Samardzija Sizzles as Cubs Power Past the Braves – Cubs 5, Braves 1

Game Twenty-Nine – Cubs 5, Braves 1
WP – Jeff Samardzija (4-1) LP – Tommy Hanson (3-3) Save – None

wflag.jpgJeff Samardzija allowed one run to the best offense in the National League and home runs by Bryan LaHair, Ian Stewart and Geovany Soto accounted for four of the Cubs’ five runs Monday night. The Cubs played a complete game again and won on back-to-back days for the second time this season.

Jeff Samardzija was very, very good once again. Samardzija held the Braves to one run on five hits with two walks, a HBP and seven strikeouts over seven innings. Samardzija made only one mistake and Jason Heyward deposited it into the bleachers in right. Samardzija was not as sharp as he was in his last outing against the Reds but was facing a much better lineup. The Braves ran up his pitch count early but Samardzija was still able to complete seven innings. Samardzija threw 105 pitches, 66 for strikes, in route to his fourth win of the season.

Carlos Marmol pitched his way in and out of trouble in the eighth. Marmol walked the first two batters he faced before falling behind Freddie Freeman. It was painful to watch because Marmol looked defeated on the mound. Marmol was able to get out of the jam after Freddie Freeman smoked a 3-1 pitch back up the middle to a perfectly positioned Starlin Castro. Marmol found a groove after a wild pitch put the tying runs in scoring position. Marmol struck out Brian McCann and Dan Uggla to end the eighth and left the field pounding his chest and screaming at himself. Marmol threw 25 pitches in the eighth, 13 for strikes.

James Russell retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth to close it out for Jeff Samardzija.

The team that could not buy a home run early in the season has now hit 13 longballs in the last 12 games. Bryan LaHair (1-for-3 with a home run and a walk, reached base safely in 25 straight games) and Ian Stewart (1-for-3 with a home run and a walk) hit back-to-back jacks off Tommy Hanson in the fourth that gave the Cubs the lead. LaHair’s eighth dinger of the season tied the game at one and Stewart’s third gave Samardzija a lead.

Geovany Soto (2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) hit his third homer of the season in the eighth that put the game away.

Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a RBI) added a big two out run scoring single in the seventh that gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead. Tony Campana (2-for-4 with a double) added two more hits, including his third double in two games.

The Cubs defense was solid again and the positioning by the coaching staff continues to pay big dividends. The Cubs turned two double plays Monday night with the biggest coming in the seventh. With the Cubs up 2-1, two on and one out in the seventh, Bryan LaHair caught a liner off the bat of Eric Hinske that off the bat appeared to be a double down the line. LaHair doubled off Heyward at second to end the inning.

Fredi Gonzalez was ejected in the seventh inning by homeplate umpire Chris Conroy after he warned both benches in response to Eric O’Flaherty hitting David DeJesus in retaliation for Jeff Samardzija hitting Jason Heyward in the top of the inning.

With Monday’s win, the Cubs improved to 12-17 on the season …

Jeff Samardzija looked sharp in the first inning. Samardzija struck out Michael Bourn swinging (1-2 pitch) to start the game. Martin Prado grounded out to second but Freddie Freeman took several close pitches and worked a two-out walk. Brian McCann struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) to end the first. Samardzija threw 20 pitches in the first, 12 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing against Tommy Hanson in the bottom of the first.

Samardzija started the second by striking out Dan Uggla looking and retiring Chipper Jones on a groundout to second. Jason Heyward stepped in and lifted a 1-1 pitch into the first row of the bleachers in right. Heyward towering blast gave the Braves a 1-0 lead. Samardzija knew he made a mistake when he released the ball and reacted as such when Heyward launched his fourth homer of the season. Samardzija fell behind Tyler Pastornicky 2-0. The Braves’ shortstop rapped Samardzija’s next pitch into left.

