The Cubs improved to 11 games over .500 with Thursday’s 7-2 victory over the Brewers. The Cubs are 16-5 after 21 games, the best start since 1907 (17-4). The Cubs have a run differential of plus-74, second largest in the last 75 years of the franchise.
Before the Cubs took the field in what was the finale of the two-game series with the Brewers, Theo Epstein talked to David Kaplan on ESPN 1000 about his team’s start to the season, the decision to call-up Tim Federowicz instead of Willson Contreras after placing Miguel Montero on the DL and the accusations made by ESPN about Jake Arrieta.
“I saw the clip of essentially an accusation on the ESPN morning show. I found it to be completely reckless. It’s someone who has never met Jake, as far as I know, has never been in our clubhouse. I don’t know if he’s ever watched him pitch. He would make that accusation without talking to anyone who knows Jake and anyone who understands his work ethic and changes that he’s made.”
“This is not someone who used to throw 88 mph and all of sudden is throwing 95 mph,” Epstein said. “Jake’s stuff is essentially exactly the same as it was when he was in Baltimore and struggling. He’s tweaked his delivery, added a lot of deception, added a lot of life and commands the baseball, which he couldn’t do previously. And then this TV personality started to question Jake’s endurance, which is directly tied to Jake’s workout regime, which is the most aggressive in baseball.”
“Jake works harder than anyone in baseball. That’s a fact, and anyone who’s around Jake understands that, so maybe he should come try to do Jake’s workout for a week before he questions his integrity or questions his livelihood, essentially. I just found it to be completely reckless and an unfortunate reflection of certain elements of the media age we live in where it’s more important to attract attention and attract ratings than it is to be intellectually honest. I thought it was ridiculous.”
Theo Epstein’s comments about Jake Arrieta were more than justified and well-timed. Unfortunately, players like Arrieta that are doing things the right way will continue to be questioned when players like Dee Gordon continue to get caught taking PEDs to further their careers.
Jake Arrieta did his job Thursday and put his team in position to win a game on day he struggled with his command and obviously did not have his best stuff. Arrieta labored through a 31-pitch first inning and gave up one run on three hits with four walks and six strikeouts in five innings … a good day for most pitchers, just not what has become expected of Jake Arrieta.
Arrieta pitched on two extra days rest, which got him out of his routine and might have led to him loading the bases in the first inning on a broken bat, bloop single and two walks. Arrieta got out of the first inning jam with back-to-back strikeouts.
Arrieta’s shot at Johnny Vander Meer’s record ended on the first batter of the game with the Jonathan Villar bloop single. Arrieta also saw two other impressive streaks come to an end Thursday.
Arrieta allowed an earned run during a regular season game at Wrigley Field for the first time since July 25, 2015, a span of 52 2/3 innings, the longest scoreless innings streak in the history of Wrigley Field. Arrieta finished with the second longest home scoreless streak in the Modern Era (since 1900). The White Sox’s Ray Herbert did not allow a run at Comiskey Park for 54 innings in 1962-63.
Arrieta set the Major League record with six straight home starts without allowing a run.
Arrieta’s quality start streak was snapped Thursday. Arrieta was lifted in the fifth inning and did not complete the six needed for a quality start. Arrieta’s quality start streak ended at 24, two shy of Bob Gibson’s modern day record (26) that was set in 1967-68 and one behind the White Sox’s Eddie Cicotte. As Christopher Kamka pointed out, Thursday was the first time Arrieta did not record a quality start since the day Kyle Schwarber made his Major League debut (June 16, 2015).
With Thursday’s win, Arrieta improved to 5-0 on the second and tied Rick Sutcliffe’s record of 16 straight victories. Arrieta is the first Cubs’ starter to win his first five starts of a season since Greg Maddux in 2006. The Cubs have won Arrieta’s last 18 regular season starts, a franchise record.
Joe Maddon explained why he pulled Arrieta after five innings Thursday.
“Under the circumstances, I thought that was plenty for him. I saw 92 pitches. I saw Jake Arrieta. I saw the Cubs trying to win a World Series. I saw the next five years of his career. I know his kids really well. All that stuff mattered much more than breaking [Bob] Gibson’s record right there.”
