Is the Cubs’ seven-game winning streak a result of not having to worry about the pressure of a pennant race?
Cubs manager Mike Quade credits other reasons for the Cubs’ recent stretch of good baseball.
“I don’t buy any of that [pressure] stuff,” Quade said. “I think we play better when we are healthy. I also think we played better defense and I hope that we’ve gotten better hopefully from hard work. Pressure? Was there pressure in May when we were struggling? I don’t buy any of that. To me, if you want to talk about pressure, the last two weeks of the season when you’re in the hunt and a game separates two or three clubs -- that’s pressure to play [in] Major League Baseball.
“I’m just pleased this group has held itself together and we’re getting contributions from the entire roster.”
The Cubs are now 12-10 since the All-Star break and a lot of the team’s success can be attributed to better starting pitching and solid defense.
Starting play on Sunday, Cubs pitchers have 15 quality starts (six innings of three runs or less) in their last 22 games.
Last season, Quade’s team finished 24-13 after he took over the team on Aug. 22. With the team’s late improvement this season, does the Cubs manager feel the players he has now should be brought back (for the most part) next season?
“It’s way too early to concern myself with that,” Quade said. “And I dodge that all the time. That’s [general manager] Jim [Hendry] and [assistant GM Randy Bush’s] area. There are plenty of reasons to be excited, but the fact is you want to put together more than a seven-game winning streak. [More like] five or six months of good baseball.”
Quade said that he’s spending an hour and a half every day making out his lineup. The Cubs manager uses statistical matchup information, as well as his gut on how his player is performing in recent at-bats, to make his decisions.
A good part of Quade’s success last year was using all 25 men on the roster. Recently Quade has been quizzed on why he hasn’t played Tyler Colvin on a more regular basis, a question that previous manager Lou Piniella faced on a daily basis in 2010.
“I get here early and try and stay a couple of days in advance [on the lineup]. I kind of look at a small sample size of their last 10 at-bats. I weigh all things out. Somewhere there is a mix between the numbers and how the guy is swinging the bat.”
Right-hander Andrew Cashner continues to throw a side bullpen session every few days. The plan right now is for Cashner to continue his side work and work his way up to facing live hitting before eventually going out on a minor league assignment. At this time, there is no timetable set for Cashner’s minor league stint.
“I’d like to think that there is some baseball in his future, Quade said. “This winter for sure.”
Quade didn’t rule out that Cashner could pitch with the cubs in September.