The Cubs were able to split four games with a Reds team that has been a massive thorn in their side. The heroics of Kris Bryant on Sunday turned another disappointing series into a much more palatable break even set.
Now Chicago heads east for three games against the underachieving Phillies. Philadelphia was very active before the 2019 season in trades and free agency. The additions, including superstar Bryce Harper, have done very little to help leading to just a 60-58 record.
While the offense is not clicking on all cylinders the pitching staff has really dragged the Phighting Phils down. Especially the bullpen that sports an ugly 4.76 ERA. That said, this team still has the ability to win some games. That is particularly true if the bats can get hot.
If the Cubs can even go .500 on this trip it will be huge for their playoff chances. The split in Cincinnati is a very good start, but not if they can't make some progress in Pennsylvania. Let's see if they can make it happen.
Tuesday: 6:05 PM CT on MLB Network/NBC Sports Chicago/670AM
Wednesday: 6:05 PM CT on ESPN/NBC Sports Chicago/670AM
Thursday: 6:05 PM CT on MLB Network/WGN/670AM
Lineups and Bullpen Usage via Baseball Press.
Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.
Jason Vargas: Jason Vargas has thrown 24,759 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2008 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason and Spring Training. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Change using a Circle Change grip (79mph), Fourseam Fastball (85mph) and Sinker using a Two-seam Fastball grip (85mph), also mixing in a Curve using a Knuckle Curve grip (71mph).
His change has below average velo, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' changeups and has slight armside fade. His fourseam fastball comes in below hitting speed. His sinker is so slow that it is substantially gravitational and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers. His curve comes in below hitting speed and has sweeping glove-side movement.
Sean's Note: The veteran Vargas got moved to Philly after valiantly defending the Mets manager from a random beat writer. On the field, the lefty has had a decent year with a 4.09 ERA. He doesn't strike out a ton of hitters, just 19.5% and has a very low batting average on balls in play .251. Those numbers indicate regression may be near.
Aaron Nola: Aaron Nola has thrown 11,316 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2015 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and Spring Training. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Curve (79mph) and Fourseam Fastball (93mph), also mixing in a Change (86mph) and Sinker (93mph).
His curve has sweeping glove-side movement and has a sharp downward bite. His fourseam fastball has some natural sinking action, has essentially average velo and has slight armside run. His change results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' changeups, is slightly firmer than usual, has slight armside fade and has some natural sink to it. His sinker has slight armside run and has some natural sinking action.
Sean's Note: Nola is the ace of the staff for Philadelphia with a 3.67 ERA and a 10-3 record. He still strikes out plenty of hitters (26.5%), although his walk rate ticked up to 9.4% after being 7% last season. Like all pitchers in 2019 his homer rate has spiked with 20 in just 147.1 innings, he allowed only 17 in 212.2 innings last year. The Cubs scored three runs on him in 5.1 innings in May.
Drew Smyly: Drew Smyly has thrown 11,179 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2012 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 (91mph) and Curve (77mph), also mixing in a Cutter (87mph) and Change (83mph). He also rarely throws a Sinker (92mph).
His fourseam fastball has much less armside movement than typical, has essentially average velo, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers and has some added backspin. His curve has primarily 12-6 movement, has little depth and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves. His cutter has good "rise". His change has surprising cut action, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' changeups and has a lot of backspin. His sinker is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' sinkers, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' sinkers, has surprisingly little armside run, has little sinking action compared to a true sinker and has slightly above average velo.
Sean's Note: Smyly was on the Cubs roster last year while recovering from elbow surgery. He never pitched for Chicago before starting the 2019 season with Texas. They released him after a poor first half and Philly grabbed him in July. It hasn't gotten better in the National League, he has a 6.96 ERA and is walking over 12% of hitters. The biggest problem is the home run, 23 bombs in just 75.1 innings pitched. Basically he surrenders nearly three jacks per nine innings.