Hey, if we were rookie Daniel McCutchen, we'd take home the tape of today's game and pore over it. No, not for what he did, but to watch the underrated Ted Lilly (43-25 with 568 innings and 92 starts for the Cubs since 2007) dissect the Bucs.
Both strike us as fairly similiar pitchers; Lilly spots a fastball and uses a curve to go with his bread-and-butter change-up, McCutchen mixes his heater with a slider to set up his out pitch, the change-up.
The biggest difference is that Lilly has better command, moving his pitches up and down, in and out, while McCutchen has better velocity but a tendency to keep his pitches up a little more and catches a little more of the plate. Of course, Lilly has had 1,500+ MLB innings to hone his craft; McC now has 13.
McCutchen did OK for the role he's auditioning for, as the fourth or fifth guy in the rotation. He gave up nine hits and a walk, but danced out of trouble and showed decent composure. If Derrek Lee hadn't taken him yard twice (on a first pitch heater, then a first pitch change, both with two outs), it would have been an excellent outing.
But it is what it is - the Pirates 17th straight losing season, as they fell to the Cubs 4-2, banging out a meager two hits. Get ready for the national media coverage. It won't be pretty.
If we were Daniel McCutchen, who will end up with his name as the answer to baseball trivia questions the rest of his days, we wouldn't lose any sleep over it. We'd go home, set up the projector, butter the popcorn, and watch how Ted Lilly goes about his business.
-- A couple of post-game thoughts: the Cubby fans, bless them, they do travel well, and even the WGN announcers dissed the Pirates all day. It's probably deserved, but maybe someone should remind of 1908; even Pittsburgh's streak doesn't touch that one.
-- The Pirates seemed to have patched up the pitching this year to at least hangin' around the middle of the pack. But they have a couple of big holes in the offense. The Bucs need a two hitter desperately.
We can live with Andrew McCutchen leading off; his speed and pop offset his on-base percentage (.358), which is OK but not quite up to top-of-the-order standards.
The problem is that no one on the roster can hit behind him. Delwyn Young's plummet at the plate began with him being jumped to the second spot. Today JR used Ronny Cedeno. There is really no logical candidate for Russell to choose. Just thinking out loud, but maybe that's where Andy LaRoche belongs, even with his 16 DPs.
He's fairly patient, can bunt a little, and maybe being forced to hit behind a runner will cure him of opening up so much at the plate.
And please find a clean-up hitter. Or two.