What you need to know:
It was a battle of the last two Cy Young winners in the nation’s capital and, you guessed it, the Cubs gave up another first-inning run, their 65th of the year. That was just the start, as things got sloppier from there. To be precise: two errors, another couple defensive misplays, and seven stolen bases against. There really isn’t a whole lot to analyze in this one. The Cubs simply got outplayed and with Mad Max on the mound, they didn’t really stand much of a chance to get back into the game once they got down.
This is the third time in his last four starts that Jake’s command just wasn’t really there. His six walks were a season high and like his other two recent poor starts, he failed to make it out in the fifth. I’m not sure if it’s a mechanical fix or whether something else is up, but with Butler and Montgomery both in the rotation right now, Arrieta is really going to have to start eating some more innings until they get Hendricks back. While the Cubs have typically carried eight or nine relievers, that is stress that they really can’t afford to have long-term.
Aaron Kennelly on Twitter had an interesting string of tweets, discussing how Jake lost velocity as this game went on. That is certainly not an encouraging sign moving forward.
Tonight his average sinker velo was 93.2 mph in 1st inning. It was 91.0 in 4th and 90.2 in 5th. Not good.
— Aaron Kennelly (@aaron_kennelly) June 28, 2017
Next level: The stolen bases……my god, the stolen bases. The Nationals ran like somebody was chasing them all night. Trea Turner stole four bases, Michael Taylor stole two and even Anthony Rendon stole one. Historically both Miguel Montero and Jake Arrieta are easy to steal off of, so the Nationals took advantage of a battery not well suited to hold baserunners. In fact, Miguel Montero is yet to throw out a runner this year (he has one pickoff) in 31 attempts. While I’m a believer in a large portion of the blame being given to the pitcher on stolen bases, it’s pretty clear when watching Miggy that he doesn’t have much of a chance at all to throw guys out, no matter how quickly the pitcher gets him the ball. Pair that with Jake being extremely slow to the plate, and it’s just a recipe for disaster.
Top WPA play: Kris Bryant’s first inning RBI triple got the scoring started for the Cubs, but unfortunately it was all they were able to muster against the reigning Cy Young award winner. (+.112)
Bottom WPA play: Tommy La Stella’s second misplay of the game had his throw pull Anthony Rizzo off the bag and allowed Trea Turner to score, giving the Nationals a 2-1 lead. Nice. (-.069)
Up next: The Cubs head into game three of the series tomorrow evening looking to earn themselves at least a series split. John Lackey will take the mound for the Cubs, while Stephen Strasburg will toe the rubber for the Nationals. I wish I could tell you what the lineup would look like tomorrow, but I’m not sure Joe Maddon even has any clue at this point.
Lead photo courtesy Brad Mills—USA Today Sports