Cubs @ Reds: Series Preview (6/28-6/30)

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The Cubs just finished a 5-5 homestand against the White Sox, Mets, and Braves. In fact, each of the three ended in splits with no series wins or losses. How average have the North Siders been lately? They are 13-13 in the month of June, but remain in first place thanks to similar struggles from the Cardinals and Brewers.

The starting pitching and offense have been inconsistent all month long. Games where both are performing well have been few and far between. Craig Kimbrel‘s addition should help stabilize the bullpen. Chicago ends the month on the road with three games against a team that has given them trouble the last year and a half, the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds have played well this month to get closer to the pack in the NL Central. While not hitting for average, they are putting up some significant home run numbers. Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez are still threats and the talented Scooter Gennett is finally back from injury.

Cincinnati’s surprising pitching strength has continued with a team ERA of 3.86. Luis Castillo is still the ace of the staff and Tanner Roark has been very good in the first-half. The bullpen is solid especially Jared Hughes and Amir Garrett.

The Cubs have not played well in the Queen City of late. The Reds have been a real thorn in Chicago’s side, so this won’t be easy. I can’t tell you when they will snap out of their malaise. Could this be the series? Maybe, or maybe we’ll be asking the same question next week.

Watch/Listen

Friday: 6:10 PM CT on MLB Network/WGN/670AM

Saturday: 3:10 PM CT on ABC-7/670AM

Sunday: 12:10 PM CT on MLB Network/NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Lineups

Cubs

1. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
2. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Javier Baez (R) SS
6. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. Addison Russell (R) 2B
9. Cole Hamels (L) P
Reds
1. Nick Senzel (R) CF
2. Joey Votto (L) 1B
3. Eugenio Suarez (R) 3B
4. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
5. Jose Iglesias (R) SS
6. Scooter Gennett (L) 2B
7. Phillip Ervin (R) LF
8. Sonny Gray (R) P
9. Curt Casali (R) C
Bullpen Usage
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Lineups and Bullpen Usage via Baseball Press.

Opposing pitchers

Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.

Sonny Gray: Sonny Gray has thrown 15,892 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 Sinker (93mph), Slider (85mph) and Change (90mph). He also rarely throws a Cutter (93mph).

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 sinker generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, generates a very high amount of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, has less armside run than typical and has slightly above average velo. His slider sweeps across the zone and has exceptional depth. 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.

Sean’s Note: Gray has been better this year after leaving the Yankees for the National League. His strikeout rate is up from 21.1% to 26.7% and he is getting over 55% of his contact on the ground. He is actually giving up harder hit balls, but keeping them on the ground has reduced damage. He allowed homers to light-hitting Addison Russell and Albert Almora in a start against the Cubs in May.

Luis CastilloLuis Castillo has thrown 5,741 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 (97mph) and Change (88mph), 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 heavy sinking action, has well above average velo, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers and has slight armside run. His change generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ changeups, dives down out of the zone, is much firmer than usual and has slight armside fade. His sinker is thrown at a speed that’s borderline unfair, has an obvious tail, generates a very high amount of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ sinkers and has some natural sinking action. His slider generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ sliders, has primarily 12-6 movement and has some two-plane movement.

Sean’s Note: Castillo is still having a great year, although some regression has hit his numbers. His strikeout total is way up, but so is his walk rate at a whopping 13%. Like Gray, he is getting 55% of contact on the ground, thus the double play is his friend. He allowed two runs against the Cubs at rainy Great American Ballpark in May.

Anthony DeSclafani: Anthony DeSclafani has thrown 8,501 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2014 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, Spring Training and Fall/Winter Ball. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (95mph) and Slider (90mph), also mixing in a Curve (84mph) and Sinker (95mph). He also rarely throws a Change (89mph).

His fourseam fastball generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers and has slightly above average velo. His slider is thrown extremely hard, has much less depth than expected and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ sliders. His curve is thrown extremely hard and has primarily 12-6 movement. His sinker generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, has well above average velo and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers. His change is thrown extremely hard and generates a very high amount of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ changeups.

Sean’s Note: Unlike his teammates, DeSclafani gets very few ground balls, just 37% of contact. Home runs have been an issue with 15 allowed in 74.1 innings pitched. His 4.70 ERA is basically the same as his 4.74 FIP, so he is not particularly lucky or unlucky. The Cubs jumped all over him at Wrigley Field in May, Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo all took him deep.

Comments

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  • Not a lot of options in the BP tonight. I hope Hamels goes deep. The Cubs might need Brach for set-up guy tonight.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    If Kimbrel can’t close Brach could be the closer based on the apparent available BP pieces.

  • In reply to stix:

    And Cishek will be available. He's always available! Actually it's almost a guarantee he gets into the game unless Hamels goes at least 8. Ryan and Monte are both available...neither instill a lot of confidence.

