#Cubs lineup vs Cardinals

Dexter Fowler is back  in the Cubs lineup for Friday’s series opener against the Cardinals. Plus, Kris Bryant is feeling better and will start at third base. Jake Arrieta gets the start in a rematch of a May 7 game against John Lackey. Here’s the Cubs lineup:

Fowler CF

Rizzo 1B

Bryant 3B

Montero C

Coghlan LF

Castro SS

Baxter RF

Arrieta P

Russell 2B

* According to MLB Network’s stats geeks, Anthony Rizzo has slashed his strikeout rate from 18.8 percent last season to 12.0 percent this season by taking fewer at-bats to two strikes. He reached two strikes 53.6 percent of the time in 2014; this year he’s going to two strikes only 44.3 percent of the time. Rizzo cut his miss percentage before two strikes from 24.1 percent of swings to 20.3 percent this season (22.4 percent league average).

* The Cardinals pitchers are 10-3, 2.43 ERA in last 13 games.

* Arrieta is coming off a complete game victory over the Twins. He is 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA over his last four starts.

* Anthony Rizzo is batting .371 (13-for-35) with eight extra-base hits (.829 SLG) over his last nine games.

* Chris Coghlan is a career .583 hitter (7-for-12) lifetime vs. Lackey.


We have a good chance of winning the first game. I’m not into statistics but it seems we have done better against other teams best pitchers lately.

I see two weak links in the outfield heading into this important series. I hope they (and they know who they are) prove me wrong. More kids, please.

It’s very sobering seeing our lineup vs. the red hot Cardinals. We have a ways to go still but we are getting there. In the mean time Maddon is working his magic with a less than desirable ML roster, infusing a productive and winning style of play. Laying the ground work for the time when Theo completes the ML roster which will no doubt include another legit, top of the rotation starter, left fielder for sure and possibly a new CF and a back up catcher that can be used as a pinch hitter.

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Aloha Folks- you know me as a positive person when it comes to the game and this team. Tonight was one of the worst games I have watched. The team left 12 base runners on, missed many many opportunities to score with RISP. It is one thing for the young folks (rookies) to be anxious and swing at first pitches for outs but for veterans like Fowler and Castro, they should know better. The team’s whole approach to their ab’s really needs to be worked on dramatically. Then to see Strop fall apart against Ramirez (ph) was bad. Arrieta pitched a great game and deserved better than the result. Ok, I blew off some steam. I hope they can get the next two games. This series I believe is a strong indicator for how well the team does for the rest of the season. Take care now. Mahalo.

Yes, k.g. Jim Kaat made it clear he thought Arrieta should have been permitted to continue and not be lifted when he was. {This may be a case of Maddon `overmanaging.`} Kaat said, “I hate pitch counts,’ suggesting that is the principal reason Jake was lifted. Kaat also made the point that the Cubs` pen is not as reliable as that of the Redbirds. Those were good points you made. The Cubs outhit the Cards by plenty, and it`s a pity Arrieta`s outstanding effort went for naught. (As I`ve opined in the past, Jim Kaat is a superb baseball analyst.) And Bob Costas pulled no punches in assessing Strop`s appearance. Said it was `atrocious.` I think Bob would not have said that had not Pedro gestured `skyward` when leaving the mound. What was that about? That`s something pitchers do after meeting with success. He failed miserably.

I have to do a `mea culpa` on something I suggested above. I just learned from `Quick pitch` this morn that Joe Maddon made clear before last night`s game that Jake Arietta was going to be limited to a `pitch count,` and it would be strictly observed no matter how well the young man was performing. Therefore, I was wrong to suggest Joe may have been `overmanaging` when he chose to lift Jake. I do agree with Jim Kaat that `pitch counts` are sometimes overdone and unnecessary. Had Arietta not been relieved last night, it`s more likely than not that we win that game. And Jake`s demeanor when he was lifted, indicated he was unhappy about coming out of that game. As for tonight`s contest, `on paper` the pitching matchup is a `mismatch,` and not one in our favor. But as k.g. suggested, Virginia in the CWS and indeed the entire postseason tournament `on paper` was the underdog to each and every team it faced, and yet somehow found a way to exceed expectations and defy all the odds, and triumph. Could starter Roach `overachieve` as well? Absolutely he could.

