Cubs @ Marlins: Series Preview (4/15-4/17)


The final game of the Cubs six-game homestand got rained or more accurately snowed out on Sunday. They finished the shortened five-game stand with a 3-2 record. The pitching was much more stable, but hardly perfect.

Now Chicago heads out a quick three-game trip to play the Marlins in Miami. On paper, the rebuilding fish look like the worst team in the National League. The first two weeks of the season have done nothing to change that perception.

Miami sits at 4-12, firmly entrenched in last place in a highly competitive NL East. The offense is terrible with a team batting average of .222. The pitching, while better, is hardly great with an ERA of 4.81.

The Cubs have never had the best luck at Marlins Park, but they need to take advantage of this blatant tank job in South Florida. Expecting a sweep is hard to do, winning at least two feels like a must however. Let’s see if they can get back close to the ,500 mark.


Monday: 6:10 PM CT on WGN/670AM

Tuesday: 6:10 PM CT on NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Wednesday: 6:10 PM CT on NBC Sports Chicago/670AM



1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
2. Kris Bryant (R) LF
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Javier Baez (R) SS
5. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. David Bote (R) 3B
9. Yu Darvish (R) P


2. Brian Anderson (R) 3B
3. Starlin Castro (R) 2B
4. Neil Walker (S) 1B
5. Miguel Rojas (R) SS
6. Austin Dean (R) RF
7. Chad Wallach (R) C
8. Lewis Brinson (R) CF

Bullpen Usage



Lineups and Bullpen Usage via Baseball Press.

Opposing pitchers

Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.

Trevor Richards: Trevor Richards has thrown 2,517 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2018 and 2019, all of them occuring in the MLB Regular Season. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (91mph) and Change (83mph), also mixing in a Slider (86mph) and Curve (80mph).

His fourseam fastball generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, has slightly below average velo and has some added backspin. His change has slight armside fade. His slider is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ sliders, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ sliders and has less than expected depth. His curve is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ curves, has primarily 12-6 movement, has little depth, is slightly harder than usual and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ curves.

Sean’s Note: Richards is in his second major league season after a decent rookie year. He is actually tougher on left handed hitters than fellow right-handers. He is more of a fly ball pitcher and gives up a fair amount of hard contact. He has a 2.00 ERA through 18 innings in 2019.

Pablo Lopez: Pablo Lopez has thrown 1,210 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2018 and 2019, all of them occuring in the MLB Regular Season. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (95mph), Curve (81mph) and Change (86mph), also mixing in a Sinker (93mph).

His fourseam fastball has heavy sinking action, generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, has slight armside run and has slightly above average velo. His curve has very little depth, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ curves and is slightly harder than usual. His change has an obvious armside fade, dives down out of the zone, generates a very high amount of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ changeups, generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ changeups and is slightly firmer than usual. His sinker is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, has slight armside run, has slightly above average velo and has some natural sinking action.

Sean’s Note: Lopez got 58 innings at the major league level in 2018. He generates a ton of ground balls with his sinker. He has gotten beaten up early in 2019, allowing 11 runs in 15 innings pitched. He throws hard and pitched to contact in 2018 with low strike out and walk rates.

Sandy Alcantara: Sandy Alcantara has thrown 1,020 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2017 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and Fall/Winter Ball. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (96mph), Slider (86mph) and Sinker (95mph), also mixing in a Change (88mph) and Curve (83mph).

His fourseam fastball has some natural sinking action and has well above average velo. His slider is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sliders and has some two-plane movement. His sinker generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, has well above average velo and has slight armside run. His change is thrown extremely hard, generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ changeups, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ changeups, has slight armside fade and has some natural sink to it. His curve generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ curves, has primarily 12-6 movement, is much harder than usual, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ curves and has little depth.

Sean’s Note: Alcantara was the big piece from the Cardinals in the Marcell Ozuna trade before the 2018 season. He got his feet wet in 34 innings at the major league level last year. Despite throwing hard, he has never been a big strike out pitcher in the minors. He gets a lot of grounders from his two-seamer. His best secondary pitch is his curve ball which creates most of his strike outs.


