Thanks to the Kansas City Royals for defeating the Brewers Wednesday afternoon in Milwaukee, splitting their two-game series. That brings the Cubs to within two games of first place, pending this game’s outcome.
A note on schedules: Beginning Tuesday, the Brewers play 21 games in 20 days leading up to the All-Star break, including a doubleheader in Pittsburgh for an earlier rainout. On those same 20 days, the Cubs play just 17 games — the Cubs have three off days between now and the ASB.
That’s likely a help to the Cubs and going to be rough on the Brewers rotation and bullpen. So, from a Cubs standpoint, that schedule’s a good thing.
Other notes for tonight:
- Javier Baez yesterday slugged his 15th and 16th home runs of the season, now tops on the team, including his fourth career grand slam as well as his fourth career multi-homer game. Javy is only the second middle infielder in franchise history to reach 16 homers before the All-Star break, joining Ryne Sandberg, who had 24 homers at the break in 1990.
- Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. begins today with his season batting average at .320, fourth-best in the National League. Almora aims to become the first Cubs player to be in the top five in the league in hitting at the All-Star Break since Derrek Lee ranked fifth with a .330 mark in 2007.
- Yu Darvish is expected to throw a bullpen session in Los Angeles Thursday. After that, the Cubs will decide whether he needs another rehab start, or whether he can start against the Twins at Wrigley Field this weekend. As yet, no starters have been announced past Thursday, though it’s likely Mike Montgomery will start Friday’s game at Wrigley.
Dodgers note for tonight:
Dodger outfielder Matt Kemp will serve a one-game suspension tonight against the Cubs for his actions during the Texas Rangers vs. Los Angeles Dodgers game on June 13, 2018.— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 27, 2018
Here are today’s particulars.
Anthony Rizzo is 2-for-22 on the road trip, so this is likely a “mental break” day for him. This will be Ian Happ’s second start at first base this year. He also started there June 3 in New York.
Kyle Hendricks, RHP vs. Alex Wood, LHP
Kyle Hendricks has had a rough June: 5.40 ERA, 1.431 WHIP in four starts covering 21⅔ innings. A great deal of that WHIP comes from 13 walks in those four starts, a walk rate of 5.4 per nine innings.
His overall walk rate for this season is 2.7, which is pretty good and in line with his career norms, but with his lack of velocity, if he’s not locating and walking people, when he does throw pitches in the zone they’re going to go out of the park. Kyle has allowed 14 home runs this year in 89⅔ innings after allowing 17 all of last year in 139⅓ innings.
So really, the issue for Kyle is command and location. Get that back and he’ll succeed. He didn’t face the Dodgers last week at Wrigley, nor did he face them in the 2017 regular season. He did pitch against them in Game 3 of the 2017 NLCS, allowing three runs in five innings, but oddly enough, that one and the two times he pitched against them in the 2016 NLCS were all at Wrigley.
The only game Hendricks has thrown at Dodger Stadium was August 1, 2014, his fourth big-league start. He allowed four hits and one earned run in seven innings. Another one just like that, please.
Alex Wood did not face the Cubs last week at Wrigley, and his 2018 season hasn’t been anything like his fine 2017. Over his last five starts: 6.08 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, five home runs in 23⅔ innings.
Not too many current Cubs have faced him; current members of the Cubs roster are hitting .217 (10-for-46) against him with no home runs in regular-season competition.
Wood’s last start against the Cubs was Game 4 of the 2017 NLCS, and they hit him pretty good, three runs in 4⅔ innings, including two home runs by Javier Baez and one by Willson Contreras.
Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago Plus. It’s also on ESPN (outside the Chicago market — no blackout in Los Angeles market).
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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.