Tommy Hanson struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning. Samardzija threw 20 pitches in the second, 12 for strikes, and after two his pitch count stood at 40, 24 for strikes.

Bryan LaHair led off the second for the Cubs and crushed Hanson’s first pitch. The ball held up, Michael Bourn caught the ball in deep center for the first out. On any other day or night, the ball is long gone.

Ian Stewart walked on four pitches and Reed Johnson was hit on the back of his shoulder. With runners on first and second with one out, Darwin Barney hit a 1-2 pitch to short … 6-4-3 double play, inning over.

Michael Bourn led off the third with an infield single to the hole at short (3-2 pitch). The Braves continued making Samardzija work. Martin Prado hit a 0-2 pitch to short. Castro started a 6-4-3 double play. Freddie Freeman grounded out to first (1-1 pitch) to end the third. After three, Samardzija had thrown 56 pitches, 36 for strikes.

Geovany Soto crushed a 2-1 pitch from Hanson to start the third … but Michael Bourn tracked the ball down in left center for the first out. Bourn is one of those players that have their better games at the Cubs’ expense. Samardzija grounded out to third. David DeJesus worked a two-out walk and Tony Campana lashed Hanson’s first pitch down the right field line for a double … the Cubs’ first hit.

With runners on second and third with two down, Starlin Castro flied out to right (0-1 pitch) to end the inning. Castro ended his sixth inning in two days and after his two-run knock in the third inning Sunday, Castro was 0-for-his-last-4 with RISP.

Other than a two-out single by Chipper Jones, the Braves did nothing in the fourth. Samardzija’s pitch count stood at 68 after four, 42 for strikes.

Bryan LaHair led off the bottom of the fourth and yanked Hanson’s first pitch to the bleachers in right. LaHair’s eighth home run tied the game at one. Ian Stewart stepped in and lined a 1-0 pitch into the bleachers in right … and the Cubs took a 2-1 lead on the back-to-back jacks by Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart. First time the Cubs hit homers in consecutive at bats this season.

Reed Johnson just missed hitting the third home run in as many at bats. Johnson flied out to Martin Prado near the ivy in left center for the first out. After Darwin Barney struck out, Geovany Soto singled to center. Samardzija grounded out to third to end the inning.

After four, the Cubs had a 2-1 lead.

Samardzija retired Pastornicky (grounded out to third) and Hanson (struck out swinging) quickly to start the fifth. Michael Bourn put together another long at bat and walked. Bourn took off for second on a 0-2 pitch to Martin Prado. Bourn slid in safe but Prado grounded out to third on Samardzija’s next pitch to end the inning.

David DeJesus grounded out to short to start the fifth. After Campana hit a routine grounder to second, Starlin Castro reached on a single to the hole at short. The ball got under Pastornicky’s glove and trickled into left. Castro took off for second on a 2-2 offering to LaHair … but LaHair could not check his swing on a ball in the dirt and struck out to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija sat down the Braves in order in the sixth. Samardzija struck out McCann and Uggla swinging to end the inning. After six, Samardzija had thrown 98 pitches, 62 for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing against Hanson in the bottom of the sixth.

Jeff Samardzija started the seventh and retired Chipper Jones with one pitch. Jones grounded out to second. But the inning started to unravel after that … but the Cubs were able to dodge a bullet.

Samardzija plunked Jason Heyward in the back with a 94 MPH fastball. Pastornicky followed with a single to right and the Braves had runners on first and second with one out. Fredi Gonzalez went to his bench and sent Eric Hinske up to hit for Tommy Hanson.

Hinske smoked a 1-1 pitch toward first. The ball caught LaHair, who alertly threw to Castro and doubled off Heyward to end the inning.

Jeff Samardzija threw seven pitches in the seventh, four for strikes, and departed with a 2-1 lead after 105 pitches, 66 for strikes.

Eric O’Flaherty started the bottom of the seventh and retired Soto (first pitch) on a grounder to short. Jeff Baker hit for Samardzija and grounded out to second.

