Cubs @ Reds: Series Preview (5/14-5/16)

ct-cubs-at-reds-photos-20170421

The Cubs continue to play excellent baseball, after completing an 8-2 homestand by winning two of three from the Milwaukee Brewers. Chicago has not lost a series since dropping a pair of games to those same Brewers at Miller Park in early April.

The story this past weekend was the pitching, allowing just two runs over 24 innings in wins on Saturday and Sunday. The victories built a 2.5 game NL Central lead for the North Siders. The Cubs record the last 30 games is a remarkable 22-8, putting them 10 games over .500 at 24-14.

Chicago heads out on a six-game road trip beginning with three in Cincinnati against the Reds. The Cubs struggled at Great American Ballpark in 2018 with a 3-6 record. Again in last place at 18-23, the numbers actually indicate the Red Legs are improved. They have a +30 run differential, second to only the Cubs in the Central.

For the length of the Reds recent struggles the issues have always centered around pitching. That is not the case in 2019, a 3.36 team ERA is the second lowest in all of baseball. Luis Castillo is having a breakout season with a 1.76 and 70 strikeouts in 56.1 innings.

Remarkably, the problems are on offense, where the .216 team batting average is the lowest in the entire major leagues. Joey Votto is hitting just .206 with a .663 OPS through the first month and a half of the year. Eugenio Suarez has 12 homers to lead the team and Derek Dietrich already has 10 long balls.

The Reds aren't going to be pushovers this season, they are pitching well and the offense won't stay quiet for long. The Cubs are also good, so this should be an entertaining series.

Watch/Listen

Tuesday: 5:40 PM CT on NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Wednesday: 5:40 PM CT on WGN/670AM

Thursday: 5:40 PM CT on MLB Network/NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Lineups

Cubs

1. Jason Heyward (L) RF
2. Kris Bryant (R) 1B
3. Javier Baez (R) SS
5. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
6. David Bote (R) 3B
7. Daniel Descalso (L) 2B
Reds
1. Nick Senzel (R) CF
2. Joey Votto (L) 1B
3. Eugenio Suarez (R) 3B
4. Jesse Winker (L) LF
5. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
6. Derek Dietrich (L) 2B
7. Jose Iglesias (R) SS
8. Tanner Roark (R) P
Bullpen Usage
screen-shot-2019-05-14-at-12-35-20-pm
screen-shot-2019-05-14-at-12-35-44-pm

Lineups and Bullpen Usage via Baseball Press.

Opposing pitchers

Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.

Tanner Roark: Tanner Roark has thrown 16,048 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 Sinker using a Two-seam Fastball grip (92mph), Slider (86mph) and Fourseam Fastball (92mph), also mixing in a Curve (76mph) and Change (84mph).

His sinker has little sinking action compared to a true sinker and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers. His slider has less than expected depth and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sliders. His fourseam fastball generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has essentially average velo and has slightly less natural movement than typical. His curve has a sharp downward bite, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves, has slight glove-side movement and has slightly below average velo. His change results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' changeups and has slight armside fade.

Sean's Note: The veteran Roark has been decent in his first year over from the Nationals. He doesn't rack up a ton of strikeouts and his walk rate is up so far in 2019. He has a very low ground ball rate and homers are usually a problem, but he has only allowed two in 41.1 innings this season. Left handed batters have absolutely killed him this season hitting an eye-popping .348 in eight starts.

Sonny Gray: Sonny Gray has thrown 15,318 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 and Spring Training. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (94mph) and Curve (82mph), also mixing in a Slider (85mph) and Sinker (93mph). He also rarely throws a Change (90mph) and Cutter (93mph).

His fourseam fastball generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has much less armside movement than typical and has essentially average velo. His curve is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' curves, has sweeping glove-side movement, is much harder than usual and has a sharp downward bite. His slider sweeps across the zone and has exceptional depth. His sinker generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sinkers, has less armside run than typical and results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers. His change is thrown extremely hard, is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' changeups and generates a very high amount of groundballs compared to other pitchers' changeups. His cutter is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' cutters, is blazing fast and is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' cutters.

Sean's Note: The Yankees basically dumped Gray on the Reds after his disastrous run in the Bronx. Unlike Roark, Sonny gets most of his outs on the ground (56% in 2019) with his power sinker. His strikeouts are up and his homer rate is down from his Yankee stint, more in line with his Oakland numbers. Fellow right handed hitters actually hit for a higher average off him than lefties.

Luis CastilloLuis Castillo has thrown 5,074 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2017 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and Spring Training. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (96mph) and Change (87mph), also mixing in a Sinker (97mph) and Slider (86mph).

His fourseam fastball generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has some natural sinking action, has well above average velo and has slight armside run. His change generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' changeups, is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' changeups, dives down out of the zone, is much firmer than usual and has slight armside fade. His sinker has an obvious tail, is blazing fast, generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' sinkers, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers and has some natural sinking action. His slider results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sliders, has primarily 12-6 movement and has some two-plane movement.

Sean's Note: The Reds expect big things from Castillo and after a slow start last year, he is dominating so far in 2019. The hard-throwing righty is striking out 31% of hitters he has faced this year. When he isn't striking people out he is inducing a boatload of outs on the ground. 59.3% of balls put in play against the 26-year old are grounders. The change up is his most nasty pitch, which he uses to get a ton of swinging strikes.

