Cubs @ Tigers: Games 28-30

Having barely dodged a sweep at the hands of the 3rd-place White Sox, the Cubs now take-on the 4th-place Tigers in Detroit. Unlike the hot Sox, the Tigers are 2-8 in their last 10 games. This could be a chance for the Cubs to add to their lead before a stretch of 18 games against NL Central opponents Aug. 28-Sep. 13.

Game 1, Monday, Aug. 24, 6:10 pm central
CHC: RHP Alec Mills (2-2, 4.76 ERA)
DET: RHP Casey Mize (0-0, 6.23 ERA)

Alec Mills took his second loss and had his first really bad start of 2020 last time out. He couldn't get out of the fourth and allowed 6 earned runs. With the Cubs' offense slumping, he'll need a return to form in order to get back on the winning side of the books.

23-year-old Casey Mize made his MLB debut on Aug. 19, exiting after 4.1 with his first 7 MLB strikeouts under his belt. Prior to that start, he had not pitched above AA. He features a mid-90s fastball to go with a good cutter and splitter and the occasional curveball.

Game 2, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 6:10 pm central
CHC: LHP Jose Quintana (probable, 0-0, -.-- ERA)
DET: RHP Spencer Turnbull (2-2, 3.65 ERA)

As of my writing this, the Cubs game 2 starter is still TBD. However, Jose Quintana should be available to make his first 2020 appearance. Quintana went 13-9 with strong peripherals in 2019, yet will mostly be remembered as having a down year due to a 4.68 ERA. His recent hand injury adds the biggest wrinkle to his narrative. Has he recovered well enough to command his pitches? We may find out soon. He will likely be on a strict pitch count and may piggy back with someone like Colin Rea.

Spencer Turnbull made 30 starts for the Tigers in 2019 and put up respectable numbers except for his 3 and 17 record. Taking his performance alone, he certainly didn't deserve 17 losses. He has yet to surrender a homerun in 2020, but there are several Cubs who should be ready to turn that trend around. He has reverse splits in 2020, but in the larger 2019 sample lefties had a significant advantage against him. The difference could be more than just luck--he has thrown his changeup more in 2020.

Game 3, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 6:10 pm central
CHC: LHP Jon Lester (2-1, 5.06 ERA)
DET: LHP Michael Fulmer (0-0, 9.53 ERA)

Lester has gotten roughed up two games in a row, and in the last start he couldn't get out of the second. He surrendered 4 homeruns to the White Sox; weak contact was nowhere to be found. He'll need sharper movement and command to handle the Tigers' lineup. The aggressiveness of their best hitters may play into the veterans' hands if he can hit his spots.

Michael Fulmer is off to a rough start to his fourth season in the Tigers' rotation. He's made four starts and has yet to pitch more than 3.0 innings in a start. In only one of those starts, a scoreless 3 innings on Aug. 10, has he managed to allowed less than one earned run per inning. Fulmer missed all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery and had another surgery on his elbow in March of this year.


Q will pitch out of the pen when he gets back and chatwood will soon return to slot into the rotation...

Bases loaded and curl up into fetal position? Check

Base running foolishness? Check

Alright then, now that we checked those boxes perhaps we can start playing like a first place team should play

baez 3/4 with 2HR.  hopefully his slump is coming to an end.

cubs franchise win #11,000 (1876 - present)

Cubs pop their run differential back to double figures: from +4 to +10

So now they only trail the Dodgers (+79) by a measly 69 runs

mark grace is in the booth calling the ARZ game (for ARZ).


he's been put on pause from Marquee because of the fallout from his ex-wife "dingbat/all in the family" story...and he's in the booth for Fox Sports AZ tonight... *shrug*

i mean, he's not taking bob brenly's slot full-time f'sure because he's solidly holding on to that gig.  it's just odd to tune into a late night ARZ game and hear grace in the booth again.

moving into "mid-season" trade time...i wonder what talent the cubs will give away for a month of work out of a mid-level, non-impact relief pitcher to add to the pool of a dozen they already have in-house.

the 9-21 angels are strongly shopping talent (especially d.bundy).  rough start for joe maddon's new club...

