Cubs vs. Reds: Series Preview (9/14-9/16)


The Cubs won their makeup game in Washington but it came at a high cost with an injury to Pedro Strop. Joe Maddon said Strop would be out "a while" which hardly inspires confidence. Chicago now returns home for three games with the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds are still in last place yet aren't pushovers to say the least. They just beat the playoff contending Dodgers two out of three this week. Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, and Scooter Gennett form an incredibly dangerous heart of the order. The pitching staff is clearly the more vulnerable aspect of the Cincinnati ball club.

The Cubs offense continues to struggle of late and a now a further weakened bullpen makes things more difficult. The Northsiders maintain a 1.5 game division lead so they still control their own destiny. No one is going to roll over and play dead, not even cellar-dwellers like the Reds.


Friday: 7:05 pm CT on MLB Network/WGN/670AM

Saturday: 3:05 pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Sunday: 1:20 pm CT on ABC-7/670AM



1. Scott Schebler (L) RF
2. Jose Peraza (R) SS
3. Joey Votto (L) 1B
4. Eugenio Suarez (R) 3B
5. Scooter Gennett (L) 2B
6. Phillip Ervin (R) LF
7. Curt Casali (R) C
8. Matt Harvey (R) P
9. Billy Hamilton (S) CF


1. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
2. Kris Bryant (R) LF
3. Daniel Murphy (L) 2B
4. Ben Zobrist (S) RF
5. Javier Baez (R) SS
7. David Bote (R) 3B
8. Cole Hamels (L) P
9. Ian Happ (S) CF

Bullpen Usage



Lineups and Bullpen Usage via Baseball Press.

Opposing pitchers

Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.

Matt HarveyMatt Harvey has thrown 12,114 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2011 and 2018, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and the MLB Postseason. In 2018, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (95mph) and Slider (89mph), also mixing in a Change (88mph). He also rarely throws a Curve(83mph) and Sinker (93mph).

His fourseam fastball has some natural sinking action, has slight armside run and has slightly above average velo. His slider is thrown extremely hard, has less than expected depth and has primarily 12-6 movement. His change generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' changeups, is much firmer than usual, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' changeups and has slight armside fade. His curve is thrown extremely hard, is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' curves, has primarily 12-6 movement, has little depth and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves. His sinker (take this with a grain of salt because he's only thrown 11 of them in 2018) is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' sinkers and is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' sinkers.

Sean's Note: Harvey has pitched well against the Cubs in 2018, allowing five runs in 17 innings. Strike out rate is below average but so are walks. Right handed and left handed hitters fare equally against him, although, lefties show more power.

Cody ReedCody Reed has thrown 1,775 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2016 and 2018, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and Spring Training. In 2018, he has relied primarily on his Slider (87mph), Fourseam Fastball (93mph) and Sinker (92mph), also mixing in a Change (87mph).

His slider is thrown extremely hard. His fourseam fastball has heavy sinking action, is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has slightly above average velo and has slightly less natural movement than typical. His sinker has heavy sinking action and has slightly above average velo. His change is thrown extremely hard, dives down out of the zone and is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' changeups.

Sean's Note: Reed has only pitched 25.1 innings in 2018 much of it out of the pen. He generates a ton of grounders 56% of balls in play. He has thrown 2.2 scoreless innings against the Cubs this season.

Luis CastilloLuis Castillo has thrown 3,994 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2017 and 2018, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and Spring Training. In 2018, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (96mph), Change (87mph) and Sinker (96mph), also mixing in a Slider (84mph).

His fourseam fastball has some natural sinking action, has well above average velo and has slight armside run. His change generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' changeups, is slightly firmer than usual, has slight armside fade and has some natural sink to it. His sinker has an obvious tail, is blazing fast and has some natural sinking action. His slider has primarily 12-6 movement, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sliders and has some two-plane movement.

Sean's Note: This is Castillo's fifth start against the Cubs in 2018. He was effective the first three starts but they got to  him for five runs last time. Home runs are a big problem with 28 allowed this season.


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  • Tonight’s game scares me. Matt Harvey is a tough match up and at this point I could see myself wanting Cincy middle of the line up over the cubs.

  • Strop won’t return in the regular season,’s Carrie Muskat reports. Not good news.

  • Friday night baseball at wrigley!! Vary rare occasion, I remember game 3 of the ws was on a friday and I believe a game that was moved last season was on a friday.

