I'm really frustrated and angry. In sports, the mantra is "stay positive and believe" but holy crap, are the Cubs testing my patience.
You know what? For just a minute, let's forget all that. Let's embrace the doom and gloom because honestly, getting all the garbage the last 2 games has built up in your soul out into the open is good for you. Here are all the awful things I've seen over the last 2 games in no particular order.
- Addison Russell needs to be benched for a game. He's absolutely lost and waving at garbage pitches that are a foot outside and low. He needs a mental break and should really try and figure out what he's doing wrong or what pitchers have done to him that he hasn't adjusted back to. Remember, this isn't just Awful Playoff Addison. Russell has shown that he's no stranger to getting ice cold for long stretches at a time. In April, he hit .214. In June, he hit .214. In September, he hit .231. It's amazing what an All Star start and Jason Heyward's own shittiness can distract from. I'm not saying Russell isn't a great player (especially considering how young he is), but he's not as good a hitter as you might think.
- Could the Cubs possibly hit any more baseballs directly at Dodger fielders? The Cubs' batting average on balls put into play last night was .190. If you're not familiar with BABIP, that's really, really, REALLY bad.
- I understand the importance of confidence and bravado in sports, but man is it tough to see Arrieta talk such a big game sometimes and lay a hot steamy dump on the mound. He talks and acts like he's the same pitcher from the second half of 2015, but he is absolutely not that guy. He's not even the Arrieta we saw in 2014. He's not even Jason Hammel over the last half a season. Over his last 16 starts (which doesn't even include one good postseason start and last night's hot fart), Jake has a 4.44 ERA and has walked 3.7 batters per 9 innings over that time, which is awful. I know that Smoltz went on and on last night about how sometimes Arrieta's control can leave for a bit and the window of time before he gets it back is the opportunity to score, but I don't think that's the case. It's not that he loses control for a bit, it's that he only has control from time to time. The majority of his second half starts, Jake's mechanics just look awful. And yes, I know next to nothing about mechanics and hitches in deliveries and what not, but you can't watch Arrieta pitch and say that he looks like he's doing a fluid and effective pitching motion. From the first batter of the game, his fastball location was way off from where Montero was positioning himself.
- Remember how last year's Cubs were susceptible to power pitchers who could rack up strikeouts and then they just so happened to run into a Mets team that had 4 guys like that in their rotation? We're looking at a same song, different verse this season. I know that a lot of analysts have mentioned that the Cubs are one of the better hitting teams against lefties this season, but that includes all lefties. If there's one thing we've seen so far this playoff series, it's that this is a team that is built to struggle against elite lefties with high strikeout rates. "Well how many of those are out there?" is a valid question, because there aren't a ton. But we've managed to face them in 4 of our 7 playoff games (Bumgarner/Moore/Kershaw/Hill). For a team that gets torn apart by elite left handed pitching, that's no good. Did I mention that 75% of the Dodger rotation is left handed?
- The number of hard choices that need to be made against left handed starters is a domino effect of garbage. Do you keep Heyward in the lineup, knowing that you're trading 9 innings of awesome fielding for an 0-4 day at the plate? Do you put in Jorge Soler knowing that he's ice cold and not that great a defender?
- I'm finished with the "Montero needs to be Arrieta's personal catcher" bullshit now too. Jake is terribly slow to the plate and Montero absolutely has the worst arm of any catcher on the roster. Even if the steals don't show up in the box score, the constant threat from the runner at first (added to Jake's shaky mechanics) is enough of a distraction to affect the game.
- The bottom line is that right now, there are 2 slumping parts of the lineup that have shown at least some signs of life (Rizzo, Zobrist) and a whopping 4 players (Russell, Heyward, Montero, pitcher's spot) that look absolutely lost right now. When 4 lineup spots contribute nothing and two others are barely doing better than that, you're not going to score many runs against ANYONE, let alone a handful of the best pitchers on the planet.
- I know that by the strict definition, tonight's game isn't a "must win" because it's only game 4, but every Cubs fan knows that with Kershaw ready to go tomorrow night in the case of a 3-1 Dodgers series lead, the Cubs have to win tonight to get back in this series. And they have to do that with John Lackey, who was brought in to win these exact types of games except for the fact that he looks super worn out right now and is on a super small sample size streak of 2 straight bad playoff starts.
Who needs a drink?
Ok, so as much as I want to just sit here and wallow in the reverse shower of anger and gloom, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- The Cubs had to come back and win 3 out of 4 games to beat the Cardinals in the playoffs last year. Granted, the Cardinals didn't have Clayton Kershaw, but it's not like they haven't been in this position before.
- To really emphasize just how NOT deep of a hole the Cubs are in right now, if they win tonight (against a rookie), they will not only be tied with the Dodgers 2-2, but they will also have homefield advantage back for the remaining games. Yes, with just one win.
- Yes, it is a SUPER SUPER small sample size, but the Cubs are slashing .359/.405/.995 against Urias.
That's all I can think of. Feel free to get your Cubs hate out in some way or another and come into tonight's game in the right mindset.
I hate baseball so much right now.