I want to get to the main point of this game right at the top. And it probably should have been what I spoke about at the preview. I was a little afraid to mention it, because it’s so jarring. And Cory Seager’s injury doesn’t matter. The biggest difference between the Cubs and Dodgers is their bullpens. It’s easy to see how the Cubs starters can run the Dodgers starters even. They did tonight. Both Quintana and Kershaw gave up two runs in five innings. In the playoffs, you probably take that. Given that, I think the Cubs lineup can probably run the Dodgers lineup close to even if not dead so. Given how the starters shake out. the lineups are pressed into being just about even.
But there’s no way you can dress this up. At the moment, and likely going forward, the Dodgers bullpen can get all the outs it needs. The Cubs’ can’t. If that doesn’t change, the Cubs are going to get whacked here.
Much like Game 5 in DC, every reliever who came in tonight gave up a run. They may not have been charged, but they gave up one. You can’t win playoff games that way.
It’s at this point that I have to bitch about roster construction. Full disclosure, I’m probably the biggest Hector Rondon fan in the world. And I recognize what his problems have been all season.
But let’s focus on this. Rondon replaced Justin Wilson on the roster. Joe Maddon didn’t trust Wilson to throw anything other than garbage innings in the NLDS. And suddenly, Rondon in his first appearance in over two weeks is getting tossed into the highest leverage situation possible. While Rondon still has to make the pitches, is that really fair to him to put him there after so long out? After replacing a guy who Joe wouldn’t trust to walk his dog? Seems a bit at odds.
Then again, who else was there to go to? Edwards couldn’t possibly throw today. Montgomery was being saved and is bad now, apparently. Duensing isn’t going to do it. Strop? The options aren’t there, which is the fucking problem isn’t it?
Because this is how it plays out, at least it feels that way. The starters have a draw. The Cubs pen eats it while the Dodgers doesn’t. It’s scary.
Let’s clean the rest up.
-This one felt like the one the Cubs had to have, because Quintana might have been a surer bet after a glorified side session than Lester on three days’ rest from an extended side session. And if you knock out Kershaw after five, that’s where you want to be. It’s the best you can hope for. I mean, Rich Hill could blow up, but it’s now mandatory. Or close.
-The problems for the Cubs from last series is they didn’t hit. And I don’t think you need to go in on them too hard for it, because they saw Strasburg-Scherzer three times, plus a cameo. They didn’t bust out until Game 5. Busting out once in five games isn’t going to cut it here. It’s not a question of skill, it’s just a matter of waves.
That said, the Cubs at this point can’t be making sacrifices on offense for defense. Not only does Javy Baez not have a hit in the postseason, he’s looked simply awful while doing so. Find Ian Happ a spot in the outfield, put Zobrist in at second, because at least he’s found the level to get a big hit here and there. The Dodgers aren’t going to make the same mistake as last year by throwing Baez strikes all the time.
Not that that will solve everything. But how much longer can you wait?
-The thing about this Dodgers team is they’re the most disciplined at the plate you’ve seen. So even though Quintana was cruising, they can still pile up the pitches. Q was on schedule until the 5th, but that’s all it takes. Two walks. It can happen so quickly. The fall behind Puig and he’s so hot right now, like Hansel, there’s just not much margin. And then you get what we got tonight.
If the thunder don’t get ya the lightning will.
-So the way forward is the Cubs pen is going to just have to find it, which they have at various points this season. And if they do Joe is going to have to believe in them. Or their starters are going to have to throw seven brilliant innings every time. Or the offense is going to have to go nuclear. All of this can happen, but they are all things that you can’t easily foresee right now. Or the Dodgers staff is going to have to eat it.
But hey, Baseball can Baseball.