#Cubs and Lackey vs. Marlins

John Lackey gets the start on Saturday against the Marlins. In his last 10 starts, Lackey has gone 4-2 with a 1.97 ERA (15 ER/68 2/3 IP), the sixth-lowest ERA in the NL in that span and lowest among the Cubs starters.

The Cubs enter Saturday’s game with a 48-24 record, the best 72-game record since a 50-22 start in 1918. The Cubs have won at least 48 of their first 72 games two other times: the 1906 Cubs were also 50-22 while the 1907 squad started off 55-17

Joe Maddon enters Saturday’s game having managed 1,744 Major League games. That’s the exact same number of games managed as his friend and former Cubs manager Don Zimmer. Saturday will be game No. 1,745, and Maddon will move into sole possession of 70th place on the all time list for games managed.

Willson Contreras hit a two-run homer and RBI single on Friday. He now has a six-game hitting streak to begin his Major League career, going 7-for-17 (.412) with three home runs, eight RBI and a .941 slugging percentage. Between the Majors and Triple-A, he’s hit safely in his last 26 games.

Please note: I’ve been unable to access the blog at Marlins Park for the last two days, which is why I have not posted the lineups. Please go to Cubs.com or check my Twitter feed for the lineup.


Aloha Folks- gosh these injuries are starting to rack up as they say. I hope the regulars can get back soon! Here is the lineup I just found for today’s game:

1. Heyward RF
2. Bryant 3B
3. Rizzo 1B
4. Contreras LF
5. Baez 2B
6. Russell SS
7. Montero C
8. Lackey P
9. Almora Jr. CF

I hope Lackey and the the lineup can tame these Marlins again, they have a very good hitting team but the Cubs have very good defense and pitching! Gunbatene Cubbies! Mahalo!

Willson is versatile. LF is the third position he will have occupied in his handful of games in the big leagues. Guess management feels it has to include his bat in the lineup; that`s an intelligent decision one finds hard to argue with.

Aloha jhosk, that is for sure in regard to Contreras. I thought it neat that Maddon went back to last year’s strategy of having the pitcher hit in the 8th slot. I wonder if Almora can continue to prove he can be a contact hitter, if Maddon might put him in the leadoff and try Heyward in the 9 spot? Leadoff needs to be a person that gets on with regularity by hits or walks. Take care now! Mahalo!

Aloha jhosk- I might take a break from this game and check back as I feel the blood boiling. Heyward in his last 9ab’s has a ko and a 2bb’s, no hits. A lead-off person needs to get on base. Look at Suzuki, I do not care about his age he was in the hole 0-2 and was patient and got a walk in the first. Then he stole a base, then Lackey gave up a hit and sacfly and Miami lead at the bottom of the first. Beginning of first, Heyward struck out, Bryant a double moved on to 3rd on Rizzo’s fly, Contreras walks Baez popped-up. This is why the offense is in such trouble right now. The lead-off person is the “table-setter,” I would not put a struggling hitter in the lead-off spot, his initial out made it difficult for the rest of the inning. Yes, Baez still does not understand that he needs to shorten up when he is behind in the count, for that matter someone needs to talk with Baez and tell him forget about the hr’s make contact get on base and the other things will come. He thinks he is going to wack one out every time and it is hurting the team and himself. But again, Heyward should not be in that lead-off spot. Please forgive me, I am just frustrated by the lack of execution and play and these folks are better than what is taking place at the moment. Suzuki made a great throw from CF, almost got Bryant out at 3rd. I wish the young players would pay attention to him more. Good for Montero tying up the game with his knock. Will be interesting to see how this game plays out. I know I need to keep my head up and wish the best for the team because this has to be difficult for them. Take care now. Mahalo! PS: I hope Coastal wins today as well as Oklahoma in the CWS.

Aloha jhosk- wow, if things could not get worse: They had a 4-1 lead which should have been larger into the 4th. They had Clemens on the rope but could not finish the job. Ex-Cubbie Bour brings back the Marlins, Lackey falls apart and now it is 7-4. The hitting is horrible, no placement/patience/smart approach at the plate. I am not saying some today have not had success but the striking out/hitting into double-plays or pop-ups is just not going to get the job done. I think many of us saw this coming for sometime, even without all the injuries. The hitters are not disciplined. Then you have the Marlins who have a lot of youth as well but they are showing a lot more patience at the plate and their average overall is much better than the Cubs. Stanton is the worst with a .219 but his average has been going up due to Cubs pitching. They have 4 folks hitting over .300 almost 5 if you add Dietrich with a .296 with today’s lineup. The fact that the starting pitching has fallen apart along with the lack of clutch hitting, errors at the worst times, might signal the team is not as good as we had thought. Not that they are not good but when you look at the past couple of weeks going back to the Nats series on the road, other teams are making adjustments, even when they have injuries too. I still think the team can win the division because the poor Pirates have so many injuries and I think the Cardinals are far enough back but with the way the Giants are playing there is a good chance they do not have the best record at the end of the season. Of course this could all change but we are almost at the halfway point and I do not see a flurry of Cubs hitters becoming .300 hitters soon, not that they all need to hit that. But I am rethinking this year and this team maybe still a year away, partly due to immaturity (not enough mlb experience) and injuries (Schwarber-Fowler-Soler-Montero-Rizzo-LaStella-Szczur). I think the Marlins are at this point a much better team than the Cubs in their execution on defense, running the bases (hello Suzuki I can still run and steal and score!), approach at the plate and their relief pitching. Heck I might go as far as to say they are better overall then the Mets and Nats. They are young but started to come together a month ago. Gosh if they had better starting pitching, watch out. They could be the wildcard team that they were in 1997 & 2003. If the Cubs continue this slide into the All-Star break and afterward, I am not sure if they go after starting pitching, unless they get a sweetheart deal (Gray/Teheran). And it does not make sense to trade for a rental like Chapman. Not sure about Miller anymore too because the Yankees will want a handsome return for him, unless the FO is willing at that point to trade some of the young folks (Soler/Baez/Szczur) knowing in the future to make a run at the title you need strong pitching. Well, this has been a difficult couple of weeks to say the least. Now I just hope the team can scratch out a win tomorrow and leave Miami with a split, that would be quite an accomplishment at this moment. Take care now. Mahalo.

