Cubs vs Reds Series Preview: (9/16-9/18)


The Cubs crushed the Pirates in a three-game sweep, scoring a franchise-record 47 runs in the romp. Everything would be perfect if not for Anthony Rizzo's scary ankle injury. It's unclear how long it will take for the big first baseman to get back in the lineup.

Chicago continue their playoff push with a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds have been a thorn in the Cubs side going 9-7 in the 2019 season-series. The pitching has been their strongest suit this season.

Despite a below average year from Joey Votto, the Reds offense is still talented. Cubs-killer Eugenio Suarez has 47 homers to hold down the heart of the lineup. Michael Lorenzen is now getting starts in center field in addition to pitching in the bullpen.

The NL Central race has tightened, Chicago is just two games back of the Cardinals. A strong series will put them in position to catch St. Louis this weekend. Cincinnati won't make it easy, but nothing worth achieving ever is.


Monday: 7:05 PM CT on NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Tuesday: 7:05 PM CT on ESPN/WCIU/670AM

Wednesday: 7:05 PM CT WGN/670AM



1. Alex Blandino (R) 2B
2. Phillip Ervin (R) LF
3. Eugenio Suarez (R) 3B
5. Curt Casali (R) C
7. Jose Peraza (R) SS
8. Josh VanMeter (L) 1B
9. Kevin Gausman (L) P
1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
6. Victor Caratini (S) 1B
7. Jason Heyward (L) CF
8. Nico Hoerner (R) SS
9. Cole Hamels (L) P
Bullpen Usage
Lineups and Bullpen Usage via Baseball Press.

Opposing pitchers

Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.

Kevin Gausman: Kevin Gausman has thrown 15,743 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2013 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and the MLB Postseason. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (94mph) and Splitter (84mph). He also rarely throws a Slider (83mph), Change using a Circle Change grip (87mph) and Sinker using a One-seam Fastball grip (91mph).

His fourseam fastball has essentially average velo and has slight armside run. His splitter generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' splitters, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' splitters and has slight armside fade. His slider has primarily 12-6 movement. His change generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' changeups, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' changeups, has a lot of backspin and is slightly firmer than usual. His sinker 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: Gausman has been slightly better since coming to the Reds from Atlanta, but still not great. He can strike people out (25%) and doesn't get many outs on the ground (37%). Those fly balls have led to 14 homers in just 95.2 innings.

Sonny Gray: Sonny Gray has thrown 17,302 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), Curve (82mph), Slider (85mph) and Sinker (93mph). He also rarely throws a Change (90mph), Cutter (92mph) and Slow Curve (75mph).

His fourseam fastball has much less armside movement than typical and has essentially average velo. His curve 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, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers and has slightly above average velo. His change is thrown extremely hard and generates fewer whiffs/swing 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. His slow curve is a real yakker that's separated from his other curveball due to its big drop and slow speed.

Sean's Note: Gray has been outstanding in his first year for the Reds. His strike out rate is up 7% from 2018 and he gets over half his outs on the ground. The Cubs have scored just four runs in 18.1 innings against Gray in three games this season.

Tyler Mahle: Tyler Mahle has thrown 4,493 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 (94mph) and Curve (81mph), also mixing in a Splitter (87mph) and Cutter (90mph). He also rarely throws a Slider (84mph) and Change (87mph).

His fourseam fastball generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has some natural sinking action, has essentially average velo and has slight armside run. His curve is slightly harder than usual. His splitter generates a very high amount of groundballs compared to other pitchers' splitters and is much firmer than usual. His cutter is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' cutters and has slightly above average velo. His slider is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' sliders, has exceptional depth, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' sliders and has short glove-side cut. His change generates an extremely high number of swings & misses 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.

Sean's Note: Mahle has struggled mightily in 2019 with a 5.11 ERA. He has given up a whopping 22 homers in just 116 innings pitched. He does have an above average strike out rate at (25%) and doesn't walk many. Lefties hit for a ton of power off him with a .561 slugging percentage. The Cubs tagged him for six runs in a game at Wrigley in May.

Filed under: Series Preview

Tags: Anthony Rizzo


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  • Rizzo in boot 5-7 days with lateral sprain to be evaluated after boot removed. Doesn’t look like he’s back before Baez. Everyone needs to step up big time including the pitchers.

  • I think they can survive Rizzo’s & Javy’s injuries. But they really can’t have anymore to any of the key players.