    Let's just keep a big a cushion and try not to worry about it.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    Guess Hamels won’t go more than 1 tonight. Long night for a short BP. Hopefully Caratini can go 5 innings.

  • In reply to stix:

    Blarg.

  • Just read that Adbert will stay in the rotation and Chatwood returns to BP. Means BP will only be seven strong until early next week.

  • In reply to stix:

    Sorry, I just saw BP and seven strong. I can't help myself. It's quitting time on Friday.

    "And if I catch it coming back my way
    I'm gonna serve it to you.
    And that ain't what you want to hear
    But that's what I'll do."

    Go Cubs!

  • I think there is value in having a stable lineup, and that the lineup tonight is overall the Cubs' strongest. I'd like to see how they'd do playing this lineup at all times, allowing for rest at times. I think the negatives from poor matchups at times would be outweighed by the positives of having a set batting order and familiarity with teammates styles

  • In reply to Lildude:

    If this is their best lineup and 5 k’s in 7 AB I’d hate to see what the other lineups would do.

  • In reply to stix:

    Yup, they need to play together regularly, then they'll get in a rhythm.

  • Ahhhhhhh shit......THIS we do NOT need!

  • Hope hamels is alright. Officially time to panic I hate to say it if this is a serious injury. Rotations gotten thin in a hurry

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    Hmm, not good, Cole’s been the most consistent starter recently.

  • Lovely. I couldn't see Hamels pulling or shaking or nursing anything. Hopefully it's not serious, and Monty doesn't make much of a good impression with his first pitch. We need to score a lot of runs.

    I started to comment some dirt on Russell before that happened. This could be a coincidence, but I don't think so. From Tony Andracki on Twitter:

    The Cubs are 5-13 in Addison Russell starts since May 26 and 9-3 in that stretch when he's not in the starting lineup.

    Over the last 11 games, Cubs are 0-5 when Russell starts and 5-1 when he does not.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    His defense clearly is not enough to make him worth his spot. Not sure what Theo can do, but there do seem to be quite a few potential "change of scenery" cases: Russell, Happ, Edwards, Monte...

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    I've been a critic of Russell personally but have also advocated for him to play 2B for his defense with our contact-driven pitching staff. I'm having second thoughts now. I won't get into the whole debate, but I always scoffed when people said Russell was at SS and Javy played around because Russell was a better SS. No. Javy bounced around because he has the mental toughness to do so, and Russell doesn't. Addy needs to go. He's not a good baseball player in his current state.

    We have a couple holes in our roster that need to be filled. I think we will fill them.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I know a lot of us love defense. We said Tommy LaStella couldn't be an everyday player because his defense wouldn't hold up. The game has changed. Very few games are 1-0, 2-1. Games are 6-5. Part of me thinks that there are still too many in the game (Execs, coaches) who talk analytics but still play by the old rules.

  • Jesse Rogers reporting hamels left due to something on his left side nothing definitive. I just hope it’s a non serious lower body or side injury and that doesn’t mean his left shoulder or throwing arm

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Early indications are not an arm injury for hamels. Good starter but still not out of the woods

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Good start

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I watched a bunch of video and the only hint I got was after he recorded his final out. He was walking of the mound towards the dugout and put his hand on his left hip a couple times. He wasn't stretching or grimacing, and I honestly thought he may have just been pulling up his pants. Could be a mild oblique strain.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Yeah my uneducated doctors opinion would bank on an oblique strain. Maybe a hip injury or something like that. If that’s the case could be worse obliques are tricky, but Moreso for hitters. Hopefully he’s not out too long I felt he had an all star spot if he won this game. Others need to step up and looks like they may have found a spot for adbert

  • Defensive mental mistake by KB there and it cost us. He was spectating rather than participating in that play. We need to clean that up.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    WeNeverQuit, and neither do I, but I'm gonna fire up the grill and pour a few drinks. This may be an off night.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Honestly with how much this pen needs rest work for caratini and Descalso maybe warranted

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Javy fell asleep on that relay throw, as well.

  • In reply to John Winter:

    He did. He didn't expect the runner to go home. That was bad on his part. Never assume.

    But his back was to the play, and KB was standing at 3B, 15 feet away, doing nothing. He needs to be yelling "Home. Home. Home." Baseball 101.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Could be El Mago’s Fault as well. He nonchalanted the play after looking at the runner just before he got the throw. Probably didn’t help that Bryant apparently didn’t let him know the runner was going, but Javy should have known better to be so casual.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Could be El Mago’s Fault as well. He nonchalanted the play after looking at the runner just before he got the throw. Probably didn’t help that Bryant apparently didn’t let him know the runner was going, but Javy should have known better to be so casual.

