Cubs 4, Brewers 0 (4/28/14)

Did the Cubs Win?

OSS: The Cubs play their most complete game of the season against the “best” team in baseball.

Three Up

1. Jason Hammel was absolutely sublime all game. It seemed like he had the best control of his pitches out of any Cub in the past 3 years – especially the low outside corner against righties. Hammel held the Brewers to 2 walks, 2 hits, and a ROE (on a particularly bad play by Castro).

Absolute death to righties.

2. Hector Rondon faced 3 batters and recorded 3 strikeouts. Hopefully you were listening to GW and you picked him up before he became the de facto closer. He has been more-or-less the best reliever on the team in the past 100 games. That’s insane to think about, but it’s absolutely true. Since ASG ’13: 36.2 IP, 32 K, 14 BB, 11 R, 2.73 R/9.

3. I put Starlin at 3rd behind Rondon only because of a TERRIBLE error he committed early on. Castro has been pretty good this year defensively, but he still struggles when he gets to the ball early, especially when he ranges to his right. This time, a ball was just dribbled 5 feet to his right. He fielded it cleanly, but had a ton of time to throw the guy out. He took all of it, overthinking (you could almost feel the gears turning in his head), and he threw well off line. That allowed Wily Peralta to durdle around the bases until Gomez ended the inning. That’s a relatively small nitpick for the man who had 2 HR and a single batting cleanup. Castro never had a multi-HR game in his career until 2014; now, he’s had 2. There’s nothing like comparing guys right after their career game, but Castro is now 10th (of 24 qualified) in the bigs in SS WAR. Last year he was 16th (of 17 qualified).

Three Down

1. Can we end the Junior Lake experiment, please? Nothing in the minors indicated he was going to be worth a damn in the majors (besides “tools”). In 67 PA, he has a comical 29 strikeouts. His slash of .206/.242/.365 makes him good for a .268 wOBA; and he still has a .344 BABIP. I don’t think Lake has the bat control of Tony Gwynn, so look for that to go down, with Lake going down soon afterwards. Outfield is an absolute black hole for this team. Who would have thought? (Everyone puts up their hands)

2. Mike Olt strikes out in over 1/3 of his PA’s. His line is almost worse than Lake’s (.185/.237/.426). Starting Olt over Barney only makes sense if Olt can outhit Darwin; he hasn’t thus far, and he hasn’t in the exact way that people would expect. He strikes out, a lot, and hasn’t walked very much. He’s had great walk rates his entire career, and you’d like to give him a long enough leash (59 PA this year is almost worthless). Since the Cubs are so bad, he (and Lake too) will get a chance to figure it out; whether or not either ever does is up in the air.

3. Darwin Barney is now hitting .108/.250/.189.

This is an interesting article.  I’ll spare you the nitty-gritty, but the main point is that if you never once swung the bat, you’d still get on base for a slash line of .000/.073/.000. Your wOBA would be .050. The reason for this is that pitchers, incredibly enough, still stuggle to throw strikes every time. Eventually, you will draw walks; about a rate of 1 every 14 plate appearances.

Darwin Barney is rapidly approaching a slash line that you LITERALLY would produce if you, the reader, were going up there.

At least he’s walking.

Quick Hits

The Cubs still walked only once, and struck out 8 times…this was Hammel’s first appearance not allowing a home run since his first start of the year…as a team, the Cubs have a 76 OPS+, tied for last in the NL…Cubs are 14th of 15th in NL with 177 pitching strikeouts (league average is 199).

Next Game

Today, 6:10 CST, Jeff Samardzija v. Alfredo Simon

Will the Cubs Win?

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