Cubs @ Pirates: Series Thread (Games 122-124)

The Cubs may want to flee the state after that performance in Philadelphia, but they only make it as far as the western side of Pennsylvania. There, they find the last place Pirates waiting for them. The Pirates ended an 8-game skid by taking the first two in their last series, against the Angels. The Pittsburgh club is firmly in the role of spoiler following that 8-game losing streak and a 9-game losing streak that lead them into the trade deadline. The Cubs head into the series in a tie with the Cardinals and only 1 game ahead of the Brewers. See below for the matchups.


Game 122, Friday, August 16, 6:05pmCDT
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (8-9, 3.48 ERA)
PIT: RHP Joe Musgrove (8-11, 4.71 ERA)

Hendricks only went 2.2 in Cincinnati for his last start and allowed seven earned runs, including three homeruns. It was easily his worst start of the season so far. He faced the Pirates on July 2 and surrendered two earned runs in three innings of work. Adam Frazier is 4-8 off of him with a homerun. Gregory Polanco and his 10-28 and two homeruns off Hendricks are on the IL.

Musgrove lost to the Cardinals last time out (thanks). He allowed three earned runs on six hits and three walks in 5.1 innings pitched. He's 0-1 in two starts against the Cubs this season having allowed four runs, two earned, on only five hits and two walks in 9.1 innings. Current Cubs are 17-97 off of him with a single homerun and 9 walks. If you're following along that = terrible.


Game 123: Saturday, August 17, 12:35pmCDT
CHC: LHP Jon Lester (9-8, 4.43 ERA)
PIT: LHP Steven Brault (3-1, 4.33 ERA)

Lester allowed three earned runs in five innings in Cincinnati last weekend. He's 1-0 in two Wrigley starts against the Pirates this season, allowing three runs, one earned, in 9.1 innings pitched. Josh Bell is 6-22 with one homerun off of him.

Brault swung back into the rotation at the end of May and has been decent there since, although he finds himself exiting the game around the fifth inning in about half his outings. Last time out he went 4.2 and allowed four earned runs in a no decision to the Cardinals. He pitched three innings in relief against the Cubs on April eighth and allowed four earned runs. The Cubs have hammered him for a .990 OPS in 105 at bats. Bryant is 7-12 with a homerun, three walks, and zero strikeouts off of him. Javy is 5-9 with a homerun, three walks, and zero strikeouts.


Game 124: Sunday, August 18, 6:10pmCDT
CHC: LHP José Quintana (10-7, 4.11 ERA)
PIT: RHP Mitch Keller (1-1, 7.94 ERA)

Quintana set a career high with 14 strikeouts in his last start and has been great in his last two. He's allowed two earned runs on seven hits and one walk vs. 21 strikeouts in his last 13 innings pitched. He's won all three of his starts against the Pirates this season, allowing three earned runs and collecting 21 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched against them. The three Pirates who have had some success against him--Cervelli, Osuna, and Polanco--are all unavailable at the beginning of this series. My superstitious side thinks there are too many ducks lined up here and that Cubbery must be imminent.

Perhaps that cubbery comes in the form of a rookie pitcher the Cubs have never faced. Mitch Keller is 1-1 in his first four MLB starts. He hasn't been especially efficient, striking out more than a batter per inning but also allowing 4.24 walks per nine and posting a low groundball rate. His fastball has averaged 95.7 MPH, and he'll mix a slider, a curve, and the occasional changeup. No Cubs have faced him.

Comments

Russell called up from Iowa ... and Almora (ALMORA!) demoted to Iowa

Tea leaves say Javy is still not feeling great and JHey felling better - also Happ can fill in at CF too

Kintzler also activated and whats-his-name Iowa reliever called up yesterday sent back down today

almora down...now who will lead off?

i guess it's kemp time!  yeah!  hahah...haha...ha...umm...yeah.

Don’t worry, Descalso is on a rehab assignment, the lead off man we all need!

time to start printing those world series game tickets

heyward(CF) / cast / bryant / rizzo / BAEZ / schwarb / lucroy / we're doing that stupid pitcher hitting 8th thing again / kemp(2nd)

One metric that seems useful to me in evaluating any move a manager makes is what is the response of the opposing manager.

I don't believe any opposing manager says "aw fuck now we gotta face Hendricks/Darvish/Quintana in the 8 hole, how are we going to counter that?"

