Cubs vs Dodgers: Series Preview (4/23-4/25)

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The Cubs won two of three from the Diamondbacks over the weekend to get back to the .500 mark (10-10) on the season. They also pulled within two games of first-place in a very crowded NL Central.

The big story for Chicago has been the excellent starting pitching. A string of quality starts has lowered their team ERA to 4.21 good for 13th in baseball. Jon Lester appears healthy and may get a start in the upcoming series.

The opponent the Cubs welcome to Wrigley in said series are their old playoff foe, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers' 15-9 record has them once again a top the NL West early in 2019. The pitching has been inconsistent, but the offense definitely has not been.

Cody Bellinger is tearing the cover off the ball, batting .421 with 11 homers through 24 games. Joc Peterson has 10 long balls of his own and Corey Seager is back from elbow surgery that kept him out most of 2018. Kenley Jansen is still the lights out closer if LA has a late lead.

The Cubs do avoid the now healthy Clayton Kershaw this series. Despite that, the Dodgers are a challenging opponent. Chicago has gotten out of the early hole they dug themselves, let's see if they can start moving above the break-even mark. One thing is for sure, they will have to earn it the next three days.

Watch/Listen

Tuesday: 7:05 PM CT on MLB Network/NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Wednesday: 7:05 PM CT on WGN/670AM

Thursday: 1:20 PM CT on MLB Network/NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Lineups

Dodgers

2. Justin Turner (R) 3B
3. David Freese (R) 1B
4. Corey Seager (L) SS
5. A.J. Pollock (R) CF
6. Cody Bellinger (L) RF
7. Chris Taylor (R) LF
8. Austin Barnes (R) C
9. Kenta Maeda (R) P

Cubs

1. Ben Zobrist (S) RF
2. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Javier Baez (R) SS
5. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
7. Daniel Descalso (L) 2B
8. Jason Heyward (L) CF
9. Jose Quintana (R) P

Bullpen Usage

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Lineups and Bullpen Usage via Baseball Press.

Opposing pitchers

Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.

Kenta Maeda: Kenta Maeda has thrown 8,101 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2013 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason, The World Baseball Classic and Spring Training. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (92mph), Slider (85mph) and Change using a Circle Change grip (85mph), also mixing in a Curve (77mph). He also rarely throws a Sinker (92mph).

His fourseam fastball has some natural sinking action, has essentially average velo, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers and has slightly less natural movement than typical. His slider has less than expected depth, has primarily 12-6 movement and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sliders. His change results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' changeups and has some natural sink to it. His curve generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' curves, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves and has a sharp downward bite. His sinker is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' sinkers and results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers.

Sean's Note: After splitting time between the bullpen and the rotation in 2018, Maeda is starting full-time and pitching well, (3-1 record 3.80 ERA), in 2019. His strikeouts are down this season, but his soft contact rate is way up. Unsurprisingly the Japanese hurler is better against fellow right-handers than against lefties. He is more of a fly ball pitcher, with a low ground ball rate.    

Walker Buehler: Walker Buehler has thrown 2,951 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2017 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and the MLB Postseason. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (97mph), also mixing in a Slider (86mph), Curve (83mph), Cutter (94mph) and Sinker (97mph).

His fourseam fastball is blazing fast, generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers and has slightly less natural movement than typical. His slider is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' sliders, sweeps across the zone, generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sliders and has some two-plane movement. His curve generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' curves, is much harder than usual, has a sharp downward bite and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves. His cutter is thrown at a speed that's borderline unfair, has extreme cut action and is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' cutters. His sinker is thrown at a speed that's borderline unfair and has little sinking action compared to a true sinker.

Sean's Note: The fire-balling Buehler has struggled early in 2019 after a very good rookie campaign. Despite the 12 runs allowed in 18.1 innings, he has all the stuff you need. Almost half the runners who have reached base against him have scored, meaning his 5.40 ERA and 3.10 FIP are miles apart. So expect him to bounce back quickly from his rough start. Homers haven't been an issue, he has only allowed one his first four starts.

