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.


Game 42
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.


Game 43
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.


Game 44
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!

Comments

This is great, Charlie. Thank you for this and all your game previews!

Thanks, Eric!

Side note, I am eager to split the gameday thread schedule with other readers. If anyone would be interested in taking on a part of the schedule (a certain day of the week, every other series, etc.), I think the site would benefit! And future, busier me would be thankful.

Trae Turner activated today and available for the  Cubs series. 

It’s a shame that Willson doesn‘t have a buttery feel to his catching game - Soto should have been struck out looking but the ball clanged out of Contreras‘s mitt. Now bases loaded. Good hitter, fearless and a cannon of an arm but really struggles with the feel aspect of the game. 

at least he's top tier on the power and arm side of being a catcher even if he can be kinda average with his recieving.  it's the kind of average that's not "we'll learn to live with it for the positive tradoff elsewhere."

cubs get him at least 3 more seasons.  hope he stays healthy.

All I’m looking for is something greater than Johnny Bench on steroids x100. Too much of an ask?

this is exactly why jed hoyer is the worst GM in cubs history.

I don't know if "pretty average with his receiving" covers what we see with Contreras. He's a bad framer. If the eye test isn't solid on that, here's one handy comparison based on in-zone balls and out-of-one strikes called: http://www.statcorner.com/CatcherReport.php

At least he's not down there in Jorge Alfaro or Gary Sanchez territory! And he's improved (so far) over last year, and had improved a bit last year over 2017. Incremental improvement is really nice to see in the numbers--can't say I picked up on that as a viewer.

His framing, blocking and generally catching technique is below average. He routinely doesn't block pitches in the dirt "correctly".

He can hear JD under his breathe when he does it. And, he misses pitches sometimes. Just doesn't catch the pitch. 

He has hard hands. That's probably why he didn't make it as a 3B.

But he has a cannon. He's quick and he can hit. I guess we just live with the other bad. Hopefully he'll learn.

cj edwards balks in a run.

this game is getting too much drama.  fun game, though...so far...

okay, way to up the drama...wild pitch, tying run going home, rundown, out 3, cubs still lead by 1.

He almost botched the rundown too.  I believe he tried to tag runner with the hand without the ball. 

wow.  nice.

padding 3 runs in the 8th takes the drama down a few notches.  it's late.  MTL and STL are both on their way to losses (pending meltdown).

Nice game for Bryant, 3 homers in 3 ABs

Edwards really has that sympathetic appeal for me in that I also experience sports brain-farts and am as unathletic as he seems like he should be based on his appearance.

I thought he was catlike. Got there well before the runner, faked a throw, tagged him (or would have if the runner hadn't strayed).

Of course, I always defend Edwards. I just think he'll be a stud reliever when he gets beyond the emotional age of thirteen. But starting to make multiple millions usually does that for immature players.

I didn't even blame Edwards when Suarez homered the other day on a high, outside mid-90s fastball.  That's just great hitting, Pujols-type stuff.

3HR night for bryant.  he's good at doing baseball.

1 run lead going into the 8th...10 run lead in the 9th...whatever.

good job with that dugout mic WGN.  also, i wonder what maddon thinks is "so f'd up" in a game with a 10 run lead.

Sportscenter with a graphic this morning showing KB‘s .277 avg and 31 rbi’s the same after 41 games as his MVP season in 2016. Added bonus: he has 3 more HR with 11 than his 9 in 2016.

turrible.  DFA lester.

if Fox would remove the mic near the press/photo crew, that would be nice.

every pitch is a flury of camera shutter snapping sounds.

the war on fancy pitching is going to strange places in 2019...

game is now being played under protest by the cubs (doolittle's foot tap delivery motion)

I am sick of these national games, even with Len in the booth.

girardi, while not stupid or annoying, doesn't do it for me in the booth.

tonight we should get more arod as we do the 3rd ESPN sunday game of the month.

arod...how much money do you need?  why are you doing this?  stop plz.

Considering the gap between Lester and Strasburg, I was shocked last night didn't turn into a blowout. Seemed like Lester was behind in every count and couldn't miss a bat.

schwarber/bryant/rizzo/baez/contreras/descalso(2nd)/heyward/almora/hendricks

MIL wins in extras...STL loses in extras...

Crunch, could you put some spaces in the lineup, so that will wrap on my iPhone?  Looks fine on a laptop.  Thanks. 

no problem.  i do almost all my internet work from a laptop/desktop and i'm still learning how mobile devices deal with stuff.  thanks for the heads up.