I have a hard time imagining Clint getting flustered over Tony Kemp coming up in the 8-spot either.

I think you need actual alchemy to arrange 2019 Lucroy, Tony Kemp, and a pitcher into an imposing 7-8-9.

it's a pety complaint on my part, but giving the pitcher slot an extra 20-50 PA a year while handicapping (more prone to being pitched around) a stronger hitter usually put in the 7 slot doesn't do anything for me.

just playing with how the numbers have worked out in practice, last i checked it was a minor disadvantage to bat the pitcher 8th...but most likely statistically insignificant...aka, it's not going to get anyone fired or manager of the year doing it.

So Jed Hoyer spoke with media today and said Russell-for-Almora swap had been in the works ... a day late and a dollar short

woo!

finally...FINALLY...the cubs bats wake up in the 8th.

tony "MVP HOF" kemp.

Best number nine hitter in the NL!

Ball sure knows how to find Bote with one out in the ninth

i am well over 9th inning drama.

even stuff that seems like it's not a big deal feels like a big deal.

Kyle Ryan and Brandon Kintzler handling a 1-run lead in a 9th inning following a sweep to the Phillies. This is not the bullpen the front office has been trying to assemble. The closer, the setup man/backup closer (Strop), the future closer (Edwards), and the replacement closer (Kimbrel) have all fallen through in one way or another. If they can make the playoffs, I suppose we expect Kimbrel and Cishek as reinforcements? It's still going to be rough with Strop underperforming.

Brandon Morrow says hello too re the front office’s best laid plans

hey neat.  man on 2nd...IBB, bb, bb...good job.

tie game.  awesome.

And he’s left in to continue pitching.

Joe has to go.

Started to feel like I was watching Kyle Farnsworth and just knowing that he didn't have a way of getting the batter out.

For those looking to identify the particular nightmare I was reliving: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/sports/2004...

obligatory farnsworth flashback video...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZbG5MPsfYM

some nice bonus "pissed off sarge" gary matthews in there, too...and dusty baker handling shit.  say what one wants about his lineup construction, dusty put up with some insane baseball attitudes with players he managed.  i still can't believe a clubhouse with jeff kent and barry bonds didn't result in attempted murder at the very least.

I don’t think Kintzler threw a single pitch where a Pirate swung and missed. All swings led to foul balls or that walk off hit. It was obvious he had nothing. The guy hadn’t pitched in over a week, so I can’t really blame him.

Lulz

If Bote makes that play ...

There are too many guys on this team that need to go to Iowa and not enough guys in Iowa to replace them.

WELL THAT SUCKED

The thing is, this Cub team has so many flaws you really can’t take the inevitable  meltdowns too harshly. The Cubs are a slightly above average team - that’s all 

this has been a particularly rough set of losses...ow.

I think they are better than slightly above average in every area but the bullpen. Fangraphs WAR numbers suggest they are top 4 offense in the NL, top 5 rotation in NL, and bottom 5 bullpen in the NL. But that still suggests they should be right where they are, struggling to stay in the back of the pack of contenders for the postseason. So, that's probably close to what you are saying, but we could maybe attribute it mostly to one flaw--the bullpen.

Not a hill I’m going to die on for sure, but compare the 2019 defense vs 2016, I believe Cubs are bottom half on defense.  Also, last info I saw on the topic, Cubs lead the majors in outs recorded on the basepaths.  At six games over .500, Four teams in the NL have better records than the Cubs, who are now tied with the Phillies and just a game ahead of the Brewers. I think it was Bill Parcells who said you are what your record says you are - have to agree here too. 

Cubs at home = Roadrunner

Cubs on road = Wile E. Coyote

I wonder if Joe will talk about how he feels re: next years contract to media today?

heyward(CF) / cast / bryant / rizzo / baez / russell / happ(LF) / lucroy / lester

lester and lucroy...

I knew this was going to be a tough series with the Pirates starting Cy Young last night and Walter Johnson today.  Only weird thing is Cy was sporting a 4.59 ERA going into last night and Johnson came into today with a 4.15.

Cubs have to scratch mightily to get two runs against the mighty second half buccos

walking the pitcher to load the bases with 0 outs.

this cubbery is thicker than the humidity.

no one scores!  hell yeah.  phew.

2 on, 0 out, and also gets out of that.

btw, bryant has forgotten how to play 3rd base the past 2 innings...da hell...

bryant has not forgotten how to hit homers.

sweeeeeeeet.