Did not see today`s game, k.g. Looking at the box score, and your comments, it`s apparent Lackey did not have it today. I surely agree Heyward should be hitting in the 8 hole, and not the first or second. It`s a tall order to expect to win Sunday, as Jose Fernandez will be the Marlins` starter, one of the best arms in the game. Bour was a factor for the Marlins, and I saw him interviewed after today`s game, and he said he has tremendous respect for the Cubs` organization, and does not get any unique satisfaction doing damage versus his former organization, and I believe him. The Cubs have issues, and you enumerated several. Despite enjoying the best record in the game, they are a work in progress. {The Rangers in the AL are close to the Cubs in overall winning percentage, in addition to the Giants.} I do expect the FO to pursue both an elite starter as well as reliever before the trade deadline, and I see both Chapman and Miller as realistic possibilities. { Miller is still an outstanding closer, but did you note he surrendered two home runs in the same inning of an appearance last weekend?} Even the very best stumble at times. Speaking of that, the Cubs` No. 1 draft pick,Thomas Hatch, did not impress today for the Cowboys (Oklahoma State), and was knocked out of the contest early, and Arizona prevailed, and will be one of the two competitors in the final round at Omaha beginning Monday in a best of three for the 2016 CWS championship. (One more thing: I agree with you that Baez and the Cubs would be better served if he did not swing for the fences in each and every at-bat.)

Aloha jhosk- first just want to thank you as a Cubs fan for your encouragement/ encouraging comments because it has been hard to watch what is happening these past weeks. I tell fans it is not how you begin but how you finish. So what the Golden State Warriors own the record for most wins in a regular season, they did not win the championship but the year that the Bulls went 72-10, they did win it. But for me, I remember them winning the championship much more than beating the season record then held by the LA Lakers. As bad as Lackey was today, the offense had multiple times to knock a pitcher with a 6.00+ era out of the game and could not. Heyward and Baez combined for 0-8, 1bb/2ko’s and 7LOB between them. Heyward has an OPS of .647, with the exception of the Marlins pitcher and SS Hechavarria all the Marlins are at least 100pts+ above Heyward. When you have two folks for example having that type of difficulty you take yourself out of a game. They need to have both of them start at the same time, then they need to space them out differently maybe Baez at the 3rd or 6th slot and Heyward in the 7th or 9th spot. The errors are hurting too, Russell has 2 in two days. I know he is trying his best and is trying to make things happen. I think Ross forget when he came into yesterday’s game that Contreras was at first not Rizzo. It is time that Maddon given these issues from no clutch-hitting to bad base-running to no quality starts to blow leads/saves to poor execution in the field that he put out there a quality team defensively, maybe not the most powerful because at this moment they cannot match the Marlins but need to take them down by small ball and hope Hammel can make quality pitches. In the outfield why not put out there Szczur-Almora-Heyward or Coghlan-Almora-Szcur? Infield: Bryant-Russell-Zobrist/Baez-Rizzo and behind the plate start with Contreras. I am all for players that can move around but you also need regularity with you buds on either side of you. Russell and Zobrist early on were playing very well up the middle and I feel that Bryant’s play at 3rd has been stronger than last year’s. Szczur is a better fielder (outfield) than most on the team at this moment except for regular Heyward and Almora. But if Maddon thinks Heyward needs a day off then stick Szczur in RT and Coghlan in LF. Again this is for reliability it gives your pitcher some assurance as well. Of the folks on the DL the most important is Fowler. You also mentioned something that I have been stubborn about, as has this FO and that is saying certain players are not on the bargaining table. Well, I am re-thinking that after you mentioned elite-pitcher. Too bad the Marlins are doing so well because if not, maybe you try to trade for a Fernandez but they want starting pitching too. So, if the Cubs go after a Gray/Teheran, what will it cost? With Gray you have so many years of control and Teheran is signed through 2019 with a 2020 option. Same for Miller, you have a couple of years. So is the FO willing to part with Warren/Richard/Grimm/Strop/Soler/Baez/Coghlan/Montero/Torres/etc..? If the Cubs are hoping that some of their hitters will get better over time then as you say, sure up the pitching now because pitchers are costing a lot more these days and hope your offense can come through when needed and play great defense. There are a lot of what-ifs at this moment. Again, I just hope for a miracle tomorrow with Jose, he has only struck out 127 batters in 87.2 innings and given up only 27bb’s and 5hr’s in that same span! Boy if he keeps this up, what kind of contract will Boras get him in 2019 (he’s only 23yrs old)?! You take care now. Mahalo!

