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!
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.
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.