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    Posting an article detailing Kyle Schwarbers complete inability to hit breaking balls (curveballs/sliders). Not gonna lie it's early but he's always been really bad against breaking balls in his career. I officially am worried about his development the guy has trouble with the curve.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Thanks for that link kkhiavi. Interesting info, but as the article says, it is a very small sample size & last year Schwarber hit off speed pitches well. He finishes the article saying "Schwarber’s struggle against secondaries may be a matter of early results clouding the stats, but it is definitely a trend worth monitoring. If he can continue to hit fastballs and match his success against secondary pitches from last year…look out, MLB."
    It's worth watching, but way too soon to be concerned imo

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    Another link on this topic cubpack and this article has a much more interesting comment section. Like you said, it's highly unlikely that he struggles to this magnitude against breaking pitches he was bad but not this awful in 2018. There is data that showed that he was at least improving against sliders in 2018 but he still isn't a good breaking ball hitter overall. I've been a big Schwarber supporter throughout the years too FYI I've always liked him never liked Happ and Almora as much going back to the minors. But I do think it's getting to the point where results need to be weighed over potential this OF group in general has gotten a lot of patience from the front office. Like you said I don't think he's going to struggle with breaking pitches to the extent he has thus far in a small sample but the early regression is still something to monitor

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I remember wondering if Schwarber was going to be our Adam Dunn - the three outcome hitter - as opposed to the true star he was hyped as. He is definitely a three outcome hitter, unfortunately the walks and HR's are fewer than the Ks.

    He takes way too many pitches. I hate seeing a guy that is supposed to be a hitter taking borderline strikes in run scoring situations.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    For years I took so much flack for calling Schwarber what I thought he was, which was a very poor hitter who had a LOT of power but will KO a ton. In other words, he is not an extremely valuable player. But I feel like some fans think a player is better than he is simply bc of the emblem the don on their uniform. Trust me, I WANTED so badly for this guy to prove me wrong. This year he looked different at the start and I believed he had found something but alas, I think the time is over. I just wonder if and when the FO will finally admit he was a bust and move on. I doubt it will be any time this season.

  • Happy Jackie Robinson Day!

    Some holidays and memorials are meaningless and drummed up for sentimental value or commercial gain. This isn't one of them. The impact Mr. Robinson had goes far beyond baseball and helped change American culture for the better. Another example of our national pastime's influence on history.

    Much has been written about his story. I found one off-beat article detailing the Dodger's decision to hold their 1947 Spring Training in Havana. It's another example of Branch Rickey's awareness of the enormity of what was happening, and the lengths he was willing to go to make his vision a success:

    A couple other related debuts on this date I was not aware of:

    In 1921, Pirates RHP Chief Yellow Horse made his debut, becoming what many believe to be the first full-blooded Native American to play in MLB.

    Cubs P Hiram Bithorn makes a relief appearance in 1942, as the first Puerto Rican in MLB.

    We've come a long way. Baseball has often lead that way, so, For What it's Worth:

    "There's battle lines being drawn.
    Nobody's right, if everybody's wrong."

    On a much sadder note, my workday was brought to a standstill while watching with a broken heart while the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris burned to the ground. Flashbacks to 9/11 were all through my mind, especially watching the iconic spire tumble in flames. Thankfully there appears to be no loss of life or even injury, but the history and artifacts lost in this blaze are immeasurable and irreplaceable. So sad.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Tragic fire but I don’t believe it’s been burned to the ground based on what i’ve heard.

  • In reply to stix:

    Yes I haven't checked for more updates but the most recent I had heard was that it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. Major sections of the roof and the spire are destroyed, but it seems likely that the building will not be lost. Also believe that the most important relics in the cathedral were also saved. That news certainly brightened my day because frankly was rather down discovering the news in the middle of the work day.

  • Whew. Now that I've got the heavy lifting out of the way:

    Go Cubs!

    Hopefully Yu can build upon his mediocrity and dominate a sad, sad Marlins' offense (no offense, Starlin).

    A couple pet peeves I'd like to address. I always hear "South Beach" when teams visit the Marlins. They are not, nor have they ever been, based in South Beach. I've lived on South Beach (and to my amazement lived to tell about it) and the Marlins have always been much further inland. And what's up with the Tampa Bay Rays? I've lived there as well, and Tampa Bay is a body of water, not a municipality that hosts a ML baseball team. We're not called the Navy Pier or Lake Michigan Cubs, nor should we be.

    Rant over. I just read a couple comments here on older posts about people having a "dry" sense of humor. That doesn't work for me. I keep my with well lubricated.