There much to digest there, k.g. We are not the only excellent club to hit a speed bump; the Nats have lost seven straight. Let`s get today`s win. Did you notice Coastal reached the final round at the CWS? Two teams which came out of the losers` bracket will compete for the championship, something one rarely sees at Omaha.

Correction: That was Chapman who surrendered two dingers in the same inning last weekend, not Miller.

We are seeing the real Cubs for the first time this year. 1 and 6. Will they ever actually do something good with this team. We throw Castro away and keep a non hitting SS. We do not get any middle relief and as per comments over the past week, have not intention of addressing that because we have such power pitchers as Grimm, Wood and the like. I have been a fan for 68 years and have finally found the off button to my TV. Only after 14 strick outs in one game and still in the 8th. We are kidding ourselves as fans if we spend one more dime on this team as a fan. What is happening now only proves another Suckable Cubs season. What a major let down.

It is far too early to panic, Michael. We still have the best record in all of MLB, but just barely. Both the Giants and Rangers have won one more game than we have. Each has 49 to our 48. But the Giants have two more losses (28), and the Rangers one more loss (27). That means our winning percentage is .649, and the Rangers` is .645, and the Giants .636. Jose Fernandez beats everybody when he pitches at home. He`s 24-1 there, and is not shabby on the road either. It`s why I have advocated for effective pitchers on the Cubs. It`s the most critical component of any successful team. Outstanding pitching will shut down the best offenses in the game. The season is still young, Michael. We won`t be at the half-way point until the All Star Game in mid July in San Diego. So much is yet to transpire. I know you did not ask for my advice, but if you did, I`d suggest you sit back and enjoy the ride.

Aloha jhosk- good points. I was digesting what has happened over the past 2-3weeks. We all can agree that the hitting needs work, especially when you have runners in scoring position. We can also agree that the bullpen is having problems too. But one area that the Cubs were doing well before this stretch were pitchers not hitting opposing batters and defensive play. I cannot remember a time when I have seen Cubs pitchers hit so many hitters and by that I mean games in a span. Oh, and all the wild-pitches/passed balls, that hurts too. I have wondered if Maddon is maybe moving folks around too much right now on the field, meaning for some of the young guys they are having some issues at positions because they might be 2nd today and 3rd tomorrow. I love versatility but some of this is like watching Spring Training and I see folks out of sync right now. The errors or lack of play-making, what I like to call execution is not happening. I feel if the pitchers were able to hit less batters, make less wild pitches and catches pass balls, pitchers and defenders at there positions playing well, many of these past loses might have been wins for the team. So, I am really hoping with the upcoming series against the Reds and Mets that the team can work hard on executing, not worry about hitting long balls, be patient at the plate and make contact; fundamental ball. This team is good enough to get back there and will make them stronger in the long run. By the way, am enjoying the CWS. Yes, I noticed that Arizona advanced. My father, coach were friends of Jerry Kindall. I enjoyed my times interacting with him when we had our series against UA. One of these seasons our beloved Cubbies were playing against the Bay Area’s Giants in the post-season! Mahalo!

Aloha Michael, no question it has been a tough almost 3 weeks. Baseball is a game about adjustments. Other teams are doing that and this team is not. This is when the manager and coaches need to step up big time, let go of any pride and be bold. I have been looking for this and know Maddon can do it. The bullpen is torn up and they are trying to see what will work, Wood has done a pretty good job being the main lefty but they need another. I would not be surprised if Grimm and Richard are gone, and for the right person(s) even Strop or Warren. Also when folks like Fowler and LaStella come back we may see some of the folks having difficultly sent down to work on specific areas. The lineup is leaving too many runners in scoring position, not like they did not have chances but why not give Heyward a couple days off or move him down in the lineup. Why not let Szczur start a few games? At this point you could do no worst. Hang in, it is going to be a long season and just hope the team can regroup. Mahalo.

If I`ve mentioned this before, k.g., please stop me. Jerry Kindall started at second base for the Cleveland Indians in the very first major league game I`ve ever seen. Fenway Park June 1962. Had just completed the junior year of high school. Dick Donovan and Bill Monbouquette were the starting pitchers. I can still recall every starting position player for both teams. Extra innings. One of the most memorable days of my life. {Thanks for mentioning Jerry Kendall. Kendall is fortunate for having made your father`s acquaintance, I`m thinking.}

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