Cubs vs. Phillies: Series Thread (Games 85-88)
The Cubs finished their 10-game road trip by losing nine in a row, including sweeps to two teams that now lead them in the division, the Reds and the Brewers. Despite having the wind thoroughly taken out of their sails, they somehow return to home territory for seven games before the All Star break. They begin with a four-game series against the Phillies, the first time these two teams have matched up in 2021. See below for pitching matchups.
Game 85, Monday, July 5, 7:05 pm central
CHC: RHP Zach Davies (5-5, 4.32 ERA)
PHL: RHP Matt Moore (0-1, 5.79 ERA)
Davies has the honor of being the first of three Zach/ks to start in this series. Davies most recently took a loss to Milwaukee, getting pulled after only four innings pitched and having allowed two earned runs while collecting six strikeouts. In June, Davies held a respectable 3.82 ERA and struck out hitters at a rate closer to his career average, 7.09 per nine innings for the month. As has been true throughout his time with the Cubs, his walk rate remained elevated to a dangerous level.
Matt Moore made only two starts in 2019 before suffering a knee injury and spent 2020 pitching in Japan--where he pitched 85 innings, more than would have been possible in MLB last year. 2021 has not yet proven the bounce back that both Moore and the Phillies must be hoping for. He last pitched five scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Mets. That was on June 25, his return to the MLB rotation after time in the bullpen and on the IL with back spasms.
Game 86, Tuesday, July 6, 7:05 pm central
CHC: RHP Jake Arrieta (5-8, 5.57 ERA)
PHL: RHP Aaron Nola (5-5, 4.44 ERA)
Arrieta had a truly terrible June. He posted an ERA of 8.31 and averaged fewer than four innings across six starts. He suffered especially from walks (5.82 per nine innings) and homeruns (2.91 per nine innings). He'll need to put it all behind him quickly; Trevor Williams appears to be on his way back from the IL and Alec Mills has outpitched both Arrieta and Williams, albeit in a very limited number of innings. Perhaps Arrieta will bring a little bit of chip on his shoulder facing his former team.
Aaron Nola is having a bit of a down 2021 relative to his own past performance. There's little to point to for his heightened ERA except for a diminished groundball rate. In the past he has posted rates near 50% but this year he's down to 40%. Meanwhile, he still strikes out well over a batter per innings and walks about two per game. In his last start, he gave up a season-high seven runs will striking out eleven Marlins
Game 87, Wednesday, July 7, 7:05 pm central
CHC: RHP Alec Mills (3-2, 4.85 ERA)
PHL: RHP Zack Wheeler (6-5, 2.05 ERA)
Mills took an undeserved loss in Cincinnati, allowing two earned runs in 5.2 innings while setting a season high nine strikeouts. If he can keep it up, he might be able to turn this fill-in assignment into something longer.
The Phils have to be happy with aquiring Zack Wheeler. Last year he produced 2.0 fWar in the shortened season and this year he is trailing on Jacob deGrom. He's on pace to set a career high in strikeouts and has maintained a walk rate below two per nine innings. At 31, he's still sitting in the high 90s and he's mixing in his slider more than ever, roughly a quarter of the time.
Game 88, Thursday, July 8, 7:05 pm central
CHC: RHP Adbert Alzolay (4-8, 4.48 ERA)
PHL: RHP Zach Eflin (3-6, 4.13 ERA)
Alzolay put a terrible start behind him but still suffered at the hands of the homerun at Great American Ballpark. He pitched seven innings and took a loss, allowing three earned runs on a pair of homers, one on a pitch out of the zone. There was probably little to learn from it except that things work out better when you're own team scores some runs too.
Zach Eflin has been a model of consistency going back to 2018. He's right on track in 2021 with an ERA in the low fours, a decent strikeout rate and roughly the same mix of his pitches as always. One difference this year is that he's lowered his already low walk rate; Cubs hitters should probably be ready to swing the bats as he's averaged just over one walk per nine innings.
Arizona Phil 5 hours 47 min ago (view)
You can pretty much figure out from my AZIL game reports who the Cubs will likely target if they trade Kyle Hendricks to the Angels during the off-season (which I believe is a distinct possibility).
crunch 9 hours 7 min ago (view)
"On Wednesday, and again on Friday, manager Joe Maddon said the Angels needed to land two front-line starters or risk perpetual mediocrity. On Saturday, Mike Trout said the Angels had “a lot of money to spend” and the offseason was “going to be big.”"
$180.3m payroll and the star player + manager softly demanding more talent.
wait. you can do that?
hey d.ross and...umm...hold up...do you have to have a star player to make this kind of demand? sigh.
tim815 1 day 7 hours ago (view)
Exactly. Teams realized that under-playing the rest of the season, and assessing what's currently on-hand, works. At least, better than pickung three or four spots lower on the draft board with less spending space.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 8 hours ago (view)
It required a good amount of luck, and the other hard part is like a third of the league are tanking now too. Last time it was basically us and Houston.
crunch 1 day 8 hours ago (view)
this team is very hard to watch. i can't take this for 1-2 more years. i hope the 2022 plan is at least hybrid-competitive (team built to compete, but trade-ready if failing mid-season).
rebuilding on total destruction for a slew of 1st round picks for years is/was lame even if those 1st round picks was pretty much all that worked for the cubs in the theo-era drafts.
K Dub 2 days 7 hours ago (view)
PHIL: Thanks for the update on Devers. Are you able to give us some more context (velocity, pitch mix, etc)? Also, was Drew Gray included in the group you compared Devers to when you said Devers was "by far" the ACL Cubs best pitching prospect? I ask because I know Gray only pitched 4 innings this season.
crunch 2 days 8 hours ago (view)
cards 15 wins a row...franchise record
Hagsag 2 days 20 hours ago (view)
The Cubs have no starting pitching right now with Carl in a funk.
Eric S 3 days 3 hours ago (view)
Cubs were Nootbaar'ed to the tune of 12-4 in Game 2
Cubster 3 days 4 hours ago (view)
With a Doubleheader loss, the Cubs are back on track for a better draft choice. Right now at 67 wins they pick #7, just ahead of KC and Minnesota who have 68-69 wins.
crunch 3 days 5 hours ago (view)
the shit sandwich that is zach davies is a 6 foot party sub.
Dolorous Jon Lester 3 days 5 hours ago (view)
I am celebrating the day he signs with another team this offseason. I didn't know I could hate him more than I did when he was in Milwaukee but here we are!
crunch 3 days 6 hours ago (view)
wisdom can hit some bombs when he does connect..wow.
also davies still sucks.
tim815 3 days 6 hours ago (view)
McAvene is struggling against hitters in Instructs. He's not ready for the AZ Fall League. I'd expect to see Juan Gamez otr Aneuris Rosario first. Vazquez, I agree with, entirely.
bradsbeard 3 days 8 hours ago (view)
On the position player side, Amaya if he's healthy. Chase Strumpf makes a lot of sense (missed some time early and late, missed all of last year). Nelson Velazquez maybe as a Rule 5 guy if they're on the fence. Cam Balego and Andy Weber are two other candidates if healthy. Luis Vazquez could also use more upper level PAs and would make sense.
Lots of potential pitchers. Ideally Marquez but not sure they'll let him pitch this year. McAvene is probably another one. Would be awesome if Kohl Franklin could participate.
First.Pitch.120 3 days 9 hours ago (view)