Cubs @ Nationals: Series Preview (9/6-9/9)

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The Cubs had one goal in their three-game series with the second-place Brewers, don't get swept. The Northsiders came uncomfortably close to just that troubling outcome before winning the final game of the series. A sweep would have reduced their division lead to just two. With the edge back up to four, Chicago heads to Washington DC for a series with the Nationals.

To say things haven't gone according to plan for last year's NL East champions would be a massive understatement. A 69-71 record has them 7.5 games off the pace of the first-place Braves. Other than Max Scherzer, the starting pitching has been ineffective and the bullpen has collapsed completely.

The Nats can still pack a pretty effective punch on the offensive end. Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and the young dynamic Juan Soto make for a very formidable heart of the lineup. The Cubs and Nationals played a hard-fought series last month at Wrigley that was decided on David Bote's dramatic walk-off grand slam.

Chicago has a chance to secure a winning road trip and a successful record on the stretch of 23 consecutive games without an off day. The schedule gets significantly more manageable after this. In fact, thanks to a road series at the White Sox the Northsiders will only need to leave the city for three more days after this series. Avoiding a flop against the Nationals will go a long way to securing a division title.

Watch/Listen

Thursday: 6:05 pm CT on MLB Network/NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Friday: 6:05 pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Saturday: 6:05 pm CT on MLB Network/WGN/670AM

Sunday: 12:35 pm CT on TBS/670AM

Lineups

Cubs

1. Daniel Murphy (L) 2B
2. Javier Baez (R) 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Ben Zobrist (S) RF
5. Kris Bryant (R) LF
9. Addison Russell (R) SS

Brewers

1. Adam Eaton (L) RF
2. Trea Turner (R) SS
3. Bryce Harper (L) CF
4. Anthony Rendon (R) 3B
5. Juan Soto (L) LF
6. Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
7. Wilmer Difo (S) 2B

Bullpen Usage

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Lineups and Bullpen Usage via Baseball Press.

Opposing pitchers

Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.

Stephen StrasburgStephen Strasburg has thrown 19,268 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2009 and 2018, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason and Fall/Winter Ball. In 2018, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (96mph) and Curve (83mph), also mixing in a Change (89mph), Slider(88mph) and Sinker using a Two-seam Fastball grip (95mph).

His fourseam fastball has well above average velo. His curve is much harder than usual and has slight glove-side movement. His change is thrown extremely hard, is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' changeups, generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' changeups, has slight armside fade and has some natural sink to it. His slider is thrown extremely hard and has less than expected depth. His sinker has well above average velo and has slight armside run.

Sean's Note: Strasburg has battled injuries most of the season and has only made 17 starts in 2018. He still racks up tons of strikeouts at a 28% clip down from 31 last season. The home run ball has been an issue for him with a higher than average homer rate. It probably explains why his 4.09 ERA is higher than his 3.64 FIP.

Joe RossAlthough he has not thrown an MLB pitch in 2018, Joe Ross threw 4,118 pitches that were tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2014 and 2017, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason and Spring Training. In 2017, he relied primarily on his Sinker (92mph) and Slider (86mph), also mixing in a Change (85mph). He also rarely threw a Curve (81mph).

His sinker results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers. His slider has much less depth than expected, has primarily 12-6 movement and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sliders. His change generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' changeups. His curve has very little depth, has primarily 12-6 movement, is slightly harder than usual and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves.

Sean's Note: Ross got Tommy John surgery in the middle of 2017 and has not pitched this season. He is a fly ball pitcher and got killed by homers in his abbreviated season. Left handers especially hit him well with an average over .300 in 2017.

Max ScherzerMax Scherzer has thrown 35,339 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2008 and 2018, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason and Spring Training. In 2018, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (95mph), also mixing in a Slider (86mph), Change (85mph), Cutter (89mph) and Curve (79mph).

His fourseam fastball generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has some natural sinking action, has slight armside run and has slightly above average velo. His slider generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sliders and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sliders. His change dives down out of the zone and has slight armside fade. His cutter is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' cutters and has some natural sink. His curve generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' curves, has little depth and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves.

