Notes for Friday:
- The Cubs are facing a lefthanded starter for the second straight night in former Cub Rich Hill (more on Hill below). Going into tonight’s game, the Cubs have faced only 12 lefthanded starters this year, tied for the fewest in the N.L. with the Padres and Cardinals. The Cubs have a 7-5 record vs. LH starters this year, one of only five N.L teams with a winning record vs. lefthanded starting pitchers.
- Kyle Schwarber has a .589 slugging percentage and an .917 OPS in 27 games out of the leadoff spot this season. Among N.L. leadoff hitters, he ranks third in the league in OPS and slugging (minimum 100 plate appearances). And, he ranks fifth with an average of 4.18 pitches per plate appearance, second with an average of one home run per 10.7 at-bats and first with an average of one RBI per 4.86 at-bats.
- Anthony Rizzo (17 homers), Javier Baez (17 homers) and Schwarber (15 homers) join the Dodgers and Brewers as N.L. clubs with three players with at least 15 home runs so far this season. The Cubs haven’t had three players reach 15 homers prior to the All-Star break since 2008, when they had four: Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto, Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano.
- Cubs starting pitchers have posted a 2.93 ERA (31 earned runs in 95⅓ innings) in the team’s last 15 games, holding opponents to a .217 average (74-for-341) and a .616 OPS.
Here are today’s particulars.
Kyle Hendricks, RHP vs. Rich Hill, LHP
Kyle Hendricks, last seven starts: 2.39 ERA, 0.886 WHIP, six walks and 47 strikeouts in 49⅔ innings. As he has been in most of the Cubs’ recent postseason years, he’s become one of the team’s most reliable starters.
They’ll need him to do that tonight, and they’ll certainly need him to be better than he was in his last start at Dodger Stadium, June 27, 2018. Trust me on this one, you do not want to look at that boxscore link.
Current Dodgers are a small sample size 11-for-35 against Kyle with three home runs (Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, Justin Turner). Let’s hope Kyle’s changeup is working tonight.
Rich Hill deserves a lot of credit for battling through injuries to have a pretty good big-league career and to still be successful at age 39. It’s always fun to note, when Hill faces the Cubs, that one of his teammates his rookie year (2005) with the Cubs was Mike Remlinger, who is 53 years old and made his MLB debut in 1991.
Hill has been very good this year. He has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his eight starts, and the last time he faced the Cubs, June 19, 2018 at Wrigley Field, he threw six shutout innings. (The Cubs won that game in extra innings.) Current Cubs are a small sample size 3-for-22 against him and no Cub has more than three at-bats against him. That game, and a brief relief appearance in 2011, are the only regular-season games Hill has ever pitched against the Cubs. He also had solid outings against the Cubs in Game 3 of the 2016 NLCS and Game 2 of the 2017 NLCS.
Clearly, we are doomed.
Today’s game is on WGN. This game is also being carried by streaming service ESPN+ — sign up for ESPN+ here. ESPN+ games are blacked out in the participating teams’ home markets.
SB Nation game preview
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The 2019 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used in previous years. 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.