Cubs 6, Braves 2

Sean Newcomb was Sean Newcomb. As a big leaguer these past couple of months, he’s been the same pitcher he was in the minors after the Braves acquired him. He can look so sharp– but also so very frustrating. Uncle Joe Simpson said in the pregame that one of the keys to success for Newk is to be efficient. Well, no ****. He’s one of the least efficient pitchers you’ll see, and last night was no exception.

He threw 101 pitches in his five innings of work. But his problem, at least last night, was not a failure to throw strikes. 71 of his pitches were strikes. He struck out 7 in his 5 innings of work. Seven of the 8 hits he gave up came with two strikes. Well, that’s at least 14 batters with a two strike count, and there may have been more (I haven’t checked). Newk is so very frustrating because he isn’t putting batters away, even with two strikes, and he can’t seem to put a team away in an inning when he has the chance. Several of the two-strike hits were bloopers and grounders that found a hole. The Cubs did not hit very many shots off Newk. He did walk 3, including one with the bases loaded. That was a very frustrating run (it counts as “unearned” because Jace booted a grounder with two outs to extend an inning). To be fair to Sean, C.B. Bucknor called a very tight strike zone. Even Kyle Hendrikcs, who never walks anybody, walked 3 in his 6 2/3.

It doesn’t help my emotional reaction to Newk that we traded a generational talent to acquire him. And Simba, as you know, is having a career year at the plate. And I assume you also heard that for the rest of this year, Andrelton and Brandon Phillips will be the keystone combination for the Angels. Good for Brandon. I hope the Angels make the playoffs and go far when they do. Not so much for the ex-Braves they now have (includes also J-Up, which I assume you also heard). I just want to see Mike Trout in the playoffs.

After Newcomb left the game, Motte gave up a two run homer to Kris Bryant, and Wisler gave up a run to keep the game just enough out of reach. Bryant’s homer was right into a 25 mile an hour wind, and it still almost left the stadium. He’s really good.

Offensively, the Braves couldn’t do much with Hendricks. Albies had 2 hits, a walk, and an RBI. Love this kid more every day. Nick Markakis had two hits, but then, as Joe always reminds us, he is a professional hitter (I guess as opposed to all the amateurs on the team). And Lane (“Wayne”) Adams had a pinch hit homer. According to Chip (again, I didn’t check) that was the ninth pinch hit homer for the Braves this season, one short of the team record of 10, set in 2010. (Now that was a fun year— tons of walkoff wins in Bobby’s last year–the bench included Folk Hero Brooks Conrad and Eric Hinske, who is now a hitting coach with the Cubs.) It’s hard to imagine that this team, whose bats off the bench in April and May were Bonifacio and D’Arnaud, could have such a strong bench now.

Day game at Wrigley today. Folty on the mound against his home town team.

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40 thoughts on “Cubs 6, Braves 2”

  1. Don’t apologize for your comments about Newk — he was a 7th inning setup man project when we traded Simba for him, and barring a massive turnaround, that’s all he’ll ever be. What makes that deal (and the Kimbrel giveaway) so hard to take is that the maker of both trades is the guy we’re trusting to be the architect of the rebuild and make more trades. Andrelton was a pleasure to watch, and we will always miss him.

  2. Newcombe is a decent change up away from being a #3 pitcher. Patience.

    thanks tfloyd. It has been a long season. I can attest to that.

    Good luck to Dat Dude. Have fun in the postseason and do great things.

  3. I’m not ready to give up on Newk as a starter. His fastball is very fast. His curve is top notch–although he does hang a few too many. Cliff is right that a decent change would make him a quite effective ML SP. He needs that to be able to put hitters away–and thereby go deeper into games. He may not develop it, but they might as well give him another season or so to see if it clicks.

  4. Andrelton Simmons’ career year at the plate is basically identical to Nick Markakis’ “this guy sucks and we must dump him at all costs” year.

  5. Newk has an ERA+ of 99 through his first 15 games. League average. That may not be sexy, but it’s useful, and not too bad for a rookie.

