By: Alex Patt
This week was another odd one for the Chicago Cubs. It featured a match up between two likely postseason bound teams in the Nationals and the Diamondbacks. As mentioned in the last article, the Cubs lost 2/3 from the Diamondbacks. After winning 16-4 the Cubs were shutout 3-0 and lost a tough on 10-8 after the bullpen blue a late 7-6 lead and 8-8 tie in the 9th.
The Nationals series would not get any easier. However it is important to note that match up wise the Cubs got an absolute gift not having to face Scherzer, Strasburg or Gonzalez in the series, and unfortunately they lost 2/3 as well. Bats were quiet in the first game, but they woke up in the first inning of game two as former Cub Edwin Jackson surrendered four runs right off the bat and the Cubs would win 7-4. It was the final game that really stung. Jon Lester pitched a solid game, 6.2 IP and three runs given up. Willson Contreras added two more home runs (three in the series) where he is now slashing .281/.349/.881 with 21 home runs on the year as the Cubs took a 4-3 lead to the 8th. The struggling Carl Edwards Jr. then loaded the bases which ended in a grand slam from Matt Weiters and the Cubs fell to the Nationals 8-4.
Carl Edwards Jr. the past ten games has an 11.11 ERA with nine walks. He was a dominating force in the first half of the pen but now just seems to have lost it. Keep in mind this is his first real full season in the majors and fatigue factor may play into it as well as a loss of confidence due to his recent struggles. Meanwhile Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop have been lights out as of recent, combined have a 2.47 ERA in the last ten games and four of those earned run came in the on disastrous inning vs. the Cardinals on July 21st. Take that away and it’s a combined 0.49 ERA.
The first inning woes seem to translate to the 8th inning. They have an ERA of 9.00 in the last ten 8th innings played which has cost them two games. It may not seem like a lot but with the Brewers only a half a game back, it is important to stockpile as many wins as possible. Luckily for the Cubs the schedule eases up a bit. They have the Giants for the next three games, a really tough series against Arizona in Arizona and back home vs. the Reds.