Showing posts with label Justin Grimm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Justin Grimm. Show all posts

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Indians push Cubs to the brink with dominant Game 4 win

Corey Kluber
First things first: Can we please stop with the narrative about Cubs pitcher John Lackey being great in the postseason?

Yes, Lackey has had some good playoff moments, such as this game, but he's also gotten his butt kicked in some playoff games, such as this one that is fondly remembered by all White Sox fans.

I keep hearing from both local and national media that Lackey is an awesome playoff pitcher, but frankly, at age 38, it looks like his best days are past. The right-hander has been nothing but mediocre for the Cubs in the postseason. He hasn't worked past the fifth inning in any of his three starts, and he's posted a pedestrian 4.85 ERA in only 13 innings.

Lackey was once again so-so Saturday night, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits over five innings in the Cubs' 7-2 loss to Cleveland in Game 4 of the World Series.

The Indians now enjoy a 3-1 series lead and have three chances to close out the Cubs. Game 5 is Sunday night at Wrigley Field.

Lackey was outpitched by Cleveland ace Corey Kluber, who allowed one run on five hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked one, while improving to 4-1 with 0.89 ERA in five postseason starts. Kluber pitched on three days' rest, and will be prepared to pitch again in Game 7 if the Cubs somehow extend this series that far.

Kluber left the mound after the sixth inning with a 4-1 lead, and the Tribe broke the game open moments later in the top of the seventh on a three-run homer by second baseman Jason Kipnis. Cleveland got Lackey out of there after five, then capitalized for four runs off Chicago middle relievers Mike Montgomery, Justin Grimm and Travis Wood.

The Cubs had somewhat of a moral victory in the eighth when Dexter Fowler homered off Andrew Miller, thus proving the Cleveland relief ace is mortal. Miller already has set a record for playoff strikeouts in a single season with 29, and that Fowler homer was the first run he has allowed in 17 postseason innings.

Having a 7-2 lead allowed the Indians to rest closer Cody Allen for a night. Dan Otero closed out the ninth inning with no difficulty.

We can't count the Cubs out of this yet, as they have the edge in the pitching matchup in Game 5. Ace Jon Lester is going for the North Siders, and he'll be opposed by the one Cleveland pitcher who has not been doing his job in these playoffs, right-hander Trevor Bauer.

We'll see if the season ends Sunday, or if there will be a Game 6 on Tuesday in Cleveland.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cubs trade Matt Garza for a package of ifs and maybes

We interrupt the ongoing Theo Epstein love fest in Chicago to point out none of the players the Cubs acquired in the Matt Garza trade have accomplished much of anything in professional baseball.

The long-rumored Garza deal finally went down Tuesday. The Cubs sent the veteran right-hander to Texas for Triple-A infielder Mike Olt, Class-A right-hander C.J. Edwards and right-hander Justin Grimm, plus either one or two players to be named later.

As most people are aware, I'm one of those evil people who prefers proven talent to prospects. Accordingly, I really like this deal for Texas. Garza has been pitching well this year. He was 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA at the time of the trade. Those are impressive numbers with a losing Cubs team playing behind him. I watched Garza pitch earlier in July against the White Sox, and he appears to have refined his changeup. He's always had a good fastball and good, hard breaking ball. Now that he's got another off-speed pitching working for him, he's especially tough to hit.

Garza's presence in the rotation makes the Rangers much more dangerous in a short playoff series. They can stack up Yu Darvish, Garza and Derek Holland now. Those are three pretty good arms.

But if you read the Chicago papers this morning, nobody is really talking about that. The tributes to the Cubs front office are flowing. "Theo" has done it again. He's fleeced another team and acquired a "haul" for a player who wasn't part of the Cubs' future plans anyway. I can agree that Garza wasn't part of the Cubs' future. They probably weren't going to sign him to an extension. But that's about as far as it goes for me.

I don't see how anyone can say whether this was a good or bad trade for the Cubs. We won't know for two or three years.

Olt, a 24-year-old third baseman, is ranked as the second-best prospect in the Texas system. However, he's having a tough year. He was hitting .213 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs in 65 games for Triple-A Round Rock. I assume the Cubs will convert Olt to a corner outfield spot. The team just used its first-round pick on third baseman Kris Bryant. The organization has high hopes that Bryant will advance to the big leagues quickly, so surely they don't plan to have a guy like Olt blocking his path. In the short run, Olt needs to report to Triple-A and try to find his swing.

Edwards, 21, was 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 93.1 innings for Class-A Hickory. Intriguing prospect? Sure. Close to making the majors? Nope. We'll reserve judgment.

Grimm, 24, made 17 starts for the Rangers this season, going 7-7 with a 6.37 ERA. His last start was July 12 against Detroit. During that outing, he gave up seven runs before leaving in the fourth inning with forearm soreness. I've seen Grimm pitch a few times, and he's basically fodder for the back of the starting rotation. I wouldn't think of him as a building block for the future.

So, I'm struggling to figure out why people are so in love with this trade from the Cubs' perspective. Over the last two summers, the Cubs have traded four big-league starting pitchers -- Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Scott Feldman and Garza. All they have to show for it is a bunch of promises for the future. Cubs' brass has consistently said, "We'll be contenders by 2015." Chicago media seem to have bought in hook, line and sinker. Well, who is going to be pitching for the Cubs in 2015? We know it won't be Garza.

If I'm a reporter covering the Cubs, the theme of my column today would be along the lines of "You guys better be right with this deal." Starting pitching is what wins in Major League Baseball. If you're going to trade a guy like Garza, you damn well better get "a haul" in return. In two years time, we'll know more about the outcome of this deal.