- HOMECOMING: Tonight’s starters, Cole Hamels and Aaron Nola, rank second and tied for 14th in starts among pitchers who have started games for the Phillies in the divisional play era (1969 to date). Nola breaks that 14th-place tie tonight. More on Hamels and Nola below.
- HERE’S THE CRUX OF THE PROBLEM: Last night’s loss gives the Cubs a 24-32 (.429) record in games decided by two or fewer runs, including a 7-21 (.250) mark on the road. The Cubs’ 56 games decided by two or fewer runs are eighth-most in the majors, and its .429 winning percentage in those games ranks 24th in MLB.
- THE NEW GUY: Nicholas Castellanos has hit safely in 11 of his first 12 games as a Cub, batting .380/.415/.800 (19-for-50) with six doubles, five homers and seven RBI. According to STATS, Inc., Castellanos is the seventh player since 1913 to hit at least five homers in his first 12 games as a Cub, and the first since Shane Andrews did so in September of 1999. Lastly, Castellanos is the first player since at least 1913 to accrue at least 11 extra-base hits in his first 12 games as a Cub.
- EVERYONE DIGS THE LONG BALL: The Cubs have homered in 11 straight games dating to August 2, with 21 homers in that span. It’s the team’s second-longest home run streak this season. The season high is 15 games from April 23 to May 9 (30 homers). This is the first time the team has had multiple consecutive homer streaks of at least 11 games in the same season since 2002, when the team homered in 15 straight games, July 21 to August 6, after a 13-game run from June 16-30. And, the Cubs have hit 187 home runs so far in 2019. They need 49 home runs in the final 43 games of 2019 to break the franchise record of 235, set in 2004. They are currently on pace to hit 68 more homers this year.
Here are today’s particulars.
Not good news about Jason Heyward, who was originally in the lineup for tonight. Also:
Tony Kemp will be the 10th different leadoff hitter for the #Cubs this season, joining Schwarber, Heyward, Zobrist, Almora, Descalso, García, Báez, Rizzo & Contreras— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) August 14, 2019
Cole Hamels, LHP vs. Aaron Nola, RHP
This is Cole Hamels’ first-ever start as a visiting player at the park he called home for nine and a half seasons.
No doubt, there will be some emotions and feelings going through him as he starts, but Hamels appears to be the kind of professional who can put those away and just pitch.
He’s had one good outing and one mediocre one since returning from the injured list with an oblique strain. The off day Monday, which means he’s going on five days’ rest, ought to be beneficial to him.
He didn’t throw very well against the Phillies May 22 at Wrigley Field, throwing 99 pitches in just four innings and allowing nine hits, but just three runs. The Cubs definitely need him to be better than that tonight. At least two of the Phillies who played that night won’t be in tonight’s game (Andrew McCutchen, injured list, and Maikel Franco, in the minors).
Aaron Nola finished third in Cy Young voting in the N.L. in 2018 and appeared to be a budding star.
This year began rough for him, though lately he’s been quite a bit better. Last 10 starts: 2.17 ERA, 1.025 WHIP, 76 strikeouts in 66⅓ innings.
The Cubs hit him pretty well May 23 in Wrigley Field: four hits, four walks, three runs in 5⅓ innings. Current Cubs are hitting .279 (17-for-61) against him with three home runs, two by Anthony Rizzo.
Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago. It’s also on ESPN. The ESPN broadcast will be available nationally except in the Cubs market territory. ESPN announcers: Jon Sciambi, Eduardo Perez and Rick Sutcliffe.
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.