Chicago Cubs: Joe Maddon acknowledges what we all knew back in 2016

Aroldis Chapman / Joe Maddon / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Aroldis Chapman / Joe Maddon / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

In a recent interview, former Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon finally admitted he misused Aroldis Chapman during the team’s 2016 World Series run.

One of the biggest criticisms surrounding Joe Maddon‘s run as the skipper of the Chicago Cubs came down to bullpen management. That purported weakness took center stage during the 2016 World Series when he sent Aroldis Chapman back out in the ninth inning of Game 6.

"“I should not have sent him back out in the ninth,” Maddon said recently. “Everything happened kind of quickly. Riz hit a homer that put us up by more runs. And I honestly thought about this the day before — 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.”"

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In Game 7, Chapman looked absolutely gassed. Of course, Cubs’ fans hearts collectively stopped when light-hitting Cleveland outfielder Rajai Davis ripped a liner down the left-field line to tie the game in the eighth inning. But with little faith in most of his pen, Maddon stuck with Chapman, who got through the ninth unscathed before giving way to Carl Edwards Jr. in the tenth following the infamous rain delay.

All told, Chapman did exactly what Theo Epstein brought him in to do. We all knew this was an overpay for a half-season of the flame-throwing southpaw. There was never any question as to whether or not the Cubs would pony up the level of cash needed to retain his services long-term. It was never gonna happen. We knew it. The front office knew it. Maddon knew it. But there was a ring at stake.

So why not ride your hot hand? Chapman had long been considered one of, if not the, premier relievers in the game. After coming over in July from the Yankees, he was nothing short of dominant in Chicago. Down the stretch, he worked to a 0.82 FIP while averaging 15.5 strikeouts per nine in 28 appearances – so this guy was heading into the postseason on a whole different level.

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Come October, Maddon went to his closer on 13 separate occasions. In other words, there were just four contests where Chapman didn’t get the call in some capacity. All those innings seemingly played a role in the Game 7 drama we all remember – and can remember with a bit less stress – nearly four years later.

Really, this is the first time Maddon owned it. He never seemed to handle criticism related to his use of Chapman during that World Series well. And, to be fair, he did what how many other guys had failed to do? He erased a century-plus championship drought and what did he get? A raking over the coals before the confetti had fallen across the city for the parade.

"“I should have gotten him out starting the ninth and not had him throw four pitches. That, out of all the things I did in that series, that’s the one thing that I should have done differently. I knew that. I think it was (Pedro Strop) that came in at that point. I should have gotten Stropy ready sooner.”"

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It’s nice to see that enough time has elapsed – and the fact he no longer calls CHicago home certainly doesn’t hurt matters either – that Maddon can admit that, along with all the brilliant, sometimes quirky decisions he made during that magical season, this wasn’t one of his better ones.