What You Need To Know: Tyler Chatwood didn’t immolate. Zack Wheeler was good. But he wasn’t nine innings good. And when you don’t throw nine innings as a Met, you’re basically asking the local neighborhood arsonist to watch your kids. Wheeler opened the door a crack, the Cubs kicked it open while the Mets’ pen got stuck under it. Joe Maddon got a little goofy with his pen again, and Cishek and Pedro Strop were required again and Strop had his issues along with Duensing (who also is seemingly throwing every day), but it’s still the Mets. Morrow shut the door, and hey, that looks like six out of eight to me.
Next Level: The changes are in full gear for Chatwood now. He exclusively threw from the stretch, probably trying to cut down on the movement that can get so wobbly with him from the windup, as well as hurried. The Cubs also are trying to get him to stop doing the Chad Hutchinson ball-pat that he used to do into his glove. He wasn’t perfect in that, but essentially they’re trying to smooth out the motion so that it all goes in one direction instead of back and forth.
Hopefully this was a start of an arc up. He walked four in 5.1 innings, which isn’t good enough, but they were bookended and the second through fourth innings were actually quite good and filled with the grounders that Theo and Jed found to be Spanish Fly this winter. Had the season gone differently with Chatwood and the rest of the rotation, two runs over 5.1 innings for your fifth starter is more than acceptable. Baby steps to the elevator.
– The Cubs were pretty much stymied by Wheeler for six innings. They had a couple half-chances but Anthony Rizzo grounded into a double-play in the 1st with two on and then popped out with two runners on later. But a leadoff single from Russell and an expertly executed hit=and-run by Tommy La Stella, who was pinch-hitting for Gimenez as Joe basically sensed Wheeler was tiring and then it’s super-terrific-fun-happy-time against the Mets pen, set them up. Russell caught Conforto napping a bit on a fly from The War Bear to open the Cubs account, and then Zobrist who would get a hit off Fire Mario right now drove in La Stella when Sewald came in. Bryant blooped one in to bring in Zoby 18, and the Cubs wouldn’t look back from there.
– Schwarber busted it open in the eighth with a three-run job. Did you know that in fWAR he’s the best left fielder in the NL? You do now.
– Strop got a little silly in the bottom of the eighth. He walked one and gave up a hit. You could understand Joe trying to immediately build up his confidence after a dodgy outing last night, but it didn’t work. Brian Duensing surrendered a hit to Adrian Gonzalez and his walker to bring home the two guys Petey let on. Been a rough go for Duensing lately, his third straight appearance giving up hits and runs. With Montgomery in the rotation there isn’t another lefty to get a lefty in a spot, as Rosario has already been used. Ideally this is where you’d bring in Morrow to put out any fires and let any tomato can protect a three-run lead in the 9th, but that’s not the world we have. Yet.
– Zobrist had another three hits. The past two weeks his wOBA is .431. That’ll play. Almora notched three hits as well.
Top WPA Play: Schwarber’s homer in the 8th that made it 6-2. He didn’t even get all of it and it still went nearly 400 feet the other way. But let’s trade him, right? (+.206)
Bottom WPA Play: Nimmo’s homer off Chatwood in the third, the only damage Chatwood would give up. (-.181)
Lead photo courtesy Andy Marlin—USA Today Sports