Cubs @ Nationals Series Thread (Games 42-44)
The Cubs (25-16) continue their road trip with a swing over to the old District to take on the 4th place (?!) Nationals (18-25).
The Nats are off to a disappointing start. Losing Bryce Harper on the free agent market is only part of the explanation. Trea Turner has been on the IL since early April with a broken finger. Veterans Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Eaton have WRC+'s of 81 and 93 respectively. And the bullpen has put up an MLB worst 6.20 ERA despite being the least exposed bullpen in the majors (only 127.2 IP). In the positives column, their rotation leads the majors in strikeouts per 9 innings and Baseball Reference rates them as leading the league at 4 wins above average. Anthony Rendon also continues to be excellent at all things baseball. Check out the day-by-day matchups below.
CHC: LHP Cole Hamels (3-0, 3.08 ERA)
WAS: RHP Max Scherzer (2-4, 3.64 ERA)
First pitch 6:05pmCDT
You know what I didn't appreciate about Hamels before he became a Cub? He's fun to watch. His return to form with Chicago obviously improves the overall experience, but he's also expressive on the mound. You can see when he's frustrated and you can see when he's having fun. After a handful of cursing, grumbling starts, Hamels looked to be enjoying himself again when he started against Milwaukee. He couldn't earn his fourth win in that one, but he did provide 7 solid innings and allowed only 1 earned run. Brian Dozier is 4-14 off of him. Ryan Zimmerman is 22-88 with 20 strikeouts.
Scherzer's ERA is up a tick in the early going, but I'm inclined to attribute that to the defense behind him or mere luck. His BABIP is up to .361 while all of his other peripherals are actually improved over last year. The short of it is that he remains terrifying. At 34 he's averaging 95.1 MPH on hist fastball and still has a nasty slider. Rizzo is 4-15 with a HR off of him. Addison Russell is 3-11 with a HR but has also struck out 7(!) times. Everyone else is probably thumb wrestling to determine who can get the day off.
CHC: LHP Jon Lester (3-1, 1.16 ERA)
WAS: RHP Stephen Strasburg (3-3, 3.63 ERA)
First pitch 6:15pmCDT
Even if the Cubs have to take on Scherzer and Strasburg, the good news is they have their best starters going in return. Lester has been absurdly good this season. He went 6.2 allowing 1 unearned run to earn a win against Milwaukee on his last turn. Ryan Zimmerman is 4-14 with a pair of homeruns and a pair of doubles against him. No other current Nats have done much against him.
The oft-injured Strasburg has made all his scheduled starts so far in 2019 and has been dominating in a handful of them. On the other hand, he's allowed 4 or more earned runs in 4 of those starts. Current Cubs have slashed .279/.345/.423 against him in 104 ABs--not too shabby. Heyward, who has regressed recently, is 15-37 against Strasburg.
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (3-4, 2.86 ERA)
WAS: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (2-2, 6.00 ERA)
First pitch 6:08pmCDT (because ESPN)
Hey! This matchup favors the Cubs! Hendricks added to his hot stretch with an 8-inning start in which he collected as many hits as he allowed (3). He looks to have gotten a feel for his delivery and is now rarely walking anyone and getting a ton of weak contact. Maddon and broadcasters have tried to make some hay of his attempt to use his curveball to greater effect, but he's using it about as much as he ever has. Adam Eaton is 4-13 with a pair of homeruns off of him. Overall, he's held current Nats to a .570 OPS.
Jeremy Hellickon's 2019 has not been great. His walk rate is way up and he's allowing 2 homeruns per 9 innings. Last time out he allowed 5 earned runs against the Mets while walking 4 over 5 innings. He's never been an especially hard thrower, but his velocity is down a bit to an average of 89.3 on fastballs. Current Cubs have hardly seen him. Baez is 2-4 with a HR, Byrant 2-6 with a HR, and Descalso is 3-7.
I'll be at the Saturday game to see Strasburg and Lester. Look for a guy in a Cubs hat!
Arizona Phil 4 hours 7 min ago (view)
The Cubs have released RHRP (and their erstwhile closer) Brandon Morrow. There is no indication that they plan to re-sign him to another (different) 2020 minor league contract without the Article XX-B $100K retention bonus provision (as happened with Jason Kipnis last week).
crunch 7 hours 34 min ago (view)
rizzo takes another day off (lower back). ross says the club is "exercising caution."
klye ryan is expected to join the team tomorrow after some mysterious holdup.
Ryno 8 hours 11 min ago (view)
Has anyone seen Darvish's pitch "The Supreme"? Isn't it just a sinker?
Ryno 8 hours 19 min ago (view)
In other words: This lineup sucks.
Arizona Phil 8 hours 36 min ago (view)
Jason Kipnis was released on June 29th and then he was re-signed to a new (different) 2020 minor league contract that does not require a $100K retention bonus if he is not added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List by 2020 MLB Opening Day (7/23).
Brandon Morrow remains on his original 2020 minor league contract which pays him a $100K retention bonus if he is not released by 7/18 or added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List by 7/23.
Eric S 8 hours 41 min ago (view)
There is that re Kimbrel - at worst, just another year on the books.
July 1st is Bobby Bonilla Day - the day that check is cut and paid annually.
Cubster 8 hours 47 min ago (view)
On the bright side regarding Kimbrel. It doesn't have the lasting bad side as the Mets arrangement with Bobby Bonilla. Unless they want to re-negotiate Kimbrel's terms.
Eric S 10 hours 14 min ago (view)
Watching the last night's highlight clip was not encouraging either as discussed here: https://www.bleachernation.com/cubs/2020/07/08/craig-kimbrels-intrasquad-performance-is-a-reminder-of-the-concerns-that-already-existed/
crunch 14 hours 49 min ago (view)
i still can't believe this front office paid anyone 16m a year to throw 60-70ip...
Eric S 1 day 14 min ago (view)
Unfortunately, Kimbrel in Cub mid season form as well, giving up a two out, two run oppo homer to Willson.
Kimbrel Cub stats which I tried to bury but were dug up again: gave up a career high 9 home runs in only 20 2/3 inning, averaged a career high 9.1 hits allowed per 9 innings and served up a 6.53 ERA for his troubles. And no full spring training build up period again. Still hopeful he's got something left in the tank this year and next but man, he's got my full attention going into the season
BobbyD 1 day 40 min ago (view)
Hmm. Never thought about it that way. Maybe it is a very stable genius?
crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
maybe he's hoping it'll be bad enough to flip the population odometer over to 0 after humanity is wiped from the planet. let's give him more time to see if he's right before we get too down on him.
crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
"Shohei Ohtani threw just 15 of his 50 pitches for strikes in an intrasquad game Tuesday. Trent Rush had him at eight walks, a hit by pitch and six wild pitches before he was shut down for a day. "
crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
anthony rizzo is in mid-season form.
he sat out today with lower back tightness.
BobbyD 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
Well, back in February (I think; that was about 17 years ago now), our diaper staining commander in his own mind declared we had 15 cases in the U.S. and that would quickly go to zero. 130k dead and rapidly rising now 4 months later I still have brain dead neighbors in SoCal saying if Biden gets elected we're screwed. I wonder what they think screwed looks like.
crunch 1 day 11 hours ago (view)
cubs taking full advantage of that "night games deal" with the wrigleyville neighborhood...almost all the home games will be night games.
8 home day games, 6 on the weekend.