    Cubs win, 12-2. Suck it, rb.

    Go Cubs!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Damn autocorrect. I keep mine well lubricated. Talk about killing the punch line!

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    I would say that with your nom de plume "Barley Pop" we all assumed that you'd be well lubricated.
    I am worried about Schwarber too. He helped us win the WS and for that I'll be forever grateful, but it seems like he has peaks and valleys like few other players. When he's on he not only hits but hits them out or at least damages the walls, but when he's not he's worse than Javy with a pitch low and away. I'm not piling on, but when he was drafted I wanted Trea Turner, but we might not have won the WS without him. It's the what if syndrome. Now, what if he gets hot do we trade him when his value is high? Do we trade JHey now that he's hot, hot, hot? If so, what could we get? I wonder if Theo is thinking these thoughts.
    So, let's have a good Yu night. Go Cubs!!

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    I would also be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Jackie Robinson day today. Undoubtedly one of the most significant days in baseball and society in general. I’m glad we salute him every year.
    We should also not forget Curt Flood. Without him there would have been no free agency, or at least not for a number of years later.
    Thank you to Jackie and Curt. But this is your day Jackie.

  • Because I play a lot of fantasy baseball, I am quite familiar with this Marlins pitcher. His changeup is filthy. He is a quality start machine and the Cubs need to get to him early and often. With Yu pitching, they'll need to score at least 5 runs to win this game.

    Speaking of Yu, I read a very disturbing article on Yu this am.

    it’s meaningful that Yu Darvish is sitting 92.5 right now instead over over 94 as he has in the past. Check out Jeff Zimmerman’s excellent chart at FanGraphs, which shows Darvish’s fastball production by velocity band – the starter’s production takes a dramatic turn for the worse when it slides from 94 to 93 mph.
    That’s not super hopeful, considering that more than 75% of his fastballs are now 93 and under. Lo and behold, the swinging strike rate on his four-seamer this year is 8.6%, the second-lowest of his career.
    Now add in the fact that he’s turfed the sinker and is now almost solely a fastball/slider/cutter pitcher, and that he had ninth percentile Command+ last year (12th this year), and you see how the future is a little bleak here. I doubt Darvish has an ERA under four going forward, which makes him someone I’d put (at best) in the 70s or 80s in my rankings. Move on or sell low, unless it’s a deep league.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    As I said, EARLY and often !!!

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Darvish seems to be around 95-95 tonight. That's a good sign.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:


  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I saw eno Sarris with similar analysis. I’m not worried about the velocity drops are common early in the season and his velocity was 94-96 at times this spring. I think the issue is purely execution contrary to popular cubs belief darvish actually hasn’t walked many well at least until he signed with the cubs. His command just isn’t where it was during his pre-cubs days although his fastball command within the strike zone is all over the place sometimes

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    How much of his lack of control due to the catcher’s inability to frame pitches at a major league average?

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Yu cant throw strikes against bad hitters? What the heck.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Did Joe read your post? He pulled Darvish at 96.......

  • 3-0. Just like that.

    "When I want something.
    And I don't want to pay for it."

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Almora agrees. He stole that.

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    That’s why we need Albert A out there every day!!

  • How did Jeter ever get involved in this disaster?

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    The chance to be an owner and public face of a franchise is pretty alluring and this dumpster fire of situation probably is one of the few opportunities for Jeter to actually do that given the level of wealth needed is of several magnitudes higher than even the highest paid ballplayers.

  • In reply to Mike Banghart:

    ....don’t think he’s having too much fun Mike.....and he sure didn’t get much of a return gutting the roster.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    I wouldn't be shocked if he doubted his decision ever but I also can see why he might be willing to expose him to this nightmare was my only point.

  • In reply to Mike Banghart:

    I'll just mention the extraordinarily corrupt monetary/political situation in South Florida, the one that has led to the imprisonment of nearly every local politician involved in the financing of this "public" stadium. Google it. Everyone involved is in jail.

    Look at Javy! Go Cubs!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Oh I don't have enough space to describe how much I despise Jeffrey Loria.

  • In reply to Mike Banghart:

    I know. And if Wick doesn't mind me speaking for him, as I am (was) a fellow Floridian, there is every bit of everything of everywhere that says this financing is murkier than an Okeechobee swamp. As I've said, EVERY local official involved in the financing of this stadium is now incarcerated.

