Cubs vs. Pirates: Series Preview (4/8-4/11)

Aug 18, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view of Wrigley Field during the first inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Toronto Blue Jays. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs limp home after a 2-7 season-opening road trip. The pitching struggled mightily, obscuring several double-digit outbursts from the offense. Starting the season with a long road stretch against three teams, two of which were 2018 playoff teams, is not an easy task. That being said, only two wins is not what you expect from what purports to be a playoff caliber team.

The Cubs home schedule begins with three games in four days against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates are off to a 5-3 start thanks to a 5-1 record against the 1-8 Reds (see could be worse everyone). The story for the Bucs has been pitching, a 2.76 team ERA through eight games. The offense hasn’t been as good with a .249 average and just 6 homers.

If you are looking for a positive angle on the Cubs season it’s this, they need to get back home to get things going. Starting the year on a grueling road swing is hardly easy. Now they will have to make up for their slow start the next ten games.

The calendar does get lighter, with match-ups against the Angels and Marlins after the Pirates. The problem of course, is those games aren’t played on paper, the Cubs need to start playing better to take advantage. They’ve dug themselves a hole, let’s see if they can start climbing back out of it.

Watch/Listen

Monday: 1:20 PM CT on MLB Network/ABC7/670AM

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

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

Lineups

Pirates

1. Adam Frazier (L) 2B
2. Starling Marte (R) CF
4. Josh Bell (S) 1B
5. Jung Ho Kang (R) 3B
6. Melky Cabrera (S) RF
7. Pablo Reyes (R) LF
8. Kevin Newman (R) SS

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. Jon Lester (L) P

Bullpen Usage

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Lineups and Bullpen Usage via Baseball Press.

Opposing pitchers

Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.

Jameson Taillon: Jameson Taillon has thrown 6,898 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2012 and 2019, all of them occuring in the MLB Regular Season. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Slider (90mph), Fourseam Fastball (95mph) and Sinker (95mph), also mixing in a Curve (82mph) and Change (89mph).

His slider is thrown extremely hard, generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ sliders, has less than expected depth and results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sliders. His fourseam fastball generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, is straight as an arrow, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, has some natural sinking action and has slightly above average velo. His sinker has surprisingly little armside run, has well above average velo and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers. His curve is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ curves, is much harder than usual, has a sharp downward bite and has slight glove-side movement. His change is thrown extremely hard, generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ changeups and results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ changeups.

Sean’s Note: Taillon is carrying his good 2018 over to 2019 so far. He has allowed five runs in 13 innings across two starts. He throws hard, but his strikeout rate has been declining every year. Left handed hitters are much more effective against him than same side right handed hitters.

Jordan Lyles: Jordan Lyles has thrown 13,292 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2010 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and Spring Training. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Curve using a Knuckle Curve grip (81mph) and Fourseam Fastball (93mph), also mixing in a Sinker (93mph) and Change (85mph). He also rarely throws a Slider (88mph).

His curve has primarily 12-6 movement, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ curves, has a sharp downward bite and is slightly harder than usual. His fourseam fastball generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers and has essentially average velo. His sinker is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers’ sinkers and has little sinking action compared to a true sinker. His change generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ changeups, is slightly firmer than usual, has slight armside fade and has some natural sink to it. His slider is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ sliders, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers’ sliders, has much less depth than expected, is much harder than usual and has primarily 12-6 movement.

Sean’s Note: Lyles has bounced around splitting time between the Padres and Brewers in 2018. He hasn’t been a starting pitcher since 2015. He is a total reverse split pitcher, in 87 innings last year, right handed batters hit .296 against him while lefties hit .180. I don’t think I’ve seen a right handed pitcher with numbers like that.

Joe Musgrove: Joe Musgrove has thrown 4,618 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 (91mph) and Slider (83mph), also mixing in a Change (85mph), Sinker (91mph) and Curve (82mph). He also rarely throws a Cutter (86mph).

His fourseam fastball is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, has much less armside movement than typical, has some natural sinking action and has slightly below average velo. His slider generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ sliders, sweeps across the zone, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers’ sliders and has some two-plane movement. His change has surprising cut action, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ changeups and has some natural sink to it. His sinker generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, has surprisingly little armside run and has some natural sinking action. His curve is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ curves, is much harder than usual, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ curves and has a sharp downward bite. His cutter is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ cutters, has extreme cut action, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers’ cutters, has slightly below average velo and has some natural sink.

Sean’s Note: Musgrove was solid in his first season in Pittsburgh, after being part of the Gerrit Cole trade. His walk rate is among the best in baseball just 4% last season. So far he hasn’t allowed a run in 9.0 innings pitched in 2019. Left handed hitters fare much better against him than righties.

 

 

Filed under: Series Preview

Comments

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  • Thanks, Sean, for the effort and for mentioning a point I wanted to make: we're not in last place!

    In case anyone missed the comment I just made in dabs' recap, please keep Auburn gymnast Samantha Cerio in your thoughts, or prayers, or whatever you do. She seems like a great girl who can certainly use the positive vibes.

    I'm trying to remember a home opener with better weather. Hopefully the heat is alive in our bats and Lester offers a long, cool, easy breeze to keep the heat off the pen.

    Go Cubs!

  • Time to turn it around. Start now, a game at a time & see what happens in a couple weeks. Maybe we’ll forget all about the bad start. And Go Cubs!

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    BP, I just saw what happened to her and I agree--she needs all the support she can get. These athletes, in any sport, are just one small mistake to have their lives changed. I hope she can make a complete recovery.
    Today--a wonderful day and the Cubs are home and a win would help so much. I think they're going to hit today. Why not be positive?
    Go Cubs!!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Her story hit me hard. Hopefully she can live a normal life, she has so much going for her.