Aloha jhosk- thanks for that update. I too believe that “pitch-counts” are over used. There is a lot of debate on this, my father not only a coach but a pitcher and a pitch coach for many teams including in the Alaskan League which he helped to build up to compete against the Cape Cod League, talks about having a good balance: meaning there are times for a pitch count and other times where it is not is not warranted.This also shows that the bullpen is not quite up to par where it needs to be because they cannot hold the line. You know I am a positive person and a cheerleader for this organization. Last night I felt was sloppy especially at the plate and I was very frustrated with the veterans: Fowler and Castro left 8 folks on base between the two of them. Call it being human. The Cubs had multiple chances to win the game and gave it away to the Cardinals. This also reminds me of the 2008-2009 Giants and that is where Bochy really shined because he had to teach discipline to the young players as well as to impart in the veterans their roles for the team. This is going to be one of the challenges that Maddon will be faced with but I believe he can do it. I said this before and will say it again if the Cubs are in this position come middle of July-towards the end of the month and have not gained significant ground in the standings, I would not be surprised to see a big trade or trades to get more pitching prospects into the system. I have faith that the younger hitters like Addison, Bryant, Baez and Schwarber will bloom and come around, situational baseball and manufacturing runs. It takes time. In the meantime though, they need pitching and not just to consider a starter but bullpen as well. Take care and hope Roach has a great outing today! Mahalo!

Hate pitch counts? You hate to be careful with your most important asset? The arms? Ummmm ok that makes no sense

Aloha Petrey, as jhosk stated below, we were commenting on Kaat’s opinion but also speaking from experience that when it comes to “pitch-counts,” one should not “live-and-die” by them solely. I think you took what we said out of context and neither of us said we “hated” them, to the contrary, I spoke about having a balance with using a pitch-count, and it should be different for pitchers because we are individuals, meaning not the same. Anyhow, the team did not fair well tonight. Hope they can pick up tomorrow’s game. Mahalo.

Aloha jhosk- “by the way…these rain delays stink!” I cannot remember a delay where the team came out with a positive result. I feel for Hammel, you warm up are ready to go then a delay. He was pitching better than Martinez but the poor hitting got Martinez out of various situations. If the current score holds up I think the FO has to be realistic about its prospects. In the next 3 months they have to play the Cardinals 3 times and the Brewers 4 times, they finish the season in Milwaukee (I brought up the Brewers because they have the Cubs number right now). I said at the end of last season and the beginning of this season that I would be please if they end up at .500, that is a big turn around for club that has had to go through a lot of transitions. And I am not lowering expectations, just being real. After losing the last two games at home to the Dodgers and now what is transpiring in St. Louis, this team is not a level to contend. That is just where they are at this moment. Does not mean things could turn around but a lot would have to happen. They went from 9 over 500 to most likely 4 in less than a week. Washington, St.Louis, LA, SF, Pittsburg are better teams. I also think the Mets and Arizona could challenge too. So, it maybe time to be sellers for this upcoming trade deadline and get some more prospects (of course not trade away key players), depending on how tough the situation is with the pitching towards the end of this year, they can figure out who they might go after in the free agency market. This may mean letting go of a Castro-TWood-Ejax-Coughlan-Denorfia-Olt-Herrera and I am sure others too. Hopefully at some point Soler comes back as well as Baez getting a chance but instead of putting pressure on them, allow them to heal and transition well back to the team. I knew coming into this season there would be a lot of “growing-pains,” that happens with a young team and also one that has gone through a lot of changes. So, I will just enjoy baseball and hope for the best with this team. Take care now. Mahalo!

Yes, k.g. It`s disappointing we scored just four runs for the entire weekend in St. Louis. The offense needs to look in the mirror. As the manager made clear a few weeks ago, the team is going to benefit most by going head to head with the best opposition. It wasn`t pleasant, but let`s hope the young players saw some things they can store in their memory banks and utilize down the road. My expectations were for us to do better than .500 for the entire season, but you may be right. There are almost 90 games left on the schedule. The optimist might say why can`t the Cubs enjoy a second half of the season comparable to that of the Redbirds` first half? That puts us right there. Today`s off day was welcome; we needed time to regroup before taking on the Metropolitans in the `Big Apple.`

Aloha jhosk- yes, I think the day off will be good for them too. Of course I would love for them to do better than .500, I guess I was trying to have realistic expectations and right now with all the injuries and folks still learning their roles and playing positions I thought maybe the FO makes some bold moves come the deadline. And as you say, this team could really turn things around come the second half, that is not out of the question. Take care. Mahalo!

Aloha jhosk- That was a much needed game by Hendricks and some very good play by Szczur both in the field and at the plate. I hope the team can come out of its funk and manufacture some runs but nice to see a game like this too. Mahalo!

