#Cubs and Hammel face Nats in finale

Jason Hammel will close the Cubs’ series against the Nationals on Wednesday. Here’s the lineup:

Zobrist 2B

Heyward RF

Bryant LF

Rizzo 1B

Montero C

Almora Jr. CF

Baez 3B

Russell SS

Hammel P

Hammel is 9-0 with a 3.16 ERA (28 ER/78 2/3 IP) in 12 career starts against the Nationals. He’s the only active pitcher in baseball with at least nine wins against a team without a loss.

Since 1913, only 12 pitchers can boast a 9-0 or better record against a single opponent. In recent years, the list includes Randy Johnson (13-0 in 15 G/14 GS vs. the Cubs), Kevin Tapani (9-0 in 14 starts vs. the Twins), Bill Gullickson (10-0 in 12 starts vs. the Mariners) and Randy Tomlin (9-0 in 14 G/13 GS vs. the Mets).

The Nationals will counter with Stephen Strasburg, who is 0-1 with a 2.18 ERA (5 ER/20 2/3 IP) in three career starts vs. the Cubs.

The Cubs rotation currently features three of the top four Major League leaders in WHIP: John Lackey (second at 0.93), Jon Lester (third at 0.95) and Jake Arrieta (fourth at 0.95).

*Looking ahead to the Cubs’ series vs. the Pirates at Wrigley Field, here are the pitching matchups:

Friday: RHP Jake Arrieta (10-1, 1.86) vs. LHP Francisco Liriano (4-6, 4.92)
Saturday: LHP Jon Lester (8-3, 1.89) vs. LHP Jonathan Niese (6-3, 4.60)
Sunday: RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-6, 3.05) vs. RHP Jameson Taillon (1-0, 1.93)



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Notwithstanding Hammel`s history versus the Nationals or Strasburg`s versus the Cubs, I see today`s starting pitching matchup as favoring Washington, just as Monday`s favored the Nats, and Tuesday`s the Cubs. I want to be wrong, of course, but their starter is 10-0. That`s hard to ignore; in fact, it`s impossible to ignore.

Aloha jhosk, I thought the same about Arrieta! But they are only humans. I want Hammel to rise to the occasion and just go out there and shut them Nats down! And he has thus far; offense needs to show up and be patient. Go Cubs! Mahalo!

Aloha jhosk, I think what is frustrating with a game like this, putting aside Hammel’s 2 wild pitches, which I did not see and one of the allowed the Nats only run…the offense has let the Nats pitchers off inning after inning. I think besides looking at the RISP stat, hitting into double plays has really really hurt. Especially when they had leadoff base-runners. I know they will get better at this but gosh, these dp’s take you out of innings. Well, Stephen Drew just hit his 3rd pinch-hit homer of the year. One more chance in the 9th. Let’s hope they can do it. Mahalo.

We were hosed in the ninth on a pitch to Harper which should have been strike three. I`m not referencing the final pitch to Harper which was accurately called ball four. I mean one prior to that. The umpire was either showing Harper too much respect, or he was deferring to the home field and crowd, because that pitch was in the zone, and an accurate call there means we win this game in regulation.

Aloha jhosk- I hear you! Putting Harper aside, the Cubs had multiple chances to score more runs and let the the opposing pitchers off the hook. Also, the relief pitching did not do its job. I hate to say it but this is a game that the Cubs let the Nats have. In the future, this is the type of game that they need to win and win more often. Their record is not strong in 1-run games after the 7th inning. In 2010, those Giants made a name for themselves and part of it was the fact that they could be behind, 1 or more runs late and come back and win. Today they had chances to add on more than 1 run in the extra innings and did not do it and that gave the Nats encouragement. Right now the team is in an offensive slump when it comes to clutch hits. I really hope this can be turned around quickly. Pitching: sure one could pick on Hammel for his wild pitch because that led to the Nats only run through the 7th but there is the question about our catchers-Ross is better defensively and keeping runners “honest” but he cannot go every day. And other teams are getting hip to running on Montero and it is now hurting. I really like Montero but if his offense cannot make up for runners taking off on him and play behind the plate (some will argue that not all wild pitches should be on the pitcher) then I would not fault the FO for bringing up Contreras if he is deemed to be ready-meaning he is a better option behind the plate than Montero is. Continuing with the pitching, I think the FO is going to have to go out there and spend either by $$ or players/prospects for bp help. The starters have been tremendous. Sure there have been some tough starts but overall the starters are doing more than their share to keep the team in games. Notice that I did not mention too much in regard to position players because of the youth, new personnel for 2016 because I think the hitting will come around. But immediate areas that could make a difference are the bullpen and possibly the backstop. This series highlighted weaknesses that will rear themselves when playing against the better teams. So I have confidence that Maddon and company will address this going forward.
Lastly, before anyone chimes in and says look at the record, may I say that I am in awe whereby this team is today, especially in comparison to the 2010-2014 years. Going forward putting aside their great record, it is not the “regular season record” in the end that wins a WS. So, I am just putting out there possible areas that need work in order to win consistently against the better teams. I hope the team is well-rested and ready to go on Friday! Gunbatene Cubbies! Mahalo!

