What you need to know: Prior to tonight’s game, the Cubs received their 2016 World Series rings. This followed Monday night’s flag raising ceremony which celebrated the team’s first title since 1908. As BP Wrigleyville’s resident Dodgers fan, I am starting to wonder if Los Angeles will have to wait over a century for their next title.
The Cubs sent veteran right-hander John Lackey to face a fellow righty, Brandon McCarthy. Though Lackey gave up a solo bomb to Andrew Toles in the first inning, he mowed through the Dodgers lineup, tallying 10 strikeouts over 106 pitches. With the help of Mike Montgomery and Hector Rondón, the Cubs were able to keep Los Angeles’ offense at bay. Unfortunately, McCarthy and the Dodgers relief corps was equally as effective at shutting out Chicago.
Next Level: There are a few similarities between Lackey’s first start and tonight’s. In both starts, it took the right-hander over 20 pitches to get through the first inning. Similarly in both games, in each inning thereafter, Lackey averaged over 13 pitches per inning. However, unlike tonight’s start, Lackey gave up six hits and four runs. Where do the differences lie?
Looking at pitching data from Brooks Baseball, Lackey threw his curveball and cutter more often than he did in St. Louis.
The tables above are the pitches thrown and their counts from Lackey’s starts against the Cardinals and the Dodgers, respectively. Because of early season jitters with a new data system, Brooks did not include Lackey’s fifth inning from tonight’s game. As a result, the data is incomplete. Despite this, with five innings of pitch data, it is worth noting Lackey relied on his cutter and curveball more so in his second start. It will be interesting to see if this will be his approach going into his third start and if it will be as effective.
Top WPA Play: It is always a rough night when a ballclub’s top play comes from shutting down the opposing team’s offense. The Dodgers came close to expanding their lead late in the game. Following a flyout by Corey Seager, Logan Forsythe walked. Adrian Gonzalez hit a single to left and Yasmani Grandal drew a walk. With the bases loaded, Justin Turner came in to pinch hit. With one out, Montgomery got Turner to hit into a double play, ending the threat and the inning (+.140).
Bottom WPA Play: In the top of the eighth, Rondón started the inning by walking Chase Utley. Rondón got Yasiel Puig to flyout to right and followed up with a K to Scott Van Slyke. Rondón got Toles swinging for the third strike, but a dropped third strike error by Willson Contreras was compounded with a throwing error to first. Utley scored from first, beating out the tag by Rondón (-.103).
Next Up: The Cubbies close out the series tomorrow before hosting division rivals Pittsburgh on Friday. The probable starters are former teammates, Brett Anderson and Hyun-jin Ryu. In his first start, Anderson received the loss (#pitcherwins), but he gave up only one run and struck out four batters. Tomorrow’s game time is at 1:20.
Lead photo courtesy Dennis Wierzbicki—USA Today Sports