  6. I didn’t comment on the defense. I pointed out that the “career year” offense was being oversold by factors.

  7. Newcomb has done an ok job as a rookie and there is always a learning curve. However, he’s basically averaged 5BB/9 at every level. 4.68FIP 4.72xFIP this season, is that league average? I don’t know why I would expect him to learn to throw strikes at this level when he’s always struggled in the minors. He’s got a live arm and it will be interesting to see if he can develop.

    Long term, I’d rather watch him over Folty pitch.

  8. Newcombe has an ERA+ of 99 as a 24 year old rookie. As a 24 year old, in his third full season in the bigs, John Smoltz had a ERA+ of 103. Which is not to say Newcomb will become John Smoltz, merely to point out that very few players take the Mike Trout “I’m already better than the league” trajectory.

  9. So Ruiz, Fried, Brothers, Krol, Jackson, and new catcher Sanchez added to roster. Micah Johnson DFA’ed.

    I think part of the 40-man crunch will easily work itself out that if Ian Krol and Rex Brothers can’t pitch baseballs good, one or both will be gone at the end of the season.

    So the 40-man’ers that aren’t on the active roster are Biddle, Blair, MoCab, Hursh, Lindgren (injured), Morris, Rivero (injured), Adonis (rehabbing), and Santana (“injured”).

    I’m confused why Morris is not on the roster, disappointed that Biddle hasn’t made his way up, happy that MoCab is getting some time off, and I wonder if Blair will find his way on the roster before the end of the year as a reliever. I mean, are they going to go into the offseason with a failed SP with no RP experience at the age of 25 on the 40-man? Someone will definitely pick him up and stick him in their pen.

    And of course, none of this matters because it’s a bunch of filler we’re hoping turns into Jonny Venters.

  10. @6 Adjusting for league/home park, Simba’s 2017 batting line is 11% better than average (career high for him) while Cakes’ bat has been exactly average. So no, they are not basically identical.

    Andrelton Simmons is not Carlos Correa, but he doesn’t have to hit very much in order to be an incredibly valuable asset. He’s on pace for roughly 6 wins above replacement for this season. Nick Markakis, on the other hand, will finish his first 3 years with the Braves with roughly 3 WAR *total*. For the record, Cakes hasn’t hit better than 10% above league average since 2012.

  11. True that, Smits.

    Andrelton Simmons is significantly better than Nick Markakis, regardless of their triple slash. Sam, c’mon man.

  12. A good defensive SS who hits the same as a bad defensive OF is better, yes. I just tire of the never ending idol worship where people act like Simmons is an MVP candidate or something.

  13. He would leading our team in fWAR by a long shot, and he’d still be leading Freddie if Freddie didn’t get injured. If we think Freeman is remotely close to a MVP candidate, then Simmons is up there. He would be extremely helpful right now. He’s 12th in position players in fWAR. He’s a really, really good player this season.

    I have been wrong wayyyyyy more times than I could ever count on baseball, and I’m diligently working to understand the sport more, but I’ve never been more pissed about a trade:

    #43: Martin Prado (by bledsoe)

    With that said, I’m glad I haven’t seen Newcomb’s last 3 starts. He is excruciating to watch, but from the previously mentioned ERA+, FIP, and fWAR perspective, he’s been about right. I agree with cliff that if he can locate a third pitch, he’ll be really good. But he has to become Jon Lester for this trade to even out, and that ain’t happening… probably.

  14. By the way, what’s potentially more concerning is 108’s comment in that thread, which the future events continued to point to it, that they’ve been scrubbing the walls of anything Wren. If they traded Andrelton because he was connected to Wren, then I can see why that Rosenthal article was written.

  15. Based on the way the events happened since, it seems like extending the young players was a move on Hart’s part meant to slow the regression of young, cost-controlled talent by Wren. Because when they decided to rebuild, the first to go was young, cost-controlled talent (for the most part), and they then used that money (and talent) to collect even younger, more cost-controlled talent, especially in the international market. The extensions seemed to have been a JS move, in the end, especially when you consider they did the same deals with McCann and somebody else. The trading of Andrelton and others seemed to have been a shift in approach from what was happening during the Wren era. But yes, I think you’re right that it wasn’t so much a “middle finger” to Wren like that comment suggests and I was concerned.