  • In reply to stix:

    The Cubs bench is right there also. Wasn't anyone yelling to throw home???

  • In reply to stix:

    I replied elsewhere. That was a bad play by Javy, but worse on KB, IMO.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I wonder if KB is so used to Javy making plays, that he's got complacent on the baseball 101.......

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    Good observation, but I still give him the dunce cap.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    And Javy can't see the play. KB is standing on 3B watching the dude round the base going home, and said nothing. Just stood there. That play may not lose this game, but that is stuff that needs to be tightened up on a good team.

    And J-HEY!!

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    Is this Thursday 2.0?

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    That would be better than Saturday 2.0!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    You’d hope but Gray isn’t a fillin pitcher.

  • Joe treats his pitchers (including starters) like "Prima Donnas" and they still get hurt???

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Remember 4 games ago with Lester pitching (zero ERs, 80+ pitches) in a 7 to 2 game, Cubs winning and Joe pulled Lester needlessly. Sure could use a more rested BP now.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Exactly, things like BP usage are like chess; that last move isn't what caused you to lose, it was 4 moves ago............

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    If you mean 80+ pitches = 94. Sure I remember that game. It was a good time to pull Lester with 94 pitches after 6 innings.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    80+ or 94 pitches doesn't matter. Lester was even unhappy about getting pulled then. He has pitched 100+ pitches in numerous games before this one. He was pulled needlessly just like many other times Joe has pulled starters needlessly. Why?? How many of our starters have been on the IL even though Joe handles them with "kid gloves".

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    In reply to clarkAddson:

    I think Lester’s always unhappy about being pulled.

  • In reply to John Winter:

    Yep and we are always short-handed in the Bullpen.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    I agree Maddon does pull the starters early way too much. I have been critical of Maddon since day 1. Just didn't think that Lester game was one of those.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    If Lester pitches 100+ Pitches every game, he will be in no shape to pitch inSept/Oct. that’s why they have bullpen pitchers. They cant sit for 162 games and be effective. This isn’t the 60’s/ 70’s when pitchers went for 30 complete games a year.

  • In reply to stix:

    I am not talking about every game. I am talking about June 24, 2019 game. With due respect, your rational is ridiculous in my opinion. Whaat shape were they in last year in Oct.? They got plenty of rest didn't they? Yep, why not burn out the bullpen because that's why we have bullpen pitchers??? You really don't think that do you?

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    So then Lester pitches ONE MORE INNING and that saves this bullpen? That one inning fixes everything by your estimation.
    Sure.....

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    That's just one example of many. I didn't say it fixes everything but It helps more than it hurts. It seems some of you either can't read or just like putting words in my mouth that I didn't say. If that's all you have to say, you are better off not saying anything.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Joe also brought in Cishek to pitch the 9th with a 5 run lead, when Ryan had only thrown 4 pitches before being replaced............

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    I agree. Maddon can't help it. He is not good at managing a bullpen.

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    BP isn’t rested now because the cubs used two fill in starters who went 11 innings and left the BP 7 innings to fill, has nothing to do with Lester’s start two weeks ago.

  • In reply to stix:

    He's talking 4 days ago his last start.

  • In reply to stix:

    4 days ago. Can you read?

  • In reply to clarkAddson:

    Four days ago had nothing to do with the innings the BP Needed to fill for Alzolay and Chatwood in the last three days.

  • In reply to stix:

    Sure, if you say so.

  • One word............... SAD !!!!!!!!!!!

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    Two words: Snow angels.

    I don't let one game get me down. It's all about how we get to October, and how we're playing when, or if, we get there.

  • I literally poured a drink and went out to load the grill. I came back in and the first words I heard out of Len's mouth were "Almora and Russell also due up this inning".

    Now I need another drink.

  • Unless the cubs rally, Looks like Caratini will only need to pitch the 8th today and the BP will only have 4 pitchers available tomorrow.. Q needs to pitch a GREAT game tomorrow.

  • Nice job by Brach tonight. To bad Montgomery could not hold his end. Montgomery's ERA is now over 6.00. I know he is the Cubs all time game 7 of world series saves leader but, he's been bad this year.

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    On the positive side, Heyward continues his strong June.

  • I have to give Addy props. He respected 270'.

    Go Cubs!

  • Descalso on deck. He is Maddons favorite pinch hitter.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Oops my mistake. Never mind.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I believed you and went and looked and saw that Ryan had batted for himself, prayerfully things are looking up.......

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    Thank you for praying for a victory.

  • Well that sucked.

  • Just more of the same.

  • Left oblique injury Hamels to IL

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    We were kind of behind the 8 ball once Cole left after an inning. I don’t know the statistics on that, but I’m guessing teams usually lose in that situation. Not that it makes it less frustrating, and the bats certainly need to do better, but also a bad break, I guess.

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