Cubs vs. Reds: Series Thread (Games 49-51)

The Cubs came up a bit short on their comeback attempt yesterday and had to accept a 2-2 split with the Phillies. They move on to greet the Reds to Wrigley for a 3-game set.

The Cubs matched up with the Reds in mid-May for a tough 1-2 series loss. Every game in that series was decided by 2 runs or fewer. The Cubs will run out an exact repeat of their starters in that series, but Tanner Roark will be the only familiar face on the other side. The Reds are well rested, having played only 5 games and having 3 days off since then. See below for the game-by-game matchups.

Game 49
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 3.21 ERA)
CIN: RHP Anthony DeSclafani (2-2, 4.60 ERA)
First pitch 1:20pmCDT

Hendricks got his fourth win despite allowing four runs in his last start against the Nationals. Three of those runs scored on an Anthony Rendon homerun. The start before that, he beat the Reds in eight innings and allowed only one run while striking out seven. A Joey Votto solo homer accounted for the only damage. Hendricks went 3-4 and drove in two in that game as well. Current Reds have faced Hendricks 191 times, with most of those PAs concentrated among Cincinnati vets. The cumulative OPS against him is only .664. Joey Votto has not been impressed by Hendricks's wily ways, having outdone him to the tune of 11 walks, and 9 hits (3 homeruns) in 21 at bats. As ever, Hendricks can probably aim to handle the rest of the lineup and trust his own batters to collectively outproduce Votto. Dietrich and Suarez always have the potential to sneak up on you and go yard, of course.

Anthony DeSclafani's 2019 has been pretty strongly defined by two of the three true values. He's striking out batters at a much higher rate than he usually does (10 per 9 innings), but he's also allowing 2 homeruns per nine innings. His groundball rate is way down in the early going. The pitch tracking system seems to think he's using his sinker less this year, but that doesn't appear to be working out for him. The Dodgers tagged him for 3 homeruns in 4 innings of work on May 17 and he's had a full week to either forget about it or stew over it. Bryant is 5-15 off of him and Javy is 2-5 with a homerun. Rizzo is 4-24.

Game 50
CHC: RHP Yu Darvish (2-3, 5.06 ERA)
CIN: RHP Tyler Mahle (1-5, 3.51 ERA)
First pitch 1:20pmCDT

Darvish has shown signs of improvement in his last few starts. After issuing no walks and striking out 11 Reds in a May 15 no-decision, he went 6 innings against the Phillies in his last start. Things were going swimmingly until a shaky 6th that saw him walk two, give up a stolen base, and allow a run-scoring single and triple. Mixed in their was a potential double-play that twas not. Current Reds have seen little of him, but Derek Dietrich (possibly the Reds' best position player so far?) is 3-6 with a homerun.

Tyler Mahle earned his first win in his last start against the Dodgers, going 6 shutout innings. Despite the record, he seems to have figured something out this year, cutting his walk rate by more than half compared to the last two years while missing more bats. Kyle Schwarber is 3-7 and Javy is 4-8, each with a homerun, against the 24-year-old righty. Other current Cubs have only five hits against him in 43 at bats and have 0 walks.

Game 51
CHC: LHP Jose Quintana (4-3, 3.30 ERA)
CIN: RHP Tanner Roark (3-3, 3.51 ERA)
First pitch 1:20pmCDT

Hooray, hooray, no Sunday night game!

Quintana pitched 6 scoreless innings allowing two hits and three walks for a no-decision in the Phillies series. He had a stretch of five middling starts before that but he has generally been the Cubs' most dependable starter. Leaving out his early relief appearance and his first clunker of a start, he's gone at least 5 in every start since and has gone 6 or more innings in 6 out of 8 of those starts. Votto is unsurprisingly the Red to watch out for, 8-17 against Quintana.

Tanner Roark has succeeded this year in large part due to his very low HR-per-fly-ball rate. That shouldn't be sustainable, as he's not getting ground balls or weak contact, nor is he suppressing walks. Maybe the Cubs can turn his stats around a bit. He allowed 3 earned runs in 5 innings facing the Cubs when the teams last matched up. Tyler Chatwood is 1-1 off of him and Kyle Hendricks is 2-2 with a pair of runs-batted-in. Kris Bryant's 7-14 pales in comparison.

Have fun, Cubs fans! May we be spared ESPN for months to come!

Expect wet and weird conditions Saturday and Sunday with high potential for delays, weird defensive plays, and windblown homers. Flash floods and thunderstorms are in the forecast starting Friday night. Radar suggests the worst of it should be in the evenings. If that forecast holds true, the wind will be blowing out toward the lake and could be gusting at times.


