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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  • bradsbeard 32 min 23 sec ago (view)

    Happ has been an above average hitter every season he's been in the majors, and he killed it in his brief return from the minors last year (with better contact and lower K rates to boot). Aside from an extended period with the lower K rates, what else are you not seeing?


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 45 min 47 sec ago (view)

    Bote, for the moment, is adequate. Very unsold on the 2 LH hitting 2B options.

    I have never seen it for Happ. I'd love for him to prove me wrong but I dont see it happening.


  • crunch 1 hour 38 min ago (view)

    someone else may have noticed or written something about a possible issue with lefties last year (aside from the obvious disappointing numbers), but i didn't see anything that made him look lost vs them.

    myself, i'm not expecting the hard time vs lefties to keep happening (though i can't point to why 2019 wasn't good for him and i may be missing something).  also, how well he handled righties has me a bit pumped about his future.


  • bradsbeard 1 hour 55 min ago (view)

    I think it was likely just a small sample size luxuation against LHP last year. His splits were essentially swapped from 2018 to 2019. For his career he's been a little above average against both sides, or essentially no significant split. I'd expect him to hit LHP better than RHP going forward though. 


  • Eric S 2 hours 6 min ago (view)

    I'd like to see Bote not get owned by lefties. Not sure what it is about his stroke that's hurting him - struggles against offspeed in general?


  • crunch 2 hours 40 min ago (view)

    huge bote fan over here, and i think he's one of the best longterm investments the cubs have gambled on.  cubs have control over him through 2026 if they exercise both his options (both 7.6m).

    i'd like to see him penciled in as the main regular at 2nd, but overall i just wanna see him play more than he was late last year when he was red hot.  if bryant flames out with the glove at 3rd (clock is ticking on that) we might see bote at 3rd a bit.


  • Eric S 2 hours 46 min ago (view)

    Hopefully KB has worked on his base sliding technique - believe he jacked his knee up last year because of some rough "landings" on the basepaths. He definitely should shine in the role - and provided KB is not traded - Cubs can only go up from their leadoff hitter ranking from last year. 


  • Charlie 3 hours 22 min ago (view)

    Bote was a little better than league average with the bat last year and Happ has never been worse than league average with the bat over a full season in the majors. Not too bad at the end of your lineup (though neither is helping out too much on defense). Heyward could end up the #8 if things break OK for Bote and Happ at the plate.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 3 hours 48 min ago (view)

    That would be a hell of a 1-5. The problem comes from 6-8 being a combination of Heyward, Bote/ Kipnis/ Descalso, and Happ/ Almora.


  • crunch 7 hours 44 min ago (view)

    that should be good for 175Ks, 30 homers, 30 doubles, 60-70 RBI...

    wonder who the #2 they're looking at...hopefully rizzo and not heyward.

    bryant/rizzo/baez/schwarber/contreras would be a hell of a 1-5.


  • Rob Richardson 9 hours 44 min ago (view)

    Per Bruce Levine, Kris Bryant will be leading off for the Cubs.


  • crunch 10 hours 20 min ago (view)

    "Kris Bryant expects to remain with the Cubs in 2020 after a sit-down with team president Theo Epstein.

    "Everything went great," Bryant told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. "It was the best meeting I had with a superior. He just gave me insight as to what kind of happened in the offseason." The star third baseman did later add that Epstein gave him no assurances that he will be kept in the loop if further trade talks were to arise, before stating, "I’m a Chicago Cub.""


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 10 hours 57 min ago (view)

    That would be so devious!


  • tim815 12 hours 25 min ago (view)

    Owners might not want to spend the extra coin. Which would be about like a dime to us.

    Nice on the Cubs for upping MiLB pay.


  • jdrnym 1 day 13 min ago (view)

    AZPHIL, has there been official word as to whether the 26-man roster has been extended down to the minor league levels that previously had 25-man rosters? Can't really think of a reason why that shouldn't be the case...


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    Another possibility for a "26th man" in 2020 would be a young pitcher selected in the Rule 5 Draft who has big league upside but who is clearly not yet "big league ready," or a pitcher who is out of minor league options who might not be quite MLB ready.