Cubs vs. Reds: Series Thread (Games 150-152)

The Cubs swept the Pirates at home and will aim to provide just that sort of treatment now to the Reds as they come into town. They'll have to continue to do their work without Javy and now Rizzo too will be unavailable. No word yet, as far as I can tell, about when Russell might become available again--but fans are generally pleased with Hoerner's first MLB stint anyway. The Cubs now trail the Cardinals by only 2.0 games in the division and the Nats by 1.5 in the Wild Card. The Brewers remain hot on their heels, despite the recent loss of Yelich, while the Mets, Phillies, and D-Backs have dropped back to likely also-ran positions. Don't expect the Reds to be a walk in the park, but the Cubs will at least dodge Luis Castillo. Continue below for the match-ups.

Game 150, Monday, Sep. 16, 7:05pmCDT
CHC: LHP Cole Hamels (7-7, 3.89 ERA)
CIN: RHP Kevin Gausman (3-8, 5.83 ERA)

Hamels worked an effective but inefficient 4.1 innings and took a loss to the Padres in his last start. He walked four and struck out six will allowing a solo homerun as the only scoring. He's 0-1 vs. Cincinnati this year, having been limited to four innings in two starts, both away from Wrigley. Perhaps the Friendly Confines will treat him a bit better.

Gausman came over from Atlanta after the trade deadline. The Reds have used him exclusively out of the bullpen, but they haven't used him on consecutive days and they over turn to him for more than one inning of work. He took a loss to the Cubs in his first appearance with the Reds, allowing two earned runs in two innings on August 8th. Castellanos is 4-15 with two homeruns off of him, and Zobrist is 8-13 with four doubles and a homerun.

Game 151, Tuesday, Sep. 17, 7:05pmCDT
CHC: RHP Yu Darvish (6-6, 3.97 ERA)
CIN: RHP Sonny Gray (10-7, 2.80 ERA)

Darvish built on his impressive second half by going collecting fourteen strikeouts (compared to two walks) in six innings for a win in San Diego. He lost in Cincinnati on August 9th, allowing four earned runs in six innings, getting hurt especially by three homeruns.

Gray took a loss in Seattle, providing 6.1 innings and allowing three earned runs. He struck out nine along the way and probably deserved better. He's provided 6+ innings in each of his last five starts. He's 2-1 against the Cubs in four starts this year, allowing seven earned runs in 23.1 innings pitched and striking out 28. Zobrist is 4-7 off of him and Castellanos 3-9, the closest to any thriving Cubs one can find in the match-up stats sheet.

Game 152, Wednesday, Sep. 18, 7:05pmCDT
CHC: LHP Jon Lester (13-10, 4.59 ERA)
CIN: RHP Tyler Mahle (2-11, 5.11 ERA)

Lester labored through unfavorable pitching conditions to earn a win against the Pirates despite allowing seven runs, four earned, in five innings. He's had a ton of traffic of late, allowing 24 walks and 56 hits in 46.2 innings since the beginning of August, for a WHIP slightly over 1.7. He's somehow managed to go 4-4 in those nine starts. The Reds have feasted on him for a .825 OPS in 200 at-bats. Eugenio Suarez has done much of that damage, going 14-39 with five homeruns and generally disrespecting his elder.

Mahle got a no-decision in his last start, in which he allowed four earned runs in 3.1 innings pitched against Seattle. He's been plagued by the long-ball in 2019, allowing 1.7 homeruns per nine innings. His other peripherals should give Reds fans some room for hope, particularly his 9.28 strikeouts to 2.24 walks per nine. Schwarber is 4-10 with a homer off of him, but it's been feast or famine as he's also struck out five times.

Meanwhile, the Cards and Nats face off in St. Louis, so it's on the Cubs to win in order to gain ground on one or the other any given day. The Brewers will be taking on the Padres in Milwaukee.


rizzo to wear a boot for 5-7 days then they'll see where it goes from there.

Maybe Rizzo can wear Bill Buckner high-tops. It's not like Rizz was a fast runner to begin with. 

zobrist / cast / bryant / schwarb / contreras / caratini (1st) / heyward / hoe / ham

so far so good...

go schwarb

it's kinda frightening that schwarb in LF is a better option than schwarb playing 1st with rizzo out.  i wonder how bad it really is...

cole hamels continues to suck.

3.1, 4.1, 3.1 innings his last 3 starts.  he hasn't been the same since coming back after his july injury rest.

Yeah him and Q both have been pretty crappy down the stretch. I wonder if Hamels is pitching his way out of a qualifying offer.

DJL: I think Cole Hamels has probably pitched his way out of a QO.

Even though it means the Cubs won't get a compensation draft pick were Hamels to sign elsewhere prior to next June's draft, the danger in offering a QO would be that he would either accept the QO and tie-up about $20M in 2020 payroll, or decline the QO and then (like Keuchel and Kimbrel) wait until after the June draft to sign with another club so that the Cubs wouldn't get a draft pick. 

