Cubs vs. Reds (Game 43)

With 18 games remaining, the Cubs are still in 1st place and 2.5 games ahead of their nearest rival, the Cardinals. They welcome the 4th place Reds to Wrigley for a 3-game series before heading out for a brief road trip to Milwaukee. There are 10 games left against the NL central for the Cubs. Cincinnati enters the series a long shot for the division at 5.5 back, but they have the same number of wins as Milwaukee and more than the second-place Cards; they are very much still in the playoff hunt.

CHC (24-18): RHP Alec Mills (1-1, 3.90 ERA)
CIN (18-23): RHP Tyler Mahle (1-1, 3.90 ERA)
First pitch 7:15 pm central

Having entered the 2020 off-season as a likely spot-starter, Alec Mills has been a mainstay of the Cubs rotation throughout the first two-thirds of the season. Now that both Quintana and Chatwood are dealing with injuries, there's no indication of his departure any time soon. He opened the season with two strong starts and has allowed 21 earned runs in 24.2 innings since then. He lost to the Pirates last time around. He's 1-0 against Cincinnati in two starts this year, but he  was only able to go three innings in his last start against them.

This will be Mahle's third start of the short season against the Cubs. He's 1-0 in two starts including an 11-strikout game most recently.


Lefty masher Jose Martinez and his -79 OPS+ as a Cub optioned to South Bend.  Billy Hamilton added to 28 man roster

that should help *checks notes* nothing...yeah, nothing.

we're gonna carry this dude for 3 weeks so he can late-inning D sub in the outfield and pinch run in the playoffs?  alright, then...

happ / bryant / rizzo / baez / schwarber / contreras / kipnis(DH) / bote / maybin(RF)

ross is loving maybin since he got here.

Vincente Romo strikes out the side in the bottom 7th against the Cardinals. 7-3 Twins win 1st game of DH. 

As a HAPPY reminder, Romo was a key pitcher in the 9th inning of game 4 of the 2016 NLDS playoffs. He gave up a double to Zobrist.

Top of the 9th, Cubs Batting, Behind 2-5, Giants' Derek Law facing 2-3-4 

Derek Law replaces Matt Moore pitching and batting 9th

t92-50---4,(2-1) CHCKris BryantDerek Law4%7%Single to LF (Ground Ball)

Javier Lopez replaces Derek Law pitching and batting 9th

t92-501--6,(3-2) CHCAnthony RizzoJavier Lopez8%14%Walk; Bryant to 2B

Sergio Romo replaces Javier Lopez pitching and batting 9th

t92-5012-5,(3-1) RCHCBen ZobristSergio Romo21%36%Double to RF (Line Drive); Bryant Scores; Rizzo to 3B

Will Smith replaces Sergio Romo pitching and batting 9thWillson Contreras pinch hits for Chris Coghlan batting 5thChris Coghlan pinch hits for Addison Russell (SS) batting 5th

t93-50-233,(1-1) RRCHCWillson ContrerasWill Smith23%58%Single to CF (Ground Ball); Rizzo Scores; Zobrist Scorest95-501--1,(0-0) OCHCJason HeywardWill Smith-2%56%Bunt Groundout: P-SS/Forceout at 2B; Heyward to 2B/Adv on E6 (throw)

Hunter Strickland replaces Gregor Blanco (LF) pitching and batting 8thGorkys Hernandez replaces Will Smith (P) playing LF batting 9th

t95-51-2-3,(0-2) RCHCJavier BaezHunter Strickland28%84%Single to CF (Ground Ball); Heyward Scores/unERt96-511--2,(0-1) OOCHCDavid RossHunter Strickland-4%81%Ground Ball Double Play: 2B-SS-1B4 runs, 4 hits, 1 error, 0 LOB. Cubs 6, Giants 5.

the mound and RH batter's box is trash...steady/slow rain all night.  no one's slipping around, at least.

