Cubs @ Dodgers: Series Thread (Games 68-71)
Just as the Cubs acclimate to the atmosphere at Coors, they skip off to Cally for a four-game set against the dangerous Dodgers. Having pitched a gem in the stopper role on Wednesday, Hamels will take his place in the cheering section for this one, and the rest of the rotation will get a chance to show their stuff. Good news for them is that the first three of the series will be night games, which may help them keep the ball in the yard. Quintana will have to work his way through the Sunday afternoon game. The bad news for everyone is that the Dodgers feature the most productive offense without a DH (ahead of the Cubs, who are now second in the NL in wRC+). On the other side of the ball, the LA squad may have the best defense in all of baseball, and their pitching is near the top in the NL. With the Dodgers (45-23) leading the NL in wins, any match with them will look like a post-season preview, as long as the other team is contending. The Cubs (38-29) come into the series 0.5 behind Milwaukee.
Matchups after the break.
Game 68, Thursday, 9:10pmCDT
CHC: LHP Jon Lester (5-4, 3.56 ERA)
LAD: LHP Clayton Kershaw (5-1, 3.00 ERA)
Lester pitched six innings for a the win against STL last time out, allowing four earned runs including a pair of homers. Most of the younger Dodgers have decent numbers against Lester in limited at bats, while Justin Turner is 0-20 against him.
Clayton Kershaw has been a tick less effective this season compared to the last two (both of which were well below his peak years), although he still maintains some intimidating numbers. His average fastball is all the way down to 90.5 MPH, perhaps unsurprising as the most recent phase of his career has been about working through and around injuries. After increasing his slider usage each of the last three years, Kershaw's apparently decided that throwing it 40% of the time is just the right amount. Last time out he allowed two earned runs in seven innings and was tagged with his first loss. Anthony Rizzo is 6-16 off of him with two homeruns. CarGo has not enjoyed his 47 at bats against the lefty, resulting in an OPS against of .686. Most Cubs have fewer than ten at-bats against him.
Game 69, Friday, 9:10pmCDT
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-3, 3.00 ERA)
LAD: LHP Rich Hill (3-1, 2.40 ERA)
Hendricks was excellent against the Cards, going 7 and allowing one earned run. He was a slightly more extreme version of his usual self, collecting only three strikeouts and working around eight hits (and 0 walks). Current Dodgers are 12-41 off of him with four homeruns and four walks. You may remember that he pitched a fairly important game against them back in 2016 and the Cubs ultimately did OK in that one.
After missing most of April, the former Cub, Hill, has been excellent in eight starts. He recently earned a victory against the Giants, going five and allowing two earned runs. As per usual, he's striking out more than a batter per inning and relies on his curveball over 40% of the time (slightly more than in the previous two years). Something to look out for: Hill only threw the ball in the zone 37.2% of the time in his last start, down from his season average at 59.7%. Current Cubs are 3-22 off of him.
Game 70: Saturday, 8:10pmCDT
CHC: RHP Yu Darvish (2-3, 4.98 ERA)
LAD: RHP Walker Buehler (7-1, 3.35 ERA)
Darvish got a no decision Colorado after six innings pitched and four earned runs; it's better than I would have feared when you put the words "Darvish" and "Coors" in the same sentence. He was hurt by two homeruns in the game. Current Dodgers are 5-22 off of him, a collection that excludes some of the better youngsters--most notably Bellinger.
Walker Buehler is dang good. He pitched seven scoreless against the Giants last time out, striking out nine. His fastball usually sits mid-to-high nineties, and he complements it with strong breaking pitches. He's an ace type that gets grounders and strikeouts without walking many. The Cubs are 11-40 off of him. Almora and Baez have homered. CarGo is 3-12 with five strikeouts.
Game 71, Sunday, 6:10pmCDT
CHC: LHP Jose Quintana (4-6, 3.89 ERA)
LAD: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-1, 1.36 ERA)
Quintana only got through 4.1 innings in Denver, and he allowed four runs (three earned) while taking the loss. He's lost three of his last four, giving up 13 earned runs in 21.1 innings pitched. Current Dodgers are 21-72 off of him, but only David Freese has double digit at bats.
