Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.21.19

1st; +1.0
Streak: L

PHI 5- CHC 4
A well deserved ovation for Arrieta when he came to bat in the 3rd.

Good on Darvish for stepping away from the mound to let the moment linger.

Descalso’s go-ahead Little League home run, officially scored a triple, is one of the highlights of the season.

Descalso was awarded home when the relay throw ricocheted off his foot and into the home dugout giving the Cubs a 4-3 lead in the 8th.

The play increased the Cubs Win Probability to 85-percent with three outs to go.

No dice.

Brad Brach pitched well in the 9th.

He had good stuff, but couldn’t close the door.

The checked-swing call on McCutchen was pivotal.

On replay it appears he went around.

Should’ve been strike three.

Should’ve been game over.

It wasn’t.

Go figure a bloop single by Segura would follow tying the game and sending it to extras.

Realmuto homers off Kyle Ryan in the 10th and the Fightin’ Phils take Game 1.

It’s a tightrope act when you’re relying on serviceable middlemen the likes of Brach and CJ Ryan in the closing innings.

The Cubs need a legit closer.

Not Strop or Kintzler or Cishek or Morrow (if he even pitches again this season).

A bona fide shutdown closer.


6.0 – 1 ER, 8 H – 2 BB, 4 K

99 pitches

Has gone at least 6-innings in 8 of 10 starts.


6.0 IP – 3 ER, 4 H – 3 BB, 7 K

95 pitches

Has gone at least 6-innings in 2 of 10 starts.

Best two starts of the season in back-to-back outings.

SCHWARBER: (1-5, R, 3 K)
First triple of the season.
Modest 4-game hitting streak.

RIZZO: (3-5, RBI)
At least 1 hit in 7 of last 10 games:
12-for-40 (.300 avg.)
3 HR
5 BB, 6 K

HEYWARD: (2-4)
Multi-hit effort in back-to-back games for the first time this season; went 2-for-4 on Sunday.

ALMORA JR: (2-4)
Has hit safely in 11 of last 15 games.
During that stretch:
18-for-53 (.339 avg.)
9 extra base hits.
6 multi-hit outings.
3 HR
1 walk

Little League HR

Since returning from a rolled ankle:
3-for-23 (.130 avg.)
1 BB, 7 K

Played 44 straight games before sitting out Monday with a sore heel.

Cardinals released Luke Gregerson.

5.2 IP — 5 ER, 11 H — 1 BB, 2 K — 7.94 ERA

Obviously a rough start this season.

But he’s been a solid performer over the past decade:

66 career saves, career 119 ERA+ (100 lg avg).

Might the 35-year-old Park Ridge native be a fit in the ‘pen?

Take a flyer?

NEXT – Tue. vs. PHI, 6:05 p.m. CT
Zach Eflin (5-4, 2.89)
Jose Quintana (4-3, 3.68)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.20.19

1st; +1.5
Streak: W

CHC 6- WSH 5
Cubs take 2 of 3 in DC.

Improve to 10-1-1 in their past 12 series.

The offense wasn’t pretty but did enough to hang on for a one-run win.

Despite scoring in five different frames, and numerous opportunities to break the game open, the Cubs settled for a picket fence through 4 innings (1-1-1-1) and posted their only crooked number in the 6th, a 2-spot.

Two inning-ending double plays extinguished scoring threats:
Descalso in the 1st.
Rizzo in the 6th.

1-for-11 with RISP.

9 left on base.

Not pretty, but just enough.

Kyle Hendricks retired his first 11 batters and held the Nats hit-less until the 5th.

In the 6th it unraveled in a hurry:
–Infield hit
–3-R HR

Not pretty, but just enough.


5.2 IP — 4 ER, 6 H — 2 BB, 4 K

83 pitches

Brandon Kintlzer relieved Hendricks and allowed a HR to Howie Kendrick.

It’s the third consecutive appearance Kintzler has allowed at least 1 ER.

Steve Cishak: (S, 4)
Outstanding effort to close out the final 2.1 innings.

10 consecutive scoreless appearances.

Has allowed runs in only 2 of 22.2 IP.

Almora: (3-3, 2 2B, 2 BB)
Top-tier defender.
Terrific base runner.
Can he keep the bat going?