Also, Kendall Graveman has pitched well enough in minor league rehab appearances at the end of the season such that he would probably be a decent-enough #5 SP option in 2020, and Colin Rea (2019 PCL Pitcher of the Year), Alec Mills (who has pitched very well for the Cubs in limited action at the MLB level this season), and Adbert Alzolay (who is one of the Cubs top two SP prospects) are other legit candidates for the #5 rotation slot. 

And if they keep the $20M they would have been willing to give Hamels with via QO, it's possible that the Cubs would be able to sign Nicholas Castellanos to a multi-year deal.

With all of Lester, Hamels, and Q struggling, how likely would you say a Graveman or Rea callup would be at this point in the season to add some long man depth or even take one of those guys’ next turns? Assuming they could call up Steele and place him on the 60 day IL to free up a roster spot. Obviously there’s the matter of Graveman’s bonus but Rea would be relatively cheap for two weeks. 

BRADSBEARD: Colin Rea hasn't pitched in almost two weeks so I doubt that the Cubs will call him up (they probably should have assigned him to the AFL to get him back into SP shape, but they didn't). That said, If the Cubs were to call-up Rea right now (and they would really need to do it ASAP for him to be useful as a SP) they could recall Justin Steele and place him on the 60-day IL to open up a spot on the 40 for Rea, so that part really isn't a problem. 

As for Kendall Graveman, his roster bonus only applies to the MLB regular season (MLB players aren't paid salaries in the post-season, instead they receive playoff shares depending on how far the club gets), so if the Cubs wait until the post-season to reinstate Graveman from the 60-day IL they would just have to drop another player from the 40 (and they can't place a player on the 60-day IL once the MLB regular season is over, so in this case it wouldn't be Justin Steele), but it wouldn't cost the Cubs anything more in terms of 2019 payroll than what Graveman was paid in the regular season. The problem is, Graveman will not have pitched for three weeks by the time the post-season starts, so (like Rea) he probably wouldn't be a viable option as a SP. 

If anything, Alec Mills might be a SP option if Quintana and/or Hamels continue to struggle. Maddon really likes Mills a lot. 

I like that last paragraph a lot, Phil. Then use whatever cash left over in arbitration to fix the bullpen. 

Regarding last night's 9th: Kyle Ryan unwilling or unable to throw his curveball is a little ugly.

Keep in mind that Yu Darvish does have an opt-out after this season, so if he and/or his agent think he can get at least 4/$81M (which is what he presently is owed 2020-23) as a post-2019 FA he could opt-out.   

Meanwhile, the Cubs hold a very reasonable $10.5M club option ($1M buy-out) on Jose Quintana for 2020 and then he's a FA (which might make him an attractive trade target as a 2020 rental if the Cubs decide to move him), and while Jon Lester is signed for next season (with a full "no trade"), the Cubs have a $25M club option (or $10M buy-out) on Lester for 2021 (there is an automatic vesting option for 2021 that Lester will not reach), so I suspect Lester will likely be gone after 2020. 

I think Jon Lester wil be treated as a much-respected "franchise legend" next season, getting the honor of starting on Opening Day, but then being considered the #3 or #4 starter after that before getting his well-earned $10M "golden parachute" after the season. He won't be disrepected by the club, but his time as the go-to guy at the top of the rotation will be over. (Actually it's already over). 

I strongly believe that there will be some major changes on the Cubs after this season, even if the Cubs somehow win the World Series. There won't be a tear-down/rebuild lke 2012-14, but I can see the Cubs going younger.

The only free-agent signing I can see would be bringing back Nicholas Castellanos, which would relate directly to the Cubs trading Kris Bryant before his value diminishes as he gets closer to post-2021 free-agency. If the Cubs get a younger MLB-ready SP as part of a Bryant deal, they could trade Jose Quintana for a young bullpen arm. And as I've written here before, Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber would seem like perfect fits in Cincinnati, with Nick Senzel or Jonathan India the potential long-term Bryant replacement at 3B (Senzel - IF - his right shoulder injury isn't career-limiting, otherwise India with Bote playing 3B until India is MLB-ready) and relievers like Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson the type of younger MLB bullpen arms the Cubs will target.   

Addison Russell will be gone (if they can't trade him, he will be non-tendered), and the older relievers (Strop, Cishek, Kintzler, Phelps, Holland, Morrow, and Cedeno) will leave as free-agents and be replaced by younger arms (some in-house, others to be acquired via trade).     

With $60M+ in payroll coming off the books, I think the Cubs would feel comfortable signing Baez and Contreras to long-term mega-contract extensions, and Rizzo to a lesser extention (probably only through 2024) that will guarantee his 2020 and 2021 performance bonuses as well as over-paying him a bit a franchise hero. 