...and we're doing more 0 out, men on base stuff...

2 on, 0 outs...up to 103 pitches and lester's day is done.

bullpen time.  oh. boy.  neat.

chatwood in.

K, diving catch by happ for an out, HBP to load the bases, ground out

phew.

PIT has loaded the bases 3 times in this game.

Lester pitched 35 innings today.

at least...

cubs win!  about time.

With our vaunted late inning tandem of Tyler Chatwood and Rowan Wick!

Who would have thought?

2019...cubs fan...being thankful heyward and chatwood are around...wtf...

I’m a little surprised and confused that Bote wasn’t in the infield in the ninth? Wth - need that one out boot to complete my day

You could hit your thumb with a hammer.  Or take a big bite of wayyyy too hot pizza.  Just sayin.

Cubs 1-10 with RISP in the series.  Left lots of ducks on the pond.  Could take some of the pressure off the pen.

Like having a 5-1 lead going into the ninth?

Craig Kimbrel reinstated from IL, Duane Underwood Jr optioned to Iowa, Mark Zagunis recalled as the "26th man" for tonight's game (special travel required to get to Williamsport so MLB Comissioner permits 26th man for both clubs). 

so stoked for the williamsport game.

the increasing amount of off-site games is a bit concerning (middle of nowhere Field of Dreams field, really?), but I love this one.  it's played out great so far and giving the kids playing in the LL series some primo seats (hope this continues) is a great touch.

Hey, I'm pretty excited about the Field of Dreams game.  I grew up on a farm in middle of nowhere Iowa and my brother and I spent a lot of time trying to hit baseballs into a corn field.  I'm seriously considering coming back next summer from Texas to go to that game if prices aren't super stupid expensive.  Added bonus, I won't have to listen to A-Rod and Mendoza ignorantly discussing corn and no, you don't eat field corn like you would sweet corn. 

never really considered how that might be cool for people used to seeing those midwest fields as an everyday occurance.  in the south-east US you rarely see the vastly massive acerage of farm-against-farm-against-farm-etc...

also, i spent a good amount of time out in corn fields in ames, iowa in my last job.  everyone wanted to go work the research fields in hawaii, but we always ended up in iowa.

I did 3/4 of a PhD in Ames, IA... no need to apologize. That's time that can jade anybody. The best parts of my years there were 1) Cubs on local AM radio (pre cell network streaming) so I could listen to them on a run, and 2) being able to go see the I-cubs whenever I wanted. Was at a game there on July 4, 2007 & I saw a guy sitting 1 section over, a couple rows up and I thought "that looks like Barack Obama". Turns out it was the whole Obama family... Gotta love IA in a pre-caucus year. 

heyward / cast / bryant / rizzo / baez / schwarb / caratini / kemp(2nd) / Q

woo, a good cubs away game.

one takeaway from this game...a slew of cubs players were fans of Hey Arnold! when they were kids.

welcome back kimbrel.

1st pitch goes about 10 miles outside the park by marte.

strop comes in to get the last out, but it has to be some kinda slow-walk back in a game that wasn't a save situation.

homer, hbp, k, k...looks healthy.

...and strop gives up a hit then walks the bases loaded.

...and he closes it out with a K.  neat.

this is the 1st cubs road series win since May 17-19 @WAS.

That is truly staggering. Shame on the rest of the Central that we are only one loss behind the pissboys, we should have been buried by now with that kind of stat.

paul dejong (STL) took out the M in  the "BIG MAC LAND" sign @STL with a big HR...lights went out on the letter and everything.  epic-ish.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ECYHA12XoAAyp45?format...

And the Brewers are being no hit by Hudson thru 6.

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  • Arizona Phil 1 day 23 hours ago (view)

    CHARLIE: Austin Riley is actually a third-baseman but he had to play LF for the Braves in 2019 because he was blocked by Josh Donaldson, and Cristian Pache is considered to be the best defensive centerfielder in the minors and his bat has improved enough over the past year or two to where he is now rated in or just outside the top ten overall prospects in MLB.

    So a package that includes Riley and Pache and one of the Braves young MLB or MLB-ready SP would probably be more than enough to get the Cubs to bite.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 2 hours ago (view)

    Max Fried or Bryse Wilson

     

  • crunch 2 days 3 hours ago (view)

    https://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/27828247/...

    t.skaggs story keeps getting deeper.

    allegations the team knew about skagg's drug abuse (also his family).  teams are required to report this to MLB.