Sean's Note: The Nats ace is still at his snarling, growling, dominating best. He is striking out an astronomical 34% of batters, a full 12% higher than league average. He doesn't really generate a lot of ground balls but it doesn't seem to matter. Scherzer absolutely dominated the Cubs last month in seven shutout innings.

Erick FeddeErick Fedde has thrown 905 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2017 and 2018, all of them occuring in the MLB Regular Season. In 2018, he has relied primarily on his Sinker (95mph), also mixing in a Cutter (89mph), Splitter (88mph), Fourseam Fastball (94mph), Slider (82mph) and Curve (78mph).

His sinker has well above average velo, has less armside run than typical, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers and has some natural sinking action. His cutter has heavy sink, generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' cutters, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' cutters and has strong cutting action. His splitter is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' splitters, is much firmer than usual, has some natural sink to it, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' splitters and has slight armside fade. His fourseam fastball has heavy sinking action, is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has essentially average velo and has slightly less natural movement than typical. His slider generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sliders, has exceptional depth, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sliders and has short glove-side cut. His curve results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves.

Sean's Note: Fedde has struggled in just 33 innings pitched in the majors in 2018. He is a ground ball pitcher although he has allowed a 25% home run rate in the small sample size. Right handers hit him better than left handed hitters despite Fedde being a righty.

Filed under: Lineup, Series Preview

Comments

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  • fb_avatar

    I'm guessing 13 more W's this month and the Cubs win the central. Especially if they win the upcoming Brewers & Cards series it should be a lock.
    I really think Bryant should be batting 3rd in front of Rizzo, instead of 5th. Put Zo at 5 hole. But what do I know.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Wrigley0923:

    I would say KB hit 2nd, but Baez is the most logical option there. The kid just can flat out destroy opposing defenses on the base paths.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Speaking of Javy's baserunning, Fangraphs just came out with a fantastic read on it.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    That would be 13-10 or a .565 clip. I'm going to guess 14-9 or a .608 clip which is a little worse than their record since 7/1. I'd really like to win 3 of 4 in Washington . I know it's not critical, but I wannna

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TC154:

    3 of 4 in Washington is very conceivable. They've won how many games against opponents aces this season. Sherzer, degrom, thor, etc. A sweep would be a beautiful thing.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Wrigley0923:

    If we win tonight, I like our chances at 3 of 4 w how inconsistent our offense is rt now.

    If we lose tonight, I will be happy w a split.

    To win this series, we are going to avg 5+ runs per game.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I mean to sweep this series we need to avg 5+ runs per game

  • Any thoughts on why our lineup has more righty's than lefty's, when Strasburg's ERA is 4.80 against lefty's, with a pretty even innings split?

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    How can you have an ERA against righties or lefties? I don't get it.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    If you look at Strasburg's stats, they keep track of each batter, and if they're left or right handed:

    http://m.mlb.com/player/544931/stephen-strasburg?year=2018&stats=splits-r-pitching-mlb

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    An ERA against righties or lefties is not a stat. It means absolutely nothing. It's silly.

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    Heyward and schwarbers injuries have essentially altered this lineup vs strasburg. Happs the only other option but guess joe doesn't like that matchup. So far our righties are getting nothing going

  • fb_avatar

    Wow. That was an incredible play by Turner.

    Zorilla was safe from 1st look live to me.

    Now can KB do something big right here

  • I wish the cubs would wear these blue jerseys at home too , they use to frequently back in the days when sosa,lee,aramis were here. I notice hendricks always chooses the blue jersey on the road and arietta use to also. They never wear these at home anymore.These are my favorite jerseys

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bolla:

    Me too.

    I used to look forward to when Dawson and Sandberg would play on the road as a kid. I loved the blue tops ( even though pants were white then) over even the home jerseys at the time. I could be wrong, but I think the home uni's didn't have the players names on the back then.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Names on the backs of the home pinstripes for the Cubs has been an "on-again-off-again" thing. I too like the dark blue tops but if we are going to have pinstripes, putting lettering on them looks bad IMO. My preference on the pinstripes is mono-chromatic number (no outline/ or accent color), no name on back. Front just has a Cubs logo. Clean. Classic

  • fb_avatar

    Nice 13 pitch inning from the professor including 2 Ks.

    Lets get him some early runs !

