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.
jdrnym 8 hours 39 min ago (view)
All makes sense, but I think there is one important point of clarification in there -- are you using "practice squad" and "Club Player Pool" interchangeably? If so, I understood the first sentence of your third-to-last paragraph above to mean that Mills/Sadler/Underwood could be outrighted and still be in the Pool, therefore retaining their eligibility to re-selected to the major league active roster later in the season.
Arizona Phil 11 hours 5 min ago (view)
jdrnym: Zack Short is still on Optional Assignment to the minors (as are Alzolay, M. Amaya, R. Garcia, Maples, T. Miller, Norwood, Rea, M. Rodriguez, and Steele), but he can be recalled at any time without restriction (no "ten-day rule") because he was optioned to the minors prior to the transaction freeze in March.
crunch 15 hours 27 min ago (view)
the toles update is worse than his troubled past. toles has been diagnosed bipolar + schizophrenia and has been in/out of institutions over the past couple years. he can't seem to stick to any program long enough to get good treatment.
hope he turns whatever corner he needs to in order to get enough treatment to decide what kind of future he'd like to have.
Dolorous Jon Lester 18 hours 18 min ago (view)
Those two are definitely on more precarious ground once the roster is trimmed to 26, I would say.
jdrnym 18 hours 20 min ago (view)
Right, just went through the roster quick. Underwood, Sadler, same deal.
Dolorous Jon Lester 20 hours 37 min ago (view)
Can't answer the Short thing. But I'd agree with your assessment of Mills if he weren't basically a lock to make the roster.
jdrnym 20 hours 44 min ago (view)
Is Zack Short's official designation still "on optional assignment" even though he's not on the Pool? If so, he can't just be recalled even though he's on the 40-man roster, right?
And someone like Alec Mills who's on the Pool and out of options... he's virtually locked onto the active roster because he can't get taken off (via an outright) and remain eligible to be re-added. Seems like the kind of player you'd prefer to leave off the initial Pool.
crunch 21 hours 8 min ago (view)
though he went to the hospital for treatment he was never admitted, so he's yet another person who got dragged hard by Covid, but who's case isn't showing up in the hospital admission, ICU bed, or death numbers most of us are looking at.
there's a whole slew of people who have had to shut down their lives for 2-4-6-etc weeks to get over this that are falling outside of the numbers we're tracking most closely.
Cubster 21 hours 38 min ago (view)
"In yet another reminder of how insidious this particular disease can be, Hottovy says he had acted quite cautiously in public before coming down with it. Fortunately, he was able to self-isolate and avoid transmitting it to his family."
crunch 22 hours 49 min ago (view)
it'll be interesting to see how things go down when people have to start playing games in AZ. they're damn close to being "early NYC level" screwed with a lack of planning and action.
with the early plan of playing games in AZ/FL, they could have been huge economic winners with 15+ teams playing all their games in AZ (and spring training 2.0). now it's looking like some teams may not even want to fly into AZ for a few dozen "away" games.
crunch 23 hours 4 min ago (view)
cubs pitching coach tommy hottovy was diagnosed with covid-19 earlier this spring, but he is currently assumed fully recovered.
he had a 100+ degree temperature for 6 days, lost 18 pounds, and it took 30 days for him to test negative.
he's 38 years old, btw.
Hagsag 1 day 6 hours ago (view)
crunch 1 day 21 hours ago (view)
at least the cubs got elston back for pretty much nothing. also, ha.
Rob Richardson 2 days 3 hours ago (view)
How many coachs, managers, and other "tier 1" individuals around the league are in higher risk groups?
Rob Richardson 2 days 3 hours ago (view)
Well said Crunch.