ON THE ROAD TO CHICAGO — The Cubs bullpen has done a lot of work over the season’s first four games, in fact, more work than the starters. Cubs relievers have thrown 24 innings, while the starting staff has just 19x to its credit.
Obviously this isn’t optimal. Here’s what Joe Maddon had to say about this before Sunday’s game:
“Right now they’ve proven their mettle already,” Maddon said of the bullpen. “It’s like when do you spot them and how often can you push them, or how much can you push them? How much time do they need off? How do they react to righties or lefties? Are they throwing strikes?
“There’s no choice now. ‘Let’s go, you’ve got to do it.’ And they’ve responded well.”
So far, yes they have. But clearly, Joe and management would like to see starters go deeper into games. Hopefully, that begins this afternoon with Tyler Chatwood.
Here are today’s particulars.
Tyler Chatwood, RHP vs. Tyler Mahle, RHP
Tyler Chatwood is making his Cubs debut this afternoon. His last start against the Reds was July 6, 2017 at Colorado. He threw six innings, gave up eight hits and no walks, and three earned runs. The way things have gone for Cubs starters this year, that would be an improvement.
Reds hitters are a small sample size 16-for-39 (.410!) against Chatwood, with eight walks. Only five of those hits are extra-base hits, and none are home runs. The explanation for that is “Coors Field,” as only one of Chatwood’s four career starts vs. the Reds has been in Cincinnati, and that one was nearly five years ago.
Tyler Mahle is making his fifth major-league start today, and making it a Tyler vs. Tyler matchup. The other four were late last summer, in August and September, and he did reasonably well (2.70 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 4.01 FIP). Two of the four starts were really good, the other two mediocre. Last year, he posted a 2.06 ERA and 0.963 WHIP in 24 starts split between Double-A and Triple-A, and he has a career 1.9/nine innings walk rate in 105 minor-league outings (99 starts). Thus the Cubs should expect him to be around the strike zone; aggressive hitting will probably be preached tonight.
Mahle has obviously never faced the Cubs or anyone on the current roster.
Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Chicago and Cincinnati markets).
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The 2018 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2017. 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.
You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in the game's StoryStream as noted above.
The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.
Discuss amongst yourselves.