So as I was driving home last night and this alert pops up on my screen telling me that Tanner Roark, who had just started for the Nationals that afternoon, had some comments after the game where he accused the Cubs of playing “scared baseball”. Needless to say, I got kind of pissed when I glanced at it.
But when I woke up this morning, I had some change of heart. I know this will be an unpopular take, but I’m gonna drop it on you anyway: he’s got a point. And I’ll tell you why. The Cubs are far and away the best team in baseball. They pretty much solidified that in the first three games of the series against Washington, maybe even after sweeping Pittsburgh. Either way, what went down yesterday, with Harper reaching base SEVEN times on 6 walks (2 intentional) and a HBP, was kind of a lame move for the best team in baseball to pull.
Now don’t get me wrong, at the time I was applauding this move. Thought it was great. Don’t let him beat you. And here’s where I think we’ve got a strong defense: if Dusty Baker was smart, he’d put Murphy behind Harper, not Zimmerman. Daniel Murphy is batting close to .400 and Ryan Zimmerman sucks. Its a no-brainer. That way, if a team doesn’t want to pitch to Harper, well damn, they’ve gotta pitch to Murphy with Harper on base. So in that sense, I think the Cubs clearly outfoxed the Nats (even though this was some pretty elementary stuff).
The last thing I’ll say here in the Cubs defense is that in a game Saturday night, Robinson Cano was up in the 10th and hit a go-ahead homer which would ultimately be the game winner over the Astros. Cano had already homered and singled twice in that game. If you’re Joe Maddon, and you see something like that, how do you gamble with a guy like Bryce Harper. It would be the same mistake the Astros made, and you’d kick yourself for letting “that guy” beat you.
Still, as I said before, I can’t really get that upset with Roark here. First of all, he pitched a solid game, and has been fantastic for his club all season. And even though this strategy proved to be a winner, and even though as I was watching I was totally in favor of the move, I’m still kind of bummed that the mentality wasn’t more aggressive. It was, if nothing else, cautious baseball.