Notes for Friday:
- NOT ROAD WARRIORS: The Cubs are 31-47 (.397) on the road with three games remaining this season. That road winning percentage is their lowest since posting a .395 mark (32-49) in 2014. The Cubs must win at least one game in this series to avoid having their fewest road wins since 2012, when they went 23-58 away from Wrigley Field.
- NICE TO MEET YOU, NEW TEAMMATE: The Cubs have used 52 players in 2019. This is the third-most players ever used in a season by the Cubs, behind the 53 players in 2012 and a club-record 56 in 2013. Among that total are 32 pitchers, surpassed only by the 35 pitchers who threw for the club in 2018.
- DON’T KEEP IT CLOSE: The Cubs are 28-45 (.384) in games decided by two or fewer runs this season, 29th in MLB (the Orioles are last at 20-39, .339). conversely, the team is 54-32 (.628) in games decided by three or more runs — that’s third in the N.L. behind the Dodgers (59-26, .694) and Nationals (59-34, .634).
- THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, TONY: Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has a career high .405 on-base percentage, currently third-best in the N.L. and his .924 OPS is just four points short of his career-best .928 OPS (2016). With 27 homers and 94 RBI on the season, Rizzo is just the second Cubs lefthanded hitter to record at least five 25-homer, 90-RBI campaigns, joining Billy Williams (eight times). For a frame of reference, just four other Cubs lefthanded hitters even have one 25-homer, 90-RBI season: Bill Nicholson (four), George Altman (one), Fred McGriff (one) and Kyle Schwarber (one, this season with 37 homers and 91 RBI).
Here are today’s particulars.
Pretty much all the healthy regulars are playing except Jason Heyward. Too bad about Nicholas Castellanos, hope he can play Saturday and Sunday.
Well, I agree with the Cardinals on one thing, anyway: This is the best rivalry in baseball.
Also of note (and the time listed is Eastern):
At least we won’t have to see CB Bucknor behind the plate in this series.
Alec Mills, RHP vs. Dakota Hudson, RHP
Consider this an audition by Alec Mills for the 2020 rotation. He’s being given his second straight start against the Cardinals, a team headed to the postseason. He did pretty well in the last one, September 20 at Wrigley Field, where he threw 4⅔ shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks, with six strikeouts.
It’s a small sample size, but in Mills’ career, which now consists of 52⅓ innings over parts of three seasons, he has a K rate of 10.3 per nine innings and a walk rate of 3.6. Those are pretty good numbers for a guy who doesn’t have great velocity (fastball average around 90 miles per hour, per Fangraphs). If he can keep throwing strikes and getting outs with that stuff, he can be a decent No. 5 starter in the big leagues.
The Cubs got to Dakota Hudson early in his start September 21 at Wrigley Field, with three hits, four walks and three runs in just three innings. Hudson threw 62 pitches and only 32 strikes. It was his second-shortest start of the season.
You know, I’d still like to see the Cubs win these games over the weekend. Hopefully they can do the same thing to Hudson tonight and end the losing streak.
Today’s game is on WGN. This is WGN-TV’s final Cubs broadcast after 72 seasons. For more on WGN-TV and the Cubs, check out my five-part series on this long partnership. This game is also being broadcast by ESPN2 (outside the Cubs market territory, should be available in the Cardinals market territory). ESPN announcers: Dan Shulman, 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.