Roster move that happened shortly before this preview posted and so does not get a separate post:
James Norwood called up for Alec Mills who pitched a quality outing in relief last night— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 15, 2019
- THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME: On July 31, the Cubs and Cardinals were tied for the N.L. Central lead with the Brewers one game behind. Entering today’s action, the Cubs and Cardinals are tied for the N.L. Central lead with the Brewers 1½ games behind. Records this month: Cubs 7-6, Cardinals 6-5, Brewers 6-6.
- DON’T WALK THIS WAY: Yu Darvish has allowed two or fewer walks in a career-high 11 straight outings dating to June 10. In this 11-start stretch, he’s struck out 80 batters, walked seven, held opponents to a .201 average (49-for-244) and a .651 OPS, and has recorded an 0.853 WHIP. More on Darvish below.
- MORE PITCHING: Cubs starting pitchers this season have struck out 656 batters while walking just 197, and their 3.33 strikeout to walk ratio is fourth-best among N.L. starting pitchers behind the Dodgers (5.01), Nationals (3.49) and Mets (3.41).
- HEY HEY! The Cubs this season have hit 188 home runs, fourth-most in the N.L. behind the Dodgers (207), Braves (191) and Brewers (190).
- HOLY COW, KB! Kris Bryant Wednesday night hit his 24th homer of the season. His next homer will put him at the 25-homer mark for the fourth time in his career, accomplished previously by just two Cubs third basemen: Ron Santo (eight times) and Aramis Ramirez (seven times).
Here are today’s particulars.
Scratch any complaints about Albert Almora Jr. leading off. This is a much better lineup.
Yu Darvish, RHP vs. Drew Smyly, LHP
Yu Darvish, last six starts: 2.83 ERA, 0.771 WHIP, 47 strikeouts in 35 innings. No, that is not a misprint. It really does seem like Darvish is on the right track, even after a three-homer outing against the Reds his last time out. That start was pretty good — four hits allowed, nine strikeouts, no walks. He’s walked just two in those 35 innings.
Darvish had a decent outing against the Phillies May 20 at Wrigley Field: six innings, four hits, three runs, seven strikeouts. The only career start he’s made at Citizens Bank Park came September 19, 2017, and he allowed one unearned run in 5⅓ innings, with seven strikeouts.
It’s not too much of a stretch to say that Darvish is the Cubs’ best starter right now.
Hi there, almost-Cub Drew Smyly!
The Cubs signed Smyly to a two-year, $10 million deal before the 2018 season. He spent the entire 2018 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, and threw exactly one rehab inning at South Bend.
The Cubs turned his $7 million dollar deal for 2019 (plus another $13 million) into Cole Hamels (essentially, it wasn’t exactly a trade, but sort of worked out that way). That worked out okay, especially when Smyly was horrid for the Rangers (8.42 ERA in 13 appearances, nine starts), and they released him July 25.
The Phillies signed him and he’s made four starts for them. The first two were pretty good (one run, 13 strikeouts in 13 innings), the last two, not so much: 7.59 ERA, 1.406 WHIP, four home runs in 10⅔ innings.
Smyly has never faced the Cubs, and only two current Cubs have faced him: Jonathan Lucroy (1-for-5) and Nicholas Castellanos (3-for-8, two doubles). Seems like the kind of lefty Castellanos ought to feast on. Let’s hope so.
Today’s game is on WGN. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Cubs and Phillies 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.