You could feel the tension from Underwood in his half inning. Garcia bailed him out and then he got through it. Gotta be a large confidence boost for him. Would be great to see him turn into a high leverage guy next year

wouldn't mind seeing a darvish / hendricks / ??? / mills-alzolay-underwood mix with 1 guy working the long relief/emergency start role going into 2021.  i dunno if the team considers underwood starting material anymore, but he does have 3 servicable pitches he mixes up regularly...not crutching on anything specific.  his control has taken a great step forward in 2020 (since his callup in 2019, really) and that might help him get another shot at starting.

also, i hope this team gets a legit 2/3 slot starter rather than letting darvish and hendricks anchor a group of "maybes."

I think I'd be a bit more comfortable with Yu-Hendricks- FA/trade- FA/trade-Adbert/Mills/Underwood.

The two that aren't in rotation are in 'pen. It gives us a 6th starter too. That is critical next year cause when I look at AAA starters, the only ones that look at all viable are T Miller, Abbott, and Robinson id healthy. Two have never thrown an MLB pitch and the other has thrown less than 100.

All of that said, Underwood getting comfortable at MLB level and potentially using that to jump into rotation is intriguing.

My gut says we'll be lucky if 1 of Alzolay, Mills, or Underwood can establish himself as a good back of the rotation guy and one can be a good middle reliever. The Cubs desperately need more good options in front of them for 2021 if they are going to contend. I think a contending team needs 2 really good starters, 4-5 more guys they are pretty happy starting at the MLB level, and another 2 live bodies that can give you 4 innings when called up. Right now, it's not clear whether Alzolay and Underwood will fall into the second category or the third. I kind of like Underwood out of the bullpen better--I think his splitter might play better there.

As things stand right now and presuming the Cubs do not exercise the 2021 club options on Lester and Descalso but do pick-up Rizzo's option, it's likely that the Cubs will be anywhere from $12M - $19M AAV under the 2021 CBT threshold by the start of Spring Training. And that's if they don't sign any free-agents and don't make any trades.

The available AAV could be reduced if Darvish and/or Hendricks do well in the Cy Young voting. Otherwise the $7M AAV difference has to do with whether the Cubs do or do not tender contracts to eight arbitration-eligible players who are "on the bubble" (the eight do not include Baez, Bryant, Caratini, Contreras, Happ, and Schwarber). 

Andrew Chafin
Tyler Chatwood
Daniel Descalso (club option)
Billy Hamilton
Jeremy Jeffress
Jason Kipnis
Jon Lester (club option)
Cameron Maybin
Jose Quintana
Anthony Rizzo (club option)

Jon Lester - $25M club option for 2021 or else $10M buy-out 
Yu Darvish - $22M each in 2021, $19M in 2022, and $18M in 2023, 2019-21 salaries escalate $2M per season going forward if Darvishj wins Cy Young Award in previous seasdon or $1M per season if 2-5 finish in Cy Young in previous season. - $21M AAV
Jason Heyward - $21M in 2021 and $22M each in 2022-23, plus $20M signing bonus deferred with $5M paid each April 1st 2024-27 - $23M AAV
Anthony Rizzo - $16.5M in 2021 w/$2M buy-out post-2020 & player may void 2021 option if traded - $16.5M AAV
Craig Kimbrel - $16M in 2021 & $16M vesting option in 2022 if 110 GF 2020-21 at least 55 GF in 2021 or else club option with $1M buy-out, $2M buy-out if at least 53 GF in 2021 or $3M buy-out if at least 53 GF in 2020-21 - $13.096M AAV
Kyle Hendricks - $14M each in 2021-23 and $16M vesting option in 2024 if Top 3 in Cy Young 2020 or else club option with $1.5M buy-out, & salaries escalate $3M per season with Top 10 finish in Cy Young 2020-23- $13.875M AAV   
Daniel Descalso - $3.5M club option with $1M buy-out in 2021
David Bote - $1M in 2021, $2.5M in 2022, $4M in 2023, $5.5M in 2024, $7M club option or $1M buy-out in 2025, and $7.6M club option or $3M buy-out in 2026) - $3M AAV
SIGNED PLAYERS 2021 SUB-TOTAL AAV: $102.5M (AAV) presuming Lester and Descalso club options are declined and Rizzo club option is exercised, and AAV sub-total could escalate TBD depending on how Darvish and/or Hendricks finish in 2020 Cy Young voting.   

