Cubs @ Brewers Series Preview: (9/5-9/8)

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The Cubs took care of business against a very bad Mariners team to complete a winning 3-2 homestand. The return of Willson Contreras and Ben Zobrist gave Chicago a real shot in the arm, as did the subpar Seattle pitching.

Those wins provided a brief rest bit before the North Siders jump right back into the divisional race with four games in Milwaukee. After taking two of three at Wrigley, the Brewers split a pair of games with the Astros and sit four games back of the Cubs.

Christian Yelich is still the driving force on the offense, but the loss of Keston Hiura to a hamstring injury is a big blow. Mike Moustakas has only made one start since August 26 as he battles a wrist injury. Eric Thames has been the hottest hitter for the Crew, the burly first baseman has hit .417 the last seven games.

Manager Craig Counsell is managing in full playoff mode as his team scraps to stay in the race. He pulled his starters in the 3rd and 4th innings against Chicago last series. So expect quick hooks again in this series. The Brewers bullpen has struggled this year, but they were effective last weekend.

This is a huge series for the Cubs, for one thing they need to stay in touch with the red-hot Cardinals. Probably more importantly, they have a chance to bury Milwaukee. The Brew Crew have been a thorn in their side for over two years. A winning series puts them six games back with less than a month to go. It won’t be easy, it would be very satisfying though.

Watch/Listen

Thursday: 6:10 PM CT on MLB Network/NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Friday: 7:10 PM CT on NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

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

Sunday: 1:10 PM CT on NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Lineups

Cubs

1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Javier Baez (R) SS
6. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
8. Jason Heyward (L) CF
9. Jose Quintana (R) P

Brewers

1. Lorenzo Cain (R) CF
2. Yasmani Grandal (S) 1B
4. Ryan Braun (R) LF
5. Manny Pina (R) C
6. Hernan Perez (R) 3B
7. Orlando Arcia (R) SS

Bullpen Usage

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Lineups and Bullpen Usage via Baseball Press.

Opposing pitchers

Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.

Chase Anderson: Chase Anderson has thrown 14,082 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2013 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and Spring Training. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (93mph) and Change using a Circle Change grip (83mph), also mixing in a Cutter (91mph), Curve (78mph) and Sinker (93mph).

His fourseam fastball generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, has essentially average velo and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers. His change has an obvious armside fade, has a lot of backspin and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ changeups. His cutter has good “rise” and has slightly above average velo. His curve generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ curves, has a sharp downward bite and has primarily 12-6 movement. His sinker has little sinking action compared to a true sinker, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers and has slightly above average velo.

Sean’s Note: Anderson is an extreme fly ball pitcher with just a 36% ground ball rate. That has lead to a predictable 20 homers allowed in 115 innings. Right handed hitters crush Anderson hitting .301 with 14 homers. Nicholas Castellanos tagged him for two homers in a win on Friday.

Zach Davies: Zach Davies has thrown 9,674 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2014 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason, Spring Training and Fall/Winter Ball. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Sinker (89mph) and Change (80mph), also mixing in a Cutter (87mph). He also rarely throws a Curve (76mph) and Slider (81mph).

His sinker has below average velo, has little sinking action compared to a true sinker, results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers and has slight armside run. His change has below average velo and has slight armside fade. His cutter is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ cutters, has surprisingly little cutting action, has good “rise” and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ cutters. His curve is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers’ curves and has slightly below average velo. 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 below average velo and has some two-plane movement.

Sean’s Note: Davies was having a huge year, but has struggled of late. He doesn’t strike out many hitters and his walk rate is slightly above average. His FIP is a full run above his ERA so he has gotten a lot of help from his defense. He held the Cubs off the board in an abbreviated (4.2 IP) start on Saturday.

Gio Gonzalez: Gio Gonzalez has thrown 32,673 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, The World Baseball Classic and Spring Training. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Change (83mph), Fourseam Fastball (90mph) and Sinker (89mph), also mixing in a Curve (76mph).

His change generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ changeups, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ changeups and has some natural sink to it. His fourseam fastball generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers and has slightly below average velo. His sinker results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers. His curve has an exceptional bite, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers’ curves and has slight glove-side movement.

