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.


hey look, lester giving up homers at wrigley.

welcome back.  i don't miss this.  lester's replacement trevor williams is way...hold up...damn.

lester welcome back was epic on his 1st AB.

standing O, even from cubs players...contreras was clapping.  earlier, contreras gave schwarber a hug on his first plate appearance (also with a fan standing O).

it's nice players can do this now without teammates getting butthurt.  baseball is fun.

...and s.castro (SS, WAS) plays hurt on a tag play with rizzo...with rizzo checking on him and concerned, castro pops up laughing.

it's a f'n family reunion up in here.  baseball is fun.

hey look, schwarber hitting homers at wrigley.


video tribute to schwarber played tonight @wrigley...lester will get his during game 2.

after schwarber's video d.ross presented schwarber with a no. 12 from the scoreboard.  neet.

nance throwing 97-98mph.

85-87mph sinker/slider (not quite a "slurve") without too much break, but when you're looking 97+ and getting 87 it might as well be unhitable as long as you can set it up.

1ip 0h 0bb 1k, 11 pitches...

97 on the edges gets you a second look.

Nance looks like Maples except he throws strikes.

So, every time Alzolay pitches, we hear something about that slider he added last season. According to pitch tracking, he's thrown it a whopping 42.3% of the time in 2021, having thrown it only 5.9% of the time in 2020, and having never thrown it in any prior season. The 2020 % is a little misleading, because he didn't throw the slider in games at all until his last two appearances of 2020, but even then his usage was nothing like this year.

Should we be concerned about the connective tissue stress of not only adding a new pitch but throwing it nearly half of the time? I get the sense the slider had an overblown reputation for leading to TJS back in the late 90s early 2000s. But Alzolay has gone from not throwing a slider to throwing 100s of them, all after a shortened season.

yeah, so i found this thing in storage i wanted to show you guys.

*drags out a dead horse and complimenting hittin' stick*

anyway...i wouldn't worry any of that when he barely gets to throw 70-80 pitches a game no matter how well he's doing.

seriously, though...that is something to keep an eye on even if it's not concerning...yet...  i didn't know he was throwing that many even though you could tell he's throwing a lot of them.

He is surely getting the early-career Kyle Hendricks treatment. They really don't want him facing the order a 3rd time. That and the slider usage have the same potential solution; improvement and usage of the changeup and/or curveball.

Cubs trade Maybin to Mets for $1

cubs got f'n robbed.

seriously, though...good on the cubs for letting maybin get an opportunity for an immediate MLB need rather than sitting in the minors.

Agree in full....I think players notice little things like this and it could help us attract other potential Maybin types (some of whom can turn into Matt Duffy).  This isn't as sexy as high profile draft picks/trades/signees, but lower profile veterans additions can create more flexibility for injuries, improve the system (with vets being around kids in minors) and potentially find a late developer who can provide material value for one or more seasons.

I disagree that the Cubs were doing Cameron Maybin a favor by trading him to the Mets. If the Cubs really wanted to do Maybin a solid they would have given him his unconditional release so that he could make a deal with the club of his choosing.   

The prime beneficiary of the Maybin trade was the Mets, and to a lesser extent the Cubs, because if the Cubs had released Maybin the Mets would have had to compete for his services with the other MLB clubs and there is a possibility that Maybin might have gotten a better contract offer from another club once on the open market, and because it was a trade, the Cubs "control" of Maybin transfers to the Mets, as the Mets assume Maybin's 2021 minor league contract, and the Cubs are off the hook as far as not having to pay Maybin two weeks salary, which would not have been the case if Maybin had been released instead of traded. (Unlike a player signed to an MLB contract, a player signed to a minor league contract receives only two weeks salary as termination pay, and that's only if he is released during the MLB regular season and at least two weeks after MLB Opening Day, because otherwise a released minor league player receives no termination pay).    

So Maybin still gets the same minor league salary from the Mets as whatever the Cubs were paying him, and there is probably a good chance the Mets will call him up at which point he is on an MLB 40-man roster (which is a good thing), but this trade was not made to benefit Maybin. It doesn't hurt him (unless he doesn't want to play for the Mets), but it really benefits the Mets (mostly) because they didn't have to give-up a player, they obviously wanted Maybin and were OK with adding his 2021 minor league salary via trade (probably something like $300K, with probably something like $1M if he is added to the MLB 40-man roster), and they did not want to take the chance of possibly having to compete with one or more other clubs for his services if he had been released by the Cubs, and the Cubs (to a lesser extent) because Maybin obviously did not fit into the Cubs plans for 2021 and they were probably already planning on releasing him, so now they don't have to pay him two weeks salary as termination pay. (If Maybin's 2021 minor league salary is around $300K, two weeks pay would have been about $25,000, which is considrably more than the $1 they got back from the Mets). 

I see what you're saying but also, I think they were kinda doing him a favor... I find NYC to be quite overrated, but being on a MLB team in first place in NY is better than riding buses in AAA and living in Des Moines

rizzo hurt...was checked on by a trainer, stayed in to misplay a ball, finished the inning, gone from the game.

looks like a back or hip or etc thing...he's had lingering back issues for years.

"low back tightness"

Nice to see some of our "young" pitchers having success in the majors. Pretending that each of the following players are still with the Cubs in three years, what role do you expect them to have on the team (if any)?

  • Adbert Alzolay
  • Justin Steele
  • Dillon Maples
  • Keegan Thompson
  • Trevor Megill
  • Tommy Nance
  • Brad Wieck

at this point i wouldnt mind seeing k.thompson sent back down solely to keep him stretched out to go long.  i would far prefer seeing him go 5+ innings than a.mills at this point in time.

i could see him in the rotation in 2022, if not taking over the a.mills long man role before transitioning into the rotation.

i mean, he doesn't seem to be something special, but he seems to have solid middle rotation upside.

we still have corey abbott to look forward to, but the cubs probably arent looking to start his service clock any time in the next few months.

Davies and Williams need to be replaced.

PJ Higgins gets the call. Wolters DFA

Spider-Man meme in the tunnel or get booed.

no rizzo...kris "zobrist" bryant slots in at 1st.

baez getting rest with sogard slotting in at SS.  it may or may not be related to baez slamming into the wall trying to field a foul ball yesterday...banged up his leg(s) on that one from the looks of it.

another standing O for schwarber.  cubs fans seem to miss him.

But, but... Joc!



standing-O for a groundskeeper.

this series has been crazy weird fun.  it's nice having fans back at the park.  capacity is going up again in a week or so.

heyward to DL (hamstring)...martini back up...

if d.ross is gonna continue to manage the cubs and the owners are still dirt poor billionaires, the team should sign starters with incentive laden contracts that kick in after 160+ innings thrown...cuz they'll never have to pay them.


The losses have been biblical, crunch. BIBLICAL.

gonna hustle my heart out on a lemonade stand in my front yard this weekend...make some charity loot.

ricketts, yall aint gonna starve on my watch.  i got you guys.

with a little help the cubs might be able to bring back eric sogard in 2022.

on the SP thing though...43 games, 12 games where SP went at least 6ip...3 of those games 7+ innings.

3 of 4!

The starting pitching will be the death of this team. The bullpen guys arms will fall off by July.

It's a very good thing they seem to have some usable arms on the Des Moines shuttle this year and just enough flexibility in the bullpen to make use of them. In previous years we'd have maybe one optionable guy out there, and he'd be among our best relievers.

Then start trading guys like Chafin, Brothers, and Tepera now, before they pancake.