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE POST-2020 (estimated 2021 salaries in parenthesis):
Albert Almora - $1.575M in 2020 ($2M in 2021?)
Rex Brothers - $900K in 2020 ($1M in 2021?)
Kris Bryant - $18.6M in 2020 ($23.5M in 2021?)
Javy Baez - $10M in 2020 ($16M in 2021?)
Victor Caratini - $615K in 2020 ($2M in 2021?)
Willson Contreras - $4.5M in 2020 ($9M in 2021?)
Ian Happ - $600K in 2020 ($3M in 2021?)  
Jose Martinez $2M in 2020 ($2.5M in 20211?)
Josh Osich - $850K in 2020 ($1M in 2021?)   
Colin Rea
- $570K in 2020 ($750K in 2021?)
Kyle Ryan$975K in 2020 ($1.25M in 2021?)
Kyle Schwarber- $7.01M in 2020 ($12.5M in 2021?:)
Ryan Tepera - $900K in 2020 ($1.25M in 2021?)  
Dan Winkler - $750K plus $750K in potential performance bonuses in 2020 ($1.25M in 2021?)
PROJECTED ESTIMATED 2020 ARB AAV SUB-TOTAL: $76.5M (or could be $65.5M if Almora, Brothers, Martinez, Osich, Rea, Ryan, Tepera, and Winkler are non-tendered). Also, keep in mind that how a player performs in 2020 will not be taken into account if a player eligible for arbitration goes to an arb hearing.   

Jason Adam
Adbert Alzolay  (could be out of minor league options in 2021 - TBD)
Miguel Amaya 
Nico Hoerner
Dillon Maples  (will be out of minor league options in 2021)
Tyson Miller 
Alec Mills (no minor league options left)
James Norwood 
Manuel Rodriguez 
Justin Steele  
Duane Underwood Jr (no minor league options left)
Ildemaro Vargas (no minor league options left)
Rowan Wick
Brad Wieck
ESTIMATED PROJECTED 2021 PRE-ARB SUB-TOTAL AAV: $4.5M??? - $3M (MLB) plus $1.5M (14 minor league splits) - or sub-total AAV could increase to as much as $8.5M if eight arbitration eligible players (listed above) are non-tendered and additional pre-arbitration players are added as their roster replacements. m


ESTIMATED PROJECTED 2021 PAYROLL AAV: $198M if no players are non-tendered or could be as low as $191M if Almora, Brothers, Martinezs, Osich, Rea, Ryan, Tepera, and Winkler are non-tendered.   

$210M CBT threshold in 2021

Presuming the Cubs will not go over the CBT threshold again in 2021 (they are about $11M over in 2020), and with $5M needed to be left in the bank to cover salaries for in-season IL roster replacements and potential mid-season trade acquistions  the Cubs might have as little as $7M (or could be as much as $14M if the Cubs non-tender a load of arb-eligible guys) to spend on a free-agent pitcher to replace Lester (and that's without any contract extensions for "core players" who are nearing free-agency). And even less if Darvish an/or Hendricks do well in the Cy Young 

In order to free-up AAV payroll for potential contract extentions for Baez, Rizzo, and maybe Schwarber, it's probably going to be necessary for the Cubs trade Kris Bryant during the off-season. They may not get what they think he's worth in the deal, but his potential; 2021 $23M arb salary will likely keep the Cubs from adding another FA SP and bullpen arms they will need in 2021. So I fully expect Bryant to be traded during the off-season, even though the return might be disappointing.  

