Another delightful day to be a Cubs fan. As you may have heard, the Cubs started a 4 game set with the World Series defending Giants today with a day-night double header at Wrigley. I gotta admit, I wasn't exactly optimistic considering the Cubs had Doug Davis and Rodrigo Lopez set to take the mound in games 1 and 2 respectively. However, the Giants are atrocious offensively and with the Cubs hitting the ball as well as they have all season, I had hopes for at least a split. Unfortunately those hopes were dashed pretty quickly.
It was immediately apparent early on in game 1 that Doug Davis had absolutely nothing on the mound today. The Giants hitters who had been struggling mightily at the plate recently were just teeing off on him. Davis gave up a 3 spot in the 1st and another one in the 3rd. He was able to escape damage in the 2nd and 4th but was still giving up hard hit balls over and over. Heading into the 5th he had surrendered 6 runs on 9 hits already. I was thinking to myself that surely he had to have a short leash, with the offense clicking and the game still within reach. Sandoval and Burrell led off the 5th with back to back singles and then Bill Hall drew a walk. Of course I was now thinking, ok, this HAS to be it for Davis, he has to come out now. The next sentence out of Len Kasper's mouth was "Still nobody up in the Cubs pen." Sigh..... I guess I should have known better. This is not the first time this season Cubs Manager Mike Quade has punted game 1 of a double header to save his bullpen for game 2. It has been all too common a theme this year and not just in double headers. Quade is always looking to get that one last inning or one last hitter from his league worst starting rotation.
Of course the next batter singled sharply off Davis, the 12th hit off him in 4+ innings, allowing their 7th run to score. While Carpenter warmed in the pen, Davis then faced Giants pitcher, Ryan Vogelsong and retired him on strikes. Rookie Chris Carpenter then finally came in the game and allowed all 3 inherited runners from Davis to score, leaving Davis with a line of 4.1 IP 12 H and 10 ER. By then of course the game was well over. Quade used the bottom of his pen to finish off the game keeping his best bullpen guys for game 2. Along came game 2 and another terrible starting pitcher on the hill for the Cubs. Quade had said pre-game he wanted to get 80-85 pitches out of Rodrigo Lopez.
Fast Forward to the Top of the 5th inning. Lopez had gotten through 4 innings on 80 pitches and the Cubs had the lead 2-1. With a mid-double header call-up, the Cubs had 4 pitchers who had not yet thrown a pitch on the day and Quade had gotten his 80 pitches. I figured Lopez would either be done or on a very short leash. Wrong again. He started the 5th again with no one up in the Cubs bullpen. It took 3 more hits, 5 more batters and 16 more pitches before he would be lifted from the game, putting him near 100 pitches for the game and way over Quade's pre-game estimate. John Grabow (one of the 3 guys who had already pitched) came in, allowed all inherited runners to score and once again the game was over. The Giants major league worst offense coming in, scored 19 runs and racked up 30 hits against the Cubs pathetic excuse for a pitching staff. The Cubs rotation is so bad, its not only the worst in the league, but is on pace to be one of the worst in Cubs team history.
Surely with that piss poor rotation getting knocked around day after the day, the Cubs highly touted and statistically excellent back of the pen has to have been overworked this season right? Actually its just the opposite. With the Cubs now nearing the halfway point of the season, Marmol and his 2.55 ERA is on pace to throw around 71 innings this year, which would be his lowest total since 2007. Stud lefty setup-man Sean Marshall is on pace to throw around 72 innings, which would be his lowest total since 2008, when he missed nearly two months with an injury. The story with Kerry Wood was pretty much the same, with him on pace for less than 60 innings when he went on the DL a couple weeks ago with a blister.
Mike Quade has seemingly made his #1 priority this season to save his late inning bullpen guys for games with leads. I can't even count how many times in close late games he has put John Grabow or Marcos Mateo or some other crappy pitcher in the game in late innings while his big 3 in the bullpen sat on their hands. And every time he actually gets a solid pitching performance from a starter he is never happy with the 6 innings he gets and he pushes the pitcher until they finally implode.
So as we head into July this week, The Cubs sit at 32-48, playoff hopes and really the hope of even a decent season are now gone. The Cubs would have to play at a .600 winning percentage the rest of the season to even get to .500 (for comparison, only one team in the bigs currently has a winning percentage that high). For all intents and purposes the season is now over, but Quade can rest easy..... at least Marmol and Marshall and fresh.
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