Notes at the beginning of a six-game homestand:
- The Cubs on Sunday recorded their eighth shutout of the season, tied for the most in the majors with the Pirates, and already matching the team total from all of 2017. The Cubs last had more shutouts in 2016, when they tied for the major league lead (with the Dodgers) with 15 blankings. The most shutouts any Cubs team has had since the Deadball Era is 18, in 1969 and 1972.
- Willson Contreras leads the majors having caught 422 innings and making 46 starts behind the plate thus far. He leads all big league catchers with 449 total chances and leads all N.L. catchers with 33 assists.
- Cubs starting pitchers went 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA (9 ER/41 IP) on the just-completed trip, including seven shutout innings from Jon Lester on Sunday. The starters on the trip walked 11, struck out 32 and held opponents to a .190 batting average (28-for-147).
- The Cubs bullpen owns a 2.59 season ERA (61 ER/212 IP). That ranks second among major league bullpens behind the Diamondbacks (2.56). Cubs relievers have posted a .200 opponent batting average (152-for-759) and a .589 opponent OPS, both the best marks in the majors.
- The Cubs have scored 105 runs between the seventh and ninth innings this season, second-most in the N.L. (Braves, 107) and third in the majors (Astros, 112).
- Anthony Rizzo has a 15-game on-base streak in which he is hitting .344/.446/.525 with five doubles, two home runs, 12 walks and 15 RBI.
Here are today’s particulars.
Kyle Hendricks vs. Zach Eflin
Like a lot of the Cubs pitching staff, Kyle Hendricks has stepped up his game recently. Last two starts: 2.25 ERA, 1.000 WHIP. While he is still somewhat susceptible to the home run, 11 so far this year, eight of them have been with the bases empty. Fergie Jenkins used to talk about that, and he allowed the third-most HR all-time (484). If you have to give up the long ball, at least have them be solo shots.
Kyle’s last start against the Phillies was August 26, 2017 in Philadelphia. While the Cubs were mashing out 17 runs that night, Kyle held the Phillies to two runs in seven innings, with no walks and eight strikeouts. More just like that, please.
Zach Eflin started 2018 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley and has made five starts for the Phillies. The first two were good, since then... well, he probably wouldn’t want me to tell you that in the other three starts he’s posted an 8.10 ERA and 1.800 WHIP, with three home runs served up in just 13⅓ innings.
He did better than that in his only career start vs. the Cubs, May 4, 2017 at Wrigley Field. He threw seven decent innings, allowing nine hits and three runs.
We’d rather have the more recent Eflin than that version.
Today’s game is on WGN.
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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.