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Losing winnable games in the late innings is a real kick in the nuts. But even good bullpens do that from time to time.
I'm not saying the Cub bullpen is good, because right now, they really aren't so good, but I'm saying that even the good ones blow some games here and there.
So yeah, it's going to happen. We all just have to hope that things get turned around in these last handful of weeks in the 'pen so things are a little rosier moving into the playoffs.
But what the heck is wrong with Jason Heyward?
What is going on now - you know, the whole "let him work it out thing" - is just not working. It's time for Big Poppa Joe to give Heyward the Chris Coghlan treatment. Which means, just play him when the match-ups line up well.
It's rather amazing that the Cubs have been able to score as much as they have with Heyward in the lineup, but so often it seems like in these close games Heyward is up in a key situation and just "Heywards" all over it. He gets pitches to smack, yet, he does not smack them.
It's time to start treating him like the rest of the guys in the outfield pool. Work him in as a defensive replacement and start him only when there is a tasty match-up in his favor.
Which seems like never right now, but I'm sure Big Poppa Joe can figure something out.
And sure, with a sizable lead in the division and everyone else playing pretty solid out there, you do have the luxury of playing a defense-first outfielder every day, but man, don't you have to think that sitting the guy a bit certainly couldn't hurt his output right now?
I mean, there's really no way it could be much worse, right? Is he pressing too much? Is it confidence? Is it just straight up badness? Who the hell knows? But I do know that it's so bad it is worth changing up.
The Week in Review: The Cubs went 4-2 for the week, taking two from the Angels and splitting four with the hated Cardinals. A split with the Cardinals should feel fine given the overall standings right now, but man, to lose two games in the 8th inning was really hard to watch. I'm just going to stare at the standings for a while to make myself feel better.
The Week in Preview: The boys in blue have Monday off to gargle with some Old Style to get the taste of their last two losses out of their mouths. Then they welcome the Brew Crew in for a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday to kick off a four-game series with our neighbors to the north before hitting the road for a weekend set with the Rockies in Denver. Barring bullpen explosions, they should win a few this week.
Musical Outfielders: And no, we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn.
On Friday all three of the Cub outfielders hit a homer. Which is clearly great, but the more greater (better?) deal is that the homers were all hit by backup outfielders. Willson Contreras, Jorge Soler and Szczur (twice!) all went deep. And it makes sense that it was the backup outfielders as the starter in right typically is Jason Heyward, and he doesn't even hit the ball out of the infield, much less over the fence. So the outfield is pretty deep; maybe one of them can pitch the 8th inning.
Potential Annoying Cub of the Week: I'm going to change it up here and nominate Jonathan Papelbon as Potential Annoying Cub. There are some rumblings that the Cubs are kicking the tires on the former Nats and Red Sox closer. I'm not so sure this is going to work. But I do know that he will probably be annoying no matter what happens. Because he just seems like an annoying guy. Even the Washington Post said "Papelbon arrives in D.C. with the reputation as a pompous, crotch-grabbing clubhouse cancer and certifiable jerk." Yeah, that's about right.
Current Annoying Cub of the Week: I've just about had enough of Joe Smith and Mike Montgomery. At this point I just lump them together and call them Montgomery Smith. You would have thought that going to a new team as good as the Cubs would get these guys a little jacked up and pitching better than they were pre-Cubs. But no, they've been pretty atrocious. So, Montgomery Smith, you are the Current Annoying Cub.
Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe did address the possibility of taking away at-bats from J-Hey. What's interesting is that how he mentions the spot starts make the other guys look good, but doesn't mention that maybe spots starts could make Heyward look good too. So, it doesn't really hold up there, Joe. Still, Joe isn't going to come right out and bench him; he'll put the Maddon spin on it somehow.
Kubs Kalender: Fans attending the second Cubs-Brewers game on Tuesday will receive a bobblehead commemorating Joe Maddon's 2015 Manager of the Year award. I wonder if you can get 2016's at the same time.
Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that there really isn't much to complain about.
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Posted on Dec 11, 2017