I bet it's someone we once had mid to high hopes for, but they've not developed so we've given up on them. Whoever it is, we will see them next year producing at the big league level.

AZ PHIL: What happened w/Tom Hatch? What was so "terrible" that they got rid of an upper-round draft choice who is now performing well for the Jays? Asking for a friend (or two). Thanks.

E-MAN: The Cubs had a group of about eight or ten minor league piching prospects last season who were very similar (MLB prospect but mid-level ceiling) such that trading one (or three) wasn't really a big deal because there were still six or seven left in the pipeline pretty much just like the ones who were traded.  

Also, the Cubs actually had David Phelps under control through the 2020 season, but decided after the club's late September meltdown (and after he hit his escalator bonus) not to exercise his 2020 club option and also not to offer contracts to Strop, Cishek, and Kintzler, and instead cut payroll and start fresh with some different (and cheaper) bullpen arms. 

it takes talent to get talent, and Hatch responded better under different preceptors.

I.e. Cubs failed to develop him and Toronto saw something to allow him to unlock that.

Also Tim, I think the complaint is more we gave up talent to get minimal return.

i think most people would have liked it more if phelps wasn't used enough to trigger his $$ incentives, making him not worth keeping for the price.

when he hit 40 appearances, his 2020 contract option went from $3m to $5m...he had 41 appearances.

I definitely was tracking that and was annoyed when he appeared in his 40th especially because the season was toast by then. I know you do right by your players but that was a little overkill.

If you were to give up Hatch, might as well get more than two months out of the return. I think Phelps would have been back this year for $3 mil 

it's nice marquee network is trying expose people to some "non-standard" stats, but showing a lineup with only OPS numbers gives no they get on base?  are they slugging?  are they somewhere in the middle and which way do they lean?

CRUNCH: I was never a fan of OPS as an offensive "shorthand." It would be like having a stat that combines stolen bases and home runs, because OBP and SLG combined don't really tell you anything.   

So I much prefer the AVG/OBP/SLG "triple slash line" (plus HR rate, BB% ,and K% if there is room) as "basic" stats. And then statcast stuff like average exit velo and line drive & hard contact rates are really useful, too. 

And actually those same stats (but in reverse) would be the best stats for pitchers, too, with some added info like first-pitch strike %, pitch types and usage, FB velo, spin rate, and outcomes based on the number of outs and the ball-strike count.   

And as you may recall, I believe WAR is total bullshit (unless it's used to describe a player subjectively -- like the 20-80 scouting scale does). Like "so & so is a five win player," or "so & so is a two win player," etc, because we know in our heads kind of what that number means. But otherwise WAR is an attempt to use stats to compare disparate things that cannot be compared objectively/statistically. 

bullpen up in the 1st...ah, that's the chatwood i remember.

That was 2018 Chatwood for sure.  This is a contract year for him and after two promising starts to the season, he's gacking it away

He owes Underwood a case of beer for bailing him out of the second inning. 

1.1ip 3h 5bb 2k, 2r/er

underwood bailed him out with a couple Ks to end the 2nd.


Tigers grand slam. Cubs run differential no longer double digits

Cubs still looking for their first extra base hit with the bases loaded

Tony Watson, lefty reliever might be obtainable from Giants. He's what the bullpen is currently lacking. 1-month rental should generate low level talent in return, no?

Anyway, I can hope he's better than Justin Wilson (who wasn't at the end of a contract, so was more expensive, ie Candelario and also got Avila short term). 

Bowden proposes wild trades including some Cubs ones, in The Athletic article:

Trade pitching prospects Brailyn Marquez and Kohl Franklin and catching prospect Miguel Amaya to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for left-handed closer Josh Hader. 