Cubs recall RHRP James Norwood from AAA Iowa, and option RHRP Rowan Wick back to the I-Cubs. 

Norwood doesn't have the electric stuff of Maples but is able to put the ball over the plate.

Cubs sure seem to have their share of righty relief pitchers in Iowa who can help out during the summer.

Outside of Nico Hoerner, who is on the fast track to Wrigley, Nelson Velazquez, Jonathan Sierra and Cole Roederer are the three hitters in the lower minors that have the most potential to be impact bats down the road, in my opinion. Otherwise, I don't see much that impresses me. Am I missing someone?

Not so for pitching. 

Barring injury, unexpected regression and/or trades, there are a number of Cubs MiLB pitchers who I think will make it to the majors.

Alzolay, Underwood Jr., D. Robinson, Swarmer, Clifton, Rea

Mekkes, Carasiti, Maples

T. Miller, O. De La Cruz, Steele, Hatch, Abbott

C. Brooks, Stinnett, W. Short

Richan, Assad, Uelmen

Marquez, R. Thompson, 

miguel amaya...bat and D at the C position both very promising.

a lot of people like aramis ademan, though i dunno if anyone would consider him an "impact" type player even as a middle IF'r.

jury is still out on how to gauge brennen davis's possible impact.  high ceiling, but everyone's still waiting to see what he can actually do while he has his tools tweaked in ARZ.

it's not the worst pen in baseball, but like...this pen sucks.  boo.  fire everyone.  etc.

at least it's not the WAS pen.  that pen is hot garbage.

They need to do something (or multiple somethings) if they want to guard against bullpen-related crashes going forward. I get the sense there's a real chance Morrow doesn't contribute this season, and Strop is not always consistent even when he's healthy.

Not always consistent is a weird way to describe one of the best 5 relievers the Cubs have ever had.

it's a bit of a stretch to say the cubs have had 5 relievers worth bothering ranking unless you count some random guys only around for 1 or 2 seasons...sadly...and oddly considering how old the team is...

sutter, lee, strop...r.myers, h.rondon, dempster, marmol, d.elston...late career charlie root... *shrug*...joe borowski had 2 great seasons and 3 bad ones (1 full, 2 partial) during his cubs tenure...

it's an embarrassingly thin field.  it seems almost impossible that a team that's been around 143 years has that group above as most of the core of their best-of-the-best out of the pen in team history.

I go back to Phil Regan as the closer and I agree 100%. Maybe this IS relief pitching in the modern era. Name the closers who strung together 5+ great seasons?....Rivera, Hoffman, Sutter, Gossage, Eckersley. It's not a big list especially when Lee Smith makes the HOF...or maybe I'm still pissed about Game 4 in San Diego, 1984.

i really wanted to add phil regan to that list, but ultimately didn't...not that i have a problem with him lumped in with that group. he wasn't a modern style closer, but he finished a lot of games for the cubs.

also, i recently sold my last phil regan baseball card to another cubs collector just last month.  1969 Topps, not one of his most eye-catching cards.  also, also...the 1967 Topps george altman is a solid piece of my display collection.  he's all business in that card of my favorites.

Mine too. Should have caught the foul ball that went under my seat from Altman but I was only 5 and the asshole behind me spilled his beer down my back.

CRUNCH: I would add Lindy McDaniel to the list. Cubs closer (or "fireman" back then) 1963-65, N. L. Fireman of the Year in '63, even hit a walk-off HR in extra-innings!

McDaniel was acquired along with RHSP Larry Jackson (24-game winner and 2nd in N. L. Cy Young Award for the Cubs in 1964) from the Cardinals post-1962 for OF George Altman, RHP Don Cardwell, and C Moe Thacker in a trade that had Cub fans (like me) laughing our collective asses off... that is, until the Brock for Broglio trade a year-and-a-half later. (The Cardinals acquired  Altman specifically to replace Stan Musial -- who retired after the 1962 season, but Altman never hit for the Cards like he had for the Cubs pre-1963, and in fact Altman eventually drifted back to the Cubs -- via the Mets -- in 1965). 

BTW, McDaniel was probably the premier reliever in baseball in the mid-60's and was the primary piece used to acquire RHP Bill Hands and C Randy Hundley from SF post-1965 in what was the first deal pulled-off by Leo Durocher & John Holland after Leo was hired. (And then Larry Jackson was traded to the Phillies early in the next season along with SP Bob Buhl for RHP Ferguson Jenkins and OF Adolfo Phillips, making the '62 deal with the Cardinals one of the Cubs all-time best trades ever). 

nice writeup...and bill about an under-appreciated oldschool cubs player...

my cubs experience didn't emerge until the very early 80s (born in the mid-70s), but i'm a fan of the team's history and classic players i've only seen clips of, if at all in some cases. 