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    The rats are out

  • fb_avatar

    Who is the most unnecessary coach on the Cubs staff? The 3rd base coach when Javy is running.
    I like the way we’re also running up the pitch count on Strasburg.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Good comment on Javy ! Strasburg doesn't look as dominant as he did in the playoff series.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to ronvet69:

    No he doesn’t. I hope that we can take advantage of that or get into their bullpen. Willson and Addy need to get going and maybe take a pitch or two also. Hendricks looks really good inspite of giving up the 3 runs.

  • Willson looks lost at the plate. I'm surprised Strasburg came out for the 6th.

  • fb_avatar

    We’ve got a deep bench and Schwarber is hurting so why not pinch run for him? Not Gore, but someone is faster and healthier.

  • Murphy sure shows how good the cub defense is when he doesn’t play. No arm,not good hands and little range. Hopefully the cubs can survive his defense.

  • In reply to stix:

    And shows how the Cubs lack guys who give great at bats every time up.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to stix:

    Give me Murphy's offense and I will live with his less than stellar--less than average--defense.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Agreed especially given Addy's poor hitting recently, this year as a whole with his inability to drive the baseball, and over the past 2 years where he really hasn't contributed much with the bat. He's a talented kid and I'm not counting him out but he's clearly the odd man out in this case given his struggles

  • fb_avatar

    KB is still swinging at balls way out of the zone. Well, there he goes and singles. We have got to tie this in this inning. Take a few pitches Albert.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Has become a singles hitter hop it changes

  • fb_avatar

    Great hitting and baserinning. Now we need to score at least 2 hopefully more.

  • Edwards is pitching himself right off the playoff roster.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Lol no he's not, he's been pretty bad lately but off the postseason roster? come on man

  • In reply to bolla:

    3 more weeks like the last month and he won’t be pitching in post season. He is awful right now.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    It seems like if a relief pitcher goes on the DL for an extended time in season, they just aren't the same until they have the off season to heal. CJ was on the shelf for quite a while. I'm just guessing, but I don't think he is 100% physically or mentally.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    I agree with you. He was dominant before the DL and looks lost both mentally and physically as you wrote.

  • WOW justin wilson the fire extinguisher, hell must have icicles right now

  • In reply to bolla:

    Your guy Wilson just keeps throwing!!!

  • Great job by Wilson. He’s pitching well. By default, he may have to be our closer down the stretch

  • fb_avatar

    Right now I have much more confidence in Wilson than Edwards. This is who we thought we were getting when we traded for him.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Great job by Wilson. Edwards can’t handle the heat. Probably off playoff roster

  • Nice at bat, Javy. 5 pitches and all 5 were balls.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to rbrucato:

    Hendericks only gave up one earned run. Game should be over.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Javy's swinging at butterflies again ! At least Joe stopped watching the game long enough to pull Stringbean who threw a ball down the middle of the plate that was called a ball.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    It's weird a player that would swing at pitches that far out of the strike zone could have the good numbers that Javy has.

  • fb_avatar

    I would give Javy 4 take signs the next AB. Not a umpire in this era would have called those a strike.

  • Zobrist swings 3-0 and grounds out to 2B. You cannot hit a grounder when given a 3-0 GO. What an embarrassment.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to rbrucato:

    Yep need a man on base

  • If we can win this game, man that would be something. Not deserving of a win tonight.

  • BOTE!!!!!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to rbrucato:

    Washington has to HATE that guy.

  • Almora and Bote are 2 guys that should be playing more but they will probably sit out next game.

  • fb_avatar

    Joe—you’ve done a great job managing this year, with all the injuries we have the best record in the NL, but please play Albert A in CF 90% of the time. He can hit much better than Happ and can field much better too.
    I’m glad we got that 2nd run. A few more would be welcome also.

  • So who closes the game out?

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Chavez :o)

  • Better to be lucky than good on some nights!!!

    We’ll take it.

  • Whew... big win.

  • fb_avatar

    So is this the new Cubs rule--get 2 men on in the last of the 9th and then win?
    Well, this is a great win. It could have easily been a loss, and should have been if that foul ball had been caught in the stands. It shows how important defense is.
    Go Cubs!

  • fb_avatar

    Yes

  • YEA BOTE ! TOO BAD HENDRICKS DIDN'T GET THE WIN. HE DESERVED BETTER.

    GO CUBS !

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