First off, tonight has the potential to be the most exciting Game 7 in baseball history. There’s 176 total years of World Series drought between the two teams. The Cubs and Indians are both desperate for a title and with the Cubs swinging hot sticks and the Indians big guns in the bullpen pretty well rested, it could be an absolutely electric game.
Which brings me to this: What was Joe Maddon doing last night when he put Chapman in the game, in the seventh inning, with two outs, in a five run game? It was the question that most baseball fans were asking last night. Maddon’s defense was that it was the middle of the lineup coming up for the Indians and “that could have been the game.” But it wasn’t. It was a five run game, not even a save situation.
The Cubs bullpen isn’t bad. It’s not like they’ve gotten rocked this series and Chapman is the only guy throwing well. However, it’s definitely reasonable to say that Chapman is the best reliever the Cubs have. Because of that, one can argue that if the game gets in an uncomfortable position, you’d want your best guy pitching. When Lindor stepped to the plate in the 7th, you could tell that things were starting to get a little tense and that this was a big at bat, so while I personally do not agree with bringing Chapman in there, I would listen to that argument if the thought was for Chapman to just get the last out of the 7th.
The 8th is a different story though. After he got out of the 7th, the air had kind of been taken out of the Indians tires. It was still a five run game and Chapman was scheduled to pitch against Napoli, who hasn’t hit well this series, Ramirez, who has hit well this series and then likely a pinch hitter for Lonnie Chisenhall, who hasn’t done much this series either. Why? Why is Chapman out there? Again, you have a decent bullpen. It’s a five run game. It’s looking that you’re going to have a game seven where you will probably need Chapman. If your bullpen can’t hold a five run lead then you don’t deserve to win anyways. But alas, Chapman was out there.
Chapman got out of the 7th throwing two pitches. Cut your losses, Joe. Just put one of the other 6 relievers you have in the game and save Chapman for Game 7! But he didn’t. So then we go to the 9th where the Cubs tacked on two more runs on a fucking piss shot from Rizzo to extend the lead to seven. There’s no way Chapman would come out for the 9th right? Wrong. Maddon sends him out there again, with a seven run lead, in the bottom of the ninth.
After Chapman walked the first runner, he was finally pulled from the game for Pedro Strop. A lot of people love Maddon and think he’s a great baseball mind. Me personally? I don’t love him. Some things he does are good, but he tries to do too much some times and it bites him. This could very well come back to bite him.
I know they have Lester and potentially Lackey tonight out of the pen tonight, but Chapman is their best guy and you need to give your best guy the best chance to pitch his best in literally the most important game of the season, and quite honestly the most important game in franchise history. Putting Chapman in for twenty pitches yesterday in that situation doesn’t do that, end of story.
If Chapman comes in tonight and is not effective, he will not say he was fatigued, but if he’s not effective we all know why. If Chapman comes in and loses the game, yesterday’s decision to go with Chapman for twenty pitches in a five and seven run game could go down as one of the worst managerial moves in baseball history. However, if there’s one guy that can do what Chapman will probably be asked to do, it’s Andrew Miller. And Aroldis Chapman.
Other notes from last night and tonight:
- Bryant and Rizzo are red hot and them swinging good bats against Kluber is going to be a hell of an entertaining match-up
- Could Andrew Miller go more than 3 innings? I think that’s a possibility and if the Indians get an early lead and Kluber isn’t as razor sharp as he has been, we could see Miller as early as the 3rd or 4th.
- Say what you will about LeBron, but I thought it was actually pretty cool that he showed up at the game after his game next door
- Naquin isn’t in the lineup tonight after he and Chisenhall looked like little leaguers yesterday
- “One thing’s for sure, there will be a champion” – Mike Napoli (he actually said this)
Let’s hope for a great game and let’s fucking go!