Last 5 games: 7-for-16
2 doubles
2 home runs

Heyward: (2-4, 2 R)
First multi-hit outing in his last 16 games.

MAY: .149/.208/.269
1 HR
5 BB — 16 K

Rizzo: (1-4, HR)
Since missing 4-straight games:
1 HR
1 BB
2 K

Báez: (0-3, RBI)
Left in the 6th inning after jamming his right heel while fielding a grounder in the 3rd.

Before Sunday’s game, Joe Maddon stated that the Cubs decided to drop their protest over the pitching delivery of Sean Doolittle during Saturday’s game.

While I wrote yesterday that I do agree Maddon has a legitimate beef regarding the umpires’ ruling on Doolittle’s delivery, I did not agree with Joe’s approach in addressing the matter during Doolittle’s appearance in the 9th.

What we didn’t know at the time, but was reported Sunday, was that the Cubs did in fact reach out to MLB prior to the Washington series in regards to Doolittle’s pitching delivery to express a concern in the interpretation of the rules in respect to CJ Edwards’ hesitation/toe-tap delivery, which was deemed illegal in April.

I’m on board with addressing the concerns before the series. But it still feels unnecessary for Joe to further his point by halting the game on Saturday.

The matter’s as convoluted as it was on Saturday, and a story line that’s certain to be continued throughout the season…

NEXT – Mon. vs. PHI, 7:05 p.m. CT
Jake Arrieta (4-4, 4.02)
Yu Darvish (2-3, 5.14)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.19.19

1st; +1.5
Streak: L

CHC 2 – WSH 5
Get to the beleaguered Nationals bullpen — get a win.

That’s the formula.

And that’s what the Cubs did Friday scoring 11-runs against 5 relievers in the final three innings.

That was not the case on Saturday thanks to Stephen Strasburg:

8.0 IP — 1 ER, 4 H — 0 BB, 7 K

93 pitches

Strasburg did not allow a hit until Kyle Schwarber’s single in the 4th, and he didn’t give way to a reliever until Sean Doolittle came on to close the 9th.

Then the toe-tap drama ensued.

Maddon has a right to be be frustrated; Doolittle’s delivery pushes the limits of a legal pitch delivery.

He’s not the only pitcher who’s toe-tapping, and Joe’s not the only skipper who’s hot and bothered by it.

There appears to be gray area and within the bounds of a pitcher using a hesitation or toe-tap with his landing foot.

I have no problem if Joe wants to speak up for CJ Edwards, whose prior hesitation/toe-tap delivery was deemed legal during the spring but found illegal during the regular season (not that it absolves Edwards … it’s up to CJ to find a legal delivery he can work with).

But Maddon taking the game hostage to bellyache wasn’t the right time or place to do it. 

As is his right, Maddon chose to dispute the umpires’ ruling (Doolittle’s delivery was defined as legal) by finishing the game under protest.  

Protested Games, according to MLB rules:

Managers can protest a game when they allege that the umpires have misapplied the rules. The umpires must be notified of the protest at the time the play in question occurs and before the next pitch or attempted play begins. If the play in question ended the game, a protest can be filed with the league office until noon the following day. No protests are permitted on judgment calls by the umpires.

Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of baseball operations later determines whether the protested decision violated the rules, though the game will not be replayed unless it is also determined that the violation adversely affected the protesting team’s chances of winning.

While Strasburg sailed through a season-high 8-innings, Jon Lester couldn’t find the groove that guided him through three consecutive starts without allowing an earned run.

4.1 IP — 5 ER, 10 H — 1 BB, 3 K

98 pitches

Hat tip to the Cubs bullpen:

Edwards, Chatwood, Cedeno, Brach

3.2 IP — 0 ER, 1 H — 4 BB, 4 K

Still too many walks, but they kept it close.

Bryant: (0-4)
On base streak ends at 26-games.

Báez: (0-3, K)
Hitting streak ends at 15-games.

Bote: (1-3, HR)
First HR in 14 games, not since clubbing 2 at ARZ on April 27.
Throwing error (7).
Five have come at 3B, and two at 2B.

Cubs have dropped 3 of 4 and look to the Professor to win tonight’s rubbermatch.