I'm sure me or brothers had baseball cards of Lindy McDaniel, Larry Jackson, Bob Buhl and George Altman which my Mom threw away or 'garage saled' them when I was in college............thanks, you, anyway.

You know, this gave me reason to second guess my feeling about Strop, and he is clearly very consistent. His ERA, peripherals, and even velocity have been really consistent during his time as a Cub. Good call, udbrky!

I think two things are probably leading me to that mis-statement. One I'm probably conflating my general feeling about the Cubs bullpen with Strop. And two, my expectations around high-end relievers might be both too poorly defined and too high.  I just looked at league leaders among relievers 2014-2018, and Strop is 17th with a 1.03 WHIP and 23rd with a 2.61 ERA. That WHIP ranking especially is way better than I thought he'd have. I have clearly underappreciated him!

Wow, it's so awesome to see someone re-evaluate like that, you made my day! He's also just a fun guy. Seems like a great teammate!

Hey, thank you for the cause to re-evaluate. Also gave me something to talk with my curmudgeonly dad about.

Re good teammates-manship: Will always dig that high-stepping photo of Strop!

cubs lose, brewers lose, cardinals lose, pirates lose...

Mark Zagunis optioned to Iowa.

Norwood back down and Maples and Tim Collins back up. A nine man bullpen for today at least.

Yeah, a 3 man bench. That should work out well.

who's ready for more chatwood pinch hit appearances before we even go extra innings?  woo.

a.russell HR!  cubs lead.

btw, the boos are getting less and less.  cheers after he does well are genuine.

if we live in a world where we accept "second chances" for what russell did, at least as far as being employed by a MLB team...i'm really happy with this current evolution of fandom where a majority let it known they are unhappy with the guy and cheers were earned, not given as a signal of support and early forgiveness.

heyward grabs the wind and snags HR #7 (hit 8 last year)...his first since May 8th (only his 2nd since April 24th).

heyward makes a nice leaping catch at the wall to get the 1st out of the 7th.

6.1 innings marks darvish's cubs career high.

...and on pitch 100, he closes out the 7th.  nice.

darvish should not have started the 8th...tie game.

homer and single and he's done without recording an out.  he was pumped as hell ending the 7th and he leaves a bit down on himself in the 8th...tough break.

On the bright side, with the lead now gone, the chances the Cubs bullpen blows their 101st lead of the season now diminishes greatly. 

Anybody have an explanation of why he started the 8th? I can't figure it out. Lefty batter leading off the inning and Darvish was already very near 100 pitches.

Particularly after it appeared he was airing it out in the seventh, perhaps thinking that was his last inning. 

no idea.  i thought he was done after 7, myself.  it wasn't exactly a smooth/simple 7th.

Darvish or the pen.  You want to be hung or shot?


There's the angle of trying to figure out how to win that game, but there's also trying to get Darvish right and keep him in a good state of mind. I was confused about the choice to leave him in from both angles, but I could certainly see your argument about the flaky pen.


woo.  cubs lead.

Sets up just like yesterday with Votto and Suarez leading off the ninth ... one more run to play with though today with the two run lead

after putting 2 on via hits, chatwood throws a sinker/cutter followed by a changeup (lefty batter).

he gets a ground ball double play on the 97mph fastball following.

it's been a while since he's thrown 2 off-speed pitches to the same batter.  many batters see nothing but the fastball.

I think Theo can put the phone down now. Cubs finally have their lockdown, drama free closer in Chatwood.

You've been drinking, haven't you.  I mean, more than usual.

Yes on both. 


chatwood first cubs save.

phew...needed that win for sanity.

Chatwood for closer...........makes it exciting like Lee Smith......(runs for cover).

MIL loses to PHI...CHC with a 2.5 game lead in the division.

men on 2nd/3rd, 1 out...let's bring in cj edwards!

hahaha...this game sucks.

Reds 17 hits... Wtf?

There were exactly 1.5 fun events in that game.

Recent comments

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  • crunch 23 hours 15 min ago (view)

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


  • bradsbeard 1 day 4 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 4 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 4 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 12 hours ago (view)

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


  • crunch 2 days 25 min 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 1 hour 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 2 hours ago (view)

    Thanks Mr. Phil.


  • Arizona Phil 2 days 3 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 3 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 15 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 2 days 21 hours ago (view)

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

    altuve continues to build his astros legend.


  • bradsbeard 3 days 12 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 12 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 16 min 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 1 hour ago (view)

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