Sean’s Note: The Cubs inability to hit Gonzalez continued last Sunday, although he only pitched three innings. Right handed hitters fare much better against him than left handed batters. Walks are a big problem, he walked four in his three innings at Wrigley. Non Cubs hitters scored 13 runs against him in the 13.2 innings pitched before Sunday.

Adrian Houser: Adrian Houser has thrown 1,963 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2015 and 2019, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, Spring Training and Fall/Winter Ball. In 2019, he has relied primarily on his Sinker (95mph) and Fourseam Fastball (95mph), also mixing in a Curve (81mph), Slider (88mph) and Change (86mph).

His sinker is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, has well above average velo and has some natural sinking action. His fourseam fastball generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers’ fourseamers, has slightly above average velo and has slightly less natural movement than typical. His curve has an exceptional bite, has primarily 12-6 movement, generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers’ curves and is slightly harder than usual. His slider is thrown extremely hard, has less than expected depth and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ sliders. His change is slightly firmer than usual and has some natural sink to it.

Sean’s Note: Houser moved from the bullpen to the rotation where he has been much better. He strikes out an above average 24.4% of opposing batters. His big weapon is his sinker, he has an impressive 54% ground ball rate. Lefties hit for a higher average and slugging against him than right handed hitters. Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber took him deep in a Cubs win in early August.

 

Comments

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  • First time in ages with this lineup tonight.....

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    I just heard that Kimbrel is on the IL with elbow inflammation. This hurts.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    stropy

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    The whole year it’s seemed like whenever guys come back and we seem to be getting healthy, someone else goes down.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Why put him on IL? Just don’t pitch him until he’s healthy. This way they guarantee 10 day unavailability.

  • In reply to stix:

    Is it possible they used the IL move to activate Bote?

  • In reply to stix:

    Just saw they did activate Bote

  • In reply to stix:

    Ding, ding, ding.

    Nice catch.

  • those damn cardinals are insane right now.

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    In reply to bleachercreature:

    This is like 1969 when the Mets just took off in September. We’re standing still and they’re coming out of the turn passing the Cubs with a woosssh.

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    We have won 11 of the last 16. So not exactly standing still. The Cards are just that hot.

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    In reply to John Winter:

    I know--did you see that they won 10-0 today?

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Well, it was against the Giants who are fading fast.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    21-6 not a streak that’s easy to keep up with.

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    Well so much for the good lineup. Javy got scratched with his sore thumb again. Also Kimbrel to the IL, had a clean MRI but some elbow inflammation.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    Ok.......how about we just play screw the closer for awhile!

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Combined score: Chicago 40, Wisconsin 3.

    The Bears win 14-3, so do the math.

    Da Cubs!

  • In the past two games Contreras has surpassed the offensive output of Bryant and hey-hey combined this month.

  • We really can use a power hitting third baseman. They are running out of body parts to blame for his suckage.

  • He has been drilled in the forehead, torn his shoulder, jammed his wrist, and tweaked his knee in the past two years. There are a few body parts, and apparently excuses, left.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Javy's a wimp, too. He acts like not being able to hold a bat or close your glove is a valid excuse for not playing in a ML baseball game.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Andre Dawson was beaned, ten years older with two knees shredded from turf with 1980’s medicine and he was killing it!

  • In reply to Squareburgers:

    Andre was tough and KB isn't? Is that your point?

    I hate seeing talented players hindered by injury and not able to play to their potential. But I understand it happens and is part of the game, and I think it is short-sighted or worse to assume they just suck to fit a narrative.

    KB is a power-hitting 3B, perhaps the best in baseball, when healthy. He hasn't been healthy for two years. That sucks.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I’m not talking about toughness, I don’t want to hear excuses. If you’re hurt and hurting the team like he has been then go on the IL, I don’t mind. But he is swinging and missing an awful lot, and I cannot accept he’s swinging and missing more on the slider outside because his shoulder is dinged up but healthy enough to play everyday.

  • Q’s pace is slower than molasses with men on base. Doubt his fielders appreciate the pace.

  • Good thing Willson is hitting in Javy’s spot. Must be something that rubs off.