Ross Stripling: Ross Stripling has thrown 5,413 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2016 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), Curve (80mph) and Slider (87mph), also mixing in a Change (82mph) and Sinker (89mph).

His fourseam fastball has much less armside movement than typical, generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' fourseamers and has slightly below average velo. His curve generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' curves, has a sharp downward bite and has primarily 12-6 movement. His slider is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' sliders, has much less depth than expected, is much harder than usual and results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sliders. His change results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' changeups, has slight cut action and has some natural sink to it. His sinker is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' sinkers, has below average velo, has less armside run than typical and has little sinking action compared to a true sinker.

Sean's Note: Stripling is likely heading back to the 'pen when Rich Hill returns from injury in the next week or so. He's been good so far in five starts, allowing just 10 runs in 29.1 innings. He gets a lot of ground balls, 50% of balls in play this season. Home runs can be an issue, he allowed 18 in 122 innings last year and already four this season. In his career, right-handers actually hit him better than left-handers do.

 

Filed under: Series Preview

Tags: jon Lester

Comments

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  • Welcome to "Game of Thrones" night at Wrigley Field! What an honor. And Smoltsie and Costas will sing during the seventh inning. For those who don't follow, here's everything I know about "Game of Thrones":

    It's called "Game of Thrones", and it's popular. It's on HBO. It has something to do with back-stabbing drama in Europe several hundred years ago, and I had to use the Google machine to know this much. But happy "Game of Thrones" night, baseball fans! Because, ratings ?

    I'll roll with it. In similar completely non-baseball fashion, let me throw out some lyrics. It's hard to incorporate the genius of Jerry Cantrell and Alice in Chains into a baseball conversation, so I'll take this opportunity. From their debut album:

    "Name your god and bleed the freak.
    I like to see
    How you all would bleed for me."

    Anyhow, Quintana looks to continue his hot streak vs. a Dodger's lineup that is prone to lefties. And Javy. Never forget Javy.

    Go Cubs!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I don't want to carry this too far, but Jonathan often asks to explain. It's all his fault.

    Here's a video I found. This is well before the release of "Facelift". This is raw and early, and the video (phone) quality belies that. But hey, early "Bleed the Freak".

    https://youtu.be/D-x9Cmo577Q

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I know nothing about GOT but that guy on Jeopardy is whippin major azzzzzz!

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    And you always know how to throw another question mark into what I have made into a murky mess.

    Thanks, Wick.

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    In reply to Wickdipper:

    That guy is amazing!

  • I'm excited about tonight's game (of thrones, or not), but I've just got this eerie feeling that Q is gonna get smacked around by this Dodgers lineup.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I hope not, and thanks for bringing me back to baseball. This is a test of two legitimate teams.

    Let's get it on!

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Big test for W cubber sahadev sharma on the athletic has been effusive of his praise of Q. He’s been getting more swings and misses since incorporating that changeup more. He’s had some good results albeit against inferior competition. This start may give us a better picture towards assessing whether he’s getting closer to his white Sox form

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    We've had some conversations, kkhiavi (you need a nickname. kk?). I've talked about the mental status of various pitchers, and how it can be a major drag.

    Conversely, I've read some very encouraging things about Quintana over the off-season. Like you said, he's gaining more confidence in that changeup. I really had high hopes in believing the hype, and the results have so far bourn that out.

    You know I can't go a full inning without worshipping Javy. Look at how deep he is playing, especially with a slower batter. Everything to maximize every single advantage.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I hope so too barley everyone’s always gonna complain about the price now with those prospects ML ready or almost ready. But that doesn’t mean Q can’t hold up his end. I’ve always felt like the cubs have a good shot to win with Q pitching even though I admit I wasn’t pleased with his season last year overall given his high expectations. But the cubs have control of him for another 2 years hopefully he wants to get paid and pitches to his potential. I do love the increase in usage of his change

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I believe Theo expected that long term that the Q trade might lead to a Sox win but he wasn’t looking long term , he wanted to keep the train rolling and pitching isn’t cheap so he took a shot.