After missing on two straight inside pitches, Flaherty finally got the job done and hit David DeJesus. Homeplate umpire Chris Conroy warned both benches, Fredi Gonzalez came out to argue and was ejected from the game.

The Braves retaliation ended up costing them a run.

Tony Campana dropped down a perfect bunt and pushed it past the mound. Campana made it easily and gave Starlin Castro a chance to give the Cubs a little breathing room.

Starlin Castro ripped a 2-2 pitch into left center. DeJesus scored and the Cubs took a 3-1 lead. With runners on first and third with two down, Bryan LaHair walked to load the bases. Ian Stewart struck out swinging to end the inning.

Carlos Marmol made his way in from the pen and predictably walked Michael Bourn (3-2 pitch) and Martin Prado (four pitches) to start the inning. Marmol then fell behind Freddie Freeman 2-0. Marmol got a fastball over for a strike then Freeman crushed a 3-1 pitch back up the middle. Castro was positioned perfectly, caught the ball and nearly doubled off Bourn from second.

On a 0-1 pitch to Brian McCann, Bourn took off for third. Marmol uncorked a wild pitch and the tying runs ended up at second and third with one out.

Carlos Marmol channeled his inner 2008 season and struck out McCann looking for the second out … then ended the inning by striking out Dan Uggla swinging on a 0-2 pitch. Marmol pounded his chest while screaming as he made his way to the dugout. Dale Sveum greeted him with a big smile on his face.

Chad Durbin took over in the bottom of the eighth and retired Johnson on a routine grounder to third. Darwin Barney reached on an infield single to the hole at short … then trotted home when Geovany Soto crushed Durbin’s first pitch. Soto’s third homer of the season ended up near the batter’s eye in center and gave the Cubs a 5-1 lead. Adrian Cardenas made his big league debut and lined out to second (1-2 pitch). DeJesus grounded out to short to end the eighth.

James Russell took the hill in the ninth with a 5-1 lead.

Chipper Jones doubled to right center to start the ninth. Russell then struck out Heyward swinging on a 3-2 pitch. Somehow, Tony Campana saw and caught a fly to deep left center off the bat of Tyler Pastornicky for the second out in the ninth. Matt Diaz hit for Chad Durbin and stuck out swinging (2-2 pitch) for the 27th out … Cubs Win!

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Ryan Dempster is scheduled to face Randall Delgado in game two Tuesday night.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"The riches of the game are in the thrills, not in the money." – Ernie Banks

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  • paulcatanese

    Little bit of excitement out there tonight Neil, there were so many good things that happened and you got them all, good job.
    But I gotta tell you, Cub fans are getting spoiled by this bunch, been a fun time so far.

  • Agustinrexach

    wow, can Lahair/Smardzija keep this up? impressive. Great baseball being played regardless of what happens.

    • Kojak Osborne Jr.

       Well if the Shark keep this up , the Cubs will be able to decide whether to keep or trade Matt Garza for prospects

      • GaryLeeT

        Since they are looking less further away from competing, it would be moronic to trade Garza at this point. In fact, if Marshall were still here, the Cubs would only be a closer, and an RBI bat (Rizzo?) away from making some real noise in a mediocre NL.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Albert Pujols’ best season: (2008) vs, Bryan LaHair 2012

      .357 BA…………………………………388 BA
      .462 OBP………………………………479 OBP
      .653 slugging………………………….800 slugging

      Don’t think he can outdo Albert’s best year. 

      Highest Slugging of all-time:
      #1 Barry Bonds on Steriods….2001……..863
      #2 Babe Ruth…………………….1920……..847
      #3 Babe Ruth…………………….1921……..846
      #4 Barry Bonds on Steroids….2004…….812
      #5 Barry Bonds on Steroids….2004…….799

      Top Batting Averages Since 1941
      #1 Ted Williams………………….1941………………406
      #2 Tony Gynn…………………….1994………………394
      #3 George Brett………………….1980………………390
      #4 Rod Carew…………………….1977……………..388
      #5 Larry Walker………………….1999……………..379

      IF Bryan can keep it up, he’d tie for the #4 best BA since 1941–and match that with his slugging, and he’d have the best season since Babe Ruth in 1921 (Ruth hit .378 that year, and .393 in 1923).