     

  • Charlie 2 days 5 hours ago (view)

    Except for the headline, the linked post reads more like a trade hypothetical than a trade rumor. I like the idea of looking at this package as a discussion point for expected return for Bryant. I would say it feels a little light to me. It's deep, with two decent outfield prospects with upside and two OK pitching prospects. But Riley doesn't help the team solve the CF problem right now, so he's either redundant to Bote or sort of a Schwarber replacement. Muller's inflated BB% at AA this year worries me a bit too.

     

  • Cubster 2 days 12 hours ago (view)

    I might have missed something and it's been talked about regarding a KB trade rumor from about 10-9-19. 

    https://apple.news/AJUMyEWodQ2GX1cj1gE4ENQ 

    Braves receive: 3B Kris Bryant 

     

  • crunch 4 days 1 hour ago (view)

    they get 3 guys and the cubs get 1 guy.  sounds like a slam dunk for the angels.  pencil trout in the cubs lineup.  he's got upside.

     

  • Jackstraw 4 days 4 hours ago (view)

    I'd hate to part with both Kemp and Chatwood, but if it will bring that Trout guy back, we could even throw in Almora.

     

  • crunch 4 days 7 hours ago (view)

    the ricketts got a brazillian dollar tax break...they need to trickle that down and flex on the entire league.

    we gonna get grandal, rendon, castellanos, g.cole, strasburg, ryu, a.chapman...maybe sign bumgarner and odorizzi to work the pen.

     

  • Arizona Phil 4 days 7 hours ago (view)

    CHARLIE: If the Cubs trade Quintana and his new club pays 100% of his 2020 salary his new club assumes 100% of his salary AAV liability, but if the Cubs agree to pay a portion of Quintana's 2020 salary as part of the trade, whatever portion of Quintana's 2020 salary that is paid by the Cubs would count against the Cubs 2020 AAV. 

     

  • Charlie 4 days 8 hours ago (view)

    PHIL: Thanks for that Boston context--I hadn't realized the trend there. If the Cubs did decide to pick up Quintana's option and then trade him (assuming the Cubs would not agree to pay part of the contract as part of the trade), do they have to do that by a certain date in order for Quintana's contract not to count against them for the CBT? I haven't been able to find any dates attached to the CBT in a quick internet search.

     

  • Arizona Phil 4 days 9 hours ago (view)

    My presumption in the Cubs declining Jose Quintana's 2020 club option as well as declining the club options on the veteran relievers who have one and non-tendering Addison Russell (and this also applies to Joe Maddon not returning as manager in 2020) is that after the monumental late-September collapse of 2019 on the heels of the 2018 Game #163 and Wild Card game defeats Ricketts will no longer accept the Cubs payroll going over the CBT threshold ($208M AAV in 2020) or extending a manager making $5M a year.   

     

  • crunch 4 days 14 hours ago (view)

    i actually like ATL the team...the fans and the 3+ hours of tommy hawk chawpin' non-stop is beyond annoying before even getting into how messed up it is they're still doing that in 2019.  it's all they do, just that 1 single thing...for hours...

    fans were so upset about not getting foam hatchets pre-game yesterday (that was the club's way to "dial it back") they were busy letting the "PC police" know they're here to chant and chop as loud as they could before the first pitch was even thrown.

    it took about 10 runs to shut them up.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 5 days 4 hours ago (view)

    Damn. Atlanta was the only team in the NL I was hoping would advance. I don’t know what I was hoping in LA vs WAS series. Cataclysmic event? (Side note, I live in the DC area, what a dreadful group of fans. They deserve nothing good ever.)

     

  • crunch 5 days 6 hours ago (view)

    i live in the south.  my personal hell has been ATL fans by a huge amount more than STL (or even CWS) fans.

    i've made my decision to sell out my people for personal comfort.

     

  • Hagsag 5 days 7 hours ago (view)

    No more reports. I am sick.

     

  • crunch 5 days 7 hours ago (view)

    ...and m.fried walks j.flaherty (STL's starting pitcher) to make it 5-0

    they were highschool teammates, btw.

    ...and d.fowler gets a 2 RBI double.  7-0, 1 out, men on 2nd/3rd

    ...and wong makes it 9-0...still only 1 out.

    the lack of tommy hawk chawping is it's own music.

    10-0 on a passed ball.  pile it on.  see you in 2020 ATL.