Game 45 Recap: Cleveland 10, Cubs 1

What You Need to Know: We all saw this coming, didn’t we? Didn’t we? After staving off the regression gods for most of the season, Tyler Chatwood could stave no longer. Chatwood entered Tuesday’s start, the first of a two-game interleague set with Cleveland, boasting a stellar 3.14 ERA that stood in stark contrast to his 6.08 DRA. The gap, of course, could easily be explained by Chatwood’s MLB-worst 7.1 walks allowed per nine innings, a fact which led Len Kasper to presciently remark in the third inning, “The biggest thing for [Chatwood] is that he isn’t giving up home runs. Typically those walks come back to bite you with three-run homers.”

Challenge accepted.

In the third, Chatwood walked Francisco Lindor to lead off the inning, allowed a ground ball single to Michael Brantley, and… you know what’s coming. Jim DeShaies declares Jose Ramirez one of the most underrated players in baseball, and Ramirez sends a Chatwood two-seamer into the right-field seats. Just as Kasper predicted, Chatwood’s walks had resulted in a three-run homer.

Chatwood was wild from the start. He simply couldn’t find the strike zone, throwing just 30 of his 74 pitches over the plate, which led to six free passes in all and a quick hook just two batters after the Ramirez long ball. Mike Montgomery, who spelled Chatwood in relief, fared no better. The two combined to allow 10 earned runs over five innings.

The Cubs offense was dormant, scattering 10 hits on the evening and managing a too-little-too-late home run by the white-hot Ian Happ in the bottom of the ninth. The team simply had no answer for Trevor Bauer, who dominated the Cubs for the second time this season, tossing six scoreless innings.

Next Level: A few fun/utterly depressing stats to illustrate Tyler Chatwood’s walk problem (which, by the way, is officially a problem):

  • His walk rate now stands at 19.4 percent on the year, markedly higher than any other qualified pitcher. Lucas Giolito is the closest to Chatwood at 15.5 percent, and no other qualified pitcher eclipses a 13.0 percent walk rate.
  • Chatwood now has three games of six or more walks this year, most in MLB; for comparison, the Cardinals’ Miles Mikolas has six total walks all season.
  • 11.8 percent of Chatwood’s pitches this year have come in three-ball counts, most of any pitcher in MLB (min. 600 pitches).

Justin Hancock was once again effective in relief, pitching three innings of one-hit ball. On the broadcast, Len Kasper pondered allowed whether it’s safe to say that Hancock has “arrived.” I guess that depends on how literal we want to be. Hancock has indeed arrived in the big leagues, but through 9 2/3 big-league innings, there are plusses and minuses. Hancock has pitched to a 1.93 ERA, which is good. He’s striking out 27.8 percent of the batters he faces. Also good. However, he’s walked seven during that span, and his surface numbers are propped up by an unsustainable .111 BABIP. Either way, tonight’s outing was encouraging.

During the seventh-inning stretch, pro golfer Bubba Watson did his best to inject some comic relief for Cubs fans, performing one of the most awkward renditions of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in recent memory that included a microphone held at waist height, forgotten lyrics, and plenty of incoherent mumbling. The performance was almost (almost) enough to cover up the home team’s complete ineptitude on the field.

Top WPA Play: In the second inning, Javier Baez slapped a ground ball single off a breaking pitch way outside the zone. Baez’s plate discipline was a disaster in this game, and the fact that this is the top WPA play says all you need to know about the Cubs’ performance in this one. (+.026)

Bottom WPA Play: Ramirez’s three-run blast in the third (-.192).

Lead photo courtesy Patrick Gorski—USA Today Sports

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