Cubs @ Reds: Series Thread (Games 82-84)
The Cubs mustered a big comeback and debuted their new closer, Kimbrel, to end the first half of the season. Today, they open the second half with a weekend series against the last-place Cincinnati Reds. Although they bring up the rear of the NL Central, the Reds are hardly a bad club in 2019. They are only 6.5 games behind the Cubs and feature a pretty good pitching staff (fourth in the majors by ERA- at 82). There offense has not kept pace with their run prevention. The two teams last faced off in Chicago near the end of May, when the Reds took the series 2-1. Read past the break for day-by-day matchups and a little first-half questionnaire.
Game 82, June 28, 6:05pmCDT
CHC: LHP Cole Hamels (6-2, 2.92 ERA)
CIN: RHP Sonny Gray (3-5, 4.03 ERA)
Hamels got a no-decision against the Mets, going 7 innings and allowing 3 runs, including two solo homeruns. Javy eventually got the Cubs out of that one with the two-strike, three-run homerun in the eighth. Since his Cubs debut on August 1 of last year, Hamels is 10-5 with a 2.67 ERA. Hard to believe the main piece coming from the Cubs was Eddie Butler (with the caveat that it's still possible Alexander Ovalles, the PTBNL, turns out to be the best player the Cubs sent). Jose Peraza is 4-9 off of him with a HR. Votto is 5-23 with one homerun.
Gray signed with the Reds in the offseason and has been so-so. His peripherals give some reason to hope his results might improve, especially his strikeout rate which has risen to just over 10 per nine innings. Although he has mostly avoided the homerun bug that has swept through the majors this year, he did allow two homeruns (and four total earned runs) in 4.1 during his last start. The Cubs are 6-32 off of him. Almora is 2-2 with a homerun and Russell is 2-4 with a homer. Heyward is 0-8 with a strikeout.
Game 83, June 29, 3:10pmCDT
CHC: LHP Jose Quintana (4-7, 4.50 ERA)
CIN: RHP Luis Castillo (7-2, 2.56 ERA)
Quintana got hung out to dry in his last start, allowing eight earned runs including three homeruns against the Mets. Nothing much has stood out about his first half performance--he just hasn't been as effective as fans would hope. Joey Votto is 10-20 off of him and Suarez is 7-21 with a homerun.
Castillo walked five and allowed six runs, four earned, in 3.1 innings in his last start. It was only the second time this season he's gone less than five. Overall, he's taken a step forward in 2019, and his high strikeout and groundball rates have allowed him to work around an elevated walk rate. He beat the Cubs on 5/16, going 5.1 and allowing two earned runs. Contreras is 4-6 with three doubles and Schwarber is 3-9 with two homeruns.
Game 84, June 30, 12:10pmCDT
CHC: LHP Jon Lester (7-5, 3.83 ERA)
CIN: RHP Anthony DeSclafani (4-4, 4.70 ERA)
Lester allowed two runs, zero earned, in six innings to earn a win against Atlanta in his last start. He spent from mid-May to mid-June regressing from some spectacular early season stats. In his last two starts he's gotten more of the soft contact that's allowed him to last as a top-of-the-rotation starter even as he becomes something of a baseball elder statesman. Suarez is 10-34 with three homeruns off of him. Jose Peraza is 12-29.
Following a breakout in 2016, Desclafani missed all of 2017 to an elbow injury and has not been able to repeat that success since. Homeruns have been the big problem for him so far. Last time out, he pitched 4.1 innings and allowed six earned runs to the Brewers. Current Cubs have an .802 OPS against him in 117 at bats. Bryant is 6-17 with a homerun.
I thought about doing some sort of mid-point stat and storyline roundup. Instead, I'd like to request that you discuss the most fun aspects of the first half in the comments. In particular, I'd love to hear about what you think have been the most fun pitcher, position player, batting event, defensive play, and game of the first half. Thanks in advance for sharing!
bradsbeard 16 hours 16 min ago (view)
Several non-prospects ate up spots as well. Ultimately wish they had given a few more Rivas types a shot there.
tim815 17 hours 13 min ago (view)
Only 60 spots in SB. Others benefited more from the time.
crunch 20 hours 7 min ago (view)
not phil, but i think everyone is holding off on his potential ceiling until he gains enough weight to not look like someone you want to buy a sandwich every time you see him.
big upside if his skills can strengthen as he builds his body.
too early for a solid comp, but i wouldn't feel uncomfortable throwing ian happ's name around (bit better arm than happ, though).
bradsbeard 21 hours 3 min ago (view)
Me too. Thought it was weird he wasn't in South Bend at all.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
I am very, very intrigued by Rivas. If the DH is unfortunately here to stay, he's a prime candidate for that and give Rizzo a day off 1B here and there. If no DH, hopefully he is a passable OF. Big believer in his hitting ability
Hagsag 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
Phil, do you think Chris Morel is the real deal?
tim815 1 day 18 hours ago (view)
Blue and Red DSL instructs rosters. No Brayan Altuve.
crunch 1 day 21 hours ago (view)
yup, they're gonna try. starts in about a month.
Hagsag 2 days 4 hours ago (view)
Has it been announced whether there will be a DR winter league this winter?
tim815 2 days 10 hours ago (view)
That's as good of news as we'll get for awhile.
Arizona Phil 2 days 13 hours ago (view)
TIM: If nothing else, signing a boatload of IFA (35) in the 2019-20 ISP is a pretty good indicator that the Cubs fully intend to run two DSL teams into the forseeable future.
tim815 2 days 13 hours ago (view)
Of the 11 new guys, I'm leaning on Marino Sandy and Jerry Torres to be the most likely to reach full-season ball or get traded
Arizona Phil 2 days 15 hours ago (view)
OF Ian Miller (outrighted to the minors on 9/3) elected free-agency just prior to the 10/15 deadline, and the Cubs have signed RHRP Juan Gamez (who they released on 9/9) to a 2021 minor league contract.
bigsky33 3 days 20 hours ago (view)
Phil, were you watching from outside the stadium?
crunch 3 days 22 hours ago (view)
nice, we dont have to hear about the creation of "The AZPhil Rule" a week from now because you watched a game.
also, it's nice that c.morel and l.verdugo are getting work. hell, it's nice all those guys are getting work. it's rough that so many in the low minors have been hobbled by this 2020 stuff.
Arizona Phil 3 days 23 hours ago (view)
HAGSAG: Just to make it very clear, there were no violations of any MLB directives or rules & regulations pertaining to in-person fan attendance at AZIL games.