ICYMI in Cub Tracks this morning, Happy Birthday to Cubs Hall of Famer Billy Williams, who turns 81 today.
Big news of the day: Kyle Hendricks to the injured list.
Other notes for Saturday:
- PACING! Here are the Cubs’ current paces for various team totals. Home runs, 112. Pace: 263, which would break the team record (235 in 2004). Walks: 280. Pace: 657, which would just barely break the team record (656 in 2016). Runs: 359. Pace: 843, which would be the most since 2008 and second-most since 1930 (!).
- HANGING IN THERE: After starting the season 3-8 in their first 11 games, the Cubs are now 35-23 (.614) in their last 58 games starting April 11, the second-best record in the N.L. behind the Dodgers (39-18/.684).
- THERE’s SOMETHING ABOUT YU: Yu Darvish enters tonight having recorded a no-decision in each of his last eight starts, a new franchise record. Steve Trout had the previous mark of a no-decision in seven straight starts from June 13-July 19, 1986. More on Darvish below.
- HOME ISN’T WHERE THE RUNS ARE: Despite the Cubs’ 14-20 road record, they have scored more runs (189, 5.6 per game) in 34 road games than in 35 home games (170, 4.9 per game). The losing road record, then, is almost completely attributable to pitching: 3.03 ERA, 123 runs allowed in 35 home games, 4.94 ERA, 175 runs allowed in 34 road games.
- YES IT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING BUT: The Cubs record wearing road grays is 11-11. They are 3-9 in the blue alternate. Draw your own conclusions.
Here are today’s particulars.
Yu Darvish, RHP vs. Walker Buehler, RHP
Well, here we are. Yu Darvish making his first start against the Dodgers, for whom he pitched for two months in the regular season in 2017 and in the postseason. In that postseason, he was dominant over the Diamondbacks and Cubs, but famously failed in the World Series. Much has been made of that latter fact.
I’m here to tell you, though, that Darvish might have the advantage tonight. His last few starts have been solid (despite a fair number of runs scoring, some of those crossing the plate after he left the game), his velocity is good and Joe Maddon says Darvish is in a good place:
“Physically he’s been great. His last start his fastball command was the best since I’ve seen him. And his stuff is good. So he’s going to turn the corner and get a couple breaks here and there that he’s going to finish games. I don’t mean nine innings, but finish and win. And I think he’s in a good place. I like how he’s talking.”
The Dodgers are the only team Darvish has never faced. Only four current Dodgers have ever faced him, and they are 4-for-16 with seven strikeouts, a sample size that means almost nothing. Or perhaps it could give Darvish an advantage. We will find out soon.
Walker Buehler is having a solid season, and his last six starts: 1.85 ERA, 0.872 WHIP, only four walks in 39 innings.
So instead of thinking about that, I would rather you look at his start against the Cubs April 24 at Wrigley Field, when they knocked him out in the sixth inning, or his relief appearance against them June 28, 2018 at Dodger Stadium, when they pounded him for five runs in just one inning.
Hopefully, they can do that again tonight.
Today’s game is on ABC7 Chicago. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Cubs and Dodgers market territories).
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.