Cubs

As trade deadline nears, Maholm would like to stay a Cub

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As trade deadline nears, Maholm would like to stay a Cub

Paul Maholm hopes to still be a Chicago Cub after Tuesdays trade deadline. Maholm is one of several Cubs mentioned in trade rumors. In his final performance before the 3 p.m. Tuesday deadline, he allowed a run in 6 23 innings in a 4-2 extra-inning victory over the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
He held the Cardinals to four hits, struck out five and lowered his ERA to 3.74. He also became the first Cubs left-hander in modern-day history to throw at least six consecutive starts allowing no more than one run in at least six innings.
Hed like a chance to make more Cubs history.
Theres a reason I signed here, Maholm said. Ive always enjoyed playing here throughout my career. Theres an option. I finished the year last year hurt. They gave me a chance to come in and prove that I was healthy, and I am. Hopefully we can turn this into a long-term thing. Well see how everything unfolds and go from there.
Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza have been the Cubs most mentioned in trade talks, but Maholm could also be a viable candidate. He has won five of his last six starts and allowed five runs in 45 innings since his last loss June 23.
You battle throughout the game, Maholm said. I just go out there as long as I can, as hard as I can, and be aggressive and try to be ahead. Fortunately for me, for the last month or so, its been working out pretty well.
Maholm held the Cardinals scoreless for six innings before they scored a run with a David Freese single, Matt Carpenter double and a Tyler Greene sacrifice fly in the seventh. Manager Dale Sveum said he didnt think Maholm was losing his stuff, and Sveum liked the upcoming matchups, so Maholm remained in the game.
But he exited after loading the bases with walks to Lance Berkman and Daniel Descalso. Manuel Corpas entered and ended the inning with a flyout.
Manny came in and picked me up, Maholm said. Obviously, with the way that Campy (Shawn Camp) and (James Russell) and (Carlos) Marmol have been throwing, you hand it over to those guys and Rizz came up with the big hit.
Sveum said any manager would be upset if a player departs in a trade, and his teams starting pitchers have been good, including Maholm, who is surging. Last season, Maholm was 6-14 with a 3.66 ERA for the Pirates and dealt with a shoulder injury.
People forget that the won-loss record wasnt all that great last year, but he had a 3.6 ERA, which if you throw a 3.6 up there, you are in the top of the class with starting pitchers, Sveum said. Hes a bona fide starter, and this year you take away two starts, and its a pretty impressive resume this year as well.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

It was a tough day for the North Siders.

The Cubs got obliterated by the Cardinals as Matt Carpenter had a three-homer, two-double day. Ben Finfer, Seth Gruen and Maggie Hendricks join David Kaplan on the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast to talk about the blowout.

Was Jon Lester due for this kind of terrible outing? And do the Cubs have enough to swing a big trade before the deadline?

Plus, the panel discusses Matt Nagy’s first training camp practice in the rain and Roquan Smith’s absence in Bourbonnais.

You can listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Jon Lester saw a start like this coming

Jon Lester saw a start like this coming

Jon Lester had easily his worst outing of the year, allowing the Cardinals to score eight runs on seven hits, the veteran All-Star only managed three innings before Joe Maddon turned to his bullpen. 

The Cardinals would take game two of the series by the score of 18 to 5, and while none of the Cubs pitchers could silence the Cardinal bats, Lester didn't shy away from his poor outing. 

"You know, I don't want to chalk this up as bad days happen," said Lester. "I think mechanically this has kinda been coming." 

Lester knew he was struggling to hit his spots, and while his ERA was a sparkling 2.58 coming into this start, his peripheral stats had him pegged as a potential regression candidate in the second half of the season.

His 4.35 FIP and 3.30 walks per nine innings show a pitcher who is relying heavily on his defense to get outs, which isn't surprising for a 33-year-old veteran but the walks are a concern. 

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was aware Lester had been working on his mechanics, but even he was surprised that Lester's start went downhill so quickly. 

"I thought he had good stuff to start the game, hitting [92-93 mph] and I'm thinking this might be a good day," said Maddon. "But you could just see from the beginning he was off just a little bit." 

Over Lester's last four starts his ERA has been an uncharacteristic 4.57, issuing 10 walks over those four starts, and only making it past the 6th inning once. At this point of Lester's career, he knows the best way for him to get outs isn't through strikeouts but by inducing soft contact and avoiding walks. 

And while both his hard contact rate and walks have increased this season, Lester's experience and high baseball I.Q. has allowed him to navigate his way through sticky situations. 

"I've been getting outs," Lester said candidly. "I just feel like when I've had that strikeout or I have a guy set up for that pitch I haven't been able to execute it." 

And while this outing was one to forget, it's at least a positive sign that Lester is aware of his issues on the mound. The veteran knows how to get outs and he knows what he needs to do to be successful in the latter part of his career. He just needs to get back to executing those pitches. 

Just don't expect Lester to dive head first into the analytics on how to fix his issues, he'll stick to hard work and baseball common sense. 

"I'm not too concerned with the analytic B.S., I'm worried about my mechanical fix for my next start."