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.
Charlie 3 hours 18 min ago (view)
This is weird. He seemed well liked and shifting him to another role would've made just as much sense.
bradsbeard 8 hours 16 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 21 hours 39 min 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 22 hours 39 min 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 22 hours 49 min ago (view)
In fairness those 28 games he played at 1B were breathtaking that year
Dolorous Jon Lester 22 hours 56 min ago (view)
Cubs fire asst. hitting coach Terrmel Sledge. I knew it was his fault!
crunch 22 hours 57 min ago (view)
shout out to 1999 1st base gold glove winner rafael palmeiro. 25 starts (28 games total) at 1st...128 starts at DH.
Charlie 2 days 27 min ago (view)
Lol at Nico getting nominated for riding the bench a lot.
crunch 2 days 2 hours ago (view)
RF Jason Heyward, SS Javier Baez, 2B Nico Hoerner, 1B Anthony Rizzo, C Willson Contreras, and Ps Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills gold glove finalists
bradsbeard 2 days 6 hours ago (view)
Thank you, sir! Sounds like a nice get for the Cubs, and a good project for (what's left of) the new development infrastructure.
Arizona Phil 2 days 7 hours ago (view)
There have been some holes in the AZIL east-side schedule, with one team canceling games last week (although they are back playing this week) and another canceling game this week due to CoViD-19 issue, so the other teams (like the Cubs) are making up some of the "lost" games with intrasquad and in-house "sim" games.
Arizona Phil 2 days 8 hours ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: From what I have seen of Jacob Wetzel so far (BP, fielding practice, base-running drills, sim games, AZIL games, and yesterday's intasquad game), I would say he looks like a football running back playing baseball in that he has a high motor and plays with a bit of an edge.
He has a thick body but he also has plus speed (very much like a football running back in that respect), he runs the bases aggressively, makes hard contact, has HR power, a decent arm, maybe can use some work in the outfield as far as tracking balls.
bradsbeard 2 days 21 hours ago (view)
Phil, curious if you've seen enough of Jacob Wetzel to offer an initial scouting report. Just from watching some prep video he looked pretty strong and fairly athletic (HS football player and all). Impressive numbers albeit in community college, but he was a division 1 recruit before that so he's pretty intriguing to me.
KingKongvsGodzilla 4 days 19 hours ago (view)
AZPhil, thank you for these updates! It's a nice little pick me up during this dumb year. If you have anything to say on Yohendrick Pinango, Joel Machado, Rafael Morel, or Richard Gallardo, I would love to hear it! Thanks again!
crunch 5 days 4 hours ago (view)
jim hickey new nats pitching coach.
bradsbeard 5 days 23 hours ago (view)
Several non-prospects ate up spots as well. Ultimately wish they had given a few more Rivas types a shot there.