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!
First.Pitch.120 3 hours 28 min ago (view)
So what's the deal with 5 pick off attempt errors in 3 games?
Arizona Phil 4 hours 25 min ago (view)
Because the Cubs play only the Angels, A's, and Rockies in Instructs this year, I would not be surprised if the Cubs make a trade or two with one or more of those clubs, most especially the Angels, who might be interested in acquiring Kyle Hendricks (since they certainly can't do a rebuild with Trout, Ohtani, and Rendon on the roster).
Arizona Phil 4 hours 27 min ago (view)
The pitching-starved Angels established an MLB (and probably Ripley's Believe It or Not) record by selecting - ONLY - pitchers in the 2021 draft. That's twenty pitchers. No position players. They signed 19 of the twenty, and five of them pitched in today's game (2021 15th round pick Glenn Albanese Jr started the game, followed by 18th round pick Nick Mondak, 7th round pick Ryan Costeiu, 8th round pick Nick Jones, and 16th round pick Nick Dufault).
Arizona Phil 4 hours 27 min ago (view)
Cubs 2020 4rh round draft pick 6'8 220+ LHSP Luke Little threw mainly a 93-97 FB with an occasional CV and CH mixed-in but pitched mostly from behind in the count, issuing two walks, hitting a batter, and throwing a WP (and surrendering a towering three-run HR) in 2.1 IP of work, LHP Angel Rodriguez was able to throw strikes with a 90-91 MPH FB, CH, and CV mix, but was pounded to the tune of five singles, a double, and a triple in just 2.2 IP, Cubs 2021 14th round draft pick RHRP Frankie Scalzo featured a 93-95 MPH FB but sometimes hung his SL and was hit hard and allowed a HR and five sing
crunch 6 hours 53 min ago (view)
chris clarke could use the work.
brennen davis...bryce ball and casey opitz, maybe. *shrug*
i'd like to see ethan roberts in the mix.
ggross 14 hours 29 min ago (view)
Phil (or anyone else),
Who are your guesses for Cubs in the Fall League this year? When will the announcements be made? Thanks!
Dolorous Jon Lester 15 hours 45 min ago (view)
My guess is another reliever. Already have Romine around to back up Willson, wins don't matter, might as well use his worthless ass.
tim815 1 day 58 min ago (view)
So, Erick Castillo for Robinson Chirinos?
Childersb3 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
Phil, is that the one of the best Cubs AZIL team games you've seen in a while? It reads like it!!!!
Arizona Phil 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
BOB: They play mostly in the afternoon, sometimes in the morning, some teams are playing night games. Fan attendance varies from place to place.
Arizona Phil 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
The Cubs have added Bryan Serra to their Instructs roster. Serra was signed as a 19-year old infielder out of Venezuela in August 2020, and began the catcher conversion program at Minor League Camp this past April. He will be continuing the process at Instructs.
crunch 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
i miss good hendricks.
SheffieldCornelia 1 day 13 hours ago (view)
AZ Phil, thank you as always for these game updates! It's an exciting time for the lower levels of the Cubs' organization (hopefully soon-to-be the higher levels!) and I'll be reading these with much interest.
Wrigley Rat 2 days 2 hours ago (view)
Dillon Maples Clears Waivers, is Outrighted to Triple-A Iowa, and Will Be a Free Agent After the Season:
Arizona Phil 2 days 5 hours ago (view)
Poor outing for Michael McAvene at Instructs... couldn't throw strikes, bounced his breaking ball, FB velo only 90-92... faced five batters and allowed three runs on walk, single, double, and triple, and only recorded one out before being relieved...
bigsky33 2 days 9 hours ago (view)
Hi Phil, what time are the games? Will the public be able to attend? Thanks!