Cubs vs. Phillies: Series Thread (Games 85-88)
The Cubs finished their 10-game road trip by losing nine in a row, including sweeps to two teams that now lead them in the division, the Reds and the Brewers. Despite having the wind thoroughly taken out of their sails, they somehow return to home territory for seven games before the All Star break. They begin with a four-game series against the Phillies, the first time these two teams have matched up in 2021. See below for pitching matchups.
Game 85, Monday, July 5, 7:05 pm central
CHC: RHP Zach Davies (5-5, 4.32 ERA)
PHL: RHP Matt Moore (0-1, 5.79 ERA)
Davies has the honor of being the first of three Zach/ks to start in this series. Davies most recently took a loss to Milwaukee, getting pulled after only four innings pitched and having allowed two earned runs while collecting six strikeouts. In June, Davies held a respectable 3.82 ERA and struck out hitters at a rate closer to his career average, 7.09 per nine innings for the month. As has been true throughout his time with the Cubs, his walk rate remained elevated to a dangerous level.
Matt Moore made only two starts in 2019 before suffering a knee injury and spent 2020 pitching in Japan--where he pitched 85 innings, more than would have been possible in MLB last year. 2021 has not yet proven the bounce back that both Moore and the Phillies must be hoping for. He last pitched five scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Mets. That was on June 25, his return to the MLB rotation after time in the bullpen and on the IL with back spasms.
Game 86, Tuesday, July 6, 7:05 pm central
CHC: RHP Jake Arrieta (5-8, 5.57 ERA)
PHL: RHP Aaron Nola (5-5, 4.44 ERA)
Arrieta had a truly terrible June. He posted an ERA of 8.31 and averaged fewer than four innings across six starts. He suffered especially from walks (5.82 per nine innings) and homeruns (2.91 per nine innings). He'll need to put it all behind him quickly; Trevor Williams appears to be on his way back from the IL and Alec Mills has outpitched both Arrieta and Williams, albeit in a very limited number of innings. Perhaps Arrieta will bring a little bit of chip on his shoulder facing his former team.
Aaron Nola is having a bit of a down 2021 relative to his own past performance. There's little to point to for his heightened ERA except for a diminished groundball rate. In the past he has posted rates near 50% but this year he's down to 40%. Meanwhile, he still strikes out well over a batter per innings and walks about two per game. In his last start, he gave up a season-high seven runs will striking out eleven Marlins
Game 87, Wednesday, July 7, 7:05 pm central
CHC: RHP Alec Mills (3-2, 4.85 ERA)
PHL: RHP Zack Wheeler (6-5, 2.05 ERA)
Mills took an undeserved loss in Cincinnati, allowing two earned runs in 5.2 innings while setting a season high nine strikeouts. If he can keep it up, he might be able to turn this fill-in assignment into something longer.
The Phils have to be happy with aquiring Zack Wheeler. Last year he produced 2.0 fWar in the shortened season and this year he is trailing on Jacob deGrom. He's on pace to set a career high in strikeouts and has maintained a walk rate below two per nine innings. At 31, he's still sitting in the high 90s and he's mixing in his slider more than ever, roughly a quarter of the time.
Game 88, Thursday, July 8, 7:05 pm central
CHC: RHP Adbert Alzolay (4-8, 4.48 ERA)
PHL: RHP Zach Eflin (3-6, 4.13 ERA)
Alzolay put a terrible start behind him but still suffered at the hands of the homerun at Great American Ballpark. He pitched seven innings and took a loss, allowing three earned runs on a pair of homers, one on a pitch out of the zone. There was probably little to learn from it except that things work out better when you're own team scores some runs too.
Zach Eflin has been a model of consistency going back to 2018. He's right on track in 2021 with an ERA in the low fours, a decent strikeout rate and roughly the same mix of his pitches as always. One difference this year is that he's lowered his already low walk rate; Cubs hitters should probably be ready to swing the bats as he's averaged just over one walk per nine innings.
tim815 31 min 22 sec ago (view)
Actually, Nick Castellanos and his opt out.
crunch 1 hour 19 min ago (view)
hendricks wins #13...11 in a row.
dude leads MLB in wins...and also hits given up.
Dolorous Jon Lester 2 hours 4 min ago (view)
I think we're going to get very experimental over these last two months in the high leverage spots. Only caveat is they may want to see if Wick can handle the 9th once he's back.
That, I'm pretty sure Ryan would have been my last guess to close out a game. Either him or Megill.
crunch 2 hours 7 min ago (view)
javy swings on 3-0 pitch, outside, fouls off.
javy strikes out, foul tip low and outside.
crunch 2 hours 10 min ago (view)
baez coming into the bottom 9th, down by 1, man on 1st.
standing O. NY loves him so far. part of the crowd is chanting "javy" and others "baez"...they'll figure it out in a few games.
crunch 2 hours 17 min ago (view)
k.ryan coming in for the save, but j.jewell is in the pen warming up...don't think anyone is officially "closer"
Dolorous Jon Lester 2 hours 20 min ago (view)
If we're looking to tank next year I think it would be wise to keep Brothers, Morgan, and Ryan. Toss em in high leverage spots, too.
Dolorous Jon Lester 2 hours 21 min ago (view)
I'd guess it's him too. If we wanted boring it would be Winkler.
Hopefully Ross gives the ball to MANROD.
crunch 2 hours 29 min ago (view)
wasn't ugly, but it was nothing masterful...heuer goes 1ip 0h 0bb 0k only giving up an unearned run on a sac fly. he may get the 9th because he barely worked the 8th (9 pitches).
crunch 2 hours 38 min ago (view)
rex brothers sucks. here comes heuer with the bases loaded and 0 outs.
Eric S 3 hours 3 min ago (view)
Still trails Rizzo by 1 HR for a New York franchise
Eric S 3 hours 5 min ago (view)
JHey with a bouncer thru the right side gets a two out rbi - his first rbi since July 16. Happ with another true outcome nite: 3 Ks and a walk
Dolorous Jon Lester 3 hours 12 min ago (view)
I'd guess Rivas at first. More contact, more low power.
Wisdom at 3B!
crunch 3 hours 12 min ago (view)
i imagine they'll go with hoerner/madrigal (aka, "hoes mad" for the disrespectful youth out there) at SS/2nd.
that's a lot of contact without power, though. this team needs to go buy/trade for some power.
crunch 3 hours 16 min ago (view)
javy hits hit 1st NYM homer
Charlie 3 hours 48 min ago (view)
I could see the Cubs signing a free agent 1B or Ss, an ok starting pitcher, and doing a half-competitive (i.e. finish in third place) phase while waiting for some of these prospects to arrive. Wouldn't be shocked if they get Rizzo back. It will take more than one season to build a real pitching staff, but I think ownership won't be willing to fully tank in the meantime.