Thanks Phil, you are a treasure.

heyward was available to pinch hit, but was not used.

still heard nothing official, and he's still on the marquee network's talent page, but mark grace seems to fully be a Fox Sports AZ personality at this point.  he's guest-called a game with bob taking the night off and has been doing post-game and in-game work rather steady.

Grace was doing the pre-game show on Marquee Saturday. 

thanks.  that makes it more confusing, but at least explains why he's still on their talent roster.

Recent comments

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  • Cubster 3 hours 38 min ago (view)

    Bluejays locked up a playoff spot. Looks like it's the Astros that are out. They are unlikely to get a "Buffalo" home game if they are the last seed.


    Tribune Cub Notes (Friday AM):

    Revenue drop leads to layoffs

    By Mark Gonzales

    The Cubs on Thursday laid off about 60 members of their business department because of declining revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a source told the Tribune.


  • crunch 18 hours 43 min ago (view)

    the scary part of this team-wide slump, and especially this series, is PIT is basically a AAA level talent team that had 15 wins all season coming into the cubs series.

    cubs are limping into the post-season.  heyward is pretty much the only consistent hitter.  well, technically jose martinez has been consistent, too.


  • blockhead25 19 hours 1 min ago (view)

    Hey, anything could happen.  They could win 4 2-1 games in a series.

    Or lose 8-0, 6-0 in the first round and be done.


  • Charlie 19 hours 20 min ago (view)

    3 days left to get psyched for the post season?


  • blockhead25 20 hours 15 min ago (view)

    This is an impressive level of offensive offense.  This week feels like the final week of 2018 when we also had a lousy 4 game series with the Pirates, just without one of the other teams winning the final 8 games to catch us. 


  • QuietMan 22 hours 50 min ago (view)

    So whatever happened to the don't pitch Mills the day after Hendricks plan?


  • crunch 23 hours 4 min ago (view)

    rizzo / contreras(DH) / heyward / schwarber / maybin(CF) / kipnis / baez / caratini / bote


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    I agree with all of this. I think KB is traded for a SP. I guess here is my guess at the pitchers:



    Trade Acquisition 

    Cheap FA

    Mills/ Alzolay 

    Bullpen: Mills/ Alzolay, Underwood, Adam, Tepera, Wick, Kimbrel, Ryan, Wieck (Alzolay if he loses the 5th spot battle with Mills is still starter number 6, and likely being groomed to join the rotation either later in the year or 2022)


  • Charlie 1 day 17 hours ago (view)

    Frazier beat him on an inside corner two-seamer (albeit belt high), but the Hayes homer came on an 0-2 meatball. Not very professorial.


  • crunch 1 day 17 hours ago (view)

    hendricks starts the game giving up back to back homers.  wtf...


  • crunch 1 day 19 hours ago (view)

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


  • George Altman 1 day 21 hours ago (view)

    Let's hope so. It would be great next year to NOT have to 'piece together a bullpen'.


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 21 hours ago (view)

    DJL: I think that if Lester, Chatwood, Quintana, Jeffress, and Chafin leave via free-agency and do not return or are not replaced by at least one veteran MLB FA SP, the default Cubs 2021 Opening Day pitching staff will be Darvish, Hendricks, Mills (out of options), Alzolay (could be out of options - TBD), and either Rea, T. Miller, Steele, Abbott, Marquez, or D.


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 22 hours ago (view)

    I understand that any team can win a three-game series, but if I'm a division winner I'd want to be the #3 seed rather than the #2 seed in both the A. L. and the N. L., because I would rather face the worst second place team (Houston in the A. L. and probably Miami or Philadelphia in N. L.) than the best wild card team (Cleveland in the A. L. and probably Cincinnati or Milwaukee in the N.L.).  


  • Hagsag 2 days 6 hours ago (view)

    Maybe, if he makes the roster!


  • Charlie 2 days 12 hours ago (view)

    Jose Martinez is going to hit some big post season homerun, isn't he?