Series Preview: Cubs @ Reds (8/22-8/24)

The Cubs competed a sweep of the Blue Jays to finish a productive 5-2 homestand. Now they go out on the road for six games against two last-place teams, the Reds and Phillies. This could be an opportunity for the Northsiders' to grow their NL Central lead.

The next three games are in Cincinnati against the team they just split a four-game series with last week in Chicago. As was made plain in that series, the Reds lineup is a very potent one. Young hitters, Phillip Ervin and Jesse Winker added even more danger to a stacked batting order.

The Reds pitching was every bit as bad as the numbers indicated it would be. Scott Feldman had to go back on the disabled list after his rough start Thursday. Luis Castillo, the one starter that gave the Cubs fits, will not pitch in this series, which should help Chicago.

Watch/Listen:

Tuesday: 6:10 pm CT MLB-Network/WGN/670AM

Wednesday: 6:10 pm CT CSN-C/670AM

Thursday: 6:10 pm CT CSN-C/670AM

Lineups

Cubs

1. Jon Jay (CF)

2.Kyle Schwarber (LF)

3.Kris Bryant (3B)

4. Anthony Rizzo (1B)

5. Ian Happ (2B)

6. Alex Avila (C)

7. Jason Heyward (RF)

8. Javier Baez (SS)

9. John Lackey (P)

Reds
1. Billy Hamilton (CF)

2. Zack Cozart (SS)

3. Joey Votto (1B)

4. Adam Duvall (LF)

5. Scooter Gennette (2B)

6. Eugenio Suarez (3B)

7. Scott Schebler (LF)

8. Tucker Barnhart (C)

9. Homer Bailey (P)

Bullpen Usage:

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via Baseball Press.

Opposing pitchers:

Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.

Homer Bailey: His fourseam fastball results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has some natural sinking action and has essentially average velo. His slider is much harder than usual, has less than expected depth, has primarily 12-6 movement and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sliders. His splitter is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' splitters and is slightly firmer than usual. His sinker is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' sinkers and has slightly above average velo. His curve results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves and has little depth.

Sean's Note: The Cubs jumped all over Homer to start the game last Wednesday. The first three men reached before Anthony Rizzo hit a grand slam to give the Cubs a 4-1 lead. Bailey pitched decently after that, only allowing 2 runs the next 5 innings.

Asher Wojciechowski: His fourseam fastball has essentially average velo. His slider sweeps across the zone, has below average velo, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sliders and has some two-plane movement. His change has a lot of backspin and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' changeups.

Sean's Note: After giving up seven runs in the Cubs romp last Monday, Wojciechowski was moved to the bullpen. With Feldman's injury he has gone back into the rotation for Wednesday's start.

Sal Romano: His fourseam fastball has well above average velo and results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers. His slider results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sliders, is much harder than usual and has primarily 12-6 movement. His change is thrown extremely hard, has surprising cut action, has a lot of backspin and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' changeups.

Sean's Note: The hard-throwing Romano has made nine starts for the Reds this season. His 5.32 ERA is higher than his 4.86 FIP so he may have had some bad luck. He has a fairly high ground ball rate so the double play risk is relatively high.

Final Thoughts:

This is a good opportunity for the Cubs, the Brewers have a tough schedule and the Cardinals have a ten-game road trip ahead. Of course last week they could only manage a split with this same Reds team. Chicago has always hit well at Great American Ball Park they need to keep that up.

Mike Montgomery goes into the rotation to replace the injured Jon Lester. Monty was not as good as a starter as he is out of the pen, but he was solid. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo love Reds pitching, look for them to have another big series this week.

Comments

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  • Bryant hits 17 homers in the three games.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    That will be a record.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    ... and probably nearly double his season RBI total.

    Raise your hand if you predicted that on August 22nd, Kris Bryant, without missing any extended period of time, would be fourth on the team in RBI's, and only 5 HR's and 11 RBI's ahead of Ian Happ.

    Anyone?

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    or that we would have seen Ian Happ have so many at bats this year?

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I'm not raising my hand on this one but Bryant has put together some pretty good numbers this year WAR wise but his contributions to Win probability have really hurt his overall production. The narrative so far this year is that Bryant has been great when...they are ahead by a lot or behind by a lot and there is nobody on base. This is why a guy like him has 23 Hrs for 55 RBI which basing it on averages for the rest of the year will leave him at 30 HR and 72 RBI for the year. We may recall a certain player on the 2004 Cubs who had similar production - Sammy Sosa 35 Hrs and 80 RBIs. There are the obvious RISP numbers for Bryant this year but he has hit in average leverage conditions where Rizzo and Zobrist have hit in rather high leverage conditions. Rizzo leads the team in WPA in 3.6 where Bryant is at .7 which is behind Jay and Contreras. When you factor context dependent vs context neutral into what Baseball Reference calls a Clutch statistic, Bryant is the worst on the team at -2.8 and Rizzo is the best at 1.2 for the year. Here is the odd thing, these numbers for Bryant aren't that much different from last year. I too have been vexed by how Bryant was seemingly putting up decent numbers from a WAR perspective. Yet he always seems to come to the plate with a feather rather than a bat when he has been really needed this year.

