#Cubs and Montgomery face Brewers

Mike Montgomery will start Wednesday night in the Cubs’ series finale against the Brewers. Anthony Rizzo was supposed to get the day off but manager Joe Maddon decided the first baseman looked pretty good on Tuesday when he hit two home runs. Rizzo is the 14th Cub in franchise history with at least 12 multi-homer efforts.

With a win on Wednesday, the Cubs will be MLB’s first team to get to 90 wins. The last time the Cubs won 90 games in consecutive seasons was 1929-1930.

Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist 2B

Russell SS

Coghlan LF

Heyward RF

Contreras C

Montgomery P

Looking ahead to the Cubs series against the Astros, here are the pitching matchups:

Friday: LHP Jon Lester (15-4, 2.61) vs. RHP Joe Musgrove (2-3, 5.06)
Saturday: RHP John Lackey (9-7, 3.36) vs. RHP Collin McHugh (9-10, 4.96)
Sunday: RHP Jake Arrieta (16-6, 2.84) vs. RHP Mike Fiers (10-6, 4.29)



Some observations: Montgomery`s postseason role will be that of a reliever, but I`ve heard it said the Cubs really like his potential as a future starter. Dexter is hitless in his last 18 at-bats. Will be interesting to see which players Joe chooses as DH in each of these three games in Houston. All the projected Astros` starters are righties, so we can expect our DH to be a left-handed batter each day. Saturday`s game will be telecast by Fox, and Sunday`s is the ESPN Sunday Night Game. The Giants, Cardinals and Mets are separated by just one-half game in the Wild Card race. Only two of those teams will qualify, and it means each team will probably be fighting for survival right down to the wire. Our Cubs were in that position last season, as you fans must recall, and you should appreciate that the team can relax and rest players. But you also want to guard against complacency and rust.

Aloha jhosk- out of the 3 teams you named above: Giants/Cardinals/Mets, the Cubs only won one of those regular season series with a record of 4-3 against the Giants. They are 6-7 against the Cardinals and 2-5 against the Mets. The Mets are hot right now and to be honest I hope they do not make it to the WC because I could see them beating either the Giants or Cardinals. If their pitching strengthens it could be trouble as it was last year. The Dodgers are also playing well. I have no problem with Maddon resting guys but he needs to be aware that there is a “race” to the finish and one of those races is to have the best record in the NL so that the team has home-field advantage. I think there are still 22-23games left and I would love to see this team finish out well, none of this .500 or less stuff but to get their confidence up they need to win series and the last one in Milwaukee did not go too well. This upcoming series against the Astros and Cardinals is huge because the team since June has not done well on the road and they need to show that they can win, right now they are 1-2 on this road trip and started off with the weakest of the the three teams. Let’s hope Lester can continue where he left off from last Friday! Take care now. Mahalo!

Yes, k.g., Lester is solidifying his likely No. 1 position as postseason starter. Kershaw returned tonight, but was overshadowed by the Marlins` Fernandez and his 14 punch outs. If the Giants lose their game tonight, it means the Mets move into the No. 1 Wild Card spot. I`m more confident than you that the Cubs can handle the Mets in the postseason if that matchup comes to pass. I`m confident we can take down whatever WC team we will face.

Aloha jhosk- Yes, Fernandez was tremendous as was Lester. The Cubs are only .500 when playing at Houston’s park so to win last night was tremendous against a very good team. I am glad that the team was able to come back after they were not able to bring in Fowler on his lead-off triple in the 1st; credit Lester’s pitching and great defense behind him. Was also happy to see Ross catch Chapman in the 9th! By the way, did you see who won for the Giants last night and got out of a jam with 1 out and a man on 3rd…Joe Nathan! You are right, the Cubs have to be ready for any team and I have faith in Maddon and the coaches that they will not coast into the playoffs like the Cardinals did last year and were taken by surprise by our Cubbies! Another big game today! Take care now. Mahalo!

Yes, k.g. I hear you about Nathan. Perhaps the Cubs should have held onto Joe, but there are only a limited number of roster slots. La Stella is in today`s lineup, and it`s something I expected, as Tommy excels versus soft tossers, of which Collin McHugh is one. La Stella leads the team in batting average (.333) and on base percentage versus pitchers who throw curveballs, change-ups, and sliders. Conversely, Montero is best (.401 OBP) facing pitchers who throw fast balls, sinkers, and cutters. Therefore, you can look for Montero to be in Sunday night`s lineup versus Fiers, if not as catcher, then as DH.

Caught so much crap about small ball in the first inning a while back. Can not understand this ninth inning!!!!!!!

I did not see or hear the game, Kenly Cub. But I read Jesse Rogers` comment on that ninth. It`s my understanding Sczcur reached second with no outs. Soler was permitted to bat for himself, even though he is not known as a batter who has a proclivity to move runners. Zobrist was available to hit for Jorge. There are many options with Zo, including bunting, and he is more likely to make contact than Jorge. If that is what you refer to, I agree it made sense to pinch hit for Soler. Jorge fanned. Don`t know what the batters after Soler did, but it could not have been very impressive, as we lost the game because Sczcur never scored.