  • Willson himself said he needed 7-10 games at Iowa to get his timing back. He played parts of 3 games.

    I guess he has his timing back.

  • Russell just said "whew!".

  • Lead-off walk, again.

    We score.

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    That’s what a lead off man does!

  • Watch this, KB haters.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Someone just hacked my account. I didn't make that last comment.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    What I wrote was "Watch this, Rizzo haters."

    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

  • Time for Heyward to sit. Almora can’t do worse offensively than Heyward has been the last week or so.

  • In reply to stix:

    The last week or so? How about the last 19 games. Slash line of .106/.244/.182 wOBA .207 wRC+ 22. One home run One RBI.

  • I don't know the unwritten rules regarding starting a veteran in a slump, but I sure would like to Almora get a start on CF. He could use it and JHey could use a breather. It's just brutal.

  • Hey-hey was mesmerized by the Claudio “swim” move. Missed that by a good foot. With an extended bench there is no reason to put hayride up there. That was game if cubs get a hit there and extend inning. Madden is a toolbox.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    Someday you’ll stop beating on the exfootball coach/announcer and ride the cub manager. But I do agree as I said above its time for extended bench time and let Almora give it a run.

  • Zo on to lead off the inning, again.

    Let's score, again.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    What a difference a good lead off hitter makes! Theo needs to take note, he just doesn’t seem to make it a priority

  • In reply to Squareburgers:

    I heard Theo begrudgingly admit about a month ago, and Hoyer a few days ago, that we may actually need a legitimate leadoff man. They've said since Dex left that is a luxury, not a necessity, but seeing our putrid performance out of that spot the last couple seasons they are apparently changing their minds.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I thought the Cubs led the league in 2018 for OBP from the leadoff spot?

  • In reply to stix:

    Thats wonderful to hear Barley! It makes you wonder tho, was it all that number crunching that initially told them lead off was an overrated spot, and if so how much trust can we put into numbers alone?

  • In reply to Squareburgers:

    One of the problems with numbers is how you decipher them. It is absolutely true that the numbers show that leadoff isn’t that important provided you play a guy whose numbers match certain criteria including OBP, wOBA and wRC+. On the flip side numbers also show that you can’t necessarily take a guy batting 6th and assume he’ll put up the same numbers hitting 1st. The Cubs have made this mistake multiple times whether that is Joe or Jed making that error (I think people forget that they both collaborate on the lineup) it’s been made often most recently with Heyward which is a shame considering how well he had been doing. Some guys love leading off, Mookie Betts is a good example, others do not. The Cubs need to learn that lesson.

  • Let's put this game away, right now.

    I'm tired of the drama.

  • Thank you, Yelich!

  • Bam Bam!

  • "With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound.
    He pulls the spitting high-tension wires down."

    Kyle "Godzilla" Schwarber!

  • Schwarber outscores the Bears with 1 swing

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    And for that hit, he’s replaced in LF.

  • In reply to stix:

    That's the Maddon-ing Way.

  • In reply to stix:

    I cannot believe Joe moved guys around. We have an extended bench. No need to replace guys in the 6th. 9 runs might not win this game. Seriously over-managing this one.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    Boy do the Bears look bad. Or rather, game plan, management and offense.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Maybe playing in the exhibition games might have helped their consistency and execution.

  • In reply to stix:

    Horrible decision

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Nagy has had a terrible play calling night.

    Two 3rd and 1’s and we had awful play calls.

  • There is proof these guys do not need the "launch angle". Just go straight to the ball and make contact. SWEET!

  • Cubs ain’t trading that kid from Ohio this winter.,,,,

  • Even the blind squirrel gets a seeing eye single!!!

  • Phelps got squeezed.

  • Screw the closer we are going 13 over!

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Little too early to celebrate, isn’t it? Good positive attitude but let’s be realistic.

  • Trubisky looked terrible tonight.

  • In reply to stix:

    No other way to slice it now granted the packers invested almost $140 million and 2 1st round picks on defensive players, but I've been saying all offseason that bears fans are giving Mitchell way more credit then he deserves. We all see what happens when opposing defenses make him actually play QB by taking away his running lanes. I would talk about the cubs but I didn't watch much of the game other then the cubs 5 run inning.

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