Cubs @ Nationals Series Thread (Games 42-44)
The Cubs (25-16) continue their road trip with a swing over to the old District to take on the 4th place (?!) Nationals (18-25).
The Nats are off to a disappointing start. Losing Bryce Harper on the free agent market is only part of the explanation. Trea Turner has been on the IL since early April with a broken finger. Veterans Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Eaton have WRC+'s of 81 and 93 respectively. And the bullpen has put up an MLB worst 6.20 ERA despite being the least exposed bullpen in the majors (only 127.2 IP). In the positives column, their rotation leads the majors in strikeouts per 9 innings and Baseball Reference rates them as leading the league at 4 wins above average. Anthony Rendon also continues to be excellent at all things baseball. Check out the day-by-day matchups below.
CHC: LHP Cole Hamels (3-0, 3.08 ERA)
WAS: RHP Max Scherzer (2-4, 3.64 ERA)
First pitch 6:05pmCDT
You know what I didn't appreciate about Hamels before he became a Cub? He's fun to watch. His return to form with Chicago obviously improves the overall experience, but he's also expressive on the mound. You can see when he's frustrated and you can see when he's having fun. After a handful of cursing, grumbling starts, Hamels looked to be enjoying himself again when he started against Milwaukee. He couldn't earn his fourth win in that one, but he did provide 7 solid innings and allowed only 1 earned run. Brian Dozier is 4-14 off of him. Ryan Zimmerman is 22-88 with 20 strikeouts.
Scherzer's ERA is up a tick in the early going, but I'm inclined to attribute that to the defense behind him or mere luck. His BABIP is up to .361 while all of his other peripherals are actually improved over last year. The short of it is that he remains terrifying. At 34 he's averaging 95.1 MPH on hist fastball and still has a nasty slider. Rizzo is 4-15 with a HR off of him. Addison Russell is 3-11 with a HR but has also struck out 7(!) times. Everyone else is probably thumb wrestling to determine who can get the day off.
CHC: LHP Jon Lester (3-1, 1.16 ERA)
WAS: RHP Stephen Strasburg (3-3, 3.63 ERA)
First pitch 6:15pmCDT
Even if the Cubs have to take on Scherzer and Strasburg, the good news is they have their best starters going in return. Lester has been absurdly good this season. He went 6.2 allowing 1 unearned run to earn a win against Milwaukee on his last turn. Ryan Zimmerman is 4-14 with a pair of homeruns and a pair of doubles against him. No other current Nats have done much against him.
The oft-injured Strasburg has made all his scheduled starts so far in 2019 and has been dominating in a handful of them. On the other hand, he's allowed 4 or more earned runs in 4 of those starts. Current Cubs have slashed .279/.345/.423 against him in 104 ABs--not too shabby. Heyward, who has regressed recently, is 15-37 against Strasburg.
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (3-4, 2.86 ERA)
WAS: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (2-2, 6.00 ERA)
First pitch 6:08pmCDT (because ESPN)
Hey! This matchup favors the Cubs! Hendricks added to his hot stretch with an 8-inning start in which he collected as many hits as he allowed (3). He looks to have gotten a feel for his delivery and is now rarely walking anyone and getting a ton of weak contact. Maddon and broadcasters have tried to make some hay of his attempt to use his curveball to greater effect, but he's using it about as much as he ever has. Adam Eaton is 4-13 with a pair of homeruns off of him. Overall, he's held current Nats to a .570 OPS.
Jeremy Hellickon's 2019 has not been great. His walk rate is way up and he's allowing 2 homeruns per 9 innings. Last time out he allowed 5 earned runs against the Mets while walking 4 over 5 innings. He's never been an especially hard thrower, but his velocity is down a bit to an average of 89.3 on fastballs. Current Cubs have hardly seen him. Baez is 2-4 with a HR, Byrant 2-6 with a HR, and Descalso is 3-7.
I'll be at the Saturday game to see Strasburg and Lester. Look for a guy in a Cubs hat!
JustSayin' 14 hours 36 min ago (view)
I think what your saying applies to all franchises in all big-time team sports. The virus is asymptomatic in many carriers. The national positive test % rate is mid/high single digits. If your pro sports franchise does 3-4 x better than that, it still means some players and coaches will test positive and things will grind to a partial or complete halt. At least baseball didn't try to "bubble" in AZ and FL, which are looking like two of the worst (and worst-led) states in which to be located at the currrent stage of the pandemic.
crunch 15 hours 36 min ago (view)
rizzo took BP and did some field work today. also, almora is good to go...he ran into a wall on friday and got a little banged up.
Cubster 22 hours 55 min ago (view)
Aroldis Chapman is now Covid positive with mild symptoms
crunch 1 day 11 hours ago (view)
the COVID-Division should be fun.
teams from TX, AZ, CA, WA, and CO exclusively playing each other... CO is all "wtf, really?"
Cubster 1 day 12 hours ago (view)
...and so it goes (per Roto): Astros general manager James Click wrote in a statement that a member of the staff "was potentially exposed to a COVID-positive individual outside the organization.” The team is working with MLB and team doctors on testing protocol and cleaning before resuming workouts.
Does the visiting team bring a Covid positive bio-weapon to the player's parking lot?
Charlie 1 day 19 hours ago (view)
I've been wondering how this would proceed. Since teams will have to figure out how existing contracts will be paid, I thought there was a *chance* they would proceed with free agency as usual and plan for payment under potential shortened seasons would just be figured out in negotiations with the MLBPA. But that was probably an overly optimistic thought.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 22 hours ago (view)
Meanwhile Theo shoots down any potential of extension talks. I get that it's a crazy time financially in baseball, but it's really gonna suck when all these players leave after 21 and 22.
Cubster 2 days 9 hours ago (view)
WSox Michael Kopech has opted out of 2020. I didn't see a disclosed reason yet but he is recovering from TJ S
crunch 2 days 19 hours ago (view)
buster posey (SF) opting out of 2020...recently adopted twin daughters who were born premature.
Cubster 3 days 23 hours ago (view)
per Tribune: Kimbrel's OK, just working on his changeup (formerly his fastball).
Arizona Phil 4 days 11 hours ago (view)
The Cubs have released RHRP (and their erstwhile closer) Brandon Morrow. There is no indication that they plan to re-sign him to another (different) 2020 minor league contract without the Article XX-B $100K retention bonus provision (as happened with Jason Kipnis last week).
crunch 4 days 15 hours ago (view)
rizzo takes another day off (lower back). ross says the club is "exercising caution."
klye ryan is expected to join the team tomorrow after some mysterious holdup.
Ryno 4 days 15 hours ago (view)
Has anyone seen Darvish's pitch "The Supreme"? Isn't it just a sinker?
Ryno 4 days 16 hours ago (view)
In other words: This lineup sucks.
Arizona Phil 4 days 16 hours ago (view)
Jason Kipnis was released on June 29th and then he was re-signed to a new (different) 2020 minor league contract that does not require a $100K retention bonus if he is not added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List by 2020 MLB Opening Day (7/23).
Brandon Morrow remains on his original 2020 minor league contract which pays him a $100K retention bonus if he is not released by 7/18 or added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List by 7/23.
Eric S 4 days 16 hours ago (view)
There is that re Kimbrel - at worst, just another year on the books.
July 1st is Bobby Bonilla Day - the day that check is cut and paid annually.