Ryu's missed a bunch of time to injury 2015-2016 and in 2018. It's been easy to forget just how good he's been when healthy. So far, he's stepped his game up in 2019. Still, there's some hope for regression, as his .248 BABIP is almost .050 below his career mark. It's hard to imagine someone suppressing hits this well while also allowing just over half a walk per nine innings. Only three current Cubs have more than three at bats against him. CarGo is 5-15 with a homer and three walks. Rizzo is 3-9 with a homer. Heyward is 3-12.
crunch 10 hours 36 min ago (view)
semi-interesting winter league note...
trey mcnutt (yes, that guy) is having a hell of a winter league in mexico (one of the less talented winter leagues) so far as a closer. 15.2ip 8h 4bb 24k, 0.57 era.
giants signed him to a minor league deal a couple weeks ago. he never went anywhere. he's been consistently playing ball in the minors and indie league ball since he was last a noteworthy player. last season he played in the OAK minor league system. 30 years old now...
jdrnym 17 hours 33 min ago (view)
Brad Brach signs with the Mets for $850K but the Cubs are paying $500K, per Ken Rosenthal. Wasn't his 2020 club only supposed to be on the hook for league minimum?
crunch 18 hours 9 min ago (view)
when he got to the mets he suddenly learned how to throw with control (small sample size etc). last year was not a fun bullpen year...
crunch 20 hours 26 min ago (view)
Yeah, I've made myself familiar with a lot of the changes, but AZP's posts have both added more information and cleared up stuff I didn't fully grasp. I appreciate the hell out of it. Thanks Phil, thanks TCR.
bradsbeard 22 hours 8 min ago (view)
Looks like Savant has his breaking pitch classified as a curve while Fangraphs calls it a slider. Suppose by ST he could have made everything over in the pitching lab, so who knows!
Arizona Phil 22 hours 25 min ago (view)
Again, none of these rules (including the one that requires a pitcher to face a minimum of three batters or else record the final out of the inning) have been officially approved.
I think one possible caveat that might be added to the three-batter minimum rule would be that the pitcher can be replaced prior to facing three batters or recording the final out of the inning if the other team puts up a pinch-hitter.
Arizona Phil 22 hours 29 min ago (view)
Ptchers would also be treated differently under the new rules as far as the Injured list and Optional Assignment to the minors is concerned, with pitchers having to spend at least 15 days (up from 10 days) on the Injured List before being eligible to be reinstated and at least 15 days (up from 10 days) on Optional Assignment before being eligible to be recalled (inless the pitcher is being recalled to replace a pitcher on the 26-man roster who has been placed on an MLB inactive list).
Arizona Phil 22 hours 29 min ago (view)
SONICWIND: As the rule is proposed, prior to the start of each MLB regular season a club must designate all players on its Opening Day 26-man roster as either a "pitcher" or a "position player." A maximum of 13 can be designated as pitchers (14 pitchers max when rosters expand from 26 to 28 beginning on 9/1).
For players who come up during the season, the club must designate the player as either a pitcher or a position player when the player is placed on the MLB active list roster.
Arizona Phil 22 hours 42 min ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: Fangraphs shows the CT as his primary pitch in 2018 with the SL & FB (and an occasional CH) as his secondary pitches, with no CV at all. I guess I'll find out for sure in Spring Training.
Sonicwind75 23 hours 58 min ago (view)
AZ Phil, thank you as always for the detailed information. How is the "cannot be a pitcher" part of the rule to be enforced? With a few two way players and the increasing amount of mop up innings being handled by position players it seems like there could be a gray area there. What is preventing a team from stashing an athletic relief pitcher as a "5th outfielder" that could be a pinch runner and play a passable OF when needed but could also provide them with extra relief pitcher. Anytime I hear of a new rule I always think of how Bill Billichek would circumvent it t
bradsbeard 23 hours 59 min ago (view)
AZ Phil, looking around Baseball Savant, it looks like Winkler now primarily throws a low 90s cutter, a 4-seamer that he throws a little harder (but is less effective), a curve and a sinker. The slider and change haven't been a major part of his repertoir the last two years. The cutter has been really effective the last two years but it looks like he lost command/effectiveness of his 4-seemer and curve last year For whatever reason
bradsbeard 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
They just signed this guy:
Hagsag 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
There seems to be a lot of player movement so far. Too bad the Cubs aren't involved.
Arizona Phil 1 day 20 hours ago (view)
Beginning in 2019, a club must wait a minimum of seven days before it can place a player who was claimed off Outtright Assignment Waivers during the off-season back onto waivers, so because he was claimed off waivers on Wednesday 11/27, yesterday (Wednesday 12/4) was the first day the Cubs could place LHRP C. D. Pelham back onto Outright Assignment Waivers, and so tomorrow (Friday 12/6) is the first day the Cubs can send Pelham outright to the minors (if he was placed back onto waivers yesterday).
Arizona Phil 2 days 17 hours ago (view)
A Competitive Balance draft slot can be traded only during a period of time starting on December 2nd and extending up until two hours prior to the MLB First-Year Player Draft (MLB Rule 4 Draft), so don't be surpised if these draft picks are traded during the off-season.
Keep in mind that the slot cannot be traded for cash unless it is a financial adjustment made to offset the salary of one or more of the players involved in the trade.
Arizona Phil 2 days 17 hours ago (view)
The active list roster limit changes scheduled to go in effect in 2020 have not yet been officially approved. Same goes for the three-batter minimum (or else record the third out in the inning) for relief pitchers.