Cubs vs. Cardinals Series Thread (Games 29-31)

It's rivalry time, folks! The redbirds come into town with a 20-11 record and the first spot in the division. This is the first time the two teams will face off in 2019. Despite the gap in their records, the two teams should be matched pretty evenly. The Cards come into the series second in the NL in runs scored, but the Cubs are only 4 runs behind them and trail only the Dodgers in WRC+ and actually lead the NL in WOBA. Both teams also bring tremendous production from the SS position, where Paul DeJong and Javier Baez have each contributed to the offensive resurgence of shortstops across the maors. The Cards have had a slightly better bullpen, but the Cubs have had the edge from starting pitchers. See the pitching matchups below.


Game 29
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-4, 5.33 ERA)
STL: RHP Jack Fleherty (3-1, 4.06 ERA)
First pitch 1:20pmCDT

Hendricks got knocked around for 7 earned runs in his start against the D-Backs. 2019 has not yet seen the sharp command that had allowed him to succeed in previous years. Marcell Ozuna had Hendricks's number in the past (1.157 OPS against) and has been showing off his power in the early going this year.

Jack Flaherty has lowered his walk rates and kept his strikeout rate over 10 per nine innings, but he's allowed 7 homeruns already. He faced the Cubs 3 times in 2018 and went 1-1 with 5 earned runs in 12.2 innings.


Game 30
CHC: RHP Yu Darvish (2-3, 5.02 ERA)
STL: RHP Michael Wacha (2-0, 4.78 ERA)
First pitch 3:05pmCDT

Darvish had his best start of the season last time out. He went 6 innings and allowed only 1 earned run for a win against the D-Backs. He also still gave up 4 walks and another homerun (7 on the season). Most Cardinals will be facing him for the first time.

Wacha missed much of 2018 with one of those pesky oblique injuries. In 2019, it's the base on balls that's nagging at him. Last time out he pitched 5 innings and was good enough to get a win against the Nats (3 earned runs). There are a bunch of Cubs' hitters with gaudy numbers against him. As a group, they have a .997 OPS against him in 163 at bats.


Game 31
CHC: LHP José Quintana (3-1, 3.48 ERA)
STL: RHP Adam Wainwright (3-2, 3.73 ERA)
First pitch 6:05pmCDT

Quintana has been extremely sharp in most of his starts so far. Last time, he was good enough to get through 5.2 allowing only 5 baserunners, but two of those baserunners got to trot their way around. As a group, the current Cardinals have mashed against him (.979 OPS against).

Adam Wainwright is now in his 15th season as a Cardinal and is recovering from an injury-shortened 2018. His velocity is down a bit, as you might expect of a pitcher in his late 30s. He's been effective against current Cubs, and Javy has a particularly bad 3-17 against him with 5 strikeouts.



Go Cubs!

Comments

Happ hasn't fanned all week...

do you know what's up with ryan williams's usage?  he seems to only be pitching once a week, and in short relief.

CRUNCH: Like Dalton Geekie at South Bend, Garrett Kelly and Brendan King at Myrtle Beach, and Brad Markey at Tennessee, Ryan Williams is activated when he is needed, and he is placed on the 7-day IL or is assigned (on paper) to the Eugene reserve list when he is not needed. He understands the drill (the alternative would be getting released). 

I don't think the Cubs' over-the-top emphasis on pitching in the 2016/17 draft and free agent signing is working. Adding a second rookie league team covered this up for a while but there are still just four full-season minor league teams.  If you want to see if Williams is back from his injury, you have to let him pitch.  Why sign Geekie and Kelly from independent ball, then put them on the shelf?  Other guys in this "reserve" category have done well at lower levels, gotten promoted, but aren't getting to play.  Meanwhile, the offense at Myrtle Beach has been pathetic.  That's a result of all the position players we didn't draft on the first and second day in 2016/17.  It's great when you get a Jared Young on the third day but he's already at AA due to lack of competition within the system.  Most of the other guys drafted in those rounds  have already been cut.  I'm ready to call this strategy a failure and an important contributor to the Cubs continuing to have one of the lowest-ranked minor league systems.

Genuine question that I think you and/or Phil may have a response to: In a system thin on solid prospects, why can't a team prioritize appropriate placement of good prospects and simply fill gaps higher in the system with minor league free agents and other journeymen? Aside from minor league payroll, what are the costs to that?