NEXT – Sun. vs. WSH, 6:05 p.m. CT
Kyle Hendricks (3-4, 2.86)
Jeremy Hellickson (2-2, 6.00)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.18.19

1st; +1.5
Streak: W

CHC 14 – WSH 6
I wonder how many times an opponent scored 14 runs in a game started by Max Scherzer?

It can’t be many.

The Cubs tagged Scherzer for 3 ER in 6.0 IP.

Then broke open a one-run game by bludgeoning the Nats ‘pen for 11-runs over the final 3 innings:

2 in the 7th.

5 in the 8th.

4 in the 9th.

Three cheers for Kris Bryant.

4-6, 3 HR, 5 RBI

Second career 3-HR game.

Becomes 12th player to homer in three straight innings:

7th, 8th, and 9th.

Extends his on-base streak to a career-best 26-straight games; also the longest active streak in the majors.

Almora Jr: (2-5, HR, 2 RBI)

445-ft bomb against Mad Max.

Didn’t know he had that distance in him.

Albert last 10 games: 11-39 (.282 avg.)
3 HR
2 2B
0 BB
6 K

Schwarber: (1-3)
HR (6)
3 R
3 BB

Worked Kyle Barraclough for 13-pitches then took him opposite field with a 2-R HR in the 8th.

Javy: (2-4, 2 R, 2 BB)

Extends 15-game hitting streak; currently the longest in the majors.

First time this season he has drawn 2 walks in a game.

Contreras: (4-5)
HR (11)

Rizzo: (1-5, R, K)

Returned after missing 4 games (back).

Cole Hamels: (4-0, 3.13)

5.0 IP — 2 ER, 7 H — 3 BB, 5 K

101 pitches

Won for the fourth time in five starts.

Worked around two bases-loaded jams.

Cubs (7-2) in his nine starts this season.

CJ Edwards: (1-1, 10.50)

Balks in a run.

Throws five pitches.

Records an out via wild pitch and a run down.

Earns an official Hold.

Edwards seems to be in a pattern of taking two steps forward and one step back.

Or is it one step forward and two back?

Either way, he doesn’t appear to be best suited for high-leverage situation.

Max Scherzer: (2-5, 3.72)

Walked a season-high four batters.

Nats have lost all 6 of his home starts.

Washington has yet to win three in a row.

Now (2-13) in series openers.

There was plenty of action, but it still took 4:09 to play 9-innings.

Speed it up, MLB.

Cubs-Nats combined Friday:

20 runs on 31 hits.

10 pitching changes.

12 walks.

16 strikeouts.

22 left on base.

NEXT – Sat. vs. WSH, 6:05 p.m. CT
Jon Lester (3-1, 1.16)
Steven Strasburg (3-3, 3.63)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.17.19

1st; +0.5
Streak: L L

CHC 2 – CIN 4
Cubs drop back-to-back games for the first time since April 24-25 against the Dodgers.

Won 13 of last 17.

We’ve grown accustom to the Cubs thumping the Reds.

Things have changed.

The Reds are more competitive than in years past, which isn’t saying much, but they’re not the cake walk they used to be.

Cubs went through a similar reality when the Pirates righted the ship about five years ago.

Gimmie games are gone in the NL Central.

The tough break from Wednesday’s 10-inning loss was having Luis Castillo in waiting for Thursday’s series finale.

Castillo’s under-the-radar for now, but that ends soon.

According to MLB stats, Castillo has a MLB-best 1.62 ERA since the beginning of September.

The pain he’s likely to cause the Cubs lineup is just beginning.

Castillo held the Cubs to 2 hits and 2 runs over 5.1 IP.

Willson’s 2-R “double” in the 1st off the third base bag was a fortunate break — and the last of the Cubs scoring.

Castillo sat down the next 14 batters and was only 76-pitches deep when the game was delayed 1:51 by rain.

Reliever Michael Lorenzen took over for Castillo and was greeted by singles from Descalso and Báez — and that was the last of the Cubs offense.

4 total hits matches a season-low for the Cubs.

Cubs lineup last 2 games: 2 BB, 24 K

Quintana was sharp until he suddenly wasn’t.

A 2-0 lead in the 5th evaporated in a tizzy.

A solo HR by Jose Peraza.

A single by the pitcher Castillo.

A wild pitch advancing runners 90-feet.

A mound visit.

Another wild pitch allowing Castillo to score.

Suarez RBI single.

