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 7 min 21 sec ago (view)
What was the stated purpose of the 1953 Bonus Rule?
COMMISSIONER FORD FRICK: "We want the kind of bonus rule that will discourage the Majors from paying out big bonuses, and encourage the little fellows (he is referring here to the minor leagues) to sign these youngsters and then sell them to clubs of a higher classification."
crunch 2 hours 36 min ago (view)
g.cole - yanks - 9/324m
s.strasburg - nats - 7/245m
a.rendon - angels - 7/245m
boras has signed $814m of contracts for his guys this week. not bad.
crunch 2 hours 43 min ago (view)
still waiting for rich hill to happen over here...i promise to be totally not impressed or happy about it. not a tj guy, but he's injured as hell and not expected to show up until mid-season at best.
whoever they pick to give a few million dollars over a couple seasons to not pitch for the cubs in any of them, i welcome them.
on a serious tip, there are rumors of a minor league deal for b.morrow.
bradsbeard 3 hours 17 min ago (view)
Taijuan Walker is a good candidate.
cubbies.4ever 4 hours 43 min ago (view)
So who is left in the free Agent market that has had Tommy John surgery? That seems to be a Prerequisite for Theo. Cotton and Winkler both did adding to all the other signings of Theo. I would love to see how many people Theo has signed or drafted who has had TJS.
Charlie 13 hours 25 min ago (view)
I hope "isn't happening" was more like, "we'd love to continue to discuss this soon"--after extensions/trades of younger players are a bit more sorted.
Charlie 13 hours 28 min ago (view)
If only they had revenue from having recently won the World Series and a string of playoff appearances along with a new TV contract! Then they could really spend.
crunch 13 hours 45 min ago (view)
i wish this team was owned by billionaires rather than these...oh, nevermind.
Dolorous Jon Lester 14 hours 22 min ago (view)
Apparently Cubs were approached by Rizzo's agent about an extension. They told him it wasn't happening.
Cubs organization is performing a master class in how to burn good will among fans!
Arizona Phil 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
jdlym: The contract Brad Brach signed with the Mets includes a $850K base salary for 2020, a $1.25M club option for 2021, $400K in potential performance bonuses in 2020, potentially $2.25M in 2021 salary accelerators, and $500K in potential performance bonuses in 2021, so ordinarily the Cubs salary obligation to Brach would be the difference between Brach's new 2020 base salary ($850K) and what would have been his 2020 player option salary ($1.35M) if he hadn't been released by the Cubs.
jdrnym 1 day 11 hours ago (view)
Hey AZPhil, when a player is released with money/years still remaining on his contract, does his next team *have* to give him the prorated major league minimum or can they offer more (meaning the original club owes less) to "outbid" other teams that may have had interest? I'm assuming that's what happened with Brad Brach, where the Mets signed him for 2020 at $850,000.
crunch 1 day 12 hours ago (view)
jeremy jeffress agrees.
Rob Richardson 1 day 15 hours ago (view)
It's high time if you ask me.
crunch 1 day 16 hours ago (view)
as awesome as bryant is, it would probably be good for the cubs to find him a new home before his play at 3rd turns him into a corner OF'r...which seems inevitable sooner than later.
i'm still impressed how much his D improved since he was drafted, but he's already losing a step at the position early in his career.
crunch 1 day 16 hours ago (view)
minor league ballplayers will no longer have to worry about getting suspended for testing positive for weed...it's off the prohibited substances list.