The Cubs are 10-2 but they still have a glaring issue that needs to be addressed in order to make a significant run to the playoffs: the closer.
David Kaplan is joined by NBCS Chicago Cubs insider Gordon Wittenmyer as they discuss ways and options the Cubs can address their closing situation. Later on, they discuss if Theo Epstein took a shot at Joe Maddon and how the Cubs are leading the charge in baseball for safety protocols.
(1:20) - Should José Quintana be the closer?
(7:05) - Are the Cubs as good as their record?
(13:00) - Debate on the three-batter rule for pitching changes
Joe Maddon was scrutinized for how he managed Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, but his biggest mistake (from his perspective) might not be what Cubs fans expect.
In a Tuesday live stream with sportscaster Bob Costas, Maddon admitted he should not have had closer Aroldis Chapman pitch the ninth inning of Game 6, a 9-3 Cubs victory.
Maddon called on Chapman with two outs in the seventh inning of Game 6. The Cubs led the Indians 7-2, though Cleveland had two runners on with two outs when shortstop Francisco Lindor stepped up to bat.
Lindor grounded out to end the threat and Chapman only needed three batters to get through the eighth. The Cubs tacked on two runs in the ninth on an Anthony Rizzo home run, putting the game all but out of reach. Despite the Cubs leading 9-2, Chapman started the ninth, only to be removed after surrendering a five-pitch walk.
"I should not have sent [Chapman] back out in the ninth," Maddon told Costas in a Cameo livestream in support of the Respect 90 Foundation. "Everything happened kinda quickly. Rizz hit a homer that put us up by [seven] runs.
"I did not want to run away from a crucial moment in Game 6 and have Aroldis be in the bullpen and have us lose the game."
Chapman pitched 2 2/3 and 1 1/3 innings in Games 5 and 6 of the Fall Classic. In Game 7, he surrendered a game-tying home run in the eighth inning to Rajai Davis, and many point to Maddon's overuse of him as the reason.
Chapman got out of the ninth inning unscathed and the Cubs went on to clinch the series after a 10th-inning rally. More than three years later, Maddon stands by how he used his closer.
"Who would you rather have in those games at any number and under any circumstance?" he said. "Even a tired Aroldis Chapman, you would prefer, I think, over a lot of other pitchers that we had at that moment.
"It’s just because [Davis] hit a home run. All of a sudden it became magnified, and I totally understand that. I promise you I would have done it the same way all over again, except for the one moment, where I would not have thrown him [five] pitches in the ninth inning. I would have just gone to the bullpen that point sooner.
"To me, that was the biggest mistake I made."
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Joe Maddon has been scrutinized for how he managed the Cubs' Game 7 win over the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 World Series. He pulled starter Kyle Hendricks after just 63 pitches; he called on Aroldis Chapman to pitch more than an inning for the third time in four days.
Not only can fans relive that memorable game next week, but they can do so through Maddon's perspective.
Maddon will join sportscaster Bob Costas on a virtual Cameo stream on Tuesday to discuss Game 7. The stream will air at 10 p.m. CT, immediately after ESPN re-airs the championship-clinching win.
Cameo is a video-sharing platform where fans can book personal shout-outs from celebrities. Maddon's stream will be free to watch, though donations to his Respect 90 Foundation for COVID-19 relief efforts are encouraged.