  • In reply to stix:

    Honestly stix that’s an outstanding point and something I’ve preached to fans. There is a cost to waiting 3-4 years for 2 raw but high upside prospects that wouldn’t be ready to majorly contribute until 2020. The cubs only have this core and this aging rotation for so long. I get that we’re all resentful of cease and eloys success but there’s an opportunity cost to holding these guys waiting years for them to contribute at the ML level. In addition I don’t think Theo expected to get a stud like Cole Hamels for the likes of Eddie butler (my goodness why does Jon Daniels still deal with Theo). You subtract hamels and this rotation is in big trouble as it was at the time they traded for Q from the front offices perspective. At the time they had 2 good starters with arrietas expected departure

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Speaking of mental state Q may have pressed early on too trying to impress his new teammates. My hope is with time he’s settling in finally

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Supposed to say big best for Q not W boy autocorrect drives me nuts sometimes

  • Hope that Dodger pen has taken their Flintstones tonight.

  • Schwarber is just a deer in the headlights in rbi spots that call for contact. Beyond disappointed in his development guys looking more like a poor mans Joey gallo. At best frankly too he seems to be regressing from last year even where his avg wasn’t even very good

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Thank goodness for Willson bailing Kyle out huge hit

  • Willson!

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    Chatwood said that he wasn’t used to the pressure of last year and maybe he’s learned how to deal with it. Now Q and Yu have to also.
    BP—I think Len just channeled you, calling this half inning The game of throws!”

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Yeah, he missed Joes “embrace the pressure” season.

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    DD’s guitar strum. I like that. We’re scoring with 2 outs. Willson rocks too.

  • Huge inning but this dodger offense is red hot and they still scare me. Long way to go

  • I kinda feel for Brian Butterfield. Imagine how insignificant he feels when there is a live ball and Javy is rounding second. :)

  • Anybody hear anything about Lester yet?

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Yeah he’s due to make his turn in the rotation according to stuff that I have read.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    His sim game went well. Rizzo HRed

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    You're right. Thursday's SP is listed as Lester/ Montgomery/Chatwood. Everything is smooth with Jon, I think he's throwing a side today. It would take something going wrong at this point for him not to start Thursday.

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    At some point Joe is going to have to drop KB in the order. He waited a long time to do that with JHey but he did it.
    Rizzzzzooooo!
    Anyway, KB is just not contributing there.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Is eighth too low? His OBP is still respectable but his power has disappeared. Maybe leadoff?

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    Hop Skip and a single!!

  • Javy, Ha Ha!

  • Q with 16 consecutive scoreless IP. Keep it Rolling, Rolling, Rolling...

    Big Bang Baby! It's a crash, crash, crash!

    Rizzo needed that, and so did we.

    I don't want to seem insane, so I won't say it, yet again, will I? Yes, I will...

    El freaking Mago!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Javy did not just do that did he? SMH!

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    "I am the Lizard King.
    I can do anything."

  • THAT’S the play of the year right there bahahahahahahaahaha!

  • Schwarber needed that “Line drive in the book” single, too.

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    These umps keep making mistakes, j don’t care if we’re up by 6, I just hate to see bad calls. They impact a game. Baseball takes 5 min to see if a fingernail is on a base but won’t do the right thing and get 10-15% better.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    His umpire is brutal. Calling balls strikes & strikes balls. And how was that NOT an error on J Hey!?!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    There was a video making the rounds today, a pitch we got screwed on earlier this season. Somebody (sorry no credit, I'll make it up) at fangraphs put it together. Caratini was at bat, and Cervelli let a ball BOUNCE TO THE BACKSTOP, but faked and framed it so well the ump called a strike. I'll find and post it.

    Again, the pitch bounced in the dirt at 58 feet and rolled to the back fence, but Cervelli framed a phantom catch that the ump called a strike.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Here you go. A long article describing the absurdity of it all. Video towards the end:

    https://blogs.fangraphs.com/who-framed-victor-caratini/

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Ben Clemens did this piece. You really need to watch this. I obviously wasn't when it happened, and I wonder if anyone on the Cubs' team was. Someone should have thrown a fit.