      If Bryan can continue at this pace, he’d have the #5 best slugging season in all of MLB history. That would be a tremendous feat. It seems unlikely. But boy it is so much fun to watch while it is happening!

      • Dorasaga

        This year’s Matt Kemp reminds me of Brett in the 80s. He’ll need to single-handedly power his team to the postseason. There’s no believer in the Dodgers.

        On the contrary, the Cubs have no such superstar, and rely much on a team effort…

        • daverj

          Andre Ethier is pretty darn good too.

          • Dorasaga

            Not since last year, I’m afraid. Surgery and a long loss of power mean much less fear of his appearance. He’s never a patient batter anyway. Not able to drive the long ball will result to more challenging pitches, and much less on-base.

            Ethier was on my fantasy team last year, so gave me an excuse to watch some LAD games. Not fun at all. That team sucked, made the Cubs looked like the Yankees.

  • Jnbeck1

    Rizzo needs to play with this team.

    • Bryan

      I totally agree.  The team is building confidence, and has some positive momentum going on presently.  But instead of bringing up your hottest prospect (who has nothing more to prove in AAA), we’ll let baseball financials dictate his call-up timing.  Some way to run a major market franchise. 

      • J Daniel

        It is smart business for sustained winning.  Let’s not get to crazy on the kool aid just yet.

  • Kojak Osborne Jr.

    Neil , I was a little surprised that they let the Shark come back out and pitch the seventh inning , I thought his innings is supposed to be limited?

    • Neil

       I was a little surprised as well but with the pen being short and with
      Thursday’s day off he will get an extra day before his next start. Plus
      they have two more off days this month that will help. I would think he
      is shortened up in his next start.

  • Ripsnorter1

    I watched both Halladay and Samardzija pitch yesterday. Both have excellent, late movement on their stuff. Samardzija was just pounding the strike zone. Halladay, in previous years when he was nearly unhittable, did the same. This year Halladay is struggling because he doesn’t have the command of the strike zone he has had in previous years. His fastball is off 2-3 MPH, too, but Aaron Boone and Sutcliffe both think that the real problem is command and that he’s lost some of that late movement. Halladay also left the team last week for some family problems at home, and that may be the real source of all of his pitching problems. 

    In any case it is easy to see that Samardzija’s command of the zone is the big, big difference so far this year. And it is very, very nice.

  • Tony_Hall

    In case you haven’t noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven’t, the Cubs have managed to win a few here and there, and are threatening to climb out of the cellar. 

    • Neil

       Well done …

      • Tony_Hall

        Can’t go wrong, with a quote from the great Harry Doyle.

    • John_CC

       It’s kinda nice all the way around, isn’t it?

      • Tony_Hall

        Yes it is my friend, yes it is.

    • paulcatanese

      And I remember what you had told me before the season started.

      • Tony_Hall

        Aren’t you enjoying watching this team, as a whole, over what you watched the last couple of year.  

        Is there still  a lot of work to go, absolutely.  

        But is this team more fun to watch, absolutely.

        • paulcatanese

          Thats what I was reffering to Tony. But the success of Campanas so far, is makeing it even more enjoyable.

  • GaryLeeT

    If the Cubs take one of the last 2 from the Braves, that will be 5 series won or tied, in a row. Center field has been the only big change over the last 5 series, and I think Campana’s impact has been underrated. It’s obvious he’s having a blast out there, and from a fans’ point of view, that can make even a bad team, worth watching.

