The early returns on Javier Vazquez’s to pinstripes? Deja vu all over again. He was torched for eight runs on eight hits — including two home runs — a 9-3 loss to the Rays on Friday night. I’d show you the back pages of the New York tabloids panicking and overreacting, but they are too busy talking about some Tiger guy right now.
Vazquez told the New York Daily News that Friday’s failure was a direct result of his failure to execute.
“The first three innings I was making good pitches, but after that I
wasn’t making good pitches,” Vazquez said. “With men on base I was just
rushing too much. Bottom line is I didn’t make my pitches and when you
don’t make pitches and you get the ball in the middle of the plate
they’re going to hit you hard and that’s what happened.”
I love how there’s this belief that Vazquez’s success last season was some creation of the National League East. Granted, he should see some regression with a move back to the American League, any pitcher would, but remember that Vazquez was 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and a 30/9 K/BB ratio in five starts against the Phillies last season, and they’re hardly chop liver. Expecting a repeat of last season’s results would be silly, especially with his flyball rate, but I have a feeling he’s going to be just fine.
Cubs’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber will return to the playing field on Saturday, per a report by the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales. The club’s prized left fielder suffered a season-ending injury when he collided with Dexter Fowler back in April, tearing both his ACL and LCL and undergoing intensive knee surgery later that month.
While no nerve damage was discovered during the surgery, the Cubs have kept a close eye on Schwarber during his recovery and put a kibosh on any part-time or full-time role with the team until the spring of 2017. Getting a few reps in during the Arizona Fall League appears to be the last step in the 23-year-old’s rehab process. He will be part of the Mesa Solar Sox’ ‘taxi squad,’ making him eligible for games on Wednesdays and Saturdays only.
Schwarber batted .246/.355/.487 with 16 in 69 games with the Cubs during his debut season in 2015. He will be added to the Mesa Solar Sox roster in advance of their set against the Salt River Rafters on Saturday evening.
The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs NLCS Game 6
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Wrigley Field, Chicago
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Kyle Hendricks (Cubs) vs. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
We’re pulling out the big guns for this one. The Cubs took Los Angeles by storm again in Game 5, closing out their road trip with an eight-run spread over the Dodgers, and tonight they’ll try to clinch the NLCS on home turf in Game 6.
Pitching-wise, it’s a rematch of Game 2 with Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69 ERA) on the mound. Kershaw took the first set against the Cubs, going seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts in Game 2 while Hendricks held the Dodgers to a single run over 5 1/3 innings. Adrian Gonzalez was the only Dodger to capitalize on Hendricks’ cutter, going yard in his first at-bat to generate a 1-0 lead.
The Cubs’ biggest strength so far this series has been an electric offense, something the Dodgers have struggled to replicate against left-hander Jon Lester and Joe Maddon’s airtight bullpen. While they’ve already beaten Hendricks at Wrigley Field once this October, they’ll need Kershaw to go the distance in another playoff gem if they intend to keep the Cubs’ championship hopes at bay with a 3.4-run average. Should Kershaw and his crew knot the series again, the tiebreaker will fall to Rich Hill and Jake Arrieta in Game 7.