    Got some nuggets the cubs starters have a mlb best 2.70 era over the last 27 starts

    Jose quintana has a 1.84 era his last 5 starts.Hickey made a suggestion of a mechanical tweak so he can locate his fastball better and for q to have 15 pitch innings by attacking the zone and getting 1st strikes.No more nibbling and going 3-2 vs every hitter.

    and despite the struggles of many relievers the cubs have the lowest bullpen era in mlb too.The offense needs to be more consistent and better with risp. That's it

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    In reply to bolla:

    I really hope Heyward gets healthy and back on the field soon. Happ is painful to watch with all the starts he's been getting in CF. The glove is ok, but his AB"s are horrible.
    It's also nice to see KB batting 2nd the past few games. He changes the whole dynamic of the top of the order.
    Murphy is falling pretty hard right now and I'd rather have Russell's defense up the middle. I'm also happy to see Caratini getting more starts and Willy coming in later in the games.
    We'd all love a sweep of the Redlegs, but I'll be happy with 2 of 3. GO CUBS!

  • In reply to bolla:

    I agree, too many losses where we score 0 - 3 runs.......

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    Thank you, Bollo. The pessimism of the last 24 hours (hammy, fatigue), though valid, was starting to wear me down. Like a bucket of water in the face or a quick shot of bourbon ... I needed that.

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    In reply to Brian Wilson:

    Bolla, not Bollo. Maybe the shot of bourbon wasn't such a great idea after all. :)

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    In reply to Brian Wilson:

    Every time I see your name I start singing a Beach Boys song in my head and it makes me think of Barley Pop with all his lyrics. Is that your real name, or just your screen name? Just curious.

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    In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Funny ... so do I. Real name.

  • Anybody have an update on Schwarber? I'd prayerfully like to see him in there.......

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    In reply to Treebeard:

    He was running and taking batting practice today. But wasn't in the lineup today. Heyward also took BP and was running the bases pregame. So I think both are close.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    Cool, thanks Sean; it'll be good to have both back (no pun intended), God-willing they'll be rested and ready to go!

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    Out today , maybe tomorrow.

  • Do we know why Underwood was not added to the active roster? That’s another arm they could use to save the Cisheks, Chavez’s until Montgomery goes back & Morrow is added to the pen. They could also rely on Mills a little more. But for high leverage, it’s going to have to be Chavez, Cishek & Montgomery... then Wilson. I don’t trust the others just yet, though DeLa Rosa & Rosario have been good.

  • I think the trade off of Monty to the BP NOW versus the mystery 5th starter for three starts needs to be evaluated. Obviously not important if the cubs mystery closer works out but I’d rather move Monty now to lengthen the BP and worry about a mystery 5th starter for three games.

  • In reply to stix:

    I agree. Now is the time. Even a Mills/Chatwood, BP piggy back day for 7 innings to get to the better part of the pen if needed. Maybe Edwards for a clean inning from the start in there depending on score/situation.

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    In reply to stix:

    Great idea, but how are they going to be able to do that with just 1 off day left? If we had 2 off days(which we should have had), I could see a scenario going with a 4 man rotation given the off days which would give the SP's every 5th day a couple times. It would be difficult, but possible.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    He’s talking about staying w/the 5 man, but taking Monty out of it & going w/unknown as the 5th... like a Mills or someone else. I suggested a piggy back with Mills or Chatwood starting it off, going 3 each or more if effective..., then depending on score/situations fdetermines who gets the next inning etc...

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    I gotcha. I had a few too many beers and didn't understand. Thanks.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    No biggy. Enjoy the brews. I’m having a few Oktober’s myself...

  • Strop is probably done for 2018, a grade 2 hamstring strain is a partial tear 4-8 week recovery.

  • In reply to bolla:

    I do not see anything about Strop with a "grade 2 hamstring strain is a partial tear 4-8 week recovery". All I have see is a moderate left hamstring strain out at least 2 weeks and the regular season. Not saying what you said is not true I am just saying I do not see your report.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Mild strain =grade 1
    Moderate = grade 2
    Severe = grade 3

  • In reply to bolla:

    Thanks for the info. Hopefully it is not that bad. The Cubs have not said anything about a tear but, they did say moderate. So, who knows.

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    I'm glad to see Bote in there, especially at 3rd. He's almost as good as Javy defensively there, and I believe he can break out of his slump. I rarely make predictions, but I just feel he's going to get an extra base hit tonight.
    I'd also like to see Underwood and Maples pitch more, but maybe we won't need them tonight.
    Let's Go Cubs!!

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    You called it. Hopefully he has at least 1 more knock in him

  • ESPN is roasting Joe Maddon for having Pedro Strop running out the ball he hit.
    GO CUBS !

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    Is that you kippy?
    Which is it gonna be? Grade 1 or Grade 2
    "The Cubs say that it is unknown whether Strop would be able to pitch in the playoffs, and that they will continue to monitor his progress."

  • We better get in the playoffs before we worry about that.

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    1/2 game lead after tonight after Chris Archer let us down.

    Pirates have to show up and give the Brewers a fight

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I mean 1/2 game if we lose.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Cubs should of handled business vs the team chasing them and they wouldn’t be in this position. Losing 4 out 6 to Milwaukee is why they’ll be out of 1st place soon.

