Cubs vs. Twins: Series Thread (Games 51-53(
With only 10 games remaining, the Cubs (30-20) start this series 5.5 up in the division. The Twins (31-21) roll into Wrigley in second place in the AL central but with a record equally as impressive as the Cubs'. They are still in striking distance of the first place White Sox, whom the Cubs will face in the season's 3 final games. Given their sizeable lead in the division, these last 10 games will likely have lost some drama. However, this is also an important stretch for key offensive players who have floundered most of the season, a bullpen that has only recently found reasonable footing, and a rotation with two consistent performers at the top and some major variables behind them. See below for the weekend's match-ups.
Game 1, Friday, Sep. 18, 7:15 pm central
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (5-4, 3.29 ERA)
MIN: LHP Rich Hill (2-1, 3.81 ERA)
Hendricks has strung together three strong starts in a row. Last time out he went 7.2 innings against the Brewers and did not earn a decision, allowing 2 earned runs. Current Twins have 22 at-bats against him. Josh Donaldson (2-4), Eddie Rosario (2-3), and Rich Hill (1-2) account for all five of the roster's hits off the righty.
Rich Hill is now 40 and seems to have had about 3 different MLB careers. This will be his 7th start of 2020. He has yet to pitch more than 5 innings in a start and has seen most of his peripherals swing the wrong direction in this season's small sample. His average velocity is also down almost 2 mph compared to last year. Kyle Schwarber (0-6 with two strikeouts) is likely to sit this one out in favor of Cameron Maybin (2-8 off Hill). Bryant and Rizzo are each 2-6 with a homerun off of Hill.
Game 2, Saturday, Sep. 19, 7:15 pm central
CHC: RHP Alec Mills (5-3, 3.93 ERA)
MIN: RHP Michael Pineda (1-0, 3.57 ERA)
Alec Mills is fresh off the game of his life and the longest outing of his MLB career. There was nothing particularly unusual about his no-hitter, except for the outcomes and that he didn't miss in the heart of the zone much. Living on the edges of the strike zone has always been his key to success. No current Twins have faced Mills.
Former Yankee Michael Pineda has been limited to only 3 starts so far in 2020. In 2019, his first season with the Twins, he had an ERA of 4.01 and saw his GB% drop to a career low 36.1%. He's always been stingy with the walks, however, and was not overly stricken with the HR bug last season. Only Cameron Maybin (5-17) has seen all that much of Pineda. Bryant (1-2) and Schwarber (1-3) have each homered off of him.
Game 3, Sunday, Sep. 20, 6:08 pm central
CHC: RHP Yu Darvish (7-2, 1.86 ERA)
MIN: RHP Jose Berrios (4-3, 4.15 ERA)
Last time out, Yu Darvish failed to earn a decision for the first time in 2020. He allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, in 7 innings while striking out 7 Cleveland hitters. He has worked over Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, and Marwin Gonzalez for 22 strikeouts in 48 at bats. Alex Avila is 3-13 but has also coaxed five walks from Darvish. With two starts left, Cy Young votes are definitely on the line.
The 26-year-old Berrios will face off against the Cubs' ace as well as in his own brother-in-law, Javy Baez. He's had a slightly down season, attributable partly to an inflated walk rate compared to his career average. The righty is using his fastball less and his changeup more than in any prior seasons. He does have his highest K/9 for any season so far to show for it. Jason Kipnis has seen the most of him of any current Cub, but he's only 4-23 with one double. Jason Heyward is 2-3 with the roster's only homerun.
Arizona Phil 10 hours 30 min ago (view)
Someone to keep an eye on in 2021 is RHRP (ex-1B) Jerrick Suiter.
He was selected by the Cubs from the Pirates in the AAA Phase of the 2019 Rule 5 Draft and the Cubs immediately converted him from a mediocre AA first-baseman to a full-time pitcher, having seen him throw garbage innings in blow-outs for the Pirates AA Altoona affiliate in 2019.