A 3-R inning for the Reds and that’s all she wrote.

Bryant: (0-3, BB, 2 K)

Extends on-base streak to 25-straight games.

Báez: (2-4, 2B, K)

Extends hitting-streak to 14-games.

Longest streak since Rizzo went 14-games in ’17.

Rizzo sat for a fourth consecutive game with a tight back.

He’s expected back Friday at Washington.

Caratini: (0-3, 2 K)

First game back since breaking his hand on April 11.

Taylor Davis: returns to Iowa.

Fun personality.

Awesome grand slam vs. St. Louis.

Easy to root for, but over-matched in the bigs.

On to the nation’s capital.

NEXT – Fri. vs. WSH, 6:05 p.m. CT
Cole Hamels (3-0, 3.08)
Max Scherzer (2-4, 3.64)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.16.19

1st; +1.5
Streak: L

CHC 5 – CIN 6 *10 innings

Walk-offs happen.

You win some, you lose some.

Always stinks on the losing end.

A bad night for the bullpen.

They’ve pitched so well you might say they were due for a dud.

Put aside Montgomery’s clean 0.2 IP.

Edwards Jr.

3.1 IP — 4 ER, 5 H — 2 BB, 2 K — 2 HR

One intentional walk.

Free passes continue to be a bug-a-boo.

Maddon’s paired Taylor Davis with Yu Darvish in his last four outings.

Last night was the best of them.

11 punchouts — no walks.

35th time in his career with 10+ K.

But the efficiency still isn’t there.

102 pitches in 5.2 IP.

Yes, Yu pitched better.

And yes, the Cubs need Yu to go deeper.

CJ Edwards allows the game-tying HR.

His first real adversity since returning from Iowa.

Albert Almora: 2-4, HR (3)

He’s taking advantage of a thin bench.

Started 11 of last 14 games.

Including 6-straight.

During that span:

7-for-24 (.291 avg.) — 0 BB, 2 K
4 Runs

Bryant’s 10th inning single extends his on-base streak to 24-straight games.

Báez’s 10th inning single extends his hitting streak to 13-straight games.

3 Walks (1 intentional)

5 HR
25 Strikeouts

Toughest part about last night’s loss is facing Luis Castillo today.

He’s been one of the best starters in baseball this season.

9 starts — 11 ER in 56.1 IP —24 BB, 70 K

2.5 – Castillo
2.1 – Marquez
2.0 – Eflin
2.0 – Corbin
2.0 – Davies
1.9 – Lester

NEXT – Wed. vs. CIN, 5:40 p.m. CT
Jose Quintana (4-2, 3.50)
Luis Castillo (4-1, 1.76)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.15.19

1st; +2.5
Streak: W W W

CHC 3 – CIN 1
Hendrick’s a master of pitch command.

The Reds demonstrated Tuesday with weak swings and weak contact.

Kyle’s straight fire emoji right now.

And a career-high 3 hits at the plate — including the game-winning RBI.

Hendricks since allowing 7 ER in 5.0 IP at ARZ:

IP ER Hits Walks Ks
STL 9.0 0 4 0 3
MIA 8.0 0 5 0 7
CIN 8.0 1 3 1 7

Rizzo has sat consecutive games with a tight back.

With Caratini injured it’s KB at 1B.

And he’s played well filling in defensively.

Bryant: (3-5, R)

Reached safely in career-best 23-straight games.

Longest current streak in MLB.

Longest streak for a Cub since Zobrist (25) in 2017.

Báez: (2-5)

Career-high 12-game hitting streak.

Longest streak by a Cub this season.

26 extra base hits second-most in MLB: (Bell, 27).

Albert: (1-4, R)

Another web gem in CF.

A long run and leaping grab to rob Derek Dietrich of extras in the 5th.

Almora has gold in his glove if he can stay in the lineup.

Heyward: (0-4, BB, K)

Has led off in 5 of last 6 games.

Cishek 3/4 in save opportunities.


Cubs in May (10-2).

Won 22 of 28.

Best record in the NL (25-14)

Last 5 seasons vs. Reds: (52-25)

The best record by any team against a division opponent during that span.

NEXT – Wed. vs. CIN, 5:40 p.m. CT
Yu Darvish (2-3, 5.40)
Sonny Gray (0-4, 4.15)