First, a reminder that in addition to both of these games being seven-inning affairs, the Cubs will be the “road” team and bat first in Game 2. Despite that, for statistical purposes both these games will be considered “home” games for the Cubs since they are being played at Wrigley Field.
- HAPP-ENSTANCES: Ian Happ leads major league switch hitters with a .439 OBP this season (Oakland’s Robbie Grossman is second, .438). In Happ’s last 30 games dating to September 21, 2019, he is hitting .359 (33-for-92) with nine doubles, 10 homers, 25 RBI, a .459 OBP, a .783 SLG and a 1.242 OPS.
- CUBS FOR THE DEFENSE: The Cubs turned three double plays in Tuesday’s game and are second in the N.L. and fourth in the majors with 13 defensive runs saved, per Fangraphs. The Dodgers lead with 27 defensive runs saved this season followed by the Twins (15) and White Sox (14).
- BETTER RELIEF: The Cubs bullpen has posted a 3.13 ERA (16 earned runs in 46 innings) with a .206 opponent batting average (34-for-165) and a .625 opponent OPS in the team’s last 14 games since August 2.
- MORE PITCHES: Cubs hitters last night saw 207 pitches, the third-highest total for a nine-inning game this season, behind the Brewers (212, August 6 vs. White Sox) and Athletics (212, August 3 vs. Seattle). And, the 207 pitches were the most seen by Cubs hitters in a nine-inning game since May 17 of last season against the Nationals (217 pitches).
- SITE NOTE: There won’t be a separate recap of Game 1 before Game 2 starts; instead, I will recap both games after Game 2 is over. For more on the game thread procedure today, see below.
Here are today’s particulars.
Cubs Game 1 lineup:
This will be Nico Hoerner’s first professional game at third base, and it doesn’t appear he played there at Stanford, either.
Game 1: Alec Mills, RHP vs. Jack Flaherty, RHP
Alec Mills has made three starts this year and thrown at least six innings in all of them. That ability should be helpful today, as the Cubs bullpen will likely get a workout before all 14 innings are complete.
Mills made two starts against the Cardinals last September and was effective in both of them. Overall he threw 9⅔ innings in those two starts and allowed seven hits and one run. He walked four, but struck out 15. Mills really isn’t a strikeout pitcher, but like Kyle Hendricks, if he can locate the ball in the zone, he can get outs.
He’s now got a 55-inning body of work over the last two seasons, and his walk rate has been pretty consistent — 2.8 per nine innings over that span. Throw strikes and get weak contact, the Hendricks style, and Mills can succeed.
Jack Flaherty has had a lot of rest between starts — 25 days, to be exact. He started the Cardinals’ first game of 2020, July 24 vs. the Pirates, and threw seven innings, allowing two runs. Then St. Louis had their long layoff, and they held Flaherty back for this game.
Last year Flaherty made six starts against the Cubs, throwing 36⅓ innings with a 2.48 ERA and 0.826 WHIP. The Cubs did draw 11 walks off him, but had only 19 hits. Those hits did include five home runs. Three of those homers were by Anthony Rizzo, who is 9-for-18 lifetime against Flaherty.
This one won’t be easy, but who knows how effective Flaherty will be after that long layoff.
Both of today’s games are on Marquee Sports Network. Here is a list of providers currently carrying Marquee.
MLB.com Gameday for Game 1
MLB.com Gameday for Game 2
Baseball-reference.com game preview for Game 1
Baseball-reference.com game preview for Game 2
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The 2020 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used in previous years. The game procedure for today’s doubleheader will be a little bit different, though, see below.
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/Date) 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, and for today’s doubleheader — since it’s a traditional doubleheader with about 30-40 minutes in between games — overflow threads will post one hour, two hours, three hours and four hours after the first pitch.
Discuss amongst yourselves.