Dolorous Jon Lester 16 hours 34 min ago (view)
Good to see Roederer and Velasquez providing some production. From what I've followed they haven't been up to much. Granted this season isn't great for development
Arizona Phil 20 hours 37 min ago (view)
The Cubs have added OF Brennen Davis to their AZIL Active List roster.
crunch 22 hours 36 sec ago (view)
"He's a strong kid and shows a lot of HR power in BP and it's just a matter of making it game-usable."
reggie golden flashblacks...if BP was a game he'd be an all-star.
Arizona Phil 22 hours 54 min ago (view)
Unfortunately for the Cubs, all of their Top 10 position-player prospects (M. Amaya, Davis, Hearn, Howard, Made, C. Morel, R. Morel, Quintero, Roederer, and Strumpf -- listed alphabetically) are two or more years away from the big leagues, in most cases more like three or four or even five years away.
Arizona Phil 23 hours 9 min ago (view)
TIM: One of the things people wonder about when they see a young shortstop for the first time is does he have the arm and range necessary to play SS or would his tools maybe be better suited for 2B, 3B or OF. So far at Instructs Kevin Made has shown all of the attributes of a SS, and he is an advanced hitter (for his age) as well.
Arizona Phil 23 hours 48 min ago (view)
AZBOBBOP: Ethan Hearn showed off his plus-arm by back-picking a runner off 1st base last week. You don't see catchers with the confidence to attempt pick-offs much out here.
He's a strong kid and shows a lot of HR power in BP and it's just a matter of making it game-usable. His hitting (contact and barreling) has improved at instructs, and that's one of the things he needed to improve.
His receiving should improve with experience as well.
azbobbop 1 day 12 hours ago (view)
Phil, saw Ethan Hearn with a couple of hits today. How has he been trending?
tim815 2 days 4 hours ago (view)
That Kevin Made is already representing offensively seems, on the 1 to 10 scale with 10 being fantastic news, in the 17 or 18 range.
Nwogu in the 9 to 11 span.
Arizona Phil 2 days 21 hours ago (view)
For those of you wondering about catcher Ronnier Quintero (the Cubs #1 IFA signing in the 2019-20 ISP), he participates fully in pre-game and Camp Day work-outs and he catches bullpens, and while he has been the bullpen catcher at every AZIL game he has not yet played in a game.
As a catcher he has a lot to learn, and the Cubs would prefer that Quintero mainly concentrates on receiving and learning how to work with pitchers right now. He can learn about hitting and baserunning later.
Arizona Phil 2 days 22 hours ago (view)
In adition to the 22 pitchers originally on the Cubs AZIL Active List roster plus RHP Manuel Rodriguez (right biceps strain last March) and LHP Brad Wieck (wearing a brace on his left knee) who are on the Cubs MLB 60-day IL and are rehabbing at AZIL, the Cubs have added four additional pitchers to their AZIL Active List roster:
RHP Josh Burgmann
RHP Chris Clarke
LHP D. J. Herz
RHP Michael McAvene
Charlie 3 days 19 hours ago (view)
This is weird. He seemed well liked and shifting him to another role would've made just as much sense.
bradsbeard 4 days 34 min ago (view)
I'd say the only guys who struggled all season were Baez and Bryant. Willson struggled for a lot of August but was one of the few who hit in September. Most of the team hit well in 2019 (including Baez and Bryant before injuries derailed them). I don't know if there's any reason to blame Ipoce in particular for the September slump.
crunch 4 days 13 hours ago (view)
iapoce expected to stay. i'm surprised. i know it's a weird/short season, but it was a season-long slump for a lot of guys and answers weren't showing up.
crunch 4 days 14 hours ago (view)
i eagerly await the espn 10 part mini-series "Rafael Palmeiro, More Like Rafael Baseballmerio" covering those 28 legendary games.
Dolorous Jon Lester 4 days 15 hours ago (view)
In fairness those 28 games he played at 1B were breathtaking that year