The Cubs’ window for another world championship is this year and the next and because they’ve decided to hold on to their entire core, they might as well go for it one more time. Cubs fans won’t like this idea after watching Eloy Jiménez on the South Side of Chicago and Gleyber Torres in the Big Apple, but remember how great that parade was? Wasn’t it worth it? So let’s go one more time and trade top pitching prospects Marquez and Franklin and top catching prospect Amaya to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for left-handed closer Josh Hader. Hader, 26, is the best closer in baseball. He’s pitched in eight games this year and hasn’t given up a hit or a run while striking out 13 and walking 5 in 8 1/3 innings of work. The two-time All-Star is a game-changer and is controllable through 2023. The Brewers need to quickly retool somehow because they have one of, if not the worst, farm systems in baseball. This trade would allow them to build back their system while solving their long-term catching position with Amaya while Marquez would immediately become their top pitching prospect and Franklin wouldn’t be far behind.

The backup (and more realistic) plan would be to deal for Trevor Rosenthal of the Royals, but Chicago is built to win now and it’s time for Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein to try and go big one more time with a mammoth trade for Hader.

Tony Watson works for me.

Dumping our best assets to get Hader is a hard pass. Relievers are volatile, he's been heavily leaned on, and he's a douche.

Agree with that assessment - think I'd wretch if that trade happened 

Trading away legitimate starting pitching prospects--obviously what this club needs to do! :/

Cubs cutting a bunch of staff in scouting and player development.

This really sucks for them, hate to see it happen.

Also sucks for the team given how they just overhauled these departments in hopes of building a better pipeline.

Just ugh all around.

i hate stuff like this, but this move was a bit easier to "know it's coming."

other teams will probably do similar.  yeah, ugh.

happ(LF) / rizzo / baez / schwarber(DH) / contreras / heyward / bote / kipnis / almora(CF)

reds/brewers not playing tonight.  social justice, not covid.

giants/dodgers are talking about whether they will play tonight.

we might be on the cusp of a full sports strike if this keeps flowing.

also, jason heyward is not playing tonight for similar reasons and d.ross is in full support (he was initially in the lineup).  according to p.mooney, the rest of the team is playing with the support/urging of heyward.

buckle up sports fans.

giants/dodgers and padres/mariners cancelled.

matt kemp will not be playing for COL, but COL/ARZ is still scheduled to play.

some wnba teams are also in on this and not playing tonight.

Trump demands MLB follow CDC new guidelines. No covid testing unless there are symptoms. Season over. 

Just kidding. But the CDC taken down by corrupt and stupid politicians is deplorable. 

awww... epic cubs comeback ends short on a lightning-fast comebacker to the pitcher.

at least things got good for a little while.

Ricketts saving money for the trump campaign.

...and the ricketts family takeover of the state of Nebraska...they're doing really sketchy stuff there building a "pete loyal" army of elected officials and pouring a ton of $$ into loyalists.

I'm trying to see what his next move is then, since he's term-limited out in 2 years.  Senator Ricketts?  If so, he's got to run against an R incumbent.

i have no idea what's been so important about pumping money into supporting candidates down ballot on the state level, myself.  it's not like there's some thin margin of moderate and "extreme" R, but the ricketts family has been picking favorites in primary battles.

on the national level, senators ben sasse and deb fisher are very safe and not going to age out at any time soon.

Ian Happ did not look comfortable in RF last night. I wonder if he was having trouble with the lights or if he just wasn't seeing the ball well.

he really didnt and it's a shame because he also showcased great arm strength and accuracy on a few throws last night.

nats/phillies + a's/rangers will not play today (thursday)

tigers/twins + rsox/bjays will not play today

orioles/rays + mets/marlins + rockies/dbacks, too.

7 games not played today.

"MLB commissioner Rob Manfred released a statement Thursday saying that he "has not attempted in any way to prevent players from expressing themselves by not playing, nor have I suggested any alternative form of protest to any Club personnel or any player."