Agree that Montero is a major disappointment both defensively and at the dish. This team has flaws, as do all the other 29 MLB clubs, some more glaring than others. It will come down to qualifying for the playoffs in October, and which teams get hot at that time. You saw it with the Mets last season, a team which was up and down and looked downright impotent offensively at times. But both the pitching and offense clicked down the stretch for the Metropolitans, and lo and behold, the team went all the way to the Fall Classic. Please correct me if I`m mistaken, but I think this is what k.g. means when he declares that the “regular season record” is not all that significant. Qualify for the playoffs, and secure home field advantage in any postseason series, but both your pitching and hitting had better excel at that time, or it`s “Sayanaro.”

Taking a longer view: You could imagine a repeat of this one in October. We’ve got some formidable guys in our lineup. So does Washington. We’ve got some questions in our bullpen. So does Washington. In the meantime, what a game! Could have gone either way. Maddon vs. Dusty. Fun to watch. Where’s the defibrillator?

Aloha Bruce- You sure are correct about the defibrillator! And please forgive my “competitive” side, it comes out from time to time and I have to keep it in check. I agree with you whole-heartedly about the Nationals and throw in there the Giants! Forget about the Nats when they were at Wrigley earlier this year, they are playing better ball now as well as the Giants. So, for the Cubs they not only have to play well and win most of their games against the weaker teams but have to find out a way to win against these much better teams as they went 2-4 against the two teams above. Of course I am assuming that all 3 teams are able to stay in first from now on but that could change. This next home-stand is critical as it is against the Pirates and Cardinals then off to Miami/Cin/NYMets and they need to do well away as the past two road trips have not fared well. I know they can do it and now is the time to make the adjustments when you can. Take care now! Mahalo!

Did y`all see that shot of fans leaving the stadium in droves when the game was still tied? Don`t know if it was after the ninth or tenth innings, but that left me absolutely “Verklempt.” How does one do that? I do not get that, and never will. Unless there is an absolute emergency, I`m not voluntarily exiting a venue where the outcome of a baseball game betwixt two of the very best competitors in all of MLB is still in doubt.

And its time for Contreras to be added to the youth movement.🙂

Willson will be at Wrigley Field on Friday

Aloha jhosk & jasper, I am sure you just saw Carrie’s comment that Wilson C will be at Wrigley on Friday! Take care now, Mahalo!

Yes, k.g., and I`ve concluded you are prescient. You suggested last night that it may be time to bring Contreras to the big club, and lo and behold, that is exactly what came to pass today. No one will convince me that`s just coincidence. We begin a series with the Pirates Friday, and that team has fallen on hard times, to put it mildly. They are 3-8 in their last 11 games, and have not only lost their starting catcher, Cervelli, to injury, but his backup as well. They brought up a minor league backstop, Kratz, and he has struggled big time. Tomorrow`s starting pitcher, Liriano, has lost his last three starts, and his ERA is just a tad short of 5.00. I`m unhappy that three contests I view as compelling are all going to be played at the same time Sunday evening, namely, the Cubs/Pirates, the Warriors/Cavaliers in a seventh game of the NBA Finals, and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers/Florida Gators in the College World Series from Omaha. That`s beyond unfair. Why couldn`t at least one of the latter two be scheduled Saturday?

Aloha jhosk- Well I was looking at jasper’s reply about the youth movement and thought it was neat that Carrie chimed in to say that Friday would be Wilson’s introduction. I was trying to be diplomatic with my June 15th comment as I like how the FO along with Maddon have put together a great bunch of folks and Montero is one of them. At the same time, this is a “merit-based” job and who knows but his earlier back situation maybe still hampering him and I just felt after watching and listening to this past series with the Nats, that it really shined the light on some areas, especially when playing the stronger teams and those are the teams no matter who they are that in the end the Cubs have to beat. And yes, you understood my statement about the “record,” because look which team was on cruise after a while last year and ended up with the best record in both leagues…Redbirds. We will have a better sense of who the organization maybe leaning towards for the backstop if Contreras plays great defense and keeps runners honest. I brought those two characteristics up first because those are ones that Wilson can control the most at this stage in his young MLB career. Framing-pitches, pitch-calling takes a little time partly because if one stays up in the show, you have to learn a whole new pitching staff. But I have to say I am confident in him. Just like Posey, he is converting from another position (3rd). And to be considered for the backstop one has to have a good head for the game! And just to comment about the Pirates, this would never happen but I looked up Mark Melacon and after you mentioned the type of year they are having if Melacon were a LHP I was thinking would they take a Montero/prospect-young player. But he is a righty so that is over! I am not trying to move Montero but thinking out of the box if the team still considers a Miller, you know the Yankees are going to ask about Wilson/Almora/Baez maybe Soler & Szczur. I am still holding out for Soler but I am sure Wilson is safe (not up for trade). Well, I wish Contreras-san well! Mahalo!

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