As the Brewers took a 7-0 lead into the ninth inning, a voice wearing the number 13 jersey inside the Cubs dugout could be heard whispering, “I accept your challenge.”
What You Need to Know: If you get your baseball news from anywhere other than #cubstwitter, you’d know that the Cubs still have the best record in the National League. Although if baseball games only lasted one inning, they’d have been eliminated from playoff contention on July 24th.
Today was the kind of day that encapsulates why the Cubs haven’t been able to run away and dominate the division. After the most amazing game of the year and a signature win of the decade on Sunday night, José Quintana came out and immediately put them behind two pitches into the afternoon on a home run crushed to deep left center by Lorenzo Cain. Three batters later, the deficit was 3-0 thanks to a Ryan Braun bomb, his first of two on the day.
And that was pretty much it.
This Game Sucked. Let’s Talk Smack About the Brewers Left Fielder: Ryan Braun has a look that says “Even my HGH comes in a bottle with an Ed Hardy logo.”
Next Level: I guess I’ve got to talk about this because there was nothing else going on today. And I’m a bit hesitant to do so because discussions about Quintana tend to degenerate quickly into Hot Taek-land. (For instance, a few days ago, David Kaplan apparently told Q to “go out there and pitch your balls off.” Which is the first time I’ve ever heard the argument that the starting rotation needs more castrati.)
Several of my colleagues on here are Q fans. I’m not one of them. I’ve felt his acquisition was a massive overpay from the day it was made. So understand what you’re about to read through that prism. And I’m also about to violate my editor’s request to “get the hell outta here with that revisionist shit” by criticizing the Quintana trade. So be it.
Let’s start with this (hopefully) reasonable point: there have been several starts this year where Quintana has been very good to exceptional. However, when he’s been off, he’s been what can only be described as “ChrisVolstadistic.” In ten (!) starts this season, Quintana has allowed 50 earned runs in 47.1 innings.
Christ on a bicycle. Well, some of those runs didn’t come in the first inning. So that’s a win.
And don’t get me wrong… every pitcher is going to have clunkers. Jon Lester just had a full month of them and he’s the damn best. But ten bad-to-brutal games in 23 starts is the ratio of a middling number-three pitcher at best. And every single one of those starts has served to remind us that the Cubs traded the number-three prospect in the game for that middling number-three pitcher.
But hey, at least they have that middling number-three pitcher for a long time!
And as long as I’m going to be immersing myself in that revisionist shit, indulge me with this… criticizing the Q trade is only revisionist if you paid no attention to trends in Quintana’s 2017 numbers at all. As I wrote last year around this time, his entire season up until the trade deadline had been mediocre at best. When the Cubs acquired him, his ERA was 4.49. His FIP was slightly better at 3.97,?but nothing to indicate that this performance was especially unlucky. And his 40 walks in 104.1 innings were also a concern.
Now, you can certainly argue that this was a small sample in what had otherwise been a fine career until that point. And trading for a pitcher who’d underperformed in a small sample just netted the Cubs Cole Hamels and that’s great!
Except if Theo had acquired Cole Hamels by trading Eloy Jiménez, the Cubs front office could locate your Wrigley Field commemorative brick as it was being thrown through the windows at Gallagher Way.
There’s still time for Quintana to get this turned around and go on a hot streak similar to the one he had last September. But as of now, it’s fair to say that way too many of us are hoping for a Quantum Leap reboot so that Sam Beckett could go back to July 13, 2017 and toss Theo’s cell phone into the same trash can where Todd Ricketts threw his extra hot dogs.
That Was Depressing. Let’s Talk More Smack About the Brewers Left Fielder: After his first home run, Ryan Braun turned to his dugout and yelled “Let’s go!” Which marked the only time all month he uttered any sentence that wasn’t a lyric by 3 Doors Down.
Top Play (WPA): It had no impact on the game but Ben Zobrist got ejected by Phil Cuzzi for arguing balls and strikes. It was also the first time in baseball history an umpire has ever ejected a batter for forgiving him.
Bottom Play (WPA): Braun’s first homer (-.150). Which looked almost exactly like his second homer (-.091). Based on the location of both pitches, it appears Willson Contreras has a sign for “Batting Tee.”
Up Next: The Cubs will hopefully show up in time for the final game of this abbreviated series as a rejuvenated Kyle Hendricks takes on Junior Guerra.
Lead photo courtesy Patrick Gorski—USA Today Sports