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.
Dolorous Jon Lester 5 hours 45 min ago (view)
I believe this is the correct take. It's surprising that Len is leaving. He's good, but he had gotten a little too rationalizey over the past few years for me.
However, it seemed he was heavily invested in the Cubs. His departure feels like there is some Ricketts-ish bullshit going on behind the scenes at Marquee that Len wants no part of. Anyway, I wish him well with the other Chicago team
crunch 6 hours 21 min ago (view)
is everything the ricketts touch just falling to shit in 2021? ....well, except their heavy investments in taking over the state of Nebraska politically with one of the sons and heavy investment in supportive state legislators...
Dolorous Jon Lester 7 hours 52 min ago (view)
This makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks Phil!
(And that HR off Hader was unforgettable)
Hagsag 10 hours 15 min ago (view)
Wrigley Rat 15 hours 43 min ago (view)
Len Kasper is leaving the Cubs for the White Sox radio booth.
Charlie 20 hours 29 sec ago (view)
I would be happy to see the Cubs no longer spend DH time on Victor Caratini. Provided there's a Kyle Schwarber or better alternative, of course.
Arizona Phil 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
DJL: I don't think Ildemaro Vargas being out of minor league options is much of a concern to the Cubs because as things stand right now he projects as the team's primary utility infielder in 2021. He can play all four INF positions (1B, 2B, 3B, and SS, plus corner OF, too), and he is switch hitter with some pop, especially from the right side (remember the 9th inning HR he hit off Josh Hader in September?).
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
I'm a little surprised Ildemaro Vargas was tendered, given that he's out of options. He has value and isn't expensive as he is pre-arb this year, but still a bit surprised. Have to think he's got an inside track to an Opening Day spot at this point
waveland 1 day 13 hours ago (view)
really appreciate the years and years of your updates
Arizona Phil 1 day 15 hours ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: Strumpf was wearing a cast on his hand in Minor League Camp before everything got shut-down in March so his not being at South Bend might have had something to do with that. I don't know why Rivas wasn't at the ATS.
bradsbeard 1 day 16 hours ago (view)
Do you have any idea why Rivas and Strumpf weren't at the alternate site in South Bend? I thought Rivas especially showed enough in ST games to be viewed as a legitimate depth option, especially with the DH.
Arizona Phil 1 day 16 hours ago (view)
Alfonso Rivas reminds me a bit of Rafael Palmeiro when Palmeiro first came up to the big leagues and was a "doubles machine" (before he started hitting home runs).
Rivas played D-1 baseball at the University of Arizona, so (just like Nico Hoerner, who also played in the PAC-12) I don't think he needs a lot of additional time at AAA before he's ready for MLB. He's a very advanced hitter, as long as you are OK with lots of doubles & lots of walks but not many HR.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 17 hours ago (view)
I hadn't thought of that but I really like that option
bradsbeard 1 day 17 hours ago (view)
I really hope Rivas has a chance at the LF job. Would ease some of the sting of Schwarber being cut loose.
Arizona Phil 1 day 17 hours ago (view)
CRUNCH: I got the impression that Ross had seen enough of Schwarber in LF, so implementing the universal DH may be necessary before Schwarber returns to the Cubs in 2021. I think the Cubs would be fine with Schwarber as their main DH going forward.
BTW, I strongly suspect that the universal DH will be included in the next CBA, but whether there will be a DH in the National League in 2021 is still TBA (which is really stupid, since clubs need to know right now for sure one way or the other whether or not there will be a DH in the N. L. in 2021).
Arizona Phil 1 day 18 hours ago (view)
Besides the guys on the 40, Cubs 2021 NRI relievers with a legit chance to win a bullpen slot in Spring Training include LHRPs Josh Osich and Rex Brothers, and RHRPs Jake Jewell, Trevor Megill, Dakota Mekkes, Michael Rucker, and Joe Wieland (presuming they are not taken in the Rule 5 Draft).
Brothers and Wieland are out of minor league options, however, so if added to the 40 they could not ride the "Chicago - Des Moines Shuttle" like the others could.