Yes, k.g. ( This comment is not going to be placed where I`d like, but so be it. Have absolutely no control over that.) That`s another one run game we`ve been involved with. Is nice to get a win after 5 straight losses. I meant to comment yesterday that there have been rumors that the Cubs have had discussions with the Mets about Niese and possibly Gee. There are Mets` pitchers I`d like to see the Cubs deal for, but Niese and Gee are not among them. I know Niese performed well tonight , but it has not changed anything. {Thor would be nice.} Did not see or hear tonight`s game, but seeing the box score, I observe that Bryant scored in the middle innings and Szczur was credited with an rbi. I assume Kris scored on Matt`s double. I also see that Starlin is credited with two walks. That is stunning. Had he been patient enough to work one free pass, I would call for an investigation; two walks warrants a double investigation. (Unless they were intentional passes?) Did I mention I hope the Cubs are not serious about acquiring Jonathon Niese? Isn`t there a good chance we won`t need to face Harvey in this series? Isn`t this 19 wins out of 32 one run games? This is a trend I don`t know if we want to embrace. I suggest it would be less stressful to win games by much wider margins. {Btw, I saw Hamels pitch tonight, and he was effective. His team may or may not have won, but he was impressive, per usual.} Mahalo!

And the `White Stockings` vanquished the mighty Cardinals tonight. Not too shabby! Any game started by Chris Sale is a contest his team is more than likely to win. This man is `the real deal.` T`is a pity he is not a Cub rather than a member of the `Pale Hose.` Where were our scouts when this man was available? (Just joshing; this is what makes major league baseball compelling. It`s ours against your`n . Which club is better? The genius of the FO, or lack thereof, can make the difference. I`ll take our current edition any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Aloha jhosk- I know what you mean, I am sure Carrie is very busy with the season and all the writing she does, this is just a blog and I am blessed that we have one of the most active ones in the MLB. But since there are no new subjects about daily lineups, then we come to older topics such as this one. Having said that, I was able to watch a good portion of tonight’s game and have to say I was uneasy about Lester’s outing. To the untrained eye, a fan could say “hey, we got the win.” That is true. But the Mets are not the Cardinals and still Lester was hit pretty hard and if not for some very good defense, it could have gone another way. I felt that Colon was the better pitcher tonight, pitching hitting his targets, throwing strikes and not getting hit hard. So this has to be a concern for management. I am glad that the team was able to pull this out, even with the errant base running by Bryant in the 11th.
In order to be a playoff team, the Cubs have to win not only the sub-par teams (Marlins, Brewers) but good teams as well (Cardinals, Pirates, Dodgers, Giants, Nationals). This is a tall order for team that is 9.5games out. I thought it weird that I was routing for the WSox, who were able to take two games from the Cardinals at their home! I know they say you need some luck, I am sure that is true but what I want for this team is to be to win it legitimately, not second-guessing. The Golden State Warriors did this, proving that their regular season was no fluke.
I think the announcers said in the last 8 games the team has only scored 10 runs vs 24 scored against them, so it amazing that they won 3 out of 8. But looking at the next 11 games before the All-Star Break this team has to go out 7-4/8-3 and that includes 4 games with the Cardinals! I would not mind the FO going after Hamels if they could put together a package that includes EJax, TWood, Castro, Almora, Olt, etc.. Notice I do not say Baez. Maybe the Cubs could offer to “reinburse” the Phillies for the salary already paid out to Hamel for the year-up-to-date. I also know that Castro is playing better, trying harder and for this team to get to the next level, pitching is needed and I have faith the bats will come around.
I am rambling now but trying to think out of the box in regard to the pitching situation that is at hand. Tomorrow is a good match-up with Arrieta/deGrom and I think if Arrieta is not laboring in the later endings, like in St. Louis, they should leave him in, give the bp a little rest. Mahalo!

You must be addressing Jim Kaat, whom I seriously doubt will receive your message, as he does not participate here. (Unless you have a scoop?) Jim Kaat is the individual who last night said he `hates` pitch counts. I did not say that, and I know k.g. did not. I said `pitch counts` are sometimes overdone and unnecessary, and k.g. opined they are overused. Are there times when they`re appropriate? I say, yes, absolutely. K.g. is more than capable of speaking for himself. {And were Jim Kaat to ever participate here, that would be the best news for Cubs` fans since we learned Joe Maddon would become our manager, since Jim Kaat is one of the most knowledgeable baseball observers on the planet.}

Yes, k.g., I was `blacked out` from seeing this game as New York is considered `in market.` I did hear the Mets` radio broadcast, and one of the Mets` broadcasters (I think Howie Rose) opined that game involved `examples of some of the worst baserunning he`s ever seen on the major league level.` And he made clear he was speaking of both teams being guilty. Both these teams are currently `inept` offensively, with the Mets being even more inept than the Cubs. Wasn`t it just two weeks ago or so when we scored 17 runs in one contest? The Mets pitching is very good, but come on! And when did one of our players last go deep? It`s at least a week, or perhaps ten days? As you suggest, today`s game `on paper` figures to be another pitchers` duel. But, given each of these clubs is overdue to `break out` with the bats, it could very well develop into a high scoring contest. Isn`t Bryant due for a day off? Don`t the Cubs go home after today for 10 straight games stretching to the All Star break? Our relievers have been impressive of late.