  16. What an awful top of the first with Ender on second, gifted.

    What was Ozzie trying to do hitting everything into the LF corner. Isn’t he getting signals from Wash on every pitch?
    Freddy, in this instance, looked overmatched.
    Kemp continued over from last night swinging and missing at each and every fastball. No doubt this will continue all afternoon.

  17. 7th…

    Nice gesture from Jason to Ozzie on second base. The way we’ve been hitting today it was, needless to say, Jason who was actually on the base.

  18. John Hart was brought on as a consultant specifically because Frank Wren’s actual relationships with the players was so bad that he couldn’t even get them to the table to talk extensions. Hart extended core talent, including Julio and Andrelton and Freeman. This was prior to the admission that the team was so deep in the red with regard to talent generation from the farm that they had to tear it down more or less entirely.

    The Braves traded Andrelton for Newcomb, more or less, because they thought the odds of Newk turning into a true ace level starter for the franchise later was greater than the odds of Simba hitting enough to make his defense worth carrying at that cost. Now, you can run around and complain that they drastically undervalued dWAR and that Simmons was far more valuable and that Newcomb was always a bad lotto ticket bet, yadda yadda yadda, til the cows come home. That basically boils down to “I don’t agree with their evaluation process.” Which, you know, whatever, but fine.

    What you can’t do, outside of paranoia and stupidity, is claim that they knowingly traded away the more valuable asset just because they were childishly throwing away all of mean old Frank Wren’s toys. There is zero evidence for that, and no rational reason to suppose it might be true. Disagreement with management’s strategy and valuations is perfectly fair game, but this “they traded him because he was tainted by Wren!!” bullshit is the highest level of utter stupidity.

  19. I’m not even sure that the Simmons-Newcomb trade was a bad one for the Braves. It may take several years before we know whether Newcomb develops into a top level starter, and whether Simba’s defense regresses very much as he enters his late 20’s/early 30’s and whether he hits more like the last couple of years than he’s hit this year.

    My problem is personal–Simmons is an absolute joy to watch in the field every day, and I miss that.

  20. @30 – that’s a perfectly valid POV too. I have no problem understanding “I loved watching beautiful baseball being played.” The only thing I’m countering here is the notion that the current management willfully undermined the talent level of the club, now and into the future, out of spite for a general manager they had already fired.

  21. I don’t know their motives for trading Simmons, but I’m going to bet part of it is they didn’t like his attitude. I could be wrong, but that’s the vibe I’ve always gotten.

  22. In a game where, somehow, our motley band of pitchers struggled successfully to hold the mighty Cubs offense to 2 runs thus ensuring that each innings that followed presented a realistic opportunity to catch up, our two veteran hitters hitting third and fourth were abysmal. 0 for 8 today, 0 for 7 yesterday.

    Meanwhile Rio buries one in the ivy and later even Ozzie works a tough lead off walk out of Davis in the ninth. Tying run to the plate. Three shots at it. For all the good it did.

    Rio Ruiz
    to achieve such alliterative ease
    we must thank his decedents
    who did most certainly brook no phonetic impedance.

  23. And no Acuna we are now told. 40 man problems ya know. There’s three or four of them for whom no tears would be shed, we just needed one. Pathetic. Tin ear.

  24. #33

    What attitude? Seitzer had to keep him from working too much in the cages. So he played with a little flair… that’s no big deal. He’s not out there like Javy Baez with his wave cap, necklaces, and Dig me! braids. He never showed up the opposition.

  25. What I remember about the morning after following the Simmons trade here was a post from Alex, middayish, where he very nearly ‘lost it’ and even stated he might have to reassess everything. You could look it up but it did exemplify the sadness/anger in the ranks.

  26. John Lackey
    the only thing missing was a jackey
    to take charge and complement his face
    apply the whip if he ever lost his pace.

  27. Yes it’s time to look at Folty to the pen. I wasn’t talking about today’s outing but his whole body of work. He hasn’t improved from last year and look at the numbers

    1st time through. 2.53 ERA. .231/.293/.337
    2nd time through 5.55 ERA. .297/.398/.511
    3rd time through 6.88 ERA. .303/.376/.504
    4th time through. 13.50 ERA. .333/.333/1.000

    He’s a reliever

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