Cubs vs. Cardinals: Series Thread (Games 153-156)
It's here, the Cubs vs. Cards series we've been waiting for. The Cubs feel to three games behind the Cardinals, remained in a tie with the Brewers for the second Wild Card spot, and fell behind the Nationals by 1.5 for the top Wild Card spot. That means, it would take a Cubs sweep of the four-game set to jump over the Cardinals in the division this weekend, right where you would want to be so that you don't have to end the season needing a sweep of the Cards on the road. The Cubs will have to continue to do their most important work without Javy, Rizzo, or even the backup Russell. In the meantime, they will continue to rely on mid-season additions (Castellanos), recent reactivations (Contreras, Zobrist), and 2019 newbies (Hoerner, Kyle Ryan, Rowan Wick, etc.). See below for how this hodge-podge will match up with the Cards.
Game 153, Thursday, September 19, 6:15pmCDT
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (11-9, 3.26 ERA)
STL: RHP Jack Flaherty (10-8, 3.05 ERA)
This may be the biggest match-up. Will we stay invested, or hedge our emotional bets? That could depend on whether the Cubs can win this opening game. The Cubs send their best starting pitcher to face the Card's best. Hendricks has been strong in his last three starts, allowing a single earn run in each and going into the sixth as well. He's 3-0 in three starts against the Cards this year, one at home and two on the road. He has allowed one earned run in 23 innings pitched, with the first game being his 4-hit complete game shutout in St. Louis. Who else would you want starting against Flaherty? Ozuna is 12-29 with two homeruns off of him.
Something seems to have clicked for Flaherty in the second half, and he's been arguably the best pitcher in the league since then. His ERA is only 1.05 since then and he's stuck out 11.52 per nine innings. He took a loss to the Brewers in his last start, allowing three earned runs in six innings despite striking out ten. He's 1-1 in four starts against the Cubs this year, allowing nine earned runs in 21.2 innings. He'll be fortunate to miss Rizzo, who has done the vast majority of the Cubs' damage against him, going 8-15 with two homeruns.
Game 154, Friday, September 20, 1:20pmCDT
CHC: LHP José Quintana (13-8, 4.37 ERA)
STL: RHP Michael Wacha (6-7, 4.76 ERA)
Quintana has been pulled early in each of his last starts, so he should be well rested? It's been a rough three-game stretch in which he has allowed thirteen earned runs in only 10.1 innings. In that time, he's benefitted from some offensive and bullpen rescues, going 1-0. It's time to pay back that favor. Cardinals hitters have, however, very much enjoyed their time against Q; they have a collective OPS of .931 in 152 at-bats. Goldschmidts stands out in particular at 8-13 with three homeruns. If he's not making his pitches, Q may find himself getting the quick hook for a third start in a row.
Michael Wacha has been terrible this year, but he's been a little sharper lately. He held Milwaukee scoreless in five innings last time out, and has allowed only nine earned runs in his last 31.2 innings over seven starts. The Cubs have collectively accrued a 1.011(!) OPS against Wacha over 218 at-bats. Bryant is 11-35 with three homeruns.
Game 155, Saturday, September 21, 1:20pmCDT
CHC: LHP Cole Hamels (7-7, 3.96 ERA)
STL: RHP Dakota Hudson (16-7, 3.35 ERA)
Hamels looked like the Cubs best starter for quite a while, but he's long since come back to earth. He exited his last start in the fourth having allowed only two earned runs but also having walked five batters. Control has very much been the issue, as he's walked fourteen batters over his last seventeen innings. Good news? The strikeouts are still there. The Cards have generally not been able to figure him out, flailing their collective way to a .541 OPS in 179 at-bats. Matt Carpenter and Marcel Ozuna are just barely propping those numbers up, 5-15 and 9-38 (with a homerun) respectively.
After pitching a handful of innings out of the MLB bullpen last year, Dakota Hudson has been treated to 16 wins as a starter in 2019. He relies extensively on ground balls to keep the old ERA down, as he doesn't strike out many and walks over four per nine innings. He's missed the Cubs so far, making this his first exposure to them as a starter. Last time out he defeated the Nationals, allowing two earned runs in seven innings. Lucroy is 2-3 off of him.
