman deserved better. He allowed one run through five and then maybe ran out of gas a little in the seventh. After the four-pitch walk, my brain went to turn it over to the bullpen. But honestly, I wasn’t watching, only following along on a night when I was out. I do know Stroman’s pitch count was very low at the time, relatively speaking. I do know that you have to trust in your best pitchers. Regardless of the decision tree, it just didn’t work out.
The bigger problem is that the Cubs offense mustered only two runs despite having 10 hits and drawing two walks. I was concerned early on as to what was going to happen to this team when they start running into opposing pitchers who are more consistently executing their plans and when the running game is limited. On Friday, the Cubs hit into two double plays and stole no bases. They had two extra-base hits and those produced the two runs.
This team doesn’t have enough power to rely on the long ball. With that, this offense is going to be frustrating. I certainly can’t accuse them of being station to station. It certainly doesn’t take four hits for this team to produce runs. But it can certainly take three. You don’t need much of a fundamental understanding of probability and statistics to know the likelihood of regularly doing that. So, the offense is going to come and go.
But this one is certainly a frustrating one. This is another one of those games that feels like it was winnable. And this is going to be another game that adds logs to the fire in regards to eventually getting Christopher Morel and Matt Mervis onto this team. Results for Iowa don’t guarantee results for Chicago. Morel adds a blend of speed and power and Mervis offers pure unadulterated power. I haven’t been that guy yet, but certainly, with a team losing close games, at some point you have to upgrade the offense where it is possible to do so.
Let’s find three positives in Friday night’s loss.
- It certainly wasn’t all positive for Nelson Velázquez with two strikeouts. But I called for him to stay with the club when Cody Bellinger returned. He did and Nelson responded with his third homer. With all three of the Cubs young prospects the story is the same. They don’t fit with the short term planning of this team, but their high performance is forcing a rewriting of short term plans.
- Michael Fulmer and Mark Leiter Jr. with five batters faced and three strikeouts between them. Leiter escaped Stroman’s jam in the seventh inning. Fulmer has faced 19 Dodger hitters allowing eight hits, two walks and eight runs. He’s faced 32 other batters allowing six hits, three walks and one run. He’s struck out 13 of those 32 batters. I’m going to continue to suggest that Fulmer has a Dodgers problem, not a high leverage problem.
- It was good to see Cody Bellinger back in the lineup. He’s brought a lot to this team in a short time. His triple led to the other Cubs run. He did strike out once and ground into one of the three double plays.
Game 25, April 28: Marlins 3, Cubs 2 (14-11)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Mark Leiter Jr. (.143). ⅔ IP, 2 batters, K
- Hero: Eric Hosmer (.107). 1-1, RBI
- Sidekick: Michael Fulmer (.102). IP, 3 batters, 2K
- Billy Goat: Michael Rucker (-.370). 4 batters, 2H, R, 2HBP (L 1-1)
- Goat: Seiya Suzuki (-.351). 0-4, K, 2DP
- Kid: Nico Hoerner (-.088). 1-4, K
WPA Play of the Game: Jean Segura batted with runners on first and third with one out in the seventh inning, the Cubs leading 2-1. Segura delivered a game-tying, RBI-single. (.147)
*Cubs Play of the Game: Cody Bellinger batted with the bases empty in tie game in the seventh inning. He tripled, leading to the go ahead run. (.138)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Mark Leiter Jr.
Nelson Velázquez (1-4, HR)
Cody Bellinger (1-4, 3B)
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Yesterday’s Player of the Game: Hayden Wesneski (Superhero 16-8)
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
The award is named for Anthony Rizzo, who finished first in this category three of the first four years it was in existence and four times overall. He also recorded the highest season total ever at +65.5. The point scale is three points for a Superhero down to negative three points for a Billy Goat.
- Justin Steele +10
- Marcus Stroman/Ian Happ/Keegan Thompson +8
- Mark Leiter Jr. +7.5
- Michael Rucker/Luis Torens/Trey Mancini -4
- Julian Merryweather -4.5
- Yan Gomes/Nico Hoerner -5
- Michael Fulmer -7
Up Next: The Cubs will look to even the series with the Marlins. Caleb Kilian will make his season debut for the Cubs. After Stroman’s strong outing, the Cubs will have a pretty fresh bullpen, including most of the multiple inning relievers. Edward Cabrera starts for the Marlins. Edward is 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA over 22 innings of work and five starts. So he’s not giving them a lot of length. The 25-year-old righthander out of Puerto Rico has made 26 career starts with a 3.98 ERA. Last time out, he allowed four runs over 4⅓ innings in Atlanta and took the loss. His two starts preceding that though, allowing four runs over 11 innings and earning his one win. Both of those starts are at home.