Cubs vs. Reds: Series Thread (Games 150-152)
The Cubs swept the Pirates at home and will aim to provide just that sort of treatment now to the Reds as they come into town. They'll have to continue to do their work without Javy and now Rizzo too will be unavailable. No word yet, as far as I can tell, about when Russell might become available again--but fans are generally pleased with Hoerner's first MLB stint anyway. The Cubs now trail the Cardinals by only 2.0 games in the division and the Nats by 1.5 in the Wild Card. The Brewers remain hot on their heels, despite the recent loss of Yelich, while the Mets, Phillies, and D-Backs have dropped back to likely also-ran positions. Don't expect the Reds to be a walk in the park, but the Cubs will at least dodge Luis Castillo. Continue below for the match-ups.
Game 150, Monday, Sep. 16, 7:05pmCDT
CHC: LHP Cole Hamels (7-7, 3.89 ERA)
CIN: RHP Kevin Gausman (3-8, 5.83 ERA)
Hamels worked an effective but inefficient 4.1 innings and took a loss to the Padres in his last start. He walked four and struck out six will allowing a solo homerun as the only scoring. He's 0-1 vs. Cincinnati this year, having been limited to four innings in two starts, both away from Wrigley. Perhaps the Friendly Confines will treat him a bit better.
Gausman came over from Atlanta after the trade deadline. The Reds have used him exclusively out of the bullpen, but they haven't used him on consecutive days and they over turn to him for more than one inning of work. He took a loss to the Cubs in his first appearance with the Reds, allowing two earned runs in two innings on August 8th. Castellanos is 4-15 with two homeruns off of him, and Zobrist is 8-13 with four doubles and a homerun.
Game 151, Tuesday, Sep. 17, 7:05pmCDT
CHC: RHP Yu Darvish (6-6, 3.97 ERA)
CIN: RHP Sonny Gray (10-7, 2.80 ERA)
Darvish built on his impressive second half by going collecting fourteen strikeouts (compared to two walks) in six innings for a win in San Diego. He lost in Cincinnati on August 9th, allowing four earned runs in six innings, getting hurt especially by three homeruns.
Gray took a loss in Seattle, providing 6.1 innings and allowing three earned runs. He struck out nine along the way and probably deserved better. He's provided 6+ innings in each of his last five starts. He's 2-1 against the Cubs in four starts this year, allowing seven earned runs in 23.1 innings pitched and striking out 28. Zobrist is 4-7 off of him and Castellanos 3-9, the closest to any thriving Cubs one can find in the match-up stats sheet.
Game 152, Wednesday, Sep. 18, 7:05pmCDT
CHC: LHP Jon Lester (13-10, 4.59 ERA)
CIN: RHP Tyler Mahle (2-11, 5.11 ERA)
Lester labored through unfavorable pitching conditions to earn a win against the Pirates despite allowing seven runs, four earned, in five innings. He's had a ton of traffic of late, allowing 24 walks and 56 hits in 46.2 innings since the beginning of August, for a WHIP slightly over 1.7. He's somehow managed to go 4-4 in those nine starts. The Reds have feasted on him for a .825 OPS in 200 at-bats. Eugenio Suarez has done much of that damage, going 14-39 with five homeruns and generally disrespecting his elder.
Mahle got a no-decision in his last start, in which he allowed four earned runs in 3.1 innings pitched against Seattle. He's been plagued by the long-ball in 2019, allowing 1.7 homeruns per nine innings. His other peripherals should give Reds fans some room for hope, particularly his 9.28 strikeouts to 2.24 walks per nine. Schwarber is 4-10 with a homer off of him, but it's been feast or famine as he's also struck out five times.
Meanwhile, the Cards and Nats face off in St. Louis, so it's on the Cubs to win in order to gain ground on one or the other any given day. The Brewers will be taking on the Padres in Milwaukee.
Arizona Phil 5 hours 57 min 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 6 hours 40 min 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 15 hours 26 min ago (view)
really appreciate the years and years of your updates
Arizona Phil 17 hours 20 min 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 18 hours 4 min 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 18 hours 39 min 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 19 hours 41 min ago (view)
I hadn't thought of that but I really like that option
bradsbeard 19 hours 47 min 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 19 hours 48 min 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 19 hours 59 min 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.
crunch 20 hours 5 min ago (view)
i am rooting for the cubs to retain schwarber.
even though he's average on the best of days in LF (except his above average arm), i would like to see him and his work ethic remain in the cubs system...the homers from the left side of the plate are nice, too.
Arizona Phil 20 hours 27 min ago (view)
At least as things stand right now, Kris Bryant is your Cubs de facto 2021 Opening Day LF! (Of course we know he will be traded before then...).
Otherwise, minor league NRI outfielders Ian Miller, Michael Hermosillo, and Rafael Ortega will be competing for Opening Day OF slots, with a legit shot to win a job.
Even Alfonso Rivas (who was hitting rockets from foul line to foul line at AZ Instructs) and/or Eddy Julio Martinez (who has had a very good winter in the Mexican Pacific League) might have a shot.
Arizona Phil 20 hours 29 min ago (view)
I would think that both Colin Rea and Kyle Ryan must have signed contracts with minor league split salaries, otherwise I doubt very much that they would have been tendered.
Arizona Phil 20 hours 41 min ago (view)
With Tepera non-tendered and Winkler, Ryan, and Rea signed, the Cubs 2021 Opening Day bullpen (right now) would appear to be Kimbrel (clearly not tradeable), Wick (virtual lock), Winkler (can't be optioned without his consent), Underwood (out of minor league options), and Maples (out of minor league options), and then three from amongst Adam, Norwood, Rea, Ryan, Stock, and Wieck (each of whom can be optioned back & forth to AAA as needed).
Arizona Phil 21 hours 36 sec ago (view)
The Cubs have signed RHSP Colin Rea, LHRP Kyle Ryan, and RHRP Dan Winkler to 2021 MLB contracts (terms TBD) and tendered 2021 MLB contracts to all other unsigned players on their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) except OF Albert Almora, OF-1B Jose Martinez, OF Kyle Schwarber, and RHRP Ryan Tepera.
So Almora, J. Martinez, Schwarber, and Tepera are now unrestricted free-agents, free to sign an MLB or minor league contract with any club (including the Cubs) without any salary restrictions.
The Cubs MLB Reserve List now stands at 34 (six slots are open).
Arizona Phil 21 hours 22 min ago (view)
Keep in mind that as things stand right now the Cubs projected 2021 MLB payroll is almost $50M under the 2021 CBT threshold (which will be $210M), so they don't have to worry about contract AAV if they can sign a player to a multi-year deal with a low 2021 base salary and then substantially higher salaries post-2021 (when they should be able to generate their normal attendance-based revenues --.presuming CoViD-19 is no longer a problem by that time).