    • paulcatanese

      Campana brings a lot of energy to the game, and certainly has been underrated. Saw it last year in him with the limited time he played.
      He seems to be coming around with better contact,(attributed to the extended playing time) I am happy that Theo and Sveum, and Hoyer have realized this.
      He does fit into the mold that they advocate.
      Hopefully he can keep it up for a prolonged period of time.
      Players come and go, and what keeps him in the lineup requires a supreme effort on his part as he cannot depend on the long ball to keep him out there.
      As long as it lasts, I will enjoy his play.

    • Aaron

      As a former pitcher, I can tell you with great certainty that having speed on the bases affects about 75% of pitchers. There are some guys like Greg Maddux that could care less, but it usually has a great impact on their psyche when they have to worry about a guy taking an extra base, and you speed up your delivery, getting yourself out of sync, or you go to a slide-step which can also impact your delivery, etc. So, having a guy like Campana has a tremendous impact, and wouldn’t you know it…the Cubs have been winning since replacing Byrd with him.

    • Dorasaga

      No doubt. Thoyer & Co. are in this business too long, so I hope they recognize that it’s not because these players are young so appealing to fans. We want good baseball, that’s all. Having a young team full with hungry players trying their best to win makes this game more enjoyable, despite the fact we are witnessing a slow and rebuilding process.

  • Cloycub13

    Best game of the year so far! This team, as I had hoped is fun as heck to watch. Even the angina producing Marmol. Is it me or did Wrigley have an odd feel to it last night, there were fans in the stands, they were into the game and loud, and that Fog, it was surreal. I would hope that this starts a hot streak (9 of 15 is pretty solid not withstanding) and we can go back and say it all started with the Fog Game.

    Go Cubs!

    • Cloycub13

      Also, some serious chippiness going on in that game, I would be watching my back if I was coming up and would not be surprised to see a brawl if yesterday’s shenanigans keep up.

      • jw


        There is a history with the Braves trying to intimidate the Cubs. I recall a game in Atlanta 4-5 years ago when their shortshop Renteria took a cheap shot at one of the Cub runners coming into second…in the recent past the Braves seem inclined to throw at Cubs hitters…the Cubs have been pretty submissive about it. I hope they will stand up to whatever tactics the Braves or any other club might throw at them and give the other teams something to think about as well.

        • John_CC

          We all know that Shark has the aggressive attitude it takes, now the Braves do to.  I wish Garza would get turn in this series, too.

          I’ll never forget that night in 2003 when the Cubs pounded the Braves at Wrigley, I think it was the 3rd game.  I’m sure that has a little to do with it.

          One more note, last week someone interviewed Chipper about his long career and he was asked about the worst place to play or something like that and he stated: “Wrigley, when the blow it up I’ll have a front row seat.”

          • paulcatanese

            Good John, lets keep Chipper here and batting leadoff for the Braves.
            I know some guys have an attitude or superstition about certain ballparks, glad he does.

          • John_CC

             Chipper’s career at Wrigley is pretty bad.

            In almost 200 AB, he has a .224 BA and .698 OPS, vs his HOF career BA .304/.935 OPS.

            So his hatred of the place is merited.

      • Zonk

        The best revenge when the opponent hits your guy is to plate that runner.  The Cubs did that in the 7th, with a pretty critical run at the time. 

        That’s the best way to get back at them.  And send a thank-you note for the run.

        • paulcatanese

          Agree Zonk, back in my playing days (100 yrs ago) when I got dusted , all I could think about was trying to drive the ball back at the pitcher, hoping it would hit him.

      • John G

        Chippiness? Or did you mean “Chipperness”. On Sunday there was a minor incident between two old guys, Chipper Jones and Jamie Moyer. Apparently Moyer took exception to Jones stealing signs while on second. That would have been fun to watch, two of baseballs “senior citizens” getting into it. But, yes, the Braves tend to get aggresive. Why? Because they can. It’s more fun when it blows up in their face.