Theo saw the age of the rotation in the Championship season and prioritized pitching.  Makes sense.  He's been quoted saying hitting prospects are easier to identify than pitching ones.  Perhaps, but maybe a guy like Chris Bryant clouded that judgement?  The stupidity as I see it is that if you are going to evaluate more pitching prospects than other teams, there have to be real opportunities to see them pitch.  Adding a second rookie league team lets you keep more guys under contract, at cheap salaries.  It doesn't give you more capacity to see if they are good!  In addition to the guys that Phil mentioned, you see pitchers who other observers think have potential stuck in the logjam.  Kellogg starts his third consecutive season at MB.  Barry is a key contibutor to the Emeralds' championship win, so he gets to go back there!?  Lawlor gets signed from the Frontier League, does pretty well at South Bend, then returns to South Bend.  These guys probably should be promoted, but when and to where?  The organization has too many pitching prospects in their mid-20's and they haven't seen enough of them to know what they have.  Meanwhile, Myrtle Beach, which should be home for the core of position players drafted in 2016/17, has a .213 team batting average.  You can tweak your minor league emphasis but Cubs leadership went overboard.

I wasn't a fan of the pitching-heavy 2016 and 2017 drafts as they were happening. Still, not a fan. That said, Matt Swarmer is getting outs in Triple-A before being Rule 5-eligible. The system is about at the best quality/balance level that I remember. Lean very slightly bat-heavy in June, get a reasonably good college closer (Cronin from Arkansas?), and I'll be good with it.

Charlie, JustSayin', Tim: the problem is bigger than which component, hitting or pitching, they prioritize. It goes to the core of management. The annual end-of-season firing squad that scapegoats team officials somehow never touches the chief incompetent, Jason McLeod.

McLeod drafted Kris Bryant, which you or I could have done as well after a season where we lost 100 games. McLeod's other top-10 picks were Schwarber (#4), Almora (#6) and Happ (#9), none of whom plays every day in the majors.

And then there's pitching. Thirty major-league teams employ and utilize a dozen-or-so major-league pitchers each, so the league needs 360-odd pitchers at a given time to put on baseball performances daily.  Who are the dozen major-league pitchers that McLeod has drafted into this pitcher-hungry system? You can start with the 2012 draft or go back to the Boston and San Diego years. (He didn't draft Lester, by the way.) The Cubs deserve a hefty fine for starving the league of ML-quality pitching.

Where I live, Myrtle Beach is the only Cub farm team I ever get to see. They've been in steady decline ever since they affiliated with the Cubs.

Yeah, you're right. Drafting and developing baseball players is easy. I don't know why McLeod hasn't produced more everyday stars on the current Cubs teams. I mean, you and I could've/would've drafted Kris Bryant. Everybody would have (except the Astros). A good VP of Player Development and Scouting would be able to draft a Kris Bryant every year, amirite?

And I get what you mean with Myrtle Beach. Sheesh! After winning the Carolina League championship in 2015 & 2016 (the 1st two years they were the affiliated with the Cubs), they haven't won since!! 

I kid, but I think your expectations are unrealistic.

Here's an excellent 10-year breakdown of the chances of finding a stud player, good player, a guy who makes it to the majors and a bust in the 1st round. Spoiler alert, from the years studied (2000-2010), you were more likely to get a bust in the first round than any other category.

https://community.fangraphs.com/success-rate-of-ml...

It basically shows that drafting and developing players is really hard, and that McLeod and his staff have beaten the odds statistically. They've failed in the pitching realm early on, for sure. And they've had their misses throughout. We agree on that. But every team has a lot of misses in the draft, especially with pitching. They've admitted their failures scouting pitchers publicly over and over again. They looked hard at what they did wrong and made changes. Of late, the results have been better. Great? No. But the Cubs have several arms in the minors right now that McLeod drafted/scouted that are doing very well. 

They developed Alzolay. Clifton (12th round, 2013) is improved and performing well in AAA right now. Tyson Miller (4th round, 2016) and Cory Abbott (2nd round, 2017) are among the league leaders in the Southern League. Riley Thompson (11th round, 2018) is killing it in South Bend. Swarmer (19th round, 2016) in AAA has already been mentioned. Keegan Thompson (3rd round, 2017) and Justin Steele (5th round, 2014) have been dealing with injuries early on this season but show promise in AA.  

And then there's the younger group of Brailyn Marquez (IFA), Jeremiah Estrada (6th round, 2017), Yovanny Cruz (IFA) and Danis Correa (IFA) who are 3+ years away but worth being excited about, not to mention Richard Gallardo. 

