It always seems to be in Pittsburgh around the All-Star break. It was in ’16 where the Cubs took a month off basically and got swept there and sent everyone into a highly comedic and highly unnecessary panic. It was there last year where the Cubs managed a solo home run in four straight games to prove their offense had issues. And hopefully, the first three games of this series will be remembered as something of a nadir where the Cubs faced the abyss and decided to finally step in the other direction. Maybe they can even do that without some major roster shakeup. But it feels like they might have crossed that threshold already.
Let’s do it:
The Two Obs
-Most of what can be concluded from this series can be found here. But there’s two points to go over, so here’s the first. Maddon’s blowup yesterday at the Pirates dugout seemed more performative than these usually do, but you can understand it. Maddon has watched this team go to the zoo on him for most of this season, especially of late. They may be quitting on him, but he has to show he hasn’t quit on them, like Pinella-style. So he’s going to show he’s still backing them. Hopefully they take the cue, because as I said in that piece, this doesn’t feel like it’s on Maddon again. And if it is, then Theo probably should go ahead and pull the trigger now. We’ll see how they respond over the weekend.
-Obviously, Wednesday’s loss is going to be replayed a lot, and was the worst of the season. I suppose there’s a ton to be written about Addison Russell’s stubbornness and inability to see the wrongs, but frankly I’m too tired to do it now. He fucked up. Kimbrel fucked up by walking Diaz. Contreras fucked up by not catching the ball, but with Heyward and Bryant hurt there wasn’t much choice. All of that happens. Still, there is something to wonder about:
With Kimbrel’s velocity down a touch, though at a more than passable 95 MPH, he’s going to have to use the top of the zone more if he wants to keep missing bats. None of this happens without guys able to make contact off him, and there are times when you need a whiff. He didn’t get them, and anything can happen when the ball is in play, especially against a team that seems intent on blowing its toes off.
-That’s two straight quality starts from Quintana. There were less change-ups, but he kicked up the amount of fastballs instead of sinkers.
-We’re going to deal with Robel Mania, aren’t we? He’s going to strike out a ton and that might gobble up whatever usefulness his bat has, but for now let’s bask in a great debut.
-Kris Bryant has a big game, the Cubs score 11 times. This isn’t hard.
-Mike Montgomery is dead. Tuesday’s game was in reach, until he got involved.
-So those calls for David Bote are going to have to be quieter after seven straight strikeouts, huh?