And Arrieta was fine with the decision. Arrieta said after the game, “Our most important ballgames are still ahead of us. In this position last year I might have been frustrated with that decision but it was 92 pitches after five. I really had to work through that outing.”
The Cubs won the game and Maddon made the right call to shorten him up. While many wanted to see Arrieta make history again, once the Cubs had the game in hand, the broken bat bloop single by the Brewers’ leadoff man made Maddon’s decision very easy Thursday.
Kris Bryant left Thursday’s game before the fifth inning after he rolled his ankle running the bases in the fifth inning. Bryant was diagnosed with a mild ankle sprain and will be reevaluated on Friday. Bryant’s status for the weekend series against the Braves is unknown.
The Cubs will provide updates on Bryant at some point Friday morning.
- Report from CCO
- Report from Sun-Times
- Report from Tribune
- Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Report from ESPN Chicago
The Cubs placed Miguel Montero on the 15-day DL with lower back tightness prior to Thursday’s game with the Brewers. The Cubs backdated the trip to the DL to April 25. Montero is eligible to return on May 10.
Montero said he first felt the discomfort in his back during the weekend series in Cincinnati. Montero could not get loose Tuesday and was scratched from the lineup. Montero and the Cubs decided it was best for him to be placed on the DL.
Montero does not know what triggered his injury according to Comcast SportsNet. Montero added he had a similar injury in 2013 and “missed almost a month while recovering from a lower back strain.” Montero had an MRI and was waiting for the results as of Thursday. Patrick Mooney reported Montero could have “a couple of bulging discs in his back.”
With David Ross the only active catcher, the Cubs had to bring up a catcher to split time with Ross for several reasons. Ross is a backup and at 39 years old, he cannot play every day. Ross will likely catch Jake Arrieta along with Jon Lester which could mean Tim Federowicz catches the other three days until Montero returns.
The Cubs fielded a lot of questions as to why Tim Federowicz was called up Thursday instead of Willson Contreras. The bottom line is the Cubs feel Contreras needs more developmental time.
During an interview on ESPN 1000, Theo Epstein said Contreras is talented enough for the big leagues right now. He’s just not ready yet. Epstein added Contreras is going to be a special player and the decision to have him continue his development is the best long term move for the player and the organization.
Contreras is off to an excellent start at Triple-A Iowa, offensively and defensively. Contreras tweeted that he will “keep playing and working hard.” Contreras went 0-for-1 with four walks, two runs scored and drove in a run in Iowa’s 10-5 win on Thursday night. For the season, Contreras is batting .368/.448/.439 with four doubles and a .886 OPS.
Contreras told the Des Moines Register that he was not surprised by the Cubs decision and understood why he was not called up. Contreras said, “I’m not disappointed at all. I know that I’m going to be there soon. Once I get there, I don’t know when I’ll be back.”
Willson Contreras will continue catching a majority of the time with the Iowa Cubs. According to the Des Moines Register, Taylor Davis was sent from Double-A Tennessee to Triple-A to be Iowa’s second catcher.
The Cubs selected the contract of catcher Tim Federowicz from Triple-A Iowa. Federowicz was added to the 40-man and active roster. With Federowicz, the Cubs’ 40-man stands at 40 players.
Theo Epstein addressed the decision to call-up Federowicz instead of Willson Contreras.
The Cubs signed Federowicz specifically for a situation like the team is now in. The Cubs needed a defensive orientated veteran catcher that could handle a big league staff. The Cubs lacked options behind Miguel Montero and David Ross even before Kyle Schwarber was lost for the season.
The front office and coaching staff is comfortable with Federowicz splitting the catching duties with David Ross while Montero is on the disabled list. Federowicz spent the entire spring with the Cubs learning the pitching staff.
Tim Federowicz is wearing No. 15 with the Cubs … and he tweeted after Thursday’s game, “So humbled and honored to be a part of such an exciting team and storied franchise. Can’t wait for what’s to come. #GoCubsGo.”
Federowicz will likely make his first start Saturday with John Lackey on the hill.
Thursday’s Post-Game Reports
The Cubs improved to a Major League best 16-5 record with Thursday’s 7-2 victory over the Brewers. Here are the post-game reports and a recap for those that missed it.