Add in AAA relievers James Norwood (7th round, 2014) and Dakota Meekes (10th round, 2016) and that's 15 arms, 9 of which are in AA or AAA. Help is on the way. It appears they missed terribly with Lange and Little. McLeod has to wear that, but he's also had some decent success from 2016 on. 

The Cubs were expected to take Jon Gray, by many.

Team Theo took KB, instead.

i'm salty they passed on aaron nola...i couldn't believe how far one of the best college pitchers fell (7th overall).

c.rodon and b.aiken were sure to go before the cubs got a change to pick (4th)...cubs went with the best college bat (again) with schwarber knowing full well he would have to play LF/1st (seriously, he was barely a catcher in college).

i find it hard to argue against snagging the best college hitter, though...unless there's some flags on his game (like weak handling of inside pitching using aluminum to overcome that shortcoming).

still...i was ready for a real pitching prospect in the system.

I admire your sunny outlook, K Dub, but my sense is they all hit their head in Double A.

The major-league Cubs play other teams, and I usually see interesting pitching prospects over there, like that kid Alcantara last night. And then they all bring in fireballing relievers. Like I said, we don't seem to be doing our part in stocking the major leagues with arms. But we're supposed to be happy because we can afford Cole Hamels at $20 mil.

I think Edwards is a promising young pitcher, but the Cubs didn't draft him. Dillon Maples is very interesting, and, hey, the Cubs did draft him--but not this front office. Samardzija and Cashner were better than what we're getting now.

"They've admitted their failures scouting pitchers publicly over and over again. They looked hard at what they did wrong and made changes." I'm not sure what those changes were. Their annual firing sprees didn't touch McLeod or his scouts, did they?

 

So, Andrew Schultz from Tennessee? Cronin from Arkansas?

VIRGINIA PHIL: I wouldn't say it's a sunny outlook. I made no statements pertaining to eventual major league success. Just stated the facts of more recent success of McLeod's drafting of pitchers. I agree, some may "hit their head in AA". Of course, that completely ignores the 7 pitchers I named that are already doing well, some dominating, in AA and AAA. I'm more of a wait-and-see guy. Not too big on predictions usually.

The statistics show that your expectations of draft success are unreasonably high. But, and I mean this, I don't seek to change your mind on anything. Every fan is allowed their point of view. I'm just sharing mine. 

If you don't want to include Edwards because he wasn't drafted by the Cubs, that's cool. I didn't either. Though he was identified by their scouts under McLeod's leadership and developed by their developmental staff from A-ball on up. Side note: Alcantara wasn't drafted by the Marlins either. They traded for him, too. 

As far as fireballing relievers, there's more than one way to get the job done. Notwithstanding last night's outcome, you can't argue with the results of the Cubs pen thus far, fireballers or no. And if you like the upper 90s heat out of the pen, the Cubs have a couple of those guys developing in Iowa right now. I mentioned one of them in my previous post, James Norwood. If you haven't already, I'd encourage you to check him out.

Not a bad way to open the series! Shorter than a Marvel movie!

That was quite pleasant. 

f’n dominating

Jon Lieber (79 pitch complete game shutout for Cubs in ’01) and Zman (last Cub with an under 100 pitch complete game shutout, in ‘09) both at the game today to see Hendrick’s Maddux outing - and both visited the clubhouse afterward as well, which is pretty swell too. 

2019...dexter fowler still helping the cubs win games.  props.

hurrah for the ever-loyal t.davis, but he is trash behind the plate holding runners or stopping some of the more wild stuff...which is a pretty big deal with darvish pitching.  i have no idea why they're pairing these 2 together rather than something like hendricks/davis.

t.davis GRAND SLAM...1st MLB homer, 1st hit of the season.

That was fun

d.descalso left the game after tweaking his ankle running the bases...it doesn't look that bad, though.

baez!!!!

18-12!

half a game out of 1st.  ESPN night game tomorrow.

zobrist(LF)/bryant/rizzo/baez/contreras/heyward/bote/almora/Q

also, isn't it about time to send m.zagunis down?  he's barely playing and he is obviously not a good "cold" bench option given he has 1 hit and 1 walk with 9Ks in his limited 12PA off the bench to show his stuff.

he came into the season off a hot spring with 50+PA, getting 3 starts in the first week of play where he put up 5 hits (3 doubles) in 10PA...then he went into bench warming mode and got ice cold.

for the 2nd game in a row, fowler forgets how to play CF in wrigley.

He doesn't look fully recovered from his flu to me.

matty v's harry carray impersonation just burried dempster and w.ferrell

...and his 2nd attempt was hot garbage.

good job, guy.

