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.


Game 42
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.


Game 43
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.


Game 44
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!

Comments

This is great, Charlie. Thank you for this and all your game previews!

Thanks, Eric!

Side note, I am eager to split the gameday thread schedule with other readers. If anyone would be interested in taking on a part of the schedule (a certain day of the week, every other series, etc.), I think the site would benefit! And future, busier me would be thankful.

Trae Turner activated today and available for the  Cubs series. 

It’s a shame that Willson doesn‘t have a buttery feel to his catching game - Soto should have been struck out looking but the ball clanged out of Contreras‘s mitt. Now bases loaded. Good hitter, fearless and a cannon of an arm but really struggles with the feel aspect of the game. 

at least he's top tier on the power and arm side of being a catcher even if he can be kinda average with his recieving.  it's the kind of average that's not "we'll learn to live with it for the positive tradoff elsewhere."

cubs get him at least 3 more seasons.  hope he stays healthy.

All I’m looking for is something greater than Johnny Bench on steroids x100. Too much of an ask?

this is exactly why jed hoyer is the worst GM in cubs history.

I don't know if "pretty average with his receiving" covers what we see with Contreras. He's a bad framer. If the eye test isn't solid on that, here's one handy comparison based on in-zone balls and out-of-one strikes called: http://www.statcorner.com/CatcherReport.php

At least he's not down there in Jorge Alfaro or Gary Sanchez territory! And he's improved (so far) over last year, and had improved a bit last year over 2017. Incremental improvement is really nice to see in the numbers--can't say I picked up on that as a viewer.

His framing, blocking and generally catching technique is below average. He routinely doesn't block pitches in the dirt "correctly".

He can hear JD under his breathe when he does it. And, he misses pitches sometimes. Just doesn't catch the pitch. 

He has hard hands. That's probably why he didn't make it as a 3B.

But he has a cannon. He's quick and he can hit. I guess we just live with the other bad. Hopefully he'll learn.

cj edwards balks in a run.

this game is getting too much drama.  fun game, though...so far...

okay, way to up the drama...wild pitch, tying run going home, rundown, out 3, cubs still lead by 1.

He almost botched the rundown too.  I believe he tried to tag runner with the hand without the ball. 

wow.  nice.

padding 3 runs in the 8th takes the drama down a few notches.  it's late.  MTL and STL are both on their way to losses (pending meltdown).

Nice game for Bryant, 3 homers in 3 ABs

Edwards really has that sympathetic appeal for me in that I also experience sports brain-farts and am as unathletic as he seems like he should be based on his appearance.

I thought he was catlike. Got there well before the runner, faked a throw, tagged him (or would have if the runner hadn't strayed).

Of course, I always defend Edwards. I just think he'll be a stud reliever when he gets beyond the emotional age of thirteen. But starting to make multiple millions usually does that for immature players.

I didn't even blame Edwards when Suarez homered the other day on a high, outside mid-90s fastball.  That's just great hitting, Pujols-type stuff.

3HR night for bryant.  he's good at doing baseball.

1 run lead going into the 8th...10 run lead in the 9th...whatever.

good job with that dugout mic WGN.  also, i wonder what maddon thinks is "so f'd up" in a game with a 10 run lead.

Sportscenter with a graphic this morning showing KB‘s .277 avg and 31 rbi’s the same after 41 games as his MVP season in 2016. Added bonus: he has 3 more HR with 11 than his 9 in 2016.

turrible.  DFA lester.

if Fox would remove the mic near the press/photo crew, that would be nice.

every pitch is a flury of camera shutter snapping sounds.

the war on fancy pitching is going to strange places in 2019...

game is now being played under protest by the cubs (doolittle's foot tap delivery motion)

I am sick of these national games, even with Len in the booth.

girardi, while not stupid or annoying, doesn't do it for me in the booth.

tonight we should get more arod as we do the 3rd ESPN sunday game of the month.

arod...how much money do you need?  why are you doing this?  stop plz.

Considering the gap between Lester and Strasburg, I was shocked last night didn't turn into a blowout. Seemed like Lester was behind in every count and couldn't miss a bat.

schwarber/bryant/rizzo/baez/contreras/descalso(2nd)/heyward/almora/hendricks

MIL wins in extras...STL loses in extras...

Crunch, could you put some spaces in the lineup, so that will wrap on my iPhone?  Looks fine on a laptop.  Thanks. 

no problem.  i do almost all my internet work from a laptop/desktop and i'm still learning how mobile devices deal with stuff.  thanks for the heads up.

