Notes for Saturday:
- Much has been made about the Seattle Mariners, who have gone 14-38 (!) after a 13-2 start, using 29 pitchers so far this year. The Cubs aren’t far behind. They’ve used 20, and when Craig Kimbrel joins the staff, that will make (at least) 21. It’s just the way of baseball in 2019, especially with the 10-day injured list. The IL goes back to 15 days for pitchers in 2020. That might stem this tide, a bit.
- Overall, Cubs pitcher hitting this year leaves a lot to be desired: .105/.140/.132 (12-for-114, 54 strikeouts). However, some Cubs pitchers are doing better than others.
Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Tyler Chatwood, Mike Montgomery: .244/.288/.333 (11-for-45, four doubles)
All other Cubs pitchers: 2-for-71 (.028), 34 strikeouts
(Note: the numbers don’t add up properly above because both of Chatwood’s hits have come as a pinch-hitter, and if you think that still doesn’t look right, it’s because Chatwood remained in the game to pitch after one of his PH assignments. The overall “pitcher hitting” numbers include all PA by players who are pitchers.)
- After starting the season 3-8 in their first 11 games, the Cubs are now 32-19 (.627) in their last 51 games starting April 11, the second-best record in the N.L. in that span behind the Dodgers (35-16/.686). Also, the Cubs have started 4-1 in this three-team seven-game homestand against the Angels (1-0), Rockies (2-1) and Cardinals (1-0), and are now 22-11 (.667) at Wrigley Field this season. That’s the second-best home winning percentage in the N.L. (Dodgers, 25-7/.781).
- Seventeen of the Cubs’ last 26 games have been decided by two or fewer runs, with the team going 13-13 in this 26-game stretch.
Here are today’s particulars.
Jon Lester, LHP vs. Jack Flaherty, RHP
After a bit of a rough patch in late May, Jon Lester righted the ship with an outstanding outing against the Angels Monday at Wrigley Field.
He made four starts vs. the Cardinals last year and ... wasn’t very good, posting a 5.31 ERA and 1.525 WHIP in 20⅓ innings, with five home runs allowed. Current members of the Cardinals are hitting .300 (54-for-180) against Jon with seven home runs. So... Jon’s going to have to bring his “A” game tonight.
Jon has been much better at Wrigley Field this year (1.76 ERA, two home runs in six starts, 30⅔ innings) than on the road (4.97 ERA, five home runs in five starts, 29 innings). So there’s that.
The Cubs scored two runs off Jack Flaherty in five innings in last Saturday’s rain-delayed game in St. Louis. Both the runs were solo homers: Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward. Flaherty has allowed 11 home runs this season in 64⅔ innings, which is rather a lot.
Like Friday’s opponent, Miles Mikolas, Flaherty has pitched significantly worse on the road this year than in St. Louis. Home: seven starts, 2.25 ERA, 0.850 WHIP in 40 innings. Road: five starts, 6.20 ERA, 1.622 WHIP in 24⅔ innings. He’s also worse in night games (seven starts, 4.75 ERA, nine home runs in 36 innings) than day games (five starts, 2.51 ERA, two home runs in 28⅔ innings). Hopefully that’s an advantage again for the Cubs tonight.
Today’s game is on Fox-TV (regional — coverage map). Fox announcers: Joe Buck and John Smoltz.
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.