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!
crunch 3 hours 52 min ago (view)
i truly wonder why f.carrera wasn't more of a priority.
he throws straight up junk, but he's got great control and command over his pitchers. he's young enough that he could find some more velocity, too.
i mean, this is a management team that decided to trade for dan haren and kyle hendricks. they don't have an aversion to slow-tossing starters.
Dolorous Jon Lester 4 hours 32 min ago (view)
Has anyone else noticed James Norwood's picture on the Cubs top 30 prospects page is actually Brandon Kintzler?
Arizona Phil 6 hours 55 min ago (view)
It's always interesting to see how many players each MLB club protects on its AAA affiliate's 38-man reserve list on 11/20.
I'm not saying it absolutely and necessarily proves what a club thinks of its own prospects, but there are 38 slots available on a AAA reserve list, and if you leave 15 slots open, I think that does say something, especially when you don't lose anybody in either the MLB Phase or in the AAA Phase. (I'm looking at you, Seattle Mariners!)
Arizona Phil 7 hours 40 min ago (view)
HAGSAG: Instructs starts next month. The pitching lab operates year round, so guys are always coming & going.
Hagsag 9 hours 45 min ago (view)
Phil, when does the Instructional program begin? Are there pitchers in the pitching lab now?
cubbies.4ever 20 hours 48 min ago (view)
Just to continue my conspiracy theory that Theo has a requirement you have TJS to pitch for the Cubs Trevor Megill had it in 2013. The Cubs must have a support group for pitchers who have had TJS.
Arizona Phil 22 hours 25 min ago (view)
After losing two players off the Iowa reserve list in the Major League Phase and selecting four players in the AAA Phase, the Iowa reserve list has one slot open, so now would be an excellent time to try and outright C. D. Pelham to AAA.
Keep in mind that he can't elect free-agency if he's outrighted, and if he is outrighted, he won't be a minor league free-agent until post-2021.
And if he gets claimed off waivers? No big deal.
Arizona Phil 22 hours 46 min ago (view)
LHSP Faustino Carrera and 2B Carlos Sepulveda were among the first players signed by the Cubs out of Mexico in 2014-15. The Cubs ended up signing more than two dozen more Mexican players over the next three years.
Arizona Phil 22 hours 50 min ago (view)
Vimael Machin can play anywhere in the infield & outfield, but he also went through the catcher conversion program at post-2015 Instructs so he can even catch in a pinch, too. He could be a very useful 26th man.
Machin is bi-lingual (he is from Puerto Rico and went to college at Old Dominion), and was projected by the Cubs as a future coach or manager. He's a savvy & astute baseball guy.
Arizona Phil 23 hours 3 min ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: Every year the Cubs convert two or three position players to pitcher (it was Galazin, Hughes, and Zardon in 2019), so it's very possible that Suiter will be given a chance to pitch.
bradsbeard 23 hours 59 min ago (view)
Suiter, who pitched in HS and briefly in college and who doesn't appear to be much of a hitter, seems to me to be a good pitcher conversion candidate.
Arizona Phil 1 day 41 min ago (view)
BTW, three of the four players selected by the Cubs in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft (Stewart, Suiter, and Masters) will be minor league free-agents post-2020, and the fourth one (Vance Vizcaino) is a second-contract player (he was previously released by KC) so he could be a post-2020 minor league free-agent, too (TBD).
Incidentally, David Masters was selected by the Cubs after signing a minor league successor contract with the Nationals.
Arizona Phil 1 day 48 min ago (view)
So LHSP Brailyn Marquez, INF Christopher Morel, RHSP Cory Abbott, SS Aramis Ademan, RHSP Erich Uelmen, RHSP Keegan Thompson, and LHSP Brendon Little stand-out among the Cubs 2020 first-time Rule 5 Draft eligibles, and RHRP Oscar de la Cruz, LHSP Luis Lugo, and LHRP Jordan Minch are probably the ones to watch among the Cubs post-2020 free-agent eligibles.
Arizona Phil 1 day 48 min ago (view)
For those of you who like to plan ahead, AS THINGS STAND NOW here is how the Rule 5 Draft and minor league free-agency shape up for the Cubs post-2020:
bradsbeard 1 day 7 hours ago (view)
You say that in jest, but just from the 2016 draft, which did not feature a first or second round pick, the Cubs drafted 4 players who were added to 40 man rosters this winter (Hatch, Miller, Rucker, Short) with Mekkes, Giambrone, and several others being potential mid-season additions.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 7 hours ago (view)
So I guess he's the first guy since Rondon we've taken in rule 5 with a shot at making the roster. That's kinda cool