  • CubsTalk

    Looking at how this season is playing out, if the Cubs keep on this winning rate, we can grab one of those wild card spots

  • John G

    Has anyone noticed? If The Shark continues winning at this pace (4-1 after 29 games) He could be a 20 game winner. Just out of curiosity, who/when was the last Cubs 20 game winner. I’m too lazy to look it up. Neil??? Was it Maddux during his first go-round?

    • Texcubnut

      It was Jon Lieber in 2001.

    • Neil

      Tex is right, Lieber in 2001. Still a believer.

      • John G

        Thanks. I forgot all about Lieber. He was pretty steady wasn’t he? I’m still stuck in the Fergie Jenkins era. I have to admit I have now taken the time to look it up and it’s hard to believe that we have only had three 20 game winners since Fergie. Reushel, Maddux and Lieber. And it’s also hard to believe that they only did it once each. Of course Maddux did it 2 years in a row. Unfortunately the second time was with that other team down South. And it’s also hard to believe that was the only two times he won 20 games. Of course he had a lot of 19’s and 18’s to go with it. Not too shabby. Now if The Shark turns into the second coming of Maddux…. Nah!!! Never happen!!

  • CubsTalk

    Are the Nationals serious about Alfonso Soriano?  Jayson Werth will be out for three months. Lets hope we see some Nationals scouts in the stands soon. 

    • Texcubnut

      One can only hope!

    • J Daniel

      Where are you hearing this?

      • Ripsnorter1

        I mentioned it yesterday as SPECULATION. 

        I also mentioned that we’d have to pay all the $54 million Mr. Soriano is owed.

        • J Daniel

          Thanks, I thought there was a report out.  Maybe the Nat scouts don’t need to see him?  Pay his salary, maybe get a prospect back, and move on.

          • Ripsnorter1

            You are very welcome. 

    • Dorasaga

      Though, Nats have internal options: Hot prospects, like what we expect of Jackson to be called-up.

      That said, Tom U may testify, clubs want “name players,” so Fonzi might fit the Nats desire to compete, despite their prospects still on a roster of 25-man, hustling for more play-time.

      • Tom U

        Straight up, homes!

    • Zonk

      I can’t see it.  I assume the Nats have access to pitchFX data and and probably many more resources that will tell you that Soriano isn’t very good right now.  He is below replacement level.  Were stuck with him.

      We can’t help the Nats unless we are willing to trade LaHair AND he can play OF, two big what-ifs

  • John_CC

    A nice, down to earth reminder that baseball is just a game, and that Ryan Dempster is one helluva good man.

    • Dorasaga

      Dempster: “There are stretches where we’re taking it too seriously. But we’re not
      curing cancer out here. And no matter what we do, kids are still going
      to be born with 22q [DiGeorge syndrome]. So let’s go out and have some fun, let’s play, and
      let’s keep things in perspective.”

      Thanks for sharing. I think that summarizes well that he knows where he’s at right now. I’m hoping that he sees no matter how well he pitches for this season, his career is near an end, and he needs to retire soon…

      • Zonk

        Dempster hasn’t always pitched great, but I always felt he gave the team whatever he could, and was the best player/teammate he could be.  He works out hard, shows up in great shape, takes the ball every day, and has a good attitude.  That’s what you want.  And actually, he’s been worth his contract.

        • Dorasaga

          I agree on what a fine character is Ol’Demp, and what he had done. But not what he WILL DO.

          What we want is a team that is built to win. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but in a long run, and such is the nature of the game.

          Dempster, as good as he can be, is not an ace, never was potentially, and never will. He could be serviceable but how has he be different from Jon Garland, past 32 years old, injuries and lost of effectiveness? Ol’Demp (35) is 2 years and four months older than Garland, too. Not promising into 2013…

          The Cubs brought in Byrd and kept Koyie Hill as their good clubhouse guys. They scapegoated Sammy Sosa, then Zambrano, as “bad guys” while the team failed as a whole. I don’t see how one or two more Dempster-s can help this team if the management don’t stick to their plan to rebuild.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Carlos Marmol, closer extraordinaire.

