The Cubs had a rough weekend to say the least. The Northsiders scored a grand total of 3 runs in a sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers. What was once a comfortable five game division lead has become a tense two game edge. Now a 19-game sprint to the finish begins for all three teams vying for the NL Central crown.
The New York Mets come to Wrigley amidst the September pressure. To say the Mets are injury ravaged is a total understatement: Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, Steven Matz, and Michael Conforto have all spent time on the disabled list. The decimated roster has produced a 63-80 record in 2017, a precipitous drop from back-to-back playoff appearances.
The biggest offensive threat currently on New York is Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera is batting .271 with 12 homers in 2017, he demanded a trade early in the year but wasn't moved. Jacob deGrom is the only pitching bright spot with 14 wins and a 3.63 ERA, but he won't pitch against the Cubs this series.
Tuesday: 7:05 pm CT on CSN-C/670AM
Wednesday: 7:05 pm CT on WGN/670AM
Thursday: 7:05 pm CT on ABC-7/670AM
1. Ben Zobrist (2B)
2. Kris Bryant (3B)
3. Anthony Rizzo (1B)
4. Willson Contreras (C)
5. Ian Happ (CF)
6. Kyle Schwarber (LF)
7. Jason Heyward (RF)
8. Javier Baez (SS)
9. Jose Quintana (P)
1. Jose Reyes (2B)
2. Nori Aoki (LF)
3. Asdrubal Cabrera (3B)
4. Travis d'Arnaud (C)
5. Juan Lagares (CF)
6. Dominic Smith (1B)
7. Amed Rosario (SS)
8. Travis Taijeron (RF)
9. Robert Gsellman (P)
via Baseball Press.
Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.
Robert Gsellman: His sinker has an obvious tail, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers and has slightly above average velo. His fourseam fastball has essentially average velo and has slight armside run. His slider is thrown extremely hard, has much less depth than expected, has primarily 12-6 movement, generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' sliders and results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sliders. His curve is slightly harder than usual. His change has a lot of backspin, is slightly firmer than usual and has slight armside fade.
Sean's note: Gsellman produces a lot of ground ball contact, over 50 percent of balls put in play. His xFIP (4.72) is significantly lower than his ERA (5.44) so perhaps he's had some bad luck. Right handed hitters hit for a higher average against him than left handers.
Matt Harvey: His fourseam fastball has slight armside run and has slightly above average velo. His slider is thrown extremely hard, has much less depth than expected, has primarily 12-6 movement and results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sliders. His change is slightly firmer than usual and has slight armside fade. His curve has primarily 12-6 movement, is much harder than usual, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' curves and has little depth. His sinker is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' sinkers, has less armside run than typical, has little sinking action compared to a true sinker and has slightly above average velo.
Sean's note: Matt Harvey is now a shadow of the phenom he was just two years ago, suffering a slew of injuries since 2015, including shoulder surgery last year. When he has pitched in 2017 it's been ugly, a 5.82 ERA (5.14 xFIP) in 15 total starts. He allowed 4 runs in 4 innings against the Cubs in June before leaving with an arm injury. Harvey has surrendered 17 homers in only 77.1 innings in 2017.
Seth Lugo: His fourseam fastball has essentially average velo. His sinker generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sinkers, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers and has slight armside run. His curve has a sharp downward bite and has slight glove-side movement. His slider has much less depth than expected and has primarily 12-6 movement. His change generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' changeups.
Sean's note: Lugo doesn't walk or strike out a lot of hitters, pitching to contact more often than not. He allows 35.4 percent hard contact, above league average. Lefties fare better against Lugo than right handers, hitting .288 on the season.
The Cubs are in a real race now, their offense has struggled mightily of late, but help has arrived. Willson Contreras is back from his hamstring injury and is starting in the cleanup spot, Willson adds an excellent power bat to a lagging lineup. Kyle Schwarber is back after spending the last three games on the bench. Whether it was really just a matchup thing or something else, Chicago could sure use his bat to heat up the next three weeks. Every game is huge from here on, win these games or stay home in October, the playoffs start now.