    Jeter knew what he was getting into. A South Florida swamp.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    He helped to create this disaster... Look at the way he treated Andre Dawson.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Yep, smh.....Andre is now an undertaker now believe it or not and seems pretty happy.....

  • I've come to this realization. Yu Darvish is not as hard-wired mentally as Jon Lester. This is a PC way of saying things.

    Lester is one example. Yu is another.

    At this point in their careers, I'd take Darvish's stuff over Jon's, no question.

    And if you want to select anyone from this staff to start a must-win game other than Jon Lester, well, I'm a Cubs fan too.

    Call him old. I'll call him trustworthy. Let's fight.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Hendricks seems to have done well in those situations in the playoffs.

  • In reply to stix:

    What I've noticed is Hendricks and Lester both refer to one another as the "ace" of the staff. If that works for them, it's cool with me. Because my opinion should affect their relationship and performance.

  • I am likely in the minority here, but I'd rather have Chatwood pitching than Darvish. After watching him last year and each start this year, I believe his days of being a TOR pitcher are done. He now seems to be the guy who may flash some stuff and get you a good (to very) start now and then, but he'll be above 4.00 ERA the rest of his career, which I also predict won't even last the length of his contract with the Cubs.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Yu's stuff is TOR. the command isnt.
    I think we will need two starters next year, I think Thomas Hatch could be one of those two.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Chatwood also has amazing stuff...........control matters. Darvish also lacks the "stones" in my honest opinion. If he had Rizzo's mental make up, he'd be a TOR pitcher.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Let’s see what a week from now does....I was thinking earlier that snow may have been a good thing so Chatwood gets skipped and maybe helps us......of course that was counting on Darvish getting it done too.....I agree with you alot though on him.....but we haven’t seen what he does with good health, which now, he still has. 4/22 will the snow out prove to be good or bad.....

  • And I've also been very specific about the flaws I've seen by that dude. #42 didn't throw that ball hard enough, and I saw him not run out a play, and...

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    ...splitter ain’t workin to well tonight for Sutter either

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    You got me there. I forgot about Sutt.

  • Come on boys, 3 runs is not going to win this game. Richards has settled in but I know there is at least one more run in you gents !!!

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Good call on getting to Richards early boy has he flipped his outing around

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Let's make this a laugher please !!!

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    From our point of view we should at least win this series because of how bad Miami is, but we have only one more win than they do so they’re probably saying the same thing.

  • Did you see that hustle from #42? THAT is how you play the game !!

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    My apologies you didn’t get the bonus fantasy pts for a quality start lol always irritating to be one out away. I thought it was a clear step forward though the velocity that’s been touched on was really good all night. Could do without the walks he needs to get that command more on track but he should’ve only given up a run if javy doesn’t throw that ball away. It’s one game against the marlins but no pitcher likes to look at their W-L record and see a 0 under the win column. Hopefully the pen holds this lead and he can at least have a positive start to build off of

  • How's that for a review?

    Go Cubs!

  • Joe is at it again. Why did he take out Darvish?

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Because he is on the last year of his contract. He is secretly being paid by an innamed competitor. My.guess is Milwaukee.

  • A ricochet off the cup and gets the ump in the ya don’t see that everday :)

    and Darvish makes it into the 6th inning! We got this!

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    That did look painful. As bad as #42 has been, even I wouldn't have expected that.


  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    which #42?

  • Seriously, I'm happy. We're up 6-2 in the 7th. Why am I worried?

    We just walked another dude. Why am I worried.

  • I'm getting mad at this point. Throw strikes, #42.

  • Shawon Dunston just looked at Javy and said "Dude.".

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    y'all don't get that.

  • Does Steve cishek have a rubber arm? Seriously has joe not learned from last year when he tired like crazy down the stretch? Up 4 against a rebuilding team the game certainly isn’t over but in my eyes using him for almost 2 innings given the context of this game is very unnecessary. Been a good game no reason to render the teams best reliever as unavailable for the rest of the series

  • We should be able to protect a 7-2 lead in the 9th. I have total faith in #42.

    Go Cubs!

  • Gin n Lemon juice & club soda is pitching. Oh wait that’s his brother.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Doesn't matter.

    #42 gonna get it done.

  • I told you! W! #42 was the hero!

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