    This looks like a doctored video, but I don't think fangraphs would do that. I don't remember this pitch. Do you?

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    Tom Verducci on the MLB channel just said that last year there were more foul balls than balls in play. There are more SO than hits I think now.
    I’m watching MLB now, but wasn’t when Javy ran, stopped, swerved and skipped. I wish I had heard them describe it.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Description wasn’t anything to discuss.

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    In reply to stix:

    Ok. Thanks.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    baseball is boring. no need to pay attention.

  • How many popups does KB have to hit before someone notices he is bending at the waist and dropping his back shoulder. He is getting carried away with his "launch angle". He also has too many moving parts in his swing. He starts with an exaggerated squat, he bends at the waist, lunges and then drops his back shoulder swinging up. In addition, he isn't transferring his weight to his back foot and striding forward but instead steps back with his right foot. Any one of these things could hinder his hitting but all of them together makes it near impossible to hit with any consistency. Where's the coaching?

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    How does this swing compare to his 2016/2017 swing? Is there any difference you can actually point to?

  • In reply to stix:

    That is a good question but one I can't answer. However, I will be willing to bet it is NOT the same.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Saw something earlier on MLB that says he’s only any inch or two from making hose pop up line drives. Maybe it’s his timing not his swing?

  • In reply to stix:

    "inch or two"???? What does that mean? The width of the bat is how wide or are they referring to hitting the ball closer to the end of the bat or nearer the hands? I am sure his timing is off also but why?

  • I don’t know about you all but I don’t care if Qs spot is due in the leadoff spot next inning. I’m not pulling him against this explosive dodgers offense to go to the likes of kintzler or whoever

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Like how joe has shown more willingness to stretch his non darvish starters

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Only have a 3 man bench. Doubt they take him out.

  • In reply to stix:

    The short bench means a longer pen, which gives you more options to pull a starter early.

    Q just hit for himself, so we'll see. I'm pleasantly surprised by Quintana's performance.

  • If Bryant is trying to popup every AB ... Very impressive.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    That swing is completely broken. I know others have said they have read he changed it. That is not true.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I feel your pain. I've pegged KB a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, and that prediction has hit the skids.

    There are reasons to justify the slump. He had a wrist injury in 2017 that lingered and effected him longer than anyone admitted. He got drilled in the head and had the severe shoulder injury last season. He has reasons.

    I hope to see him back in peak form. I'm really anxious, and the worst thoughts do go through my mind. What a shame if this truly generational talent is ruined.

    But that's not possible. He'll be fine, soon.

  • Is it time for AA in center? If he started today Q probably still has a shutout.

  • In reply to stix:

    Well does AA catch that hit by Bellinge?

  • Nico Hoerner left the game after being hit by a fastball off the wrist. He walked it off and he didn’t react as if it was broken. That said scary moment let’s hope that wrist isn’t broken. Definitely the last prospect that you’d like to see any development stalls

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    I saw that he was taken out for a PH. Thanks for the info,

  • HAM!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Auto correct. BAM

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    For those who are unaware, HAM is a saying Javy has adopted with a couple of his teammates and hitting coaches. It perfectly encompasses his hitting philosophy: hit the ball Hard As a M...

    When you connect, HAM!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    OOPS !

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    Awful umpiring.
    Speaking of KB popping up, the other day Joey Votto popped out to first—the first time he had done that as a major leaguer, over 6,000 AB.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I saw that. An absolutely astounding stat.

    I recall something similar, but not the hitter. Someone like Boggs or Brett, one of the great hitters of the 70's/ 80's/ 90's. They had never, in over 10,000 AB's, pulled a ball into to foul stands.

    That stat, like Votto's, might sound trivial. But it is a testament to their great hitting approach and discipline.

  • I almost feel like a sadist saying this at this point. Almost...

    I pity the fool...

  • Almora has turned out to be completely useless at the plate.

  • Almora has forgotten how to hit. He caught Heyward’s disease from last two years.

  • W.

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    Rolling, Rolling, Rolling with a winner!!

  • Expect the Cubs and the Cardinals to be battling out for the division lead by next weekend.....let’s just keep winning series.

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