But I think the days of the Cubs trading their better prospects (like Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, and Isaac Paredes) for established MLB players and signing veteran MLB relievers to multi-year contracts is probably over, and if the Cubs FO gets the feeling that Maddon isn't OK with that, Maddon won't be back in 2020 (of course he might not be back anyway). 

28 year old PIT closer felipe vazquez (one of the best in the game for the last 3 years) nabbed for hooking up with a child for the past couple years (age 13-15).

anything less than a full exoneration pretty much sinks his career unless he wants to run for office in Georgia.

he's being charged with "one count of computer pornography - solicitation of a child and one count of providing obscene material to minor" (this was all uncovered when the mother of the child discovered text messages)

later dude.

4 additional charges (as of now, unnamed) have been filed.

Betcha the Dodgers are really glad that they didn't trade Gavin Lux for Vazquez at the trade deadline. 

zobrist / cast / bryant / schwarb / contreras / caratini(1st) / heyward / hoerner / darvish

c.kimbrel threw a 16-pitch simulated game, he could return by week's end if he doesn't have a setback

darvish hates the cubs, and america, and puppies, but mostly the cubs.

16 pitches, man on 1st, 3 runs in, and a visit from the pitching coach.  that's good stuff.

...and darvish strikes out f'n everyone as a followup.

11Ks through 4ip...63 pitches

7ip 6h 1bb 13k, 4r/er

8Ks in a row a cubs team record

Extremely Darvish game.

hoerner is a steady glove, but so far he is not much of a "playmaker" with how quickly he can turn a play.

the mechanics are solid, but they're not quickly fluid.  watching javy will spoil a fan, though.

Looks to me like he'll be a very rangey second baseman someday. But that's probably a pre-shift way of thinking.

Very much agree. Sounds like a 2B, or emergency SS

Presuming Javier Baez remains with the Cubs long-term, Nico Hoerner will be the 2B who can play SS when Baez isn't in the lineup, very much like Addison Russell was pre-concussion. 

cubs lose, cards lose, brews win

cubs/brews tied (82-69)

Cards with an early win over Scherzer.

zobist / cast / bryant / schwarb / contreras / caratini (1st) / heyward / hoe / lester

for a guy with a .480 ob% this month and a .594 ob% last month, bote can't seem to make an impression on maddon to actually get some playing time.  he's only had 57PA in that time period...tony kemp's had 70PA for his killer .175/.229/.254 slash.

zobrist is on a nice streak, but he's not a better defender than bote at 2nd.  it's not like zobrist doesn't deserve to play with his hot bat since coming back, but it seems like bote is in some weird ass doghouse.

It’s mostly a case of nowhere to play, although you could argue he should be in there over Caratini right now with Rizzo out (though Caratini has been great all season). He’s kind of stuck in a platoon situation even though he‘s struggled against LHP this year and been great against RHP. Honestly I hope he has the inside track on 2B next year until Hoerner is ready, with the possibility of Hoerner shifting to CF some to accommodate both of them. I think Bote has shown he can be an above average player so far in his career. 

EDIT: obviously Hoerner is ready now, but if they decide to give him some AAA time to start the year I’d like to see Bote playing every day. 

marty brennaman (46 years, retiring, last game at wrigley) taking len's place on the booth on the fly to call the 3rd.

classy stuff right there.

cast gets beat by a mile by the throw after stupidly going for a double, but he's still safe after some slide gymnastics.

baez had to have loved that.

Seems like Joe is determined to let Strop blow another game.

We‘d still be leading this division if Joe wasn’t bound and determined to make 2019 Strop into 2018 Strop.

now he's giving ryan a chance to blow the game.  teamwork #1

horrible control night for him.

It’s a shame/painful to see Strop reduced to throwing just off-speed slop

He was better suited pitching late innings over the weekend against the Pirates - certainly not the situation tonight

he's been straight up "the man" for years for the cubs.  he didn't have a decline.  he fell off a f'n cliff.

it sucks to see him go out like this after being steady goodness for so long.

Schwarber caught that complerely flat footed - no shot at throwing out the runner tagging up at third

So fortunate to be down only 2-1. I think there’s been two games (so far) this year where the Cubs were one-hit, with the only hit by Castellanos. Shaping up that way yet again

Well I mean, they’re facing a legitimate Cy Young contender and surefire hall of famer tonight.

And Willson with the game tying home run ruining my one-hit narrative - what a rat bastard! 😂


the fans are feeling stretch-run playoff fever.  place is jumping for the tie game homer.

it's nice to see chatwood throwing something other than fastballs lately.  he seems to be trusting some of his other stuff a bit more.

Caught a break with the third K - I’ll take it. 

Confident Chatwood is fun Chatwood 

Threw Vanmeter a curve and changeup that both looked great on TV, though Vanmeter didn't offer.