Filed under: Series Preview

Comments

Leave a comment
  • I want a commanding and dominating sweep of these Reds.

  • In reply to Skidoorunner:

    I'll take it one day at a time in hoping that can happen. With Hendricks pitching today, I think we win tonight. But you never know with Darvish going tomorrow. And further, Luis Castillo is pitching for the Reds against Quintana on Thursday. I like our chances with Q, but if there's a Reds pitcher who can beat the Cubs, I'd say it's Castillo.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I think tomorrow could be a very defining moment for Darvish. If he again lacks command of his pitches and relies solely on his slider as he did mainly during his last outing; I’m not sure how you address that. Do you keep putting them out there only to fail early and keep putting more pressure on the pen - or do you address it in a different manner?

  • In reply to Skidoorunner:

    Just about everything we've seen from our front office and manager tells me they will be patient with Darvish. I'd bet he's got at least till sometime in July before they'd start going to alternatives, unless he starts going downhill and things get worse instead of better.

  • 23 games in a row Kris Bryant has reached base. Current MLB high.

  • In reply to Skidoorunner:

    Does reaching on an error count? I don’t know.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Reaching on an error does not count but I believe they changed it to a hit and then Bryant doubled in the fifth.

  • In reply to stix:

    ^^^^^5 thxs Stix:)

  • JD: "well there's not a lot of value in a 2 out single" (Descalso bunt) not until Almora singles and Hendricks doubles! LOL

  • Boy it never ceases to amaze me how quickly Jason Heywards numbers can drop. I’m certainly satisfied with his production this year to date, but it’s scary how fast he’s fallen off. Let’s get real too the guys started pretty fast 3 straight seasons only to fall off. He’s officially on my reason to be concerned radar until we see a sustained turnaround. In general the teams OF need to start carrying their weights. It seems most of the OF production has come from KB who isn’t supposed to even be an OF

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Welcome, Mr. Grinch. ;-)

  • In reply to Skidoorunner:

    Lol I can’t even deny that I’m a bit of a grinch towards heywards struggles lol. I want him to succeed as much as anyone he really does seem like a great person. But I’m officially traumatized anytime he slows down. People forget he actually has had strong April’s from 2017-19 before reverting back to cubs form heyward

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Wish Schwarber could do more than walk. His power would benefit the outfield stats.

  • In reply to stix:

    Agreed he could be worse but he’s certainly the most prominent player in the OF not doing his job. If anything heyward carried that group, but I’ll believe he’s gonna hit all season when I see it. It’s definitely kyles job to provide slugging out of an OF group that mostly provides defense. Hopefully we see those run production numbers improve for Kyle bc I think they can’t expect the same guys to carry the offense all season

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    And his numbers are still head and shoulders above both Schwarber and Bote.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    I mentioned kyles struggles along with the other OFs. The point isn’t to knock heywards current production. The point is that he really hasn’t really proven that this is a turnaround season when you consider he couldn’t have started better. April has generally been a good month for him and this would be the 3rd straight season where he’s fallen off the earth after a strong April. Kyle also is in the midst of an overall underwhelming season too he most definitely hasn’t carried as much weight as heyward thus far

  • fb_avatar

    I knew that Votto popped out to a 1st baseman for the first time in his career, but Len said that also included pitchers and catchers. Only 7 to the infield in his career—I believe that’s what Len said. I’ve never seen anyone with such bat control. One of my favorite players to see.

  • 92 pitches. Does Joe let Kyle at least start the 9th this time?

  • In reply to stix:

    He just took an AB so that answers that. He looks better at the plate than 3-4 guys in our lineup.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    What’s wrong with 3-8?

  • It's amazing to think how well the Cubs are doing with so many hitters struggling. After a hot start by Heyward, Bote and Descalso, they're all back to their baseball card averages along with Schwarber and Almora (who are at their poor hitting stats but have been there all season without starting hot). It's not coincidence that the Cubs resurgence has come when Bryant has turned it around. It will be nice to get Rizzo back on board as well.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    The pitching.....the pitching came around before anything else I would say.
    It has been fantastic.

  • Time for Ryan to come through

  • In reply to stix:

    Well that turned out well. Now for Cishekto. Follow on.

  • What the heck, Hendricks has been awesome and Joe takes him out after one batter? Kyle Ryan has been more bad than good all year. I don't have a good feeling about this.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Well that was a delayed post - LOL

  • W!!!!!

  • Kudos to Kyle Hendricks on just an outstanding performance and run. I said it before I thought his new contract is a big discount for what he brings to the field and clubhouse. Easy call to retain this man and I see him aging gracefully knock on wood

  • fb_avatar

    I can see why Joe took Kyle out. He wasn’t quite as sharp and if doesn’t have pin point control he can be hit and with Votto coming up and he hit a HR last time.
    Now it’s KB, Javy and Willson who are carrying the team offensively.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Agree but without good/great starting pitching they wouldn’t be enough to support the offense to the current streak.

  • Joe said if it was any hitter but Votto, he would have left Hendricks stay in. Was a good call.

Leave a comment