Aloha jhosk! Well, they hit a pair of dingers today! I thought defense was good, Castro made a good base-running decision that netted their 2nd run. Good way to end this road trip and get home. Hope you and your family have a blessed 4th of July! Mahalo!

I hear you, k.g. Is gratifying that we swept a series, but is a challenge to gauge how stellar our pitching has been, given the pathetic nature of the Mets` offense currently. One has to ask what happens when we go head to head with a legit offensive club? Oh wait! We did that last weekend with the Redbirds. Speaking of the Cardinals, did you hear the news that their scouting director was `sacked` today? Am certain it`s part of the `fallout` from that `hacking` business involving the Houston Astros. It`s all very nebulous at the moment, but perhaps it will all become transparent eventually. Am wanting you and everyone else on here to enjoy a `Happy Independence Day.`

Aloha jhosk- I did not know about the Cardinal scout person. Well, Houston is doing well too, I think they just swept the Royals. The Marlins swept the Giants, which help the Cubs in terms of the WC but that is so far off, the team needs to look at one game at a time, one series at a time. At right now the Marlins are one of these teams like the Brewers that know how to play against the “NorthSiders,” so I hope Hammel not only has a good outing but that he get the defense and offense supported needed. Take care now. Mahalo!

We did receive a solid effort from Hammel, k.g., but the Cubs` offensive `funk` has returned after yesterday`s one day reprieve at Citi Field. It`s unfortunate for Houston that George Springer sustained a broken wrist yesterday. The Redbirds have lost three straight at home for first time this season. Could this be a trend? And I find it more than noteworthy that Scherzer has thrown complete games in three of his last four outings, given he began this season with one `complete game` for his entire career.

Aloha jhosk- I was watching up to the fifth inning, had to go do something for work, so when I left the game it as 1-1. I was frustrated because the team had chances to score and give the opposing pitcher outs. We know this is a team that has power, that is fine but you are not always going to win a game by the long ball, in fact you become a better team when you can play small ball, manufacture runs have a different approach at the plate, “choke-up” as they used to say or shorten up on one’s swing. The opposing teams’ pitchers know right now that this young team is not patient, will not take pitches so it takes away part of the strategy that the other team has to do, which hurts this team. I hope they can get it going because it is imperative that they take the next two games into the series against the Cardinals. Will be interesting to see how this new pitcher they acquired from the Pirates does but the past week or so the starting pitching has been pretty good, just not scoring them runs. Happy 4th! Mahalo!

Ahh Jim Kaat here,no really,I agree with as far as pitch counts go considering we are only midway thru the season the bullpen should have been able to pick up where Arrieta left off. I personally would have left him in for a couple of reasons,he was pitching well and not laboring and what a boost for the Cubs to maybe even get a complete game if the eighth inning went well. I think the whole series changed on the decision to remove Arrieta,including yesterdays game,maybe tonight the Cubs can pick up a little momentum,come playoff time though,Maddon keeps Arrieta in,he is a seasoned manager and I have all faith in the F.O. and Joe Maddon to make the right call.The Cubs need to be in sync at the end of the year,how bout those Wahoos jhosk,prefect example. Peace and Go Cubs!

Aloha Kenly- good points. Look at Max Scherzer, throws a 1-hitter then a no-hitter (I hope I got that correct). I was looking at Arrieta for changes in his arm-slot, as you say was he laboring and I did not see it. Maddon is a good coach-manager but he is not perfect as is the same with other managers too. You make some good calls and some bad ones too. I really hope they can pick this game up as they need it badly going into the Mets series. By the way, wouldn’t it be amazing if FO made a trade to get back the Shark? He might be able to give them the innings they are looking for, he averages almost 7 innings an outing. His ERA is a little high but his ko-bb ratio is good, maybe just some adjustments needed and the friendly confines? I just added this in for some entertainment value. Take care now! Mahalo!

Looks to me like Szczur is proving his value slowly but surely…at least as valuable to this team as Ross considering Szczur can hit and run fast to first base putting pressure on the defense and increasing his chances of reaching safely on a ground ball, pinch run, pinch hit, pinch bunt and defend any of the three outfield positions. A player with multiple uses that Maddon covets unlike Ross who can….catch….one pitcher. If it wasn’t for Ross’s throwing out some base runners on attempted steals?? What physical value does he offer to Maddon as an arsenal option? None. Lester better turn in a string of gems if Ross’ roster spot is to be justified or Lester and Theo will have some splainin’ to do when it comes to crunch time in a close game and we need some “pop” off the bench in a pinch hit situation.

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