This is in response to a hot mic moment from Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who indicated that Manfred suggested the Mets and Marlins stage something more in line with a symbolic walkout before playing an hour later than originally scheduled as opposed to a full postponement. Van Wagenen later retracted his comments and apologized to Manfred, saying that symbolic gesture idea was actually Jeff Wilpon's."

STL loses both games of their double-header tonight.  they're still in 2nd place, but with a 11-11 record (cubs 18-12).

Thanks, Pirates!

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  • crunch 10 hours 16 min ago (view)

    * except for playing 1st base


  • crunch 2 days 6 hours ago (view)

    a lot of people were all-in on it being a 2022 thing, but given how MLB has held the DH over the player's heads like it's some kind of extremely valuable chip worth more than the players seem to think it's worth...who knows...


  • Cubster 2 days 8 hours ago (view)

    any estimates on the chances of the DH in the NL anytime soon?


  • crunch 2 days 8 hours ago (view)

    k.schwarber is hella good at post-season baseball.


  • Cubster 2 days 9 hours ago (view)

    Carter Hawkins introduced to the press...


  • crunch 2 days 10 hours ago (view)

    e.castillo and t.payne off the 40man in 100% totally expected moves.

    both are/were catcher organizational depth.


  • crunch 2 days 11 hours ago (view)

    for those keeping track of the heating-up Mets head of baseball operations search, theo has already ruled himself out.

    mets want(ed) some heavy hitters (including b.beane and d.stearns), but none of them are on board...well, MIL took stearns off the board before he could chime in because he has a year left on his contract.


  • Arizona Phil 2 days 15 hours ago (view)

    Something to keep in mind about clearing MLB 40-man roster slots for players eligible for selection in this year's Rule 5 Draft is that you can't non-tender players to create 40-man roster space for Rule 5 Draft eligibles. That's because players can only be non-tendered on 12/2, and the pre-Rule 5 Draft roster filing deadline is 11/19 (almost two weeks - PRIOR TO -the contract tender date). NOTE: Normally the roster filing deadline is 11/20, but it's moved up to 11/19 this year because 11/20 falls on a Saturday in 2021


  • Arizona Phil 2 days 16 hours ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: Just one game, some BP, infield practice, and baserunning drills. So not much to glean from that so far. 


  • crunch 3 days 7 hours ago (view)

    minor league baseball has to provide housing for minor leaguers starting 2022 (paid for by MLB parent clubs).  this is HUGE news and will make it possible for guys to stick around longer without having to quit the game just to earn a basic living.  for minor league players working in expensive housing markets this is a life saver.

    activist players from the OAK and LAA minor league teams as well as minor league player labor advocacy organizations were a huge part of making this happen.  good work.


  • bradsbeard 3 days 11 hours ago (view)

    Did you have any occasion to observe Pedro Ramirez? Not sure if he got into any games or not (now that I think of it, you wrote up at least one game he played in). 


  • Arizona Phil 3 days 16 hours ago (view)

    azbobbop: Certainly LHSPs Drew Gray and Luke Little have emerged as legit significant high-end SP prospects. RHSP Luis Devers has probably displaced Koen Moreno as the top "pitchability" SP prospect in the lower levels of the Cubs system. Tyler Schlaffer (another "pitchability" guy) also had an impressive Instructs, although Devers is a better SP prospect because he has a solid three-pitch mix and knows how to use it, while Schlaffer has just the 92-94 FB & CV (although both are solid offerngs) and isn't as polished as Devers is.


  • Hagsag 3 days 22 hours ago (view)

    This is the first time I have heard about the four month program in November. 


  • azbobbop 4 days 5 hours ago (view)

    Phil, now that instructional scare finished, which players impressed you the most and who are disappointments.


  • tim815 4 days 9 hours ago (view)

    Cool. Should help his trade value if the bat plays.


  • Arizona Phil 4 days 11 hours ago (view)

    TIM: Peter Matt looks very comfortable at 3B. He is a classic "four-corner" guy (1B-3B-LF-RF).