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    Huge huge strike zone on Ervin or we have bases loaded nobody out as that strike 3 almost hit him

    Then another HUGE break, Suarez was dogging it home looking at Javy and got tagged by a leaping Carrot !

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    Reds get 4 hits in a row including 2 bombs to leadoff the inning and only plate 2 runs.......

    Lets go.......lets get some runs !

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    Now we start the bottom of the 4th w 2 on and nobody out when it could easily be 2 outs nobody on......

    Lets make it hurt !

  • I know I am conservative but I try to push across a run when I can. Why not bunt with Bote? Then u have Cole who could squeeze or whiff and u still have a hitter up with 2 outs????

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Good in hindsight but with Bote up there I thought he might do something more and then we wouldn’t have to rely on Cole. On the other hand, assuming they are on 2nd and 3rd Rizzo would be up.
    Who knows at this point? We have been collectively hypnotized.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Wasn’t hindsight. Was thinking it all along. Could type fast enough to say bunt. When u are struggling do something.

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    I don't know about bunting w the pitcher, a poor hitting pitcher coming up.

    Maybe a hit n run? Need to do something to shake up this offense

  • Was flipping back and forth to the cardinal game. The Dodgers have hit a home run in 22 straight games.

  • In honor of Barley Pop, here’s some lyrics from the 60s...

    “Where has all the (offense) gone? Long time passing.”

    “Where has all the (offense) gone? Long time ago...”

    “Where has all the (offense) gone? Young hitters missed them everyone...”

    “When they ever return”.

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    Exactly. I thought that 2 runs couldn't beat us but so far we're making it easy for the Reds. They've had numerous innings with traffic and we have had maybe one. Easy hit outs, or if we do get someone on there are always 2 outs. Another 1,2,3 inning.

  • This offense man, I don’t know what to say. Too much talent to consistently struggle like this.

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    In Sept, Caratini's line is .304/.360/.478 with an OBS of .838.
    Willson's is .125/.276/.167 with an OPS of .443. Victor should be playing every day with WC as a defensive replacement right now.

  • Happ came through!!!

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    Milw up 4-3 in the 6th. We're up 3-2. We keep winning it doesn't matter what they do, but I would like them to lose once in a while.

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    One thing about Happ....... when your as down as you can be on him.....he comes up w HUGE hit, usually a HR

    Lets pile some more on.......I am not too comfortable w a 1 run lead

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    swung at ball 4. OK, it's Javy time!

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    HUGE HUGE HUGE inning by Jaime Garcia

    Anyone guess whose closing tonight?

    I would guess Wilson.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Would you consider leaving Garcia in for the 9th?? I don’t know. Glad I don’t have to make that decision

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    In reply to Cubpack:

    Thats not a bad idea, but I am pretty sure Joe prob told Garcia to get Votto and Scooter out. You know Joe, he doesn't want to risk upsetting his players by changing their role. Part of why I guess thats why he's so beloved by his players.

    Plus you may risk playing w fire asking Garcia to get more outs.

  • Looks like DeLaRosa. He’s a veteran, so probably not a bad idea. Hopefully it’s the right decision

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    that pitch was strike 3, luckily he hit it to Bote, but that was unnecessary. How about an easy inning? Milw is winning 6-3, and there goes the easy inning.

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    Can someone tell me where are Forrest Whitley's, Walker Buehlers, Julio Urias, Jack Flaherty's, Austin Gombers, Alex Reyes, Justice Sheffields, Tristan McKenzies ??

    I know the bad teams should be loaded w arms and bats. I am just looking for Arms for us. How can these teams field competitive teams and have studs like these plus more?

    Something is not right.

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Jim, I totally agree with you, this FO just doesn't scout pitchers very well, at least when they draft. However, with all that, we have been in the NLCS 3 yrs in a row and won the WS. None of those other teams can say that.

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I am happy w 1 world series and a couple young high ceiling pitchers and hitters coming up, but thats just me. Even if 1 of the playoff losses is a division series loss vs a NLCS.

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    Puig w another HR. Cards down 3-0 Cards can't get swept otherwise they might lay down to Brewers.

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    Happ hits it, catches it, wins it!

  • That 9th inning was intense

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    In reply to bolla:

    You were nervous? Come on. Have faith !! HAHaHa

    I knew we had it all the way. Its the Reds.......the key was getting their heart out in the 8th !

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Yea, Base hit woulda tied it, extra base hit with Hamilton on 1st would of gave the reds the lead.

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    In reply to bolla:

    We are in the Reds heads......7 in a row and you saw how they were kicking the ball playing soooo sloppy. We didn't deserve to win this game.

    All we have to do it get the lead on them early the rest of the weekend and watch them self destruct........

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