Tag Archives: Jake arrieta

Cubometer shirt

Son And I Seeing Cubs In Big Apple

The Cubs-O-Meter reflects how I’m feeling about the Cubbies at any given time. The name pays homage to the famous Shawon-O-Meter of Cubs days gone by.

Why wouldn’t the Cubs-O-Meter be looking good since I’m taking my 4-year-old boy to see our team play the Mets in New York?

He told me this morning he’s going to be wearing all blue to cheer on the Cubs.

So today is a big win, no matter what Jake Arrieta and the Cubs do today.

I’ll update the post tonight with results on the day, like Jack barfing from too much ice cream or something.

Where would you set your Cubs-O-Meter? Leave a comment and/or tweet to #CubsOMeter.

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Cubometer shirt

Cubs-O-Meter Remains Positive

The Cubs-O-Meter reflects how I’m feeling about the Cubbies at any given time. The name pays homage to the famous Shawon-O-Meter of Cubs days gone by.

The meter is sticking in the comfortable “I shaved and this is a new shirt” region, but the shirt is really clean and fancy looking because I’m feeling good about the Cubbies.

Why? Jake Arrieta looked outstanding again today. What Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and others do for hope on the hitting side Arrieta is almost single-handedly doing on the pitching side. Not that the Cubs don’t have some decent pitching prospects, but this guy is pitching like an ace. How does a 2.11 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP sound alongside his 6-2 record?

I also love how the trade deadline played out for the Cubs. There’s got to be a misprint in what the Rays got for David Price. Pitcher Drew Smyly and infielder Nick Franklin? That’s it? The deal makes Theo and Jed look like geniuses for landing one of the top MLB prospects in Addison Russell when they traded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A’s.

The Cubs then received a solid catching prospect, Victor Caratini, from the Braves for journeyman infielder Emilio Bonifacio and reliever James Russell, who has been solid for Chicago but has a lot of mileage on that left arm.

Tom Loxas at Cubs Insider wrote a nice brief piece on the A’s being a blueprint for the Cubs.

I can picture sitting around reconstructing how the Cubs became the Cubs when they are mopping up the league in a couple of years. “Remember how Theo jumped the market and landed Russell? That was genius.”

Also feeding my Cubs enthusiasm is a nice nostalgia piece from Evan Altman of Cubs Insider that reminded me of watching baseball with my grandpa. Good stuff and maybe I’ll steal the idea and do a version of my own sometime.

Someone give me a sedative. I’m feeling a little too good right now about a franchise that trots out a 45-62 major league club. Whatever. Hope ain’t just a city in Alaska.

Where would you set your Cubs-O-Meter? Maybe you think I’m nuts and believe this is as bad as it gets. Let’s hear it. Leave a comment and/or tweet to #CubsOMeter.

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Concerns About Renteria Handling Pitchers

Flash forward to 2016. The Cubs’ high-powered offense — led by Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and more — has pounded opponents so thoroughly that Chicago is running away with the division as the regular-season winds down. The team starts setting up the lineup and rotation for the playoffs. All is good on the North Side.

The playoffs begin amid unparalleled hype that THIS COULD BE THE YEAR that the Cubs finally win another World Series. This team is young but stacked after Theo Epstein augmented his offensive juggernaut with veteran free-agent pitching studs.

And then the Cubbie occurrences begin. Reliable starters can’t get out of jams in the seventh inning. Relievers can’t seem to muster the extra gas to shut down rallies. Late-inning implosions by the pitching staff turn the dream into a nightmare — one we’ve have many times before — and the Cubs are eliminated in the NLDS.

All because Rick Renteria can’t handle a pitching staff.

Call me a paranoid Cubs fan — you won’t be the first to do so — but I’m seeing tendencies now that make the above scenario possible.

For example, Jake Arrieta was trailing Arizona 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh July 20 and had just gotten two outs. He walked a guy and then Renteria replaced him with James Russell, who promptly gave up another run, all but assuring Arrieta a loss.

Arrieta did not appear to be happy in the dugout, but whether he was angry with himself or his manager wasn’t clear. He did say that he had been battling a virus, so maybe Renteria was giving him a break. Arrieta’s pitch count was at 105 and he had been pitching well, however, so why not let him try to get that final out of the seventh? In a lost season, letting starters work out of jams should be standard operating procedure. How else are they going to develop confidence in their stuff late in games. This ain’t Game 7 of the NLCS, but when it does come, will the starter be able to execute under intense pressure?

Renteria is the un-Dusty Baker, who was criticized — sometimes rightly — for riding his starters too hard and leaving them depleted come playoff time. And some will argue he derailed careers, but that’s another story.