    Since the July 1, 2011….

    53 appearances. 
    5.67 ERA
    46.1 IP
    43 BB
    60 K
    32 H
    2.00 WHIP


    • Zonk

      Yeah, he isn’t too good….

      I was at the game last night, behind home plate, and we watched as Freeman and Prado were not swinging at any offering.  Bat would immediately go limp as soon as the pitch was thrown.  And why should they swing? 

      Sad.  I know he got out of it, but I think that’s another bad contract.

  • daverj

    Wow … I haven’t check CCO in a few days and my how the mood has changed.  A couple weeks ago I thought folks were getting too upset about the Cubs’ start and now I feel the opposite way.  The team has been playing over its head the last 10 days and the hot streak will wear off.  There are going to be many ups and downs as Theo and Co. rebuild this team over the next few years.  I like what I’m seeing.  Let’s enjoy, but not get too low over the valleys or too high over the peaks …. until the team is truly good enough to contend for a title!

    • paulcatanese

      Kind of amazing isn’t it? But I realize what you are saying, I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket, but hoping to fill the basket by the end of the year.
      Either way, the streak they are on right now is a lot more entertaining than last year, and the energy is fantastic with these guys. Win or lose, if they put the same effort out daily an enjoyable season is at hand.

  • Christian2334

    I’m want to make more of a effort to post more bc I’m always reading the site, I just can’t always find the time. But my thoughts before the season began for shark was that he was going to have starts where he would struggle, but needed to grow and learn. But so far this season he has been lights out with the exception of his 2 starts against the marlins and 1 of his 2 against he cards. I never really envisioned him as a reliever or closer. He was typically always a starter in college, but I feel was misused in the minors by flip flopping him from starter to reliever. Now with consistent work on delivering the ball in all of his arm slots on a consistent basis he’s been able to focus on getting guys out, and not just overpowering them with his fastball. He’s learned to be able to throw his fastball at 98 or take a little off and paint the corners at 93-95. Maybe Aaron can account for this, but I feel with shark, just like dempster, when you rely on certain pitches to get guys out deep in counts or sometimes have trouble with walks, reliever or closer is not the job for you. Now I’m not saying we should convert marmol

    • Aaron

      I have been beating the drum regarding transitioning relievers struggling with command issues for a very long time, provided they have good stuff to begin with. From Dempster to Cruz to Samardzija and even Marmol I have been saying the same thing.

      You simply cannot afford to have relievers walking 2-3 guys in an outing but you can as a starter.

      Marmol came up as a starter. He wasn’t given an extended look there in MLB, but if you look at peripherals, he was suited far better there than the pen. The sole reason he was moved easy necessity. His stats in the minors as a starter would instantly make him the organization’s top pitching prospect at present time. The Cubs also liked his 96-98mph heat and the slider he developed later out of the pen. As a starter, his velocity dipped to 92-94mph, so you can certainly see where they were coming from….still doesn’t mean it was in the best long-term interests of the team, however….they did it because of need.

      I hope they try him again in the rotation before giving up on him or trading him for next to nothing. They would be proved in more than one way because they could bring up a true reliever like Batista or Rhoderick and send down the disappointing Volstad.

      At 20-30 pitches per outing, Marmol is fairly stretched out anyhow and would likely only need a false injury/rehab assignment or sides in the pen to get the pitch count up. Fact is, most on here feel even Wood would benefit from a return to the rotation iincluding himself…if not for his arm injuries.

