Cubs @ Athletics: Series Thread (Games 15-17)
The Cubs and their trio of former Dodgers took two out of three from the Dodgers in L.A. They next travel north to take on the 3-13 Oakland Athletics. Cody Bellinger and Patrick Wisdom have each begun to heat up a bit, and along with Seiya Suzuki reinforce the middle of the Cubs' lineup, which was carried by the table setters in the early going. See below for the daily matchups.
Game 15, Monday, April 17, 8:40 pm central
CHC: RHP Hayden Wesneski (0-0, 7.50 ERA)
OAK: LHP Kyle Muller (0-0, 5.23 ERA)
Wesneski followed a disappointing first start with a terrible second start. A Wrigley wind roaring out to center field didn't help matters, but his four walks in only 1.1 innings were at the root of the problem. He should be well rested for this one.
The 6'7" Muller made his MLB debut in 2021 but spent most of 2022 in AAA. He carries a career 3-5 record and 5.23 ERA in 14 starts and one relief appearance. Command has been his main challenge. He has a plus slider that he throws over 30% of the time.
Game 16, Tuesday, April 18, 8:40 pm central
CHC: RHP Marcus Stroman (2-1, 1.00 ERA)
OAK: LHP Ken Waldichuk (0-2, 10.20 ERA)
Stroman ended a scoreless streak by giving up two earned runs in his third start and got a bit of an undeserved loss in the process. He continued his 2023 trend of increases in slider usage and strikeout rate.
A former fifth round draft pick, Waldichuk got his first exposure to the majors in 2022. In 2023 he's already given up five homeruns, good for a rate of more then four per nine innings. An elevated walk rate is not helping matters.
Game 17, Wednesday, APril 19, 2:37 pm central
CHC: LHP Justin Steele (2-0, 1.42 ERA)
OAK: RHP James Kaprielian (0-2, 12.15 ERA)
Steele allowed two earned runs in his third start, but he generally looked more in command than his second time around. He struck out eight in seven innings and continued to direct the bulk of the contact into the dirt. After throwing his slider a majority of the time in his first outing, he's actually gone to the fastball at around a 70% rates in his second and third starts.
Kaprielian is in his third season as an Oakland starter. He survived 2022 despite a hard dip in his strikeout rate and a slight increase in his walk rate. 2023 has not been so kind to him, however. His strikeout rate has improved, but he's walking nearly as many batters as he's striking out and he's surrendered five homeruns already.