  • In reply to joparks:

    Yeah, I wasn't trying to bash his low RBI totals. Much of that can be attributed the the ineffectiveness of the Cubs' lead-off hiters. Many of Bryant's peripherals line up favorably with his MVP campaign a year ago, and you did a great job of explaining where some of the overall lack of production is coming from.

    This is just a total theory, with no backing from any numbers or even recollections from the eye test, but I wonder if Bryant has some uncertainty in those high-leverage situations? Is he possibly having some internal struggles weighing putting together a solid AB rather than putting a charge into the ball, and perhaps losing some natural aggressiveness? He is a master at adjustments and is always striving to improve all facets of his game, so I'm confident he'll figure it out.

  • In reply to joparks:

    Well done, Joparks. Excellent analysis of how the advance metrics support what we're seeing/feeling. And also supports my view that WAR is . . .I don' know . . . screwy.

    I recall some national media guy late last year called out Bryant's lack of clutch performance. It angered me and a lot of others. But by June this year I was thinking the same thing.

    All that said, I'm glad we got him because I truly believe he'll get much better and ultimately be great.

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    In reply to joparks:

    Sosa played in less then 130 games though. Bryant w those HR n rbi totals are more similar to a former Cub, but a Cub who from most fans was highly overrated and overpaid, Alfonso Soriano.

    You are right though that Sosa did seem to do a lot of damage when we were up or down by a lot. My old grouchy neighbor used to call him the "king of the meaningless homer"

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    Fernando Kelli had another very good game--1-3, stolen base #55 and scored his 61st run in 64 games. He also has a .437 OBP. He can't do much more than that in the Dominican League.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    "El Cohete"?

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    I just looked at google translate for that -- The Rocket.
    If he could be like Billy Hamilton I'd be more than satisfied.
    btw, I read today that KB is hitting .222 with RISP this year.

  • Nice clutch hit by Heyward. Hit hard opposite field. Good to see.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    And a terrible send by Gary Jones. Yes it was a great throw, but Duvall had the ball and was beginning his throw from short left before Happ tagged third. Something would have to go Little League wrong with that play for Happ to have a chance.

    Of course part of my reaction is selfishly wanting to see Javy bat with the bases loaded, but still, bad send.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Javy got his chance w the bases loaded and even though only the last pitch was probably in the strike zone, It was still one of the greatest at bats I have ever seen by him in a KEY spot.

  • At least SD helping out

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    Nevermind

  • Home run derby Lackey back at it again. How disappointing to see the Cubs come climbing back from a 3 run deficits only to have Lackey give it all back in the bottom of the inning. Completely changed the momentum of the game. As good as Lackey was last year, it is definitely time to move on from him after this year.

  • Reds have a relentless offense. If our guys aren't hitting st their peak, these games become coin flips.

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    If the Reds had half a good pitching staff they'd be really dangerous.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Apparently they still are dangerous to us. And they have an elite closer. So 2 innings to catch up.

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    +100. If they had out pitching staff, they would be running away w the division.

    Sheeeeet, I am pretty sure we give them just Jake and Lester and their pitchers on the DL and they would be contenders in the division for sure.

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    I can't get the link but look at the play Nolan Arenado made today. He throws it from the Coaches Box! Without a doubt the best 3rd in baseball.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Manny Machado would like a word

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    Speaking of defense, I have to give you props, Stubbs. You recommended a couple days ago that Javy conduct tagging clinics with the rest of the team. That tag Happ laid on Hamilton had "Javy" written all over it. The way he set up in front of the bag, allowed the throw to come to him, and followed through with the swipe tag. Pure Javy. Happ is learning from the best.

    And Javy again. El Mago.

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    In reply to Stubbs:

    I just haven't seen him as much as Arenado but yes, he is a master too.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Best 3B in baseball? I don't know, Anthony Rizzo has to be in that discussion.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Very nice! Of course, we'll have to defer to advanced metrics...uh, are there any advanced metrics if he doesn't have a chance?

    I haven't been able to see any comments yet, but Maddon must have been pretty cheesed to put that defensive lineup out there. It was fun at first, but when Felix started giving up dingers...

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    Baseball has to look into how to make the bats safer. In just this game Edwards and now Wood has ducked out of the way. Are they made differently than before? This isn't a new problem but this seems to be happening much too often.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I seek only water.

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Part of it is the amount of torque these monster athletes are getting w their swings.

    It's the old "swing as hard as you can in case you hit it" motto. Back in the day, players were not as huge/strong plus swung more controlled looking to make more contact.

    Although the bat construction is def a factor because they are hollowing out the tops even more and making the handles even thinner so they super strong men can swing even harder and generate even more torque.

  • Hey Thom Thom ---- enough already!

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