Ferr or Foul: Maddon sends Cubs into hibernation
By Matt Ferris
On Tuesday, Oct. 2, the Chicago Cubs hosted the Colorado Rockies in the 2018 NL Wild Card Game.
The Rockies defeated the Cubs in 13 innings in what was one of the most entertaining games of the season and earned the final spot in the NL playoffs.
Colorado scored a run in the first inning of the ballgame. The Cubs matched them in the eighth inning to tie the game at 1.
In the top of the 13th inning, third-string catcher Tony Wolters ripped a single into center field to plate the game-winning run for Colorado. In the bottom of the inning, Scott Oberg closed the door to seal the win for the Rockies.
After such a heartbreaking loss, Cubs’ fans can point their fingers at one person – manager Joe Maddon.
Maddon is known as one of the best managers in the MLB, which is why it is so shocking that the Cubs’ loss can be blamed on the veteran manager.
Maddon made several questionable decisions before and during the game that factored into the loss for the Cubs.
The first bad decision the Cubs’ manager made was in his choices for the lineup.
Maddon left Jason Heyward out of the Cubs’ lineup on Tuesday night simply because he is a left-handed hitter and the Rockies were starting a left-handed pitcher in the game.
Many times, you will see managers try to get preferable matchups and avoid sending a left-handed hitter up to the plate when a lefty is pitching.
But this was just simply not the time or the place to be making such a decision.
Sure, Heyward is a lefty and technically, that is a mismatch, but the slugger – who is making nearly $30 million – is one of the most talented players on the Cubs.
Not to mention, in 2018, Heyward hit left-handed pitching better than he did right handers. According to Baseball Reference, Heyward hit .290 against lefties compared to .265 against righties.
So, is it really a mismatch?
At this point in the season, when it’s win or go home, talent trumps everything else. The most talented players should be out on the field playing.
The second bad decision Maddon made was pulling his starting pitcher, Jon Lester, when he did.
Aside from the first inning, when Lester gave up his only run, he absolutely dominated.
Lester gave up only four hits in his six innings, struck out nine batters, and was only at 86 pitches. The Rockies could not touch his stuff, but Maddon made the decision to go to his bullpen in the 7th inning.
The last terrible decision of Maddon’s, which actually cost the Cubs the game, again had to do with pulling a pitcher prematurely.
Cole Hamels, who is one of the most experienced pitchers in the MLB, entered in the 10th inning on full rest, meaning he was good to throw 100 pitches if need be.
Hamels looked absolutely lights-out while he was on the mound against Colorado. His pitches had very good movement and pretty good velocity.
But after just two short innings and only 29 pitches, Maddon made the move and pulled Hamels from the game.
A headscratcher to say the least, as Hamels was dealing and could have thrown another six innings if he needed to.
But Maddon pulled him for a pinch hitter in the bottom half of the inning and eventually handed the ball to Kyle Hendricks in the top of the 13th, who gave up the game-winning run.
Many Cubs’ fans are calling for Maddon to be Ered, which is a bit of a stretch considering Maddon has completely turned the Cubs around in his tenure and hasn’t missed the playoffs a single time.
Maddon should definitely keep his job for the 2019 season, but that doesn’t change that fact that he was responsible for the Cubs’ loss in the Wild Card Game.