While not trying to take anything away from the surge the Cubs put on in the last two months of last season, some of their record was buoyed by the gap widening between the haves and the have-nots after the trade deadline. I think we began to see some of that today. There already was a huge class divide in the NL to start the season, with all of the Padres, Reds, Brewers, Braves and Phillies entering the year in rebuilding phase and then the Diamondbacks joining them in the wooden spooners club. That gap only widens when these teams sell off whatever isn’t nailed down, and the teams that soaked up those parts get some days where they get to beat up on the ships they just stripped.
The Brewers weren’t terribly good to begin with, but with Lucroy removed and Braun only upright for four innings, combined with a couple kids getting looks, they were easy meat and drink for a Cubs team that is all systems go.
Trevor Cahill was able to dance through the lineup a full two times for five innings of work while only giving up two hits. That has to be an inning more at least than Maddon thought he might get out of Cahill, with Montgomery ready to piggyback him for another two innings. You would have thought that Maddon would want to skate out of the first game not using any relievers that mattered, though I didn’t have a problem with getting Rondon another tune-up after Sunday’s what-have-ya.
Still, I feel like Maddon’s use of his pen is getting a too cute by half. There was the acquisition of Joe Smith which was only wanted by him, and that’s brought in Chapman on a few occasions. There was really no need to have Chapman throw twice today, and it feels like when he’s not throwing he’s warming up. Grimm could have easily seen out the first game, and probably should have started the ninth anyway. Tonight, Wood gave up a solo homer with two outs and could be trusted with a batter or two more before getting to the closer again. It seems Maddon has become as addicted to the save as his soon-to-be-free-agent closer seemingly is. Because we have nothing else to do, I worry about this kind of stuff.
I worry about this kind of stuff when the Cubs gave up one run over 18 innings, and one run that didn’t matter. It’s a deep psychosis.
-I have to ask, or at least watch over the next seven weeks, when or if it becomes clear that Zobrist should lose ABs to Baez and Soler. Baez hasn’t hit much lately either, but did homer tonight. Soler was on base twice in the nightcap, and all of his ABs have been grown-up of late. Zobrist is hitting .217 since the break with no homers. One of my fears when he was signed was that a lot of his value was tied up in his ability to move all over the field and the Cubs sort of told him they wouldn’t be doing that. In the second half Baez v. Zobrist is a push offensively, and we know how that goes defensively. Again, I probably shouldn’t be electing Soler mayor of hits-ville yet, but I want to see more. Certainly more than I do Coghlan.
-They should just start leaving objects on the first base line that Rizzo can climb on, Let’s give him a baseball Hell in a Cell match. We know he’d love it.
-The debate over which of the five starters gets booted from the playoff rotation is going to get annoying come late September, unless it somehow solves itself through injury or blow up. Seriously, who you taking out?
-Heyward hit two fly outs today. I feel this is progress. This is not good.
So you’ve won the first two games of a series and then you get to throw Lester and Arrieta at them? Such a fine place to be.