The Chicago Cubs, 2016’s darlings of Major League Baseball, are facing the second half of the 2017 season in a far less enviable position than a year ago.
An uninspiring 39-38 start for the defending World Series champions, who this time last year were 50-26, has apparently led to some clubhouse frustrations that are finally seeping out to the media.
Following a 6-1 loss to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night, Cubs catcher Miguel Montero, who allowed 7 stolen bases on 7 attempts, blamed starting pitcher Jake Arrieta for his inability to get baserunners out.
“It really sucked because the stolen bases go to me, and when you really look at it, the pitcher doesn’t give me any time,” said Montero according to USA Today Sports. “That’s the reason why they were running left and right today because they know he was slow to the plate. Simple as that. It’s a shame that it’s my fault because I didn’t throw anybody out.”
The team, understandably, was not thrilled about these comments, and Wednesday announced that Montero has been designated for assignment, effectively bringing his 2 1/2 year tenure to an end.
And not only is Montero out of favor at the moment, but it is also likely that he is completely wrong about the source of the Cubs’ stolen base problems.
According to Washington Post’s leaderboards sorted for stolen bases allowed, before Tuesday night Jake Arrieta had allowed eight stolen bases this season, enough to be tied for ninth most in the National League, probably not enough for Arrieta to carry the blame for seven bases in one night.
And more interestingly, there are quite a few Cubs at the top of the list. Four of the top 20 pitchers in stolen bases allowed pitch for Chicago, with Arrieta now leading the charge with 15. This now leaves two possibilities for why the club has been so ineffective at stopping baserunners.
The first is that Arrieta, John Lackey, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks really didn’t like Montero and all conspired to make him look bad at throwing out baserunners, a fact Montero only realized Tuesday night.
The second is that Miguel Montero, who has caught 0 of 31 attempting base stealers, perhaps is just not very good at throwing out runners, gives up a lot of steals regardless of pitcher, and is now facing the consequences for underperforming and lashing out at one of the Cubs’ biggest stars.