    Life can change in a moment's notice. She was doing what she loved, had done a thousand times before, and it all changed in an instant. I lost my big brother, my best friend, in an instant. He was doing what he loved, had done a thousand times before, and his life ended in a moment. We joked about who was making dinner, and one minute later he was gone. I guess that's why Samantha's plight is hitting me so hard.

    Sorry for the sob story. Go Cubs!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I didn't know about your brother, and I'm sorry for your great loss. The Samantha Cerio video is, to say the least, difficult to watch. I hoping for the best for that young lady.

  • Big Jon. For all the grief many, including myself, have given Theo on his lackluster record with big-ticket free agents, Lester has to go down as the best high-dollar FA signing in Cubs history.

  • Big Jon. Big, big Jon.

  • Lester has become a decent hitter for a pitcher.Especially since his 1st days in the nl

  • In reply to bolla:

    He has come a long way. He was horrible. Good point.

    It looks like we're playing a little-league team in a Pirates uniform, and with the way this season has started, I feel no shame.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Honestly tells you all you need to know about Lester’s drive and will to constantly improve. Most guys aren’t like that after getting paid Lester is one of a kind hope he’s alright because this team can’t lose him for a month or 2 even in my eyes although I think he just tweaked something sliding twice

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Yea I feel somewhat confident lester can lay down the bunt(he's a very good bunter)or at least put the bat on the ball(sac fly, groundout to advance the runners) in necessary situations.

    Hope he's not out long because he's been the only good starter so far.I can't wait til they bring the dh to the nl

  • Now that is El Mago.

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    Wrigley Field’s mago! This inning reminds me of the 1962 Mets. Anything that could go wrong did go wrong.
    I hope that Taillon is alright—that exit velocity must be pretty high and it was a line drive. How does the human skull not break after being hit like that.
    My condolences about your brother BP. I’ve learned to never take anything for granted. Right now, watching the Cubs, I feel great. I don’t know what’s going to happen next hour, but I don’t just assume that I’ll be ok, or my family is for that matter.
    Now I hope big Jon is alright.

  • That's bad on so many levels. Sure hope Lester is OK, maybe tweaked something running the bases? C'mon bullpen, need a bunch of good innings today!

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    He definitely tweaked something sliding into home. You can see the grimmace and look of concern on his face. I couldn't pinpoint anything.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    They’re saying hamstring.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Ouch! Those don't heal quickly.

  • I hope this hit gets KB out of his "rut".

  • Watching brach come in and step up with Lester’s injury just makes me question ownership more about not signing other similar types. The guy only costs 2.5 million guaranteed and I’d say he’s clearly one of the teams better relievers already. I understand Theo is responsible for asset allocation and his mistakes took the team out of the running for Bryce Harper but I felt there were other relievers that were undervalued in this market and I’m still surprised overall they didn’t replace duensing and kintzler. Really don’t think this pen is as bad as they’ve shown thus far but we all agree the bullpen definitely needed some upgrades due to their lack of depth pitching wise with the big club and the farm system

  • Didn't Greg Simmons say Schwarber's weight loss and body transformation had sapped all of his power, according to his sources in Arizona, and Kyle would be out of baseball in a matter of weeks?

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I believe he did... That was a nice opportunity shot for sure.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    **oppo** shot. Auto dang correct, I’d rather just have misspelled words than autowrong ones...

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    A rocket!!!!

    Off a LHP

    To LF

    All good things from Schwarber. Glad he made the adjustment back to his college and minor league days. He just missed Hader too. Wasn’t overmatched.

    Keep it going Big Fella!!!!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    The fact that we haven’t gotten a Greg Simmons doomsday comment yet is a bigger surprise to me then the cubs record lol. Greg’s the secret good luck charm and he needs to make his return ASAP

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    That was the point most knew Schwarbs was going to have a good year.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I have no clue who Greg Simmons is but that is a strange comment to make about Schwarber. If he is out of baseball it would be because he doesn't always make consistent contact. The body transformation happened last year and the one thing he's had throughout his career is hitting for power. He had 26 home runs last year - only 4 less than the previous year while being a better overall hitter than the year prior. Again, I have no clue who he is but his assessment is just plain goofy.

  • Your last sentence pretty much explains Mr. Simmons. Most of us thought he was a St. Louis troll but he claimed to be a Cubs fan. His stuff was so off-the-wall wacky that, sort of like a pet cockroach - we noticed when he wasn't here even though he wasn't a welcome sight when he was...

  • Somebody explain to me the rules for who would get credit for the win today concerning the pitching.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    I’d expect whoever finished the 5th inning which is in this case kintzler. I read on Twitter that Len said that brach would be in line for the win think he’s mistaken

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Those types of rules change at times. Normally the 5th inning is a marker, as you said, but in instances like this I believe it is left to the official scorekeeper's discretion. Who was "most effective". And that often leads to much debate and disagreement.

  • There really aren't any rules. If the starter doesn't go 5 innings & leaves with the lead which isn't relinquished, it's left up to the official scorers discretion. My guess, like Len, is that they'll give it to Brach

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    Well, damn. I should have read your response before I chimed in. Sorry, and thanks.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    No problem BP. I messed up and didn't hit "reply" to Wick on my response. Great to have you back!
    And sorry to hear about your loss with your brother. I can relate somewhat, as I lost my sister, who I was very close with, when I was 18.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Thanks everyone.....after hearing Kaspar I was confused too......always thought it was the 5th inning guy....

  • Two games, 11 innings, NO runs from the BP? Is it really happening?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Yep. The BP is good.

  • In reply to John57:

    I noticed that you didn't spell it out.

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