      I don’t know about everyone else but a rotation of Garza, Dempster, Samardzija, Maholm and Marmol would be pretty exciting. The Cubs only need to look at Dempster to see it can work for the best. The thing Wood, Dempster and Marmol have in common is they’re all strikeout pitchers who failed in the closers role due to walks and high pitch counts. They all have starting experience as well and they all experienced some degree of success in relief too….remember, it was actually Dempster that requested another shot at the rotation so this idea would likely have to me initiated by Marmol himself

      • Texcubnut

        Interesting idea with Marmol but if they send Volstad down I would prefer to see Maine called up over Batista or Rhoderick. We need another lefty option.

        • Dorasaga

          Certainly interesting. Many would have despised such creative ideas, which really are based on past record and logical analysis, due to  fear of a failed result.

          The Yankees moved Joba from the pen to the rotation, and he hurt himself bad. I don’t think it’s the wrong move. He would have hurt himself anyway if he’s kept in the pen. Might as well try something else.

      • Richard Hood

        The problem with the whole Marmol as a starter idea is that he only has 2 pitches and only one of them (slider) can be considered plus. He never seems to put the work in to get better. His weight last year was horrible. He seemed to have lost some of it this year but is still a long way from in shape. I just don’t think he is committed as say Dempster was at being a starter. And in no way willing to put the amount of work that Shark did this offseason. 

  • Christian2334

    Sorry, accidentally hit post…..

    But typically when you use to be a starter your use to giving up walks or errors and working out of jams. That’s a big reason why I was thrilled they left shark in the 7th bc he got into a jam and was able to work himself out of it! Albeit his D helped him big time, but something like that, having Lahair and starlin turn a double play continues to boosts sharks confidence and also eagerness to go out and perform next start!

    Anyway, I am making a commitment to posting more! I’ve been a long time reader for at least the last 3 years and always love this site and reading Aaron’s, Tony’s, Paul’s, TomU, of corse Neil, and everyone else’s thoughts and opinions and shared love for our cubs! Thank you Neil for putting together such a great site and all your hard work!

    • Tom U

      Welcome aboard!

      • Christian2334

        Thanks Tom! Love reading all your posts! As much as I love the Cubs, I’m a avid minor league guy too, especially the draft.

  • John G

    I just read where Big Z had a good game last night. He apparently attributes his “turn around” to a “life changing religious experience” he had during the offseason in Venezuela. I had one of those back when I was a kid. I think I was a senior in high school. Her name was ….Ahh Nevermind.

    • Cloycub13

      Z has some sort of apiphany every offseason, it was really getting nauseating. He worked out, he lost weight, he smiled more, he ran on the beach like Rocky, he found god or allah or whatever, his kids said he was being a doof… Carlos is what Carlos is and I am glad he is a Marlin and no longer a Cub.

      • Cloycub13

        Meant Epiphany

      • John G

        Agreed. Can’t wait to see how he blows up this year. He’ll probably go into a funk when Hugo Chavez finally dies from the Cancer.

        • Texcubnut

          I wish him success and hope he has a good year although I’m also glad he is no longer with the Cubs. If he has a good year, it will be interesting to see who will overpay and give him a (gulp) 3/4 year contract. At least this time, it won’t be the Cubs.

    • John_CC

       CG shutout as a matter of fact.  Dropped his ERA below 2.00!  Bell blew 3 of his starts, he could be 5-0 right now.

      Just wait. He’ll pick a month, forget all the self-help stuff and go on disastrous run of getting shelled every time out.  He’s done every season for the last three at least. 

      I’m with Cloy, glad he’s a Marlin.

  • Marvin Ferguson

    When pitchers on both teams start deliberately hitting batters in a game of war it’s not very professional. Any professional league player who demonstrates that kind of behavior on the field should be kicked off the team.

    • Richard Hood

       I do not agree. It is the way the game polices itself. You go after one of mine I will hit one of yours….
      You go after a fielder spikes up expect some chin music. You show up the pitcher (um Harper anyone) and expect some come back.

       The only problem with it is that guys seem so thin skinned about it now days. It is a long season get him next time. Do an Albert Belle and scream at the pitcher as you cross 3rd heading home on your home run trot.