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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  • crunch 21 hours 17 min ago (view)

    marvin miller and ted simmons are part of the next HOF class.

    long time coming for miller.

     

  • crunch 1 day 1 hour ago (view)

    things that are important to good on-field play like buying up all the property around wrigley field, from rooftops to acerage, isn't going to monetize itself.

    i know some people would love to have a top tier pitcher, but i'm looking forward to more control of rooftop advertising and an open air beer garden near the team owned hotel and resturant complexes.

    i know some people want a solid leadoff man, but i'm looking forward to seeing 10-20 concerts on off-days destroying the playing field so that extra revenue can help a polician in Nebraska or Iowa get some ad buys.

     

  • Hagsag 1 day 3 hours ago (view)

    Their friend Donald will come through for them.

     

  • crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)

    remember when the billionaire owners got a huge double digit tax cut?

    maybe the city should do them a favor and give them more tax savings help to let them buy and build another 2-3 revenue projects outside of the park.  that might help these struggling heroes find some extra loot.

    i know this rant isn't fair, but my "dan winkler got a MLB contract fever" is dying down a bit.

     

  • crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)

    f'real.  i don't even know why they're going to bother playing games.  i'm over here printing Cubs 2020 World Series Champs banners while others are sleeping on reality.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    Just saw a fun report that the Cubs are telling even budget type free agents they can't currently negotiate until they clear some payroll. So that's a fun start to the winter meetings.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    I'm with you 100% on that. Minor league retreads are fine and all but we don't need to be paying premiums for middle relief.

     

  • JustSayin' 1 day 6 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have 15-20 extra pitchers in their minor league system due to unbalanced drafting over the last few years.  I am ready to see them err on the side of giving the internal guys too many chances as compared to signing AAA players who had short stints in the big leagues which didn't go too well.  We don't know it the Cubs organization is just that bad at developing pitching, or has too many guys trying to prove themselves in a fixed number of minor league innings.  Bad scouting/development or self-inflicted bottleneck?

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 10 hours ago (view)

    Dan Winkler and Jharel Cotton wasn't enough for you? Tough crowd.

     

  • Hagsag 2 days 24 min ago (view)

    I think we all are ready for some action.

     

  • crunch 2 days 59 min ago (view)

    winter meetings start tomorrow...guys got into town friday/today.

    the cubs are supposedly looking to tap the trade market for their major moves.  this is the place where it gets done or seeds get planted.

    also, the modern day HOF class will be announced.  marvin miller will most likely get in.  lou whitaker and ted simmons should have some heat, too.

     

  • crunch 2 days 14 hours 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 2 days 21 hours 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 2 days 22 hours 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 3 days 31 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 3 days 2 hours 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!