Maybe after the four pitch walk to start the 6th inning would have been a good time to start warming up the bullpen

looks like baez tweaked his ankle...doesn't seem major.

also wtf hendricks.

There seems to be a pattern when Kintzler pitches against the Nats. And not a favorable one for the Cubs. 

He did bulletin board them before the series started, though.

I’m sure Doolittle is jonesing to get an opportunity to close this game out and shove it up Madden‘s azz. 

maddon betting heavy on cishek...batting for himself and going into a 3rd inning of pitching...a'ite

longest outing in 7 years according to arod's neverending banter...he never got around to fully explaining the metric he's using for that stat, but i think he means appearances in individual innings in a game or it's a hypothetical if he finished all 3 outs in the 9th...dunno...ESPN...whatever

cishek nails it down...3 up, 3 down.  woo.

The Cishek game!!!  Nice series win particularly after the disappointment in Cincy

baez day-to-day...they're supposedly not sending him for xrays or evaluation and expecting him to miss little-to-no time.

I am proud to say i did not listen to one word of Aroid. Pat and Coom all the way.

Recent comments

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  • Cubster 15 hours 57 min ago (view)

    IMPOTUS 45: "ANYBODY WHO WANTS A TEST CAN GET A TEST"

    then said quietly by his elves: although it can take up to 1-2 days (or two tanks of gas) to get through test lines and then 7-14 days to get results.

     

  • crunch 16 hours 21 min ago (view)

    5 cubs players + d.ross didn't work out with the team today because their tests were dealyed.  4 players + d.ross later came back negative and 1 test will have to be done again because it was compromised during transport and invalidated.

    ...turns out the compromised test was not a player, but a non-player/non-ross Tier 1 employee.  neat.

     

  • crunch 18 hours 42 min ago (view)

    v.caratini will continue to be darvish's preferred catcher this season.

     

  • crunch 18 hours 43 min ago (view)

    j.hicks (STL) opts out.  he's a T1 diabetic currently rehabbing from TJ.  he was expected to return in august.

     

  • JustSayin' 1 day 16 hours ago (view)

    I think what your saying applies to all franchises in all big-time team sports.  The virus is asymptomatic in many carriers.  The national positive test % rate is mid/high single digits.  If your pro sports franchise does 3-4 x better than that, it still means some players and coaches will test positive and things will grind to a partial or complete halt.  At least baseball didn't try to "bubble" in AZ and FL, which are looking like two of the worst (and worst-led) states in which to be located at the currrent stage of the pandemic.

     

  • crunch 1 day 17 hours ago (view)

    rizzo took BP and did some field work today.  also, almora is good to go...he ran into a wall on friday and got a little banged up.

     

  • Cubster 2 days 44 min ago (view)

    Aroldis Chapman is now Covid positive with mild symptoms

     

  • crunch 2 days 13 hours ago (view)

    the COVID-Division should be fun.

    teams from TX, AZ, CA, WA, and CO exclusively playing each other...  CO is all "wtf, really?"

     

  • Cubster 2 days 14 hours ago (view)

    ...and so it goes (per Roto): Astros general manager James Click wrote in a statement that a member of the staff "was potentially exposed to a COVID-positive individual outside the organization.” The team is working with MLB and team doctors on testing protocol and cleaning before resuming workouts. 

    Does the visiting team bring a Covid positive bio-weapon to the player's parking lot?

     

  • Charlie 2 days 21 hours ago (view)

    I've been wondering how this would proceed. Since teams will have to figure out how existing contracts will be paid, I thought there was a *chance* they would proceed with free agency as usual and plan for payment under potential shortened seasons would just be figured out in negotiations with the MLBPA. But that was probably an overly optimistic thought.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 3 days 15 min ago (view)

    Meanwhile Theo shoots down any potential of extension talks. I get that it's a crazy time financially in baseball, but it's really gonna suck when all these players leave after 21 and 22.

     

  • Cubster 3 days 10 hours ago (view)

    WSox Michael Kopech has opted out of 2020. I didn't see a disclosed reason yet but he is recovering from TJ S 

     

  • crunch 3 days 21 hours ago (view)

    buster posey (SF) opting out of 2020...recently adopted twin daughters who were born premature.

     

  • Cubster 5 days 1 hour ago (view)

    per Tribune: Kimbrel's OK, just working on his changeup (formerly his fastball).

     

  • Arizona Phil 5 days 13 hours 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 5 days 17 hours 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.