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!
crunch 2 hours 36 min ago (view)
"Yu Darvish threw his new pitch, a two-seam/splitter hybrid, during his first intrasquad game appearance on Saturday.
Darvish, who already had 10 different pitch variations in his arsenal, is calling this new pitch "The Supreme.""
crunch 3 hours 32 min ago (view)
"I've been thinking about it and been thinking about it before we put out that statement," (Terry) Francona said. "I know in the past, when I've been asked about, whether it's our name or the Chief Wahoo, I think I would usually answer and say I know that we're never trying to be disrespectful. And I still feel that way, but I don't think that's a good enough answer today. I think it's time to move forward. It's a very difficult subject. It's also delicate," he said.
Cubster 8 hours 21 min ago (view)
Two White Sox test positive for Covid. Not yet disclosed who they are. Reminder that the Cubs are going to be scheduled to play the WSox for 6 games.
Jackstraw 20 hours 13 min ago (view)
Don't let short-term market fluctuations diminsh your enthusiasm for a great long-term investment.
crunch 22 hours 24 min ago (view)
freddy freeman + aaron nola are also positive star players.
the scary thing is freeman tested negative on tuesday. by thursday he was sick and tested positive shortly afterwards. some may question the strength of the MLB test if they were the ones who gave freeman's initial negative...
Cubster 23 hours 17 min ago (view)
COVID positive: LeMahieu NYY; Sano MIN; S Perez KC.
crunch 1 day 1 hour ago (view)
phillies now have 7 down with covid...freddy freeman (ATL) has symptomatic covid with fever/chills/aches for the past 3 days...some players on multiple teams are still awaiting initial test results so they can join spring training 2.0 with their teams...
also, this photo of pablo sandoval (SF) taking grounders at 3rd... https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EcHFTylVcAAE5SI?format...
Cubster 1 day 1 hour ago (view)
Wittenmeyer tweet: Hendricks and Darvish combine for 4 Ks in a pair of scoreless half-innings.
Press box wag: "Cubs hitting sucks this year"
crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
2020 schedule to be announced monday (tentative).
crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
d.price (LAD) to sit out the season.
LAD isn't going to get d.price at all in 2020 and they got m.betts for 60-ish games until he's a FA. ow. that duo cost them jeter downs, alex verdugo, and connor wong.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 10 hours ago (view)
I acquired Trout over the winter in a keeper league. Not feeling too great about that either.
Hagsag 1 day 13 hours ago (view)
Andrew Cashner still hasn't signed with anyone. Could be useful.
crunch 1 day 21 hours ago (view)
the cleveland indians have released a statement that they are open for dialogue about the future of the team's name.
twitter is all over it and seems to be all about going back to "cleveland spiders", an unrelated dead MLB team lineage in cleveland from the 1800s (some guy named cy young played for them).
crunch 2 days 1 hour ago (view)
Q coming back in 4-6 weeks will be like a mid-season trade! sigh...
but yeah, they should be good in-house with expanded rosters unless they get slammed by IL stuff.
crunch 2 days 1 hour ago (view)
MLB has confirmed 38 positives (players/coaches/personel/etc) so far.
Arizona Phil 2 days 2 hours ago (view)
With 17 pitchers likely on the 30-man MLB Active List roster for the first two weeks and then probably 15 pitchers on the 28-man Active List for the next two weeks after that, the Cubs should be able to "bullpen" games quite a bit for the first month. They won't really need five starters.