Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Game and Series Recap: Cubs 2, Marlins 3 (1 games to 2) -- Funk dat.

Game Recap
This one's gonna be short, because I enjoy writing about embarrassing Cub performances about as much as you like reading about them.

Which is to say, not very much at all.

This weekend would have been a lot more fun if our bullpen could have gotten outs every time they took the mound. On Friday, Marmol stunk it up. On Saturday, Samardzija and Gregg coughed up leads. On Sunday, Gregg was at it again.

Before we all start hooting and hollering about who the Cubs closer should be, I just want to point out two things.

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1) Kevin Gregg's June/July numbers.

His April was pretty shitty, and his May was pretty meh-diocre. But let's look at the groove Gregg had been in before this past weekend.

In 27 innings pitched between June and July, Gregg had allowed just 17 hits, 8 walks, and collected 25 strikeouts. With only seven earned runs allowed, that gave him a 2.33 ERA for the J months.

Clearly, he's a capable reliever. And he's gotten a ton of saves already. So what gives with the last two outings?

Saturday is hard to account for. Two outs, two strikes--you gotta close that out, man. Maybe pitching in Florida made him nervous; maybe the opposing staff knew what he was going to throw (did we have that advantage against Wood?); maybe he's an idiot.

But Sunday was a little more surprising.

2) Kevin Gregg threw 38 pitches on Saturday.

We love Lou Piniella. We've given him various amounts of grief throughout his Cubs tenure, depending on the latest performance of our team. We may or may not have had an "axe Lou" series earlier this season, but we realize that, for the most part, he's better than the rest.

At the same time, there's one thing Lou has never been good at, and that's managing a bullpen. Bob Howry and Carlos Marmol are two quick examples of Lou inexplicably overworking arms, often to the detriment of the team.

Does Lou take the blame for Sunday's crap outing from Kevin Gregg? I'd be willing to pin a sliver of it on him. In my recap from the previous game, I mentioned that I expected to see Jeff Stevens and Sean Marshall used in today's game, since everyone else had been worked pretty hard the night before. Of course, Lou didn't use either of those relievers, and stuck with his main 'pen rotation.

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Maybe I'm making crap excuses for a crap closer. But really, what else can we do? He's our guy. Hopefully, it's not close against the Reds, and we get another outstanding performance from a starter like we did in Sunday's game with Dempster.

If you don't buy my excuses with Gregg, please let me know. Regardless, I have a feeling he's still gonna be the closer this month. And I'd say I'm OK with that.

Go Cubs.

Current Record: 55-48
Position in the NL Central: 2nd place, .5 games behind St. Louis
Magic Number: 58 (thanks to cubsmagicnumber.com)
Best Possible Record: 114-48
Worst Possible Record: 55-107
Record needed to win 90: 35-24
On Pace For: 86-76

Regarding Gregg, these things

Regarding Gregg, these things happen. Since the disasters of the first week of April, Gregg has pitched in 7 tie games and 6 games with a one-run lead. He's come through 11 of those 13 times (he blew a one-run lead on June 23, and then again last night), or nearly 85 percent.

I think that's pretty good, especially considering that a team generally has about a 35-40 percent chance of scoring in any given inning. (I assume the chances are usually lower in the ninth, but I don't know how to find that out).

I'm totally with you, dude. I

I'm totally with you, dude. I also think Gregg's work on Saturday made Sunday's result even more likely, but what do I know about pitching?

I wish we had another option

But we don't. We're gonna live or die by this guy.

Probably die.

Looking Further

You can't even really say that Gregg's April was crap. What you can say was that his first week was crap. Through April 12, he had appeared in 4 of the Cubs' first 6 games, pitching a total of 3 innings. He gave up runs in three of the four appearances, with one save and one blown save. His ERA at that point was 12.00.

But his ERA for the rest of April was only 2.70, and his ERA from April 13 through July 30 was 2.78.

So basically, this season he's had one bad week, three-and-a-half months of reliable and consistent strong performance, and then a really really bad twenty-four hours.

Maybe he'll crap the bed for the rest of the season, but so far he's done an excellent job overall.

Nice splitting there. I'd

Nice splitting there. I'd even go one further, though--in the middle of that April/July timeframe, Gregg went completely nutso in Houston and gave up a billion runs on one night. So he's even better than that.

Nice work.

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