Aloha Kenly & jhosk- Well, our senior organization had its vintage car show today but I was keeping tabs on the game. I have to give Lackey credit, he did his job. The Astro’s pitching exposed as well as other teams the weak link and that is RISP. That will be an issue I feel til the end of the season and into the playoffs. It is hard when you have so many young players who all think or want to hit dingers and do not understand how to manufacture runs or move runners up. Today was a great example whereby the Cubs struck-out 12 times (way too much) only got 2 hits but also had 6bb’s. So, on a day like this, you need to be running the bases, even if you get caught stealing you try, plus Maddon who has to know the team is in a slump offensively, needs to have folks lay down bunts as either sacrifices or trying for hits too as well as squeezes. This is an aspect that is very week with this current team. I believe they will get better but it would be nice to see some productive “small-ball” now going into the post-season. I also feel that this team needs to win series and carry momentum into the playoffs, not like the Cardinals of last year. Currently on this road-trip the record is 2-3, not good enough. They need to win tomorrow just to even up and think “sweep” in St. Louis, meaning to have that drive/mentality. If the team lost today and the RISP was say 0-2, they only had 1bb and the 2 hits but 1 run, then you have to give it all to the pitching and play of the opposing team. But when there are 6bb’s and 0-10RISP that is not good, even if you rest starters. I said it at the beginning of this series that there was 23 games left and that it is not good enough for this team, especially with young players to end by playing .500 ball. Including this Astro’s series there are 7 series left, two of them 4-game series, so that means to win “series” at a minimum they have to go 16-7, that puts them at 105-57. That might be a tall order but again, they have to think this way going in because other teams are fighting to be in the playoffs, hungry to get there like our 2015 Cubs. This current team has to be hungry too and finishing the season well is important! Just as a perspective, the 2015 Cubs ended their last 23 games of the season going 16-7! Out of those last 2015 games, they won 10 of them on the road! Not only does Arrieta need a strong outing tomorrow, the offense has to get it going leading into St.Louis. Hoping for the best. Hang in there now! Mahalo!

Yes, k.g. When a club achieves just two hits in a nine inning game, it deserves to lose. I`ve read that Maddon was determined to give Zobrist the entire game off. Zo has not exactly been tearing the cover off the ball of late. Lackey deserved a better outcome. Is it just me, or has Lackey gotten precious little support from the batters consistently of late? The Mets lost today, and both the Cards and Giants won. {Did you note that the Snakes used 12 pitchers Friday night versus the Giants? Is it any wonder the game took close to five and one-half hours to complete? Must have been pure torture for the fans.Twelve pitchers is overkill.} The Cubs need to improve in that all important RISP department if they expect to succeed in October. I know you preach that often, and it`s for good reason.

Aloha jhosk, I did not realize that many pitchers for that Friday game. Well, Giants won again, Dodgers lost, Cardinals lost but those pesky Mets also won. Glad to see the Cub starters pitching well. The Astro have quite a lineup themselves. Tonight’s game is very important to pick up. Take care now. Mahalo!

Arrieta not being able to complete six innings after being handed a 9-0 lead is troubling. It is valid that Hendricks be afforded consideration as the No. 2 starter after Lester in a postseason rotation. Kyle needs to continue to excel with his starts, and if he does, the case can surely be made, regardless of what Dan Plesac and any of his cohorts may believe about needing starters with “swing and miss stuff” in the playoffs. How about Addison at age 22 with 90 rbi? I`ve heard it said the only other Cubs` shortstop to ever do that is the legendary Ernie Banks. Some of the defensive plays our players made tonight at Minute Maid Field in Houston were sensational, and were too numerous to delineate.

Aloha jhosk- Arrieta is definitely not the same pitcher of last year. Since August he has had 7 starts and his era went from 2.59 to currently 2.91. Out of those 7 starts he has only had 4 quality starts (6innings or more). What is amazing is that he record this year does not explain his struggles. In those 7 starts he is 5-1 and 1 no decision. Last year in this same period he had 8 starts with 8 quality starts and his era went from 2.50 to 1.99. His record in that period was 8-0. I was looking at the loses from this year and a name stood out and that is Red’s pitcher Dan Straily. You may recall that the Cubs got him, Billy McKinney and Addison R for the Shark and Hammel in 2014. I remember Oakland folks saying that this kid can pitch but needs time to mature and work on setting up his 4-pitch arsenal. So he and Luis Valbuena were traded for Fowler at the beginning of 2015. Houston traded Straily to the Padres just before this current season began and they dfa’d him on April 1st! Well the Reds claimed him and today he is 11-8 with a 3.88era on a last place team. Now, I cannot predict what will happen next in his life but I remember those Oakland folks sharing with me about Dan and just wonder what would have happened if he were still in the Cubs organization? Pitching is a premium and the Cubs do not have a lot of it in the system and now with Arrieta in question it would have been nice to have a Straily available. He would be controllable for so many years along with Hendricks. I remember when the subject of an extension for Arrieta came up and Jasper suggested that they do not give it to him and possibly let him go. I think Jasper made a good call. I would love for the Cubs to have a great season in 2017 too but if the opportunity arises and Jake is having a banner year (so that he can get that big FA contract at the end of 2017), trade him by the deadline so that the organization can get some great pitching prospects. Today it just seemed like he ran out of gas at the start of the 6th and that has happened a lot this season but as you mentioned the team has dug him out many times with offense. Well, I hope the bats continue tomorrow for Hendricks in St. Louis. Take care now. Mahalo!

Arrieta was not feeling well on Sunday night

Yes, k.g. I recall Straily with the Cubs, and had no clue he had made all those stops since he departed. Thanks for the digging you did. We`re now being informed that Arrieta did not feel well last night and lacked energy, and that could explain his losing it in the sixth. I like today`s pitching matchup with the Redbirds. Leake is vulnerable, and I expect the Cubs` batters will solve him, just as they solved Fiers last night, but probably not to that degree. We will not see Wainwright in this series, as he worked Saturday. Keep in mind each time we defeat the Cardinals, the magic number to clinch the division is reduced by 2, not just 1.

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