Probably brought up here before but Zobrist keeping the estranged wife’s walk up music. Dude is mentally tough

yeah, he was rehabing with RHCP "Can't Stop", but he returned with the beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenny still going on.  i'm not sure anyone's asked him about it that's bothered to share it with the world.  as long as he's hitting and able to show up to work in good physical and mental shape, he can keep on with that annoying tune.

I’m having a bad flashback to those two consecutive blown games with Bote at short and third in the ninth. Rather not have to relive that experience again

he made a killer play before that, but that sprinting clanker was ugly even if he was rushing it because of the runner speed.

that said, i would have little issue seeing him at 2nd over happ or zobrist.  i like his play there.

he's played some straight junk 3rd base this year, which is weird because he played it well last year (short sample size etc)

Until Russell gets off the concussion protocol and/or Baez returns, Kemp may be the best option at second for defense, but Bote certainly better there defensively than Happ or Zobrist  

i'm all about kemp protecting a lead in the last few innings or getting to play after some pinch running, but that dude's bat is getting way too much work.  now that getting him starts isn't a priority he's still getting a lot of early shots off the bench at the plate.

i hope to not see him next season.


4th pitcher of the inning coming in...neat

Gotta do better than three hits in nine innings in a start by Mahle - this one is on the bats

Contreras's receiving didn't do Norwood any favors in that Vanmeter at-bat. And Norwood needed some favors.

Heard Len say Descalso’s name and about had a heart attack. Then heard him say “pinch runner” and settled down a bit

Long looking swing for JHey ... and Nico - oof

JHey's swing looks like it slipped into groundout mode. That Nico lineout was heartbreaking. :(

Reds win season series 11-8 - possibly the first thing you point to should the Cubs miss the post season

There are so many candidates. The early season losing streak comes painfully to mind.

Lots of games where they failed to add on.

Lots of games Strop has single handedly blown, too.

The Cubbies are in a tough situation. If they make the playoffs, they will have earned it!. Enjoy the ride folks.

They’re toast. Can’t finish games, can’t finish series, and it looks very much like they won’t finish this season.

Recent comments

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  • KingKongvsGodzilla 13 hours 39 min ago (view)

    AZPhil, thank you for these updates! It's a nice little pick me up during this dumb year. If you have anything to say on Yohendrick Pinango, Joel Machado, Rafael Morel, or Richard Gallardo, I would love to hear it! Thanks again!


  • crunch 23 hours 8 min ago (view)

    jim hickey new nats pitching coach.


  • bradsbeard 1 day 17 hours ago (view)

    Several non-prospects ate up spots as well. Ultimately wish they had given a few more Rivas types a shot there. 


  • tim815 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    Only 60 spots in SB. Others benefited more from the time.


  • crunch 1 day 21 hours ago (view)

    not phil, but i think everyone is holding off on his potential ceiling until he gains enough weight to not look like someone you want to buy a sandwich every time you see him.

    big upside if his skills can strengthen as he builds his body.

    too early for a solid comp, but i wouldn't feel uncomfortable throwing ian happ's name around (bit better arm than happ, though).


  • bradsbeard 1 day 22 hours ago (view)

    Me too. Thought it was weird he wasn't in South Bend at all. 


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 4 hours ago (view)

    I am very, very intrigued by Rivas. If the DH is unfortunately here to stay, he's a prime candidate for that and give Rizzo a day off 1B here and there. If no DH, hopefully he is a passable OF. Big believer in his hitting ability


  • Hagsag 2 days 6 hours ago (view)

    Phil, do you think Chris Morel is the real deal?


  • tim815 2 days 20 hours ago (view)

    Blue and Red DSL instructs rosters. No Brayan Altuve.


  • crunch 2 days 22 hours ago (view)

    yup, they're gonna try.  starts in about a month.


  • Hagsag 3 days 6 hours ago (view)

    Has it been announced whether there will be a DR winter league this winter?


  • tim815 3 days 11 hours ago (view)

    That's as good of news as we'll get for awhile.


  • Arizona Phil 3 days 14 hours ago (view)

    TIM: If nothing else, signing a boatload of IFA (35) in the 2019-20 ISP is a pretty good indicator that the Cubs fully intend to run two DSL teams into the forseeable future. 


  • tim815 3 days 15 hours ago (view)

    Of the 11 new guys, I'm leaning on Marino Sandy and Jerry Torres to be the most likely to reach full-season ball or get traded 


  • Arizona Phil 3 days 16 hours ago (view)

    OF Ian Miller (outrighted to the minors on 9/3) elected free-agency just prior to the 10/15 deadline, and the Cubs have signed RHRP Juan Gamez (who they released on 9/9) to a 2021 minor league contract. 


  • bigsky33 4 days 22 hours ago (view)

    Phil, were you watching from outside the stadium?