  • And Congrats to Corey Abbott on being named Cubs minor league pitcher of the year. He really looks good. I think his stepping up this year (along w/Marquez) helped ease losing Hatch, Richan & Lange in trades.

  • Are there any updates on Javy, or just status quo?

    If Javy is the best player on the team, Rizzo is the heart. I hope these guys don't let up and leave it all out there for Rizz. He wants to play again this year and he deserves to play again! They both do.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    I haven't heard anything on Javy. He's definitely out for the regular season, and the hope is he's be available for the postseason. I think that is even optimistic for a couple reasons: we have to reach the postseason, and I feel he probably wouldn't be available until possibly the NLDS.

    The Rizzo injury seems to me to be out for the regular season as well. He's in an immobilizing boot for a week. You don't come out of an immobilizing boot and play. I guess it's possible he could return for those final 3 games in St. Louis, especially if he gets that shot that KB got in his knee a week ago, but I'm not optimistic.

    Russell was officially placed on the 7-day concussion IL list yesterday, but back-dated. He could be eligible in a few more days. He was hitting off a tee at Wrigley earlier today.

    I love the idea of rallying around your fallen leaders, but dang, you miss those leaders when you HAVE to win big games.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Heyward was asked if the Cubs would band together to try to win for Rizzo. "We don't need any more rallying points right now", he replied. How true.

    We actually got lucky this series. The Reds made a last-minute rotation shuffle yesterday. We were originally scheduled to face Gray, Mahle, and their ace Castillo, but the Reds added Gausman today, pushing the others back a game and Castillo out of this series entirely. Thank you.

  • We should deal in reality and understand Javy is done for the year and Rizzo stand no chance. For anyone who rolled their ankle, then you know what I mean.

    If the Cubs can mount this charge and come all the back this may be as satisfying a season given how much they could potentially overcome.

    Hard to keep up the historic production offensively, but 6-7 a night is not out of the question. Let’s roll!!!

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Hey there nay sayer. Let's talk about what we know. Baez is out until the playoffs. Rizzo has a sprained ankle if he was playing basketball we might be in trouble. But more than likely he will be back in 5-7 days. Caratini and Happ will have to do until then.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Hey there optimist. I love the enthusiasm. Rizzo is out for the year. I've had that exact rollover, I mean the EXACT rollover, twice. Nearly everything that controls your ankle is through that outside leverage point that he violently hyperextended yesterday.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Naysayer? I am not naysaying a dang thing. Rizzo will miss 6-8 weeks which means he will be gone. That was a brutal sprain. Javy hurt his thumb so to rebuild strength to swing the bat and then get timing to be productive is darn near impossible for this season.

    Keep it rolling and make this an improbable and satisfying season. Did you miss the last 2 parts of my post?

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Where do you get Rizzo will be out 6-8 weeks? The Cubs said Rizzo will be in a walking boot for five to seven days. After that immobilization period, Rizzo will be reassessed and the Cubs will have a better sense of his timeline for return.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Spraining ankles are very painful & take a while to heal. He’s gotta be able to sprint to 1st base & go hard station to station at a minimum of 75%. He’s already a slow runner as it is, ha ha. Luckily, he’s a 1Bman & speed isn’t a big issue, but breaking left or right for a ball could aggravate it. My guess is it’s at least a month, that’s Oct 16th. And that’s out for the season & maybe 2 rounds of post season.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    A sprain can take many forms. They are saying moderate lateral sprain, not inconceivable he'll be back.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    We shall see. But I don’t want Rizzo at 45-50% & after 1 week? He won’t even be 25%. The dude will be just getting out of the boot.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I'm guessing rb is speaking from experience, as I am. A "walking boot" is a device to completely immobilize wounded ligaments to limit further damage and keep you from being bedridden or relying on a wheelchair or crutches. You are not OK when it comes off, far from it.

    The lateral ligaments that Rizzo damaged yesterday typically take 6-8 weeks to fully heal, depending on the severity of the strain. He didn't completely tear them, which would require surgery, but it wasn't a mild strain, either. Anthony's a tough dude and that put him down. I've done that exact strain twice.

