Fallout from the Cubs opening day blowout

L flag flying at Wrigley FieldYes, it’s just one game, and no it was not lost due to the horrendously blown call on the trap by Nate McClouth on Marlon Byrd. Today’s 2010 season opener against the Braves in Atlanta was a lousy game from top to bottom.

Cubs were twice doubled off base, committed 2 errors, pitchers walked 8 batters, and allowed led-footed veteran Chipper Jones easily steal a base off Jeff Samardzjia. Just plain ugly. But the real fallout does not lie in  notching a single game in the loss column.

With Cubs “ace” starter Carlos Zambrano pitching just 1 1/3 innings, Lou Piniella was forced to use nearly his entire bullpen in relief. Sean Marshall was very sharp, retiring all 8 batters he faced. But then out came Russell, Samardzjia, Berg and Grabow to eat up innings. James Russell was solid in his MLB debut, and Grabow was untouched. But Berg and Samardzjia got shelled, each walking 3 and giving 2 hits in a single inning. After Zambrano, four of the next five pitchers through about 30 pitches each. Cubs pitchers threw a ton of pitches, and half of the pitchers out there got rocked. So those guys are now pitching from a deficit, having to pitch perfect baseball each of their next several outings in order to regain some kind of respectable numbers. I think this is a heavy price to pay for one single loss.

Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzjia

Jeff Samardzjia

I don’t criticize Lou on his use of pitchers. But this is what you get when you have a lot of young pitchers in the bullpen. These guys need to get off to good starts to gain confidence, both in themselves and in their manager. So that’s a lot of pressure on young players. I mean, in a blow out, Lou could have brought in a veteran and told him he needs some innings just to avoid depleting his bullpen. This years Cub team does not have that veteran. So Lou has to parcel out the kids and try not to let anyone get batted around too much. I think this too can take a big toll on an unproven bullpen.

Bottom line is, this one loss doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the potential affect it could have on the pitching staff. This is where Lou Piniella and Larry Rothschild need to earn their keep. Maybe Greg Maddux too. They need to wrap their collective arms around these kids and help them get through the rough start. A loss is a loss, but loss of confidence can be much more damaging.

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    April 5, 2010  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,   Posted in: game day, game recap, game strategy, lineup, Lou Piniella, players, roster

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