There are some good things to be found in the Cubs' 13-12 record if we break it down.
The Cubs are 2-11 when trailing entering the ninth inning. Most teams don't win two games all year in situations like that. Last year the Cubs came from behind to win eight times when trailing entering the ninth.
The Cubs are 8-4 when they score first. You will, no doubt, recall that they have been spotting teams early leads. So, getting out in front early would be helpful.
Despite Justin Grimm allowing three runs in relief Monday night, the Cubs bullpen still has a 1.83 ERA over the last 12 games (nine earned runs in 44⅓ innings).
Feel better now? (Even a little?)
Lastly, I'm putting this radar loop GIF here in the hope that maybe looking at it enough will mean it won't rain. (Yes, I know that doesn't mean anything. Try it anyway.)
Here are today’s particulars.
Schwarber LF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist RF, Russell SS, Heyward CF, Contreras C, Lester P, Baez 2B
Hernandez 2B, Altherr LF, Herrera CF, Franco 3B, Saunders RF, Joseph 1B, Galvis SS, Rupp C, Hellickson P
Jon Lester vs. Jeremy Hellickson
Jon Lester ranks as the best Cubs starter right now, and that's not saying much, because Lester has allowed 10 earned runs in his last two starts (11⅓ total innings), including three home runs.
Hopefully his track record against the Phillies holds up. Last year he pitched twice against them and allowed just one run in 14⅓ innings, with 16 strikeouts. Current Phillies are hitting .222 (20-for-90) against Lester with two home runs (Michael Saunders, Freddy Galvis).
Also, small sample size but Lester has an 0.69 ERA in two starts at Wrigley and a 6.06 ERA in three road starts. That's one run allowed in 13 home innings, 13 runs (12 earned) in 16⅓ road innings. Not-so-small sample size: Overall since the start of 2016, Jon has a 1.62 ERA in 17 home starts covering 116⅓ innings.
Lastly, it would help if this first-inning run thing would change:
#Cubs runs allowed this season by inning— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 2, 2017
Jeremy Hellickson is off to a great start -- 1.73 ERA in five starts, 0.800 WHIP. His K rate is way down, though -- just 3.3/9 innings. He hasn't walked many either, just three in 30 innings, so the Cubs ought to look to put the ball in play against him. Hellickson did not face the Cubs last year and no current Cubs player has more than four career AB against him, so there's not much track record. Miguel Montero has homered off him in three career AB.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago.
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The 2017 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2016. Here's how it works.
You'll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).
At the same time, a StoryStream containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.
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Discuss amongst yourselves.