#Cubs and Hammel face Braves

Jason Hammel gets the start Thursday night at Wrigley Field when the Cubs play the Braves in a makeup game. When this game was originally scheduled to be played on April 30, the Braves were still managed by Fredi Gonzalez and the Cubs were 17-5 and had yet to lose back to back games.

Fast forward to now and the Cubs have lost six of their last seven games. They’ve been outscored by a 50-29 margin in that span, and the pitching staff has posted a combined 7.17 ERA.

The Cubs also have lost 12 of 17 since Dexter Fowler went on the DL with a strained right hamstring.

Here’s Thursday’s lineup:

La Stella 3B
Bryant LF
Rizzo 1B
Zobrist RF
Contreras C
Heyward CF
Rusell SS
Hammel P
Baez 2B



Aloha Folks, I hope the top of the batting order can shake up Harrell, good young pitcher. Cubs need to get to him early, which should help Hammel too. Mahalo!

Aloha Folks, correction about Harrell, he is not “young” had him mixed up with someone else. Still the team let him off the hook many times today; I heard that Bryant had a bad base running error. I do not know what has happened to Rondon in the past 3+ weeks, to see he has 4 blown saves in the limited amount of opportunities he has had is not good. Folks may look at Patten, who is having a very rough period but Rondon should have held the line. I think since Fowler has been out, the team’s record is 5W’s & 13L’s. So, what is the good that we can see from tonight’s game: 1) Hammel after giving up the homer in the first inning, held the Braves and kept the team close. 2) For 3 innings after Hammel, Wood/Hendricks/Grimm held the line. I thought Hendricks was pitching very well, sure he threw 32 pitches but that was over 2 innings. I thought Maddon might let him finish things out the way he was going and the troubles with the bp. 3) The offense tried very hard to not only tie the game late but got the lead going into the 9th. For a team struggling to manufacture runs and it will take time for young hitters to make the necessary adjustments, pitching has to be strong and right now it is a weakness. Will be very interesting to see what trades are pulled off by the FO before the deadline and I hope sooner (before the actual deadline) like what they did in 2014 with Shark/Hammel. Take care now. Mahalo!

I`ve heard it said our Cubs have the worst record in the NL since June 20. Rondon fell behind in the count to Markakis in the ninth and then served up a cookie. Major league hitters are not going to miss such offerings. Wade Davis, whom I regard as the best closer in the game, has three “wipe-out” pitches. {I know Wade is on the DL at the moment, but that`s immaterial to this discussion.} Most successful closers have at least one “wipe-out” pitch. I do not see Rondon as having even one. If someone can identify such a pitch in Rondon`s arsenal, I`d be much obliged. All that said, the offense hasn`t exactly overachieved recently. We are going on the road to play a club which has won seven of its last eight contests, a team whom we`ve abused to this point in 2016. Do y`all think the Pirates are eager to face us, given the current circumstances?

It’s true, the Cubs are 5-13 since June 20th, worst in the NL and only better than Tampa Bay’s 3-15 record over that same time. Of course, that coincides with Dexter Fowler going on the DL and he’s supposed to be back a week from today, so hopefully their offense will start to look good again with him back at the top of the lineup. And funny you bring up the Pirates, because it was right around June 20th that they were in a terrible slump, had just been swept by the Cubs, were below .500, and were starting to talk about the possibility of selling at the deadline. Things can change in a hurry in this game, which is another reason why, while a bad 2+ week stretch in June/July is frustrating to go through, you shouldn’t be in panic mode about it just yet. As for Rondon, it’s no secret that the Cubs can stand to improve their bullpen from top to bottom. For the first two months of the year, an excellent offense was covering up an average at best bullpen, but now that the offense is slumping, the bullpen weakness is easier to see. My countdown to the trading deadline is at 24 days now, and I would expect in those 24 days for the Cubs to make a move or two to address the situation. And for what it’s worth, Joe Nathan has been pitching on a rehab assignment at AA, so he could very well be on the scene following the All-Star Break.

Lickin their chops. Not surprised at the Pirates making a run. Houston too. This will be a test of our Cubbies mettle!

Aloha jhosk- very good question in regard to Rondon. He throws a 4-seam fastball, slider and sinker. But at this moment I do not know of his “out-pitch,” at least in the past 3 weeks. As we have recognized, even before this last month of baseball, one of the areas that is lacking for the Cubs are close games, meaning they are behind by a run or in the lead by a run late in the game and then lose. So, this is another reason the FO should go after Andrew Miller who has two big out-pitches: his wicked slider and his four-seam fastball. I understand the FO saying no about Schwarber but if Baez name comes up in the talks, I think they should at least listen. Same goes for Rich Hill/Gray as I have stated I think the Braves are going to want way to much for Teheran, look what they got for Miller from the Snakes! I also think working with the Yankees shows good faith because they were kind enough to take on Castro so the organization could get Zobrist. You know me, I believe in building relationships. I think the only folks worth protecting in the current bp are Wood, Cahill, Edwards and Rondon, meaning all the others are fair game to be traded. You and I have talked lot about this, pitching-pitching-pitching! By the way, I did not realize what Doug mentioned is that the only other team to have a worst stint are the Rays. Moving onto the Pirates: this is going to be a tough series and I hope Maddon plays it like a playoff series. This team needs a lift/confidence before the break. You are right to point out that the Pirates have been playing a lot better as of late and just saw what the Reds and Braves did so they have to be feeling good about their chances. The offense, though anemic, needs to be patient-take pitches and knock out their starters early. I just hope Arrieta regains his control tonight. Take care now. Mahalo!

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