Cubs News & Notes: NLDS Game 3 Review
Game 3 was one for the history books folks. It had everything – superstars, high stakes, bullpen mismanagement and drunken day baseball at Wrigley Field. All things considered that’s a healthy recipe for fantastic baseball and fortunately the Cubs came out on top.
Here are my big moments in Game 3 in no particular order:
Trea Turner goes 0-4 with a K, 2 groundouts and a pop-out. That improves his NLDS line to 0-12 with 5 strikeouts while hitting a ball to the outfield just once so far. This is the guy who sets the table for Harper, Rendon and Murphy. When Trea goes the Nats go. Evidence: Turner hits .313/.361/.530 in Nats wins and just .230/.303/.331 in losses. That’s significant, especially when you consider he’s 3rd in NL in stolen bases and the Cubs absolutely STINK at controlling the running game. Keep Trea Turner off the bases and you limit the Nats ability to score several runs in a single inning.
Also, shout out to Zobrist for making this play against Turner to lead off the 8th:
Max Scherzer is so good at pitching it’s hard for me to describe. I want to pump his stat line but first, in WORDS, I want you to read that he carried a no hitter on the road into the bottom of the 7th inning of a 1-0 NLDS Game 3 with the series tied at one game apiece. Amazing stuff: 6.1 innings, 1 hit, 3 walks, 7 K’s…
AND ONE EARNED RUN SOMEBODY ROLE THE TAPE
Dusty Baker pulled Scherzer after the Zobrist double, which is so simple minded I can’t wrap my head around it. Pulling Scherzer and pitch counts aside, Dusty brings in Sammy Solis to face Kyle Schwarber thinking that Schwarber would actually end up hitting in this spot. FYI Sammy Solis holds LHB to a .640 OPS and FYI Kyle Schwarber has a .648 OPS against LHP. Joe Maddon may not be a rocket scientist but he’s smart enough to pinch hit for Schwarber in this situation.
As such, insert Albert Almora who hits .342/.411/.486 against lefties and then compare that .897 OPS to Solis giving up a .758 OPS to RHBs. That’s a ridiculous mis-match that is the sole responsibility of Dusty Baker’s incompetence. Instead of Schwarber on Scherzer, you now have Almora on Solis with RISP and we know how that turned out. Ridiculously aggressive move from Baker without considering the immediate consequences at all. How the hell does he keep a job?
Dusty Baker manages to over-manage his bullpen, but under-manage the actual game. This is going to get deep but honest to god I need you to follow me real quick here. It’s bottom 8, runner on 2nd with 1 out in a 1-1 game. Dusty leaves Brandon Kintzler in to face Kris Bryant.
*Friendly reminder that Brandon Kintzler – originally the Twins’ closer until joining the Nats in July – is a ground-ball specialist. He doesn’t strike a lot of people out. He throws a nasty sinker/two-seamer and regularly pitches to contact. Righties hit .297/.336/.399 off him while lefties hit .195/.254/.281 *
At this point, I’m scratching my head why Kintzler is still pitching to Bryant, and, if he is still pitching to KB, why isn’t Kintzler walking him to force a double play situation? The winning run is already on second. Who gives a fuck about first base?
Dusty lets him go and he surprisingly strikes out KB. Okay great Kintzler did his job against one of the best RHB’s in baseball. Again Kintzler is WAYYYYYY better against lefties, so Dusty naturally takes him out for the lefty on lefty matchup of Oliver Perez vs. Anthony Rizzo. Also please keep in mind two things: (1) Rizzo has a .900 OPS against RHP and an .881 OPS against LHP so not a real split by any stretch of the imagination and (2) even if Rizzo were a “split” guy, Oliver Perez is signficantly worse at getting lefties out than Brandon Kintzler. These are facts guys.
Nevertheless, Dusty trusted his gut, brought in Perez and pitched to Rizzo like a goddamn moron. ROLE THE TAPE:
Get this man a C, please.
It’s not a piss-rod go ahead single but just a little punch-and-judy Texas leaguer. I’ll take it. That’s what Dusty gets for managing horrible baseball down the stretch. The Baseball Gods disapprove heavily.
Quintana is an absolute beast in his first playoff start. Lots of Hype about Chris Sale this postseason and now all he’s doing is cleaning out his locker after getting his teeth kicked in by Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. Sorry Red Sox.
In the meantime, his former White Sox counterpart silently made his way to the mound on Wednesday to prove that he’s ready for the big stage and worth the steep price Theo paid in July. And boy oh boy did Quintana make his point going 5.2 innings with 2 hits and 7 K’s before Joe Maddon inexplicably took him out for Pedro Strop after a three-base error by Schwarber in left field. Never mind that Zimmerman had grounded out to the pitcher and 2nd baseman in unremarkable fashion in his first two at bats. Maddon had an opportunity to get involved and as we’ve seen in 3 postseasons now Joe LOVES to get zany and shake it up.
Fortunately, none of the negative stuff I’m about to say actually matters because the Cubs won, but holy shit have I had it up to my fucking eyeballs with Joe Maddon’s bullpen management in October. Like I sincerely need someone else to be in charge of making the pitching changes. Do a massive fan vote style like who wants to be a millionaire. Give the crowd 4 options and let us decide or maybe do a fan-of-the-game thing or have some kind of contest? I honestly have no fucking clue other than the fact that I had puke coming out of my eyeballs watching Pedro Strop jog out from the bullpen in the 6th last night and I know I’m not alone.
Kyle Schwarber gets a free pass because I don’t have a choice and we need his bat if the Cubs plan on winning the World Series. Yes, he completely blew it but at the same time no he didn’t because the Cubs won. At the end of the day, he gets the AB’s over Ian Happ and I think that’s just the way it goes with Joe Maddon & Theo at this point. And never forget, Schwarber is here to hit. I think he rides his mistake to a big Game 4 if he gets the chance. Just the way he is.
Put a C on Anthony Rizzo’s chest. I don’t need to pound this drum much more at this point. THANKFULLY. But I won’t pass an opportunity to pay respect to my all time favorite baseball player.
ROLE THE TAPE:
Great game. Cubs in 4.