    He's done for at least a month, and there's only a couple weeks of the regular season left.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Ankle sprains are awful. While in high school I wrecked my ankle in the football playoff state semi-finals. I missed all but the last week of basketball season — 9 weeks. And I was not at full strength for 12 weeks. If some are saying Rizzo plays at 60-70% then ok. I am talking about being near full strength to be a powerful player. He could make it back if we go deep in the playoffs. I don’t see that happening. But maybe he responds well to the treatment and makes it back? That would be best case. I don’t think that happens. I hope I am wrong.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I’m with you. I said minimum he probably misses the the 1st 2 rounds of playoffs. And that’s being generous. My nephew had a high ankle sprain & missed 6 weeks of football as a junior in HS. He played running back. He could have gone in & played at 5 weeks, but rules are he had to practice full week. Dr didn’t clear him in time. So I’m being generous with my reply of missing regular season (2 weeks left) & 2 rounds of playoffs (2 & half weeksish). And then if he’s at least at %75. Time will tell.

    Anyway. They have to continue playing like they have been, without him & believing he may not be back unless they make the WS. Go Cubs!

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Rizzo is out for the year. There's only a couple weeks left. I've had that exact same rollover, I mean the EXACT same rollover at the same speed and momentum, twice. That takes a month, at least.

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    Besides Cory Abbott, Brennen Davis was named Player of the Year. Only 19, he has a promising future in front of him and we all will be watching his progress through the system.
    JHey is right--there's no more reason to be excited for the rest of the season. If players don't realize how important every pitch, every at bat, is. At the worst the Cubs have to win 2 of 3. Best case is a sweep and put more pressure on Wash and Milw and StL.
    I'm a terrible forecaster, but I will say that the Cubs will make the playoffs, but I don't know how or in what position.
    Go Cubs!!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Hope his future isn’t behind him. :):):) Hoping for some levity . We need it now before the cubs go on a run.

  • What did I do to make the filter mad? 6 of my last 8 comments over the last couple days.

  • Just saw this interesting factoid: since the end of the 2015 season, the Cubs have played 2 games without Rizzo or Javy in the lineup. Today will be the 3rd.

  • Maybe having those two in the lineup together is what has kept this team from reaching its true potential...

  • In reply to Lildude:


  • In reply to Lildude:


  • Same situation as before.....if we win we automatically gain ground, if we lose .....lose someone.

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    Cole, no more walks! They come back and score and thus lineup can hit, especially Suarez.

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    Cards leading and is Milw. With everyone playing each other we just have to win and let the others sort it out.
    I understand we want to bat Zo first, but when he doesn’t I’d like to see Caratini up there. He takes pitches and his OBP is .360.
    KB stays hot.

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    That was a beautiful sight. A Kyle-driver into the seats.

  • I could take a ho hum 3-0 win.....

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Unfortunately that’s not the 2019 cubs style.

  • A little different weather tonight than the Bucs' series, and I was honestly thinking we may see another football score: Cubs 3, Reds 0. We're already there.

    Wouldn't hurt my feelings to stay right here.

    Go Cubs!

  • Hamels is struggling again. Hopefully he can go 5 with the lead.

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    That bat had a double down the line. Too many baserunners Cole. How about a DP.
    This ump has called a good game. The balls Hamels wanted were outside.

  • Hamels and Lester rarely throw strikes in the zone and depend on chases from the hitters or called strikes from the umps to get outs. If they get neither the pitch counts run up quickly.

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    Get Hamels out of there. He hasn’t had a clean inning yet and Schwarber just saved at least another run.
    Compare that catch to the one he tried to make a few years ago against the Mets (?.) He’s become much better.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Joe got him out. Problem is he has to bring someone else in. BP is like a box of chocolate you never know who will be good.

  • In reply to stix:

    It’s a good thing with expanded rosters that Joe’s got a big box of chocolates to choose from.

    At this point though, I’m sure Darvish already understands he needs to bring his A-game tomorrow and give us a good solid 7 innings.

  • Lester, Q, and Hamels are not helping with Rizzo gone and feeling like this team can rally past it. I'm still hoping and cheering for the division, I really want to beat St. Lou... but into the playoffs with these three pitching like this? Icky bad.

  • Cishek has walked every batter he faced in the last two games. May not be much better than Hamels today.

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    That guy in the stands deserves another HR. By Kyle.

  • huge ab by JHey

  • Crew has won, cards up 2 in the eighth looks like cubs need to hold serve to gain onNats.

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    For years I’ve been asking why the only shot we see of the person singing the stretch is from the side. Tonight we had it from the front. Thank you!
    btw, who was that singing tonight?

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I think it was Gary Pressy

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    In reply to stv711:

    Thanks. That fits.

  • I haven’t been able to watch tonight’s game, but I saw that the Cardinals just won. We need to hold this lead and at least pick up a game on the Nats.

  • How about Nicky 2bags

  • Excellent team job tonight!

  • WWWWW :)

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