Game 156, Sunday, September 22, 1:20pmCDT
CHC: RHP Yu Darvish (6-7, 4.02 ERA)
STL: RHP Miles Mikolas (9-14, 4.29 ERA)
Darvish's last start was extremely weird making it somehow typical for Yu in 2019 as well. He struck out 13, including 8 in a row at one point, but lost the game anyway, allowing four earned runs including a homerun in seven innings. Before that, he struck out 14 and earned a win in San Diego. Keep the Ks coming, but let's forego the dingers. The Cards haven't seen too much of him. Ozuna is 4-10 and Jose Martinez is 3-5 with a homerun.
Mikolas has been consistently OK throughout the year, and that's been his story of late as well. He's 2-1 in his last five starts, allowing 11 earned runs in 28 innings. He's 0-2 against the Cubs in three starts this year, but he's allowed only four earned run in those 16.2 innings. Cubs lefties have mostly fared better against him, including back-ups Caratini and Happ. Schwarber, 1-12 with four strikeouts, is an exception.
Let's go, Cubs!
Dolorous Jon Lester 38 min 53 sec ago (view)
I think we're going to get very experimental over these last two months in the high leverage spots. Only caveat is they may want to see if Wick can handle the 9th once he's back.
That, I'm pretty sure Ryan would have been my last guess to close out a game. Either him or Megill.
crunch 41 min 27 sec ago (view)
javy swings on 3-0 pitch, outside, fouls off.
javy strikes out, foul tip low and outside.
crunch 44 min 31 sec ago (view)
baez coming into the bottom 9th, down by 1, man on 1st.
standing O. NY loves him so far. part of the crowd is chanting "javy" and others "baez"...they'll figure it out in a few games.
crunch 51 min 26 sec ago (view)
k.ryan coming in for the save, but j.jewell is in the pen warming up...don't think anyone is officially "closer"
Dolorous Jon Lester 54 min 12 sec ago (view)
If we're looking to tank next year I think it would be wise to keep Brothers, Morgan, and Ryan. Toss em in high leverage spots, too.
Dolorous Jon Lester 55 min 17 sec ago (view)
I'd guess it's him too. If we wanted boring it would be Winkler.
Hopefully Ross gives the ball to MANROD.
crunch 1 hour 3 min ago (view)
wasn't ugly, but it was nothing masterful...heuer goes 1ip 0h 0bb 0k only giving up an unearned run on a sac fly. he may get the 9th because he barely worked the 8th (9 pitches).
crunch 1 hour 12 min ago (view)
rex brothers sucks. here comes heuer with the bases loaded and 0 outs.
Eric S 1 hour 37 min ago (view)
Still trails Rizzo by 1 HR for a New York franchise
Eric S 1 hour 39 min ago (view)
JHey with a bouncer thru the right side gets a two out rbi - his first rbi since July 16. Happ with another true outcome nite: 3 Ks and a walk
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 hour 46 min ago (view)
I'd guess Rivas at first. More contact, more low power.
Wisdom at 3B!
crunch 1 hour 47 min ago (view)
i imagine they'll go with hoerner/madrigal (aka, "hoes mad" for the disrespectful youth out there) at SS/2nd.
that's a lot of contact without power, though. this team needs to go buy/trade for some power.
crunch 1 hour 50 min ago (view)
javy hits hit 1st NYM homer
Charlie 2 hours 22 min ago (view)
I could see the Cubs signing a free agent 1B or Ss, an ok starting pitcher, and doing a half-competitive (i.e. finish in third place) phase while waiting for some of these prospects to arrive. Wouldn't be shocked if they get Rizzo back. It will take more than one season to build a real pitching staff, but I think ownership won't be willing to fully tank in the meantime.
crunch 2 hours 44 min ago (view)
partial transcript from hoyer zoom call with media yesterday evening...why it was done the way it was, etc...
Eric S 3 hours 7 min ago (view)
Thought for sure Soto would go yard after Alcantera's error loaded the bases - disaster averted with Soto's first pitch ground out.