Maybe after the four pitch walk to start the 6th inning would have been a good time to start warming up the bullpen

looks like baez tweaked his ankle...doesn't seem major.

also wtf hendricks.

There seems to be a pattern when Kintzler pitches against the Nats. And not a favorable one for the Cubs. 

He did bulletin board them before the series started, though.

I’m sure Doolittle is jonesing to get an opportunity to close this game out and shove it up Madden‘s azz. 

maddon betting heavy on cishek...batting for himself and going into a 3rd inning of pitching...a'ite

longest outing in 7 years according to arod's neverending banter...he never got around to fully explaining the metric he's using for that stat, but i think he means appearances in individual innings in a game or it's a hypothetical if he finished all 3 outs in the 9th...dunno...ESPN...whatever

cishek nails it down...3 up, 3 down.  woo.

The Cishek game!!!  Nice series win particularly after the disappointment in Cincy

baez day-to-day...they're supposedly not sending him for xrays or evaluation and expecting him to miss little-to-no time.

I am proud to say i did not listen to one word of Aroid. Pat and Coom all the way.

Recent comments

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  • QuietMan 1 hour 57 min ago (view)

    Edwards optioned to Iowa per Jesse Rogers,

     

  • George Altman 2 hours 12 min ago (view)

    Yeah.....yeah. I think I'm good too. Put him and Strop in the Shawn Greene deal.

     

  • Mike Wellman 4 hours 20 min ago (view)

    I feel like I've already waited & seen enough of CEJ...

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 4 hours 42 min ago (view)

    Not as much as it makes his stomach tighten!

    i dont think we should trade him. We would get nothing of value back. But I don’t think he should be a bullpen piece on a playoff contender either. He should be in Iowa. Reassess where he’s at for September and next year. If they don’t like what they see, non-tender.

     

  • Charlie 5 hours 14 min ago (view)

    Cheap may not be the right word, but has put up reasonable value per dollar compared to other relievers prior to this ear.

    He accrued 2.9 bWAR 2017-2018. Strop put up 3.2 bWAR during the same period. Edwards is making $1.5M this year. Strop is making $6.25M. He'll get a bump again this offseason even if he doesn't rebound in the second half, of course. I just don't see a need to trade him unless the Cubs are being offered value in return.

    That said, it does make my stomach knot up a bit when I see they are bringing him into a close game.

     

  • Arizona Phil 12 hours 51 min ago (view)

    Carl Edwards Jr will be out of minor league options next season (2020), and he will (once again) be arbitration-eligible post-2019 (he was "Super Two" arb eligible post-2018) and he will be a FA post-2022. 

     

  • crunch 18 hours 34 min ago (view)

    cubs lose, cards win, brews win.

    boo.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 20 hours 20 min ago (view)

    I think this is his last option year. And he’s not as cheap as you’d think, he’s a super two qualified player this year.

     

  • Charlie 20 hours 29 min ago (view)

    Edwards is frustrating at times. Some of that frustration comes from thinking he could be much better than he currently is. But prior to this year (in which he has pitched very few innings), he's overall been an OK relief pitcher in the majors. I'm happy to wait and see on him for quite a while. Still has an option and is cheap, right?

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 21 hours 29 min ago (view)

    I feel pretty safe in saying that 1. They don’t want him and 2. If they did, things wouldn’t improve for CJ.

    Allowing inherited runners and 1-2 of your own in a close game is what I like to call the “Carl Jr Special.” It was formerly a Justin Grimm special, thankfully Carl stepped up to fill that void.

     

  • crunch 21 hours 36 min ago (view)

    there's always nick castellanos for a chance to rid of edwards...at which point a couple month rental will probably turn edwards into their ace closer or something just as awesome.

     

  • Eric S 21 hours 37 min ago (view)

    The bitter side of me thinks it should have been a two for one trade for Maldonado 

    Anyways, has not been a clean series for the Cubs against the Padres - fortunate to have won the series and a 7-2 home stand is a pretty big dill. Or deal. Or something

     

  • crunch 21 hours 42 min ago (view)

    edwards gonna edwards...blah

     

  • bradsbeard 23 hours 10 min ago (view)

    Thanks for the clarification. Guess we’ll find out what he’s going to do sooner than later. 

     

  • crunch 1 day 14 min ago (view)

    delay over, game on.

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 1 hour ago (view)

    And if Zobrist were to consent to an Optional Assignment to the minors for the purpose of getting into playing shape, it could very well be to AA Tennessee (close to his home in Nashville) rather than to AAA Iowa. He might even just play home games for the Smokies and then work out on his own while they are on the road.