The Arrieta situation isn’t an isolated incident. The Cubs are third in the league in Games in Relief. Renteria loves going to the ‘pen like Lindsay Lohan likes tipping a few cocktails. Jason Grimm, Brian Schlitter and Russell are all among the league leaders in appearances.

The 25-year-old Grimm had appeared in 32 games total, 17 of them starts, in his brief MLB career heading into this season. He’s appeared in 45 games this year. Schlitter appeared in seven games with the Cubs in 2010 and has been in 44 games this year. Rookie Neil Ramirez has appeared in 32 games. Pedro Strop’s 36 puts him on pace for a career high.

Russell? Trade him now, please, before his arm falls off. He’s appeared in 39 games this year after pitching in 74 last year and 77 the year before. He could be one of those classic cases of an effective reliever being overused and his career never being the same.

If the Cubs were in a pennant chase, what could these guys contribute in September and October? Some of them would surely be gassed and we’d see seemingly inexplicable four-run seventh innings. A look back at their usage would explain a lot.

They’d have to come into the games, though, because Renteria hasn’t consistently allowed starters to figure out how to get out of late jams.

The Cubs of tomorrow will likely be able to slug it out with anyone. Theo and Co. will go get the pitchers to put the team into serious contention. A random beer vendor will probably be able to fill out a really solid lineup card, but can Renteria “manage” the pitching staff? Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but I have concerns. I’m definitely being paranoid — shouldn’t Cubsanoia be an official diagnosis? But still …

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.

Arrieta A Late Bloomer Or I’ll Wear Bloomers

Is Jake Arrieta for real?

The Cubs’ new Mr. Quality Start used to be the Orioles’ Mr. Stinkin’ Up The Place. In parts of four seasons with Baltimore he was 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA. After another quality start Sunday — though it ended in a tough-luck loss — he is 9-4 with a 2.70 ERA for Chicago. Is it possible to get that much better?

Granted, the odds are against Arrieta remaining a sub-3.00 ERA guy for the rest of his career. But could he go from Baltimore giving up on him to being a No. 2 or 3 starter in Chicago?

Yes.

Google “late blooming MLB starers” and you’ll see quite a list of pitchers who struggled early in their careers before becoming really good and in some cases outstanding.

Future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson led the league in walks three straight seasons for Seattle. In 1991, at the age of 27, he walked 152 batter and struck out 228. Basically, a hitters didn’t have to take the bat off his shoulder. You had a better chance to draw a walk than get a hit off a wild lefty with a 100-mph heater. As a result of his wildness, Johnson’s record hovered around .500.

Something crazy happened, however. Johnson learned how to throw strikes, and the rest, as they say, is history. In 1998, he struck out 308, walked 99 and went 19-8. He went 24-5 as a 38-year-old. He finished his career with over 300 wins and almost 5,000 strikeouts, not too bad for a guy who was a 6-foot-10 novelty early in his career.

How about Sandy Koufax? He’s a Hall of Famer who put up one of the best four-year stretches in MLB history. We also know that his career was cut short by injuries. But not everyone knows that it took him a while to hit his stride. Over the first six years of his career he was 36-40. He was only 19 when he came up, and it showed. As a 22-year-old he walked 105 batters, struck out 131 and went 11-11.

Now Arrieta doesn’t have to turn into Johnson or Koufax, but it wouldn’t be unheard of for him to get his act together and become an above average MLB pitcher at age 28.

Jamie Moyer came up with the Cubs and didn’t show much. On to Texas, nothing. He didn’t really learn how to be the best Jamie Moyer he could be until his 30s. And then he was the model of consistency. After age 34, he had double-digit wins seven straight seasons, racking up 20 wins at age 38 and 21 at 40.

Al Leiter, Dave Stewart, Cliff Lee … all late bloomers. Roy Halladay posted a 10.64 ERA in 19 games as a 23-year-old with Toronto.

Well, what could be so different for Arrieta that he can go from sucking to starring? The word command probably explains it best. He appears to have refined his mechanics enough to command all of his pitches. The result: a solid K/BB ratio (25/93) and the lowest WHIP (1.01) of his career.

But here’s the tricky part: consistency. To get over flash-in-the-pan status, he’s got to keep doing what he’s doing. The Cubs have to be feeling pretty good about his 23 starts in Chicago. Hopefully, he has gained confidence and is developing a trust in his stuff because his stuff looks filthy at times.

Cubs fans will be the last to truly believe. Is he one-hit wonder Eddy Grant (think Electric Avenue) or Eddie Vedder? I for one think he’s got the chops to be closer to the latter.

You can reach us at Cubs Fan Therapy.