- CCO Recap – Free Passes Lead to W for Cubs
- ESPN Chicago – Cubs take advantage of free passes as Jake Arrieta wins again
- ESPN Chicago – Joe Maddon, Jake Arrieta keep long term goals in mind
- Comcast SportsNet – Not Another No-Hitter, But Cubs Get Jake Arrieta Ready for Bigger and Better Things
- USA Today – Jake Arrieta’s scoreless streak at Wrigley end in Cubs rout
- The Sun-Times – Arrieta’s Superman act takes day off, but Cubs ace still win
- The Tribune – Jake Arrieta extends winning streak but pulled early to preserve strength
Cubs-Pirates Probable Pitchers
The Pirates shifted their rotation in the wake of Thursday’s rainout and changed the matchups for the Cubs series. Unless the weather causes the two teams to make further changes, here are the probable starters for the three-game series at PNC Park that begins Monday.
- Monday, May 2 (6:05pm CDT) – Kyle Hendricks vs. Gerrit Cole
- Tuesday, May 3 (6:05pm CDT) – Jake Arrieta vs. Jon Niese
- Wednesday, May 4 (11:35am CDT) – Jon Lester vs. Juan Nicasio
News and Notes
• Kris Bryant and Joe Maddon received their 2015 Esurance MLB Awards on Thursday.
• On the day the Cubs worked 11 walks, 13 total free passes, the Triple-A Iowa Cubs walked 10 times at Principal Park in 10-5 win over Colorado Springs.
• Ken Rosenthal reported put the coronation of the Cubs on hold a minute.
• Major League Baseball announced Thursday Dave Winfield and Trevor Hoffman were selected as official spokespeople of the All-Star Game.
• According to Jeff Passan, the Braves are “desperately trying to buy tradeable draft picks by offering to take on bad contracts if teams includes picks as well.”
• Buster Olney reported MLB might not have time before the draft to hand out a punishment to the Cardinals for hacking the Astros. Major League Baseball cannot allow the Cardinals to make a single selection in June’s Draft before the organization is punished severely for the laws that were broken. The Astros should be compensated and MLB should make an example of the Cardinals.
And last, but not least, former Cubs’ right-hander Dan Haren pays attention to how his teammates are playing. Haren tweeted Thursday, “Jake Arrieta, saw you gave up a run, hang in there. Thinking of you.”
This Day in Cubstory
2012 – Cubs released Edgar Gonzalez
2005 – Greg Maddux beat Roger Clemens in a match-up of 300-game winners. The Cubs topped the Astros 3-2 at Minute Maid Park. It was the first time a pair of 300-game winners faced one another since 1987 when the Angels’ Don Sutton beat the Twins’ Steve Carlton.
2005 – Cubs signed free agent Phil Norton
2004 – Cubs traded Felix Sanchez to the Tigers for Jon Connolly and a PTBNL. Cubs acquired Eric Eckenstahler from the Tigers on Aug. 13, 2004 to complete the trade.
1991 – Jacob Hannemann, born
1987 – Andre Dawson hit for the cycle in an 8-4 win over the Giants at Wrigley Field. Dawson collected five hits and completed the cycle with a triple in the sixth inning.
1984 – Billy Petrick, born
1983 – Manager Lee Elia launched into an obscenity-laced tirade following a 7-2 loss to the Dodgers at Wrigley Field. Elia voiced his frustration with Cubs fans and stated that 85 percent of the world works while the other 15 percent show up to Wrigley Field. Click Here for Lee Elia’s infamous rant, note contains adult language.
1979 – Trailing 5-0 with two out and two on in the ninth, the Cubs beat the Braves 6-5 in Atlanta. Bobby Murcer capped the scoring for the Cubs with a three-run homer.
1935 – Cubs scored 10 runs in the eighth inning to beat the Pirates 12-11 in Pittsburgh. Kiki Cuyler collected two hits in the eighth, including the game winner. Phil Cavarretta drove in four runs with a double and a home run.
1933 – Cubs selected Taylor Douhit off waivers from the Reds
1924 – Freddy Rodriguez, born
1913 – The Reds played a game at West Side Grounds against the Cubs in White Sox uniforms. The Reds’ trainer left the team’s uniforms in St. Louis. The Cubs beat the Reds 7-2.
1898 – Frank Chance made his debut for the Chicago National League Ball Club in a 16-2 win over Louisville at West Side Grounds.
1856 – Frank Hankinson, born