The Cubs took care of business with a three-game sweep of the Marlins in Miami. While the Fish are lousy, a sweep is always an accomplishment. Even more so considering Chicago has struggled in Marlins Park since it opened.
The real story of the series was the excellent pitching performance. The Marlins scored two total runs and were shutout the last two games. Cole Hamels, Jose Quintana, and even the struggling Yu Darvish were good. Javy Báez was sizzling hot with two homers and several other big hits.
The Cubs head back to Wrigley for three games with the Arizona Diamondbacks this weekend. Key pieces Paul Goldschmidt and AJ Pollock are gone, lowering expectations in the desert. David Peralta is still a big bat in the heart of the order and Zack Grenike is still pitching at the top of the rotation. The D-Backs are off to a decent 10-9 start so far in 2019.
The North Siders have gone 7-3 since their rough 1-6 start to sit at 8-9 for the year. Their run differential is +18, which is the best in the NL Central. Things have clearly stabilized since that puzzling bad opening. Having played 12 road games and only five at home probably didn't help much either.
The Cubs have clawed out of their early hole, now they have to keep up their strong play. The offense, despite Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant slumping, looks excellent so far. If the starting pitching can keep impressing like it has, they should keep winning. Here's hoping they do, because, winning is a lot more fun than losing.
Friday: 1:20 PM CT on MLB Network/NBC Sports Chicago/670AM
Saturday: 1:20 PM CT on ABC-7/670AM
Sunday: 1:20 PM CT on NBC Sports Chicago/670AM
Lineups and Bullpen Usage via Baseball Press.
Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.
Merrill Kelly: So here is where I normally put a scouting report on Merrill Kelly from Brooks Baseball. Since he has only made three career starts he doesn't have one, so I have to do one on my own. He throws a fastball (92 miles an hour), cutter (89 mph), change (85 mph) and a curve (80 mph).
Sean's Note: Kelly has pitched the last four seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization. He made his MLB debut this year at age 30. He has had good control through out his minor league career and has struck out a league average number of hitters this season. Lefties have teed off on him early with a .314 average.
Zack Greinke: Zack Greinke has thrown 37,500 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2007 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason and Spring Training. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (90mph) and Change (87mph), also mixing in a Slider (83mph), Sinker (90mph) and Curve (71mph). He also rarely throws a Slow Curve (68mph) and Splitter (82mph).
His fourseam fastball is straight as an arrow and has below average velo. His change generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' changeups, is much firmer than usual, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' changeups and has some natural sink to it. His slider has short glove-side cut and has some two-plane movement. His sinker is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' sinkers, has less armside run than typical, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers and has slightly below average velo. His curve comes in below hitting speed, is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' curves, has a sharp downward bite, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves and has slight glove-side movement. His slow curve is a real yakker that's separated from his other curveball due to its big drop and slow speed. His splitter is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' splitters, has surprising cut action, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' splitters, has below average velo and has movement that suggests a lot of backspin.
Sean's Note: The veteran Greinke is off to a very un-Greinke like start in 2019. He has a 5.79 ERA in 23.1 innings thanks largely to a whopping eight homers allowed. Most of the damage is coming from fellow right handed hitters, who are hitting .278 with six homers. So look for a more right-handed heavy lineup against him.
Robbie Ray: Robbie Ray has thrown 11,906 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2014 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason and Spring Training. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (93mph) and Slider (83mph), also mixing in a Curve (81mph). He also rarely throws a Sinker (93mph).
His fourseam fastball results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has slightly above average velo, has slightly less natural movement than typical and has some added backspin. His slider generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sliders and results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sliders. His curve generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' curves, is much harder than usual, has little depth, has primarily 12-6 movement 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 18 of them in 2019) generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sinkers, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' sinkers, has well above average velo, has less armside run than typical and has little sinking action compared to a true sinker.
Sean's Note: Ray had a bit of a down year in 2018 after his good 2017. He has allowed 14 runs in just 21.1 innings pitched in 2019. He walked hitters at pretty alarming 13.3% in 2018 and is even higher at 16.3% so far this year. He also misses a ton of bats with a 31% strike out rate in 2018. The key is to take advantage of the walks so the few hits he allows really hurt.
Filed under: Series Preview