One of the worst 7th innig stretch.

it's like he quickly knew it was going off the rails, but hit the gas instead of the brakes...it just didn't quit being bad.

YOUR 1st PLACE CHICAGO CUBS.

also, wtf chatwood...dude...c'mon...

MIA visits CHC tomorrow night.

Bad news, A-Rod is back next Sunday night.

3 ESPN sunday games in a row...meh.

Recent comments

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  • crunch 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    j.girardi did a 2nd interview with PHI on Monday and he's supposedly the favorite for the job.

     

  • bradsbeard 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    The draft over the ASB and the trade deadline pushed back until August 15th or so would make sense. Otherwise, I don't know how scouting departments are going to handle the draft lead up and the trade deadline running almost simultaneously.  

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    One other thing about MLB player development that is very different from NFL, NBA, and NHL player development is that most MLB clubs have upwards of 300 minor league players under contract (not including players on their MLB 40-man roster, the Cubs presently have 301 minor leaguers under contract on nine minor league affiliates).

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    JUST SAYIN: MLB is the only one of the four major North American professional sports that holds its draft and signs its draft picks during the season.

     

  • crunch 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    umpire eric cooper has died...complications from knee surgery (blood clot)...52 years old

     

  • crunch 2 days 5 hours ago (view)

    "MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports former player David Ross and Astros bench coach Joe Espada "appear to be the frontrunners" for the Cubs' managerial opening."

    espada's had 2 interviews.  for a guy who's actively at his "other job," having a 2nd interview seems like both sides want to make this work.  SF and PIT are also supposedly interested in espada.

     

  • JustSayin' 2 days 7 hours ago (view)

     That's a fair description of the benefits of the plan but If I have to choose between "better way" and "owners' greed," I pick the latter.  MLB wants better MiLB facilities, on average, without paying a cent.  They want to deal with the social and legal pressure they are getting for not even paying minor league players minimum wage per real hour worked by having less players.  In addition, the draft is to be moved to late August, so every draftee would lose compensation for the stub year in which they are drafted.  For this reason, I'm not sure your point about col

     

  • Hagsag 2 days 7 hours ago (view)

    Thanks Mr. Phil.

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 8 hours ago (view)

    HAGSAG: Besides reducing the costs that are associated with operating a minor league club, reducing the number of minor league affiliates would allow MLB organizations to increase the salaries of their remainng minor league players (who would be the organization's most-legit prospects) without having to increase the organization's aggregate minor league payroll. 

     

  • crunch 2 days 9 hours ago (view)

    The discussions on this matter have been quite varried.  There seems to be a lot of pressure connected to this on minor league team owners who haven't upgraded their facilities/park in a while or who lag in quality compared to their competitors.

    It seems like this would not only cause some teams to fold, but some radical redistribution of existing teams/cities into new minor league levels rather than just pruning some teams over others.

     

  • Hagsag 2 days 21 hours ago (view)

    AZ Phil, what are your thoughts on the discussion to eliminate 42 low minor league teams in 2021? What would this do to the Dominican League? Thanks.

     

  • crunch 3 days 3 hours ago (view)

    yanks/astros game 6 was a f'n classic.  wow.

    altuve continues to build his astros legend.

     

  • bradsbeard 3 days 17 hours ago (view)

    Thanks for this. I agree they’ll probably take their chances in the Rule 5 if he will resign, though I really wouldn’t mind adding him back to the 40 man. I feel like he has a good chance to be effective out of the bullpen. 

     

  • bradsbeard 3 days 17 hours ago (view)

    I hope Sagara doesn’t end up leaving because of the shakeup. The Athletic did report that his position might be eliminated but that he should be offered another role in the organization somewhere. All I know is Sagara’s name came up frequently in connection with the pitch lab, and he was credited for improvements with Ryan, Wick, and Wieck. Maybe he’ll end up focusing more specifically in that role helping guys tweak things in the lab. 

     

  • JustSayin' 4 days 5 hours ago (view)

    Does anyone have insight into the new management hires and musical chairs the Cubs announced yesterday?  Craig Breslow might be the only guy out there with extensive MLB experience AND the grey matter to challenge any quant not making sense. His role intrigues me but are they going to give him real responsibility to clear out the deadwood (including the existing minor league coordinator who was never good enough to be the pitchers he's coaching?)  Or, is this a superficial change aimed at keeping ownership off Theo's back? 

     

  • Arizona Phil 4 days 6 hours ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: I think the Cubs want to retain Oscar de la Cruz post-2019, just not on the MLB 40-man roster.