Cubs vs. Nationals: Series Thread (Games 40-43)
The Cubs (19-20) took two out of three in Detroit and shed the DH on their way to the nation's capital back home for a 4-game series. They'll take on the last place Nationals (16-20) along with a few familiar faces. See below for the pitching matchups.
Game 40, Monday, May 17, 6:40 pm central
CHC: RHP Adbert Alzolay (1-3, 4.50 ERA)
WSH: LHP Jon Lester (0-1, 2.25 ERA)
Alzolay went six innings in his last start, but he took the loss after giving up 3 earned runs coming on a pair of homers. One homer came on a poorly placed slider to Cesar Hernandez. The other was a heater on the top corner of the zone that Jose Ramirez went up and got. Alzolay has provided Cubs fans with little reason for complaint as he fills in the last spot in the rotation.
Lester has made only 3 starts this season, not taking the mound until April 30. In those three starts he's accrued 16 innings pitched, 10 strikeouts, and 7 walks, while allowing 4 earned runs. He's leaned heavily on his high 80s fastball and cutter while throwing his curve under 5% of the time.
Game 41, Tuesday, May 18, 6:40 pm central
CHC: RHP Zach Davies (2-2, 5.60 ERA)
WSH: LHP Patrick Corbin (2-3, 6.19 ERA)
Davies is firmly on the rebound now. He's had three straight starts in the decent to good range. Last time he went 5.1 and allowed one earned run. He'll need a month or so of that to bring his season numbers more in line with expectations.
Corbin is off to a rough start in 2021. He's missing fewer bats than in his best seasons, hovering closer to 7 strikeouts per 9 innings rather than 10 or 11, and he's been stung by the long ball. His last start was promising, however. He went seven against the Phillies, collecting 9 strikeouts and allowing only one runner to cross the plate.
Game 42, Wednesday, May 19, 6:40 pm central
CHC: RHP Jake Arrieta (4-3, 4.10 ERA)
WSH: RHP Max Scherzer (3-2, 2.10 ERA)
Coming into the season, an optimistic projection for Arrieta was along the lines of, "If he's healthy, he'll be good enough." He's more than met those expectations, struggling in only one start when he had to pitch around a wound on his pitching hand. His last start came after an IL-stint, and he appeared fully recovered. He earned the win via six innings of work and two earned runs allowed.
At age 36, Scherzer still shows few signs of letting up. Last time out he went 5 innings against the Diamondbacks, striking out 7 and allowing one earned run. The start before that he struck out 14, and the start before that he allowed only one run in a complete game. He's liable to do something impressive every five days or so.
Game 43, Thursday, May 20, 1:10 pm central
CHC: RHP Trevor Williams (2-2, 6.27 ERA)
WSH: RHP Joe Ross (2-3, 5.59 ERA)
T-Willy has appeared out of sorts over his last three starts. He's allowed 11 earned runs in only 8.2 innings of work, never getting past the 4th and twice not even making it through three innings. His command looked poor in his most recent start against the Tigers. With Alec Mills on the IL, Ross may not have the option to be quite as quick with the hook as last time--unless a well-rested Keegan Thompson is lurking.
Ross showed a ton of promise across 32 starts in 2015 and 2016, but he's struggled to stay on the mound consistently and has allowed his walk rate to climb recently as well. From 2015-2019 he made only 57 starts (19 relief appearances). He missed all of 2020. His 2021 stats are totally lopsided, mixing in a pair of horrible performances with five strong starts. His last appearance was one of those stinkers. He went four innings, giving up 8 earned runs the D-Backs.