Know Thy Enemy

Know Thy Enemy – Reds

David Bell
is the new manager. He replaces interim skipper Jim Riggleman (64-80), who took over from Bryan Price, who was fired after a 3-15 start last season. Bell’s contract is for 3-years.

For the past two seasons, Bell was the VP of player development in San Francisco. He previously worked as a bench coach with the Cardinals and as a third base coach with the Cubs (2013-17), and also spent four seasons as a minor league manager in the Reds system (2009-12).

A major league infielder with 6 different teams over a 12-year playing career, David is the grandson of former Reds outfielder Gus Bell (1953-61) and the son of former Reds infielder and current front office member Buddy Bell (1985-88).

The Bells are the 5th father-son duo to manager in the majors. Buddy managed in Detroit, Colorado and Kansas City.

The worst contract in baseball belongs to Homer Bailey: 6-yr, $105M.

And the Reds found a taker, shipping him to the Dodgers in Dec. in return for:
Yasiel Puig
Matt Kemp
Alex Wood
Kyle Farmer

Puig’s been an everyday player for the Reds (.212 avg., 7 HR, 22 RBI).

Kemp was released earlier this month (20 G, .200 avg).

Wood is dealing with a lower back issue and has yet to pitch.

Farmer (.231, 5 HR 13 RBI), a natural catcher, has found his way into 30 games, 11 starts, roving around the infield at 1B, 2B & 3B.

After 4-straight years of finishing last in the division, the Reds are more formidable than in years past.

After a Cub-esque (1-8) start to the season, the Reds have rallied with a (17-16) mark.

They’ve committed the 3rd fewest errors in the National League.

Have the 5th best fielding percentage in the NL.

And own a +28 run differential despite a losing record (18-24).

Over the last four years CIN pitching has ranked last in the NL in ERA (4.97) and WHIP (1.42).

That’s completely changed this year.

Entering this series, the Reds rank 1st in the NL in ERA (3.36) … and second in both strikeouts (393) and opponents average (.229).

Luis Castillo, 26, is having a breakout season (4-1, 1.76).

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

Raisel Iglesias established himself as a top-end closer in 2018:
2.38 ERA

30 saves
Most multi-inning saves in the majors (10)
Most saves of 5 or more outs (12) … 2nd was Josh Hader (7)

Iglesias has struggled some in 2019:
(1-5, 4.12 ERA)

18 H in 19.2 IP
8/10 in save opportunities

Joey Votto, 35, is off to a terrible start:

.680 OPS
4 HR, 8 RBI

And remains under contract with the Reds through 2023.

Eugenio Suarez, 27, third base.

Led CIN last season in HR, RBI, Slugging & OPS.

He’s right there again this year:

.252 avg., 12 HR, 26 RBI, .883 OPS

Suarez is nearing the class of KB and Nolan Arenado at the hot corner.

Scooter Gennett, 60-day IL, exited a spring game in late March after suffering a right groin strain. The 2018 All-Star could return following this year’s All-Star break.

Nick Senzel, 23, Reds 1st Rd pick in 2016.

A top prospect in the organization since his arrival.

A natural 3B/IF, Senzel has transitioned to outfield duties in LF & CF.

Tuesday (0-3, BB, K) marked his 11th game in the majors.

Turner Ward … first season with Cincinnati as hitting coach … held same position with Dodgers from 2016-18.

Derek Johnson … first season with Cincinnati as pitching coach … held same position with Milwaukee from 2016-18 … first professional coaching position was minor league pitching coordinator for the Cubs from 2013-15.

Delino DeShields … 11th seasons in the organization … his first on the Major League staff … previous 10 seasons were in player development; eight as a manager:

Rookie League (2010)
Single-A (2011-12)
Double-A (2013-14)
Triple-A (2015-17)

Spent last season as the Reds roving bunting and base running instructor … his son, Delino Jr., was a 1st Rd pick of the Astros in 2010 … made his MLB debut with the Rangers in 2015 … has played all five seasons with Texas … daughter, Diamond, 1st Rd pick of WNBA Chicago Sky in 2018.

This year marks the sesquicentennial of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first all-salaried team in baseball history. To celebrate, the Reds will wear commemorative patches on their jerseys and caps and will feature 15 throwback uniforms to be worn at various home games throughout the season.

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.13.19

1st; +2.0
Streak: W W

Despite gloomy weather, Cubs take 2 of 3 against MIL.

Increase division lead to 2 games.

I keep looking for a downturn in Jon Lester.

There hasn’t been one.

And he’s pitching better than ever.

6.2 IP — 0 ER, 1 R — 9 H, 1 BB, 6 K

Season-high 116 pitches.

MLB best 1.16 ERA.

If not for Schwarber’s misplay in the 4th, Lester may have gone the distance Sunday.

Schwarbs 2018: 1 error in 120 games.
Schwarbs 2019: 3 errors in 30 games.

Anthony Rizzo sat on Sunday for the first time this season.

Kris Bryant spelled Rizzo at 1B.

The position change didn’t seem bother KB at the plate:

3-4, 3 R, HR, 2 RBI

His 7th inning HR (8) was the difference maker.

7 HR in last 15 games.

Reached base safely in 22-straight. 

BÁEZ: (2-3, RBI, BB)

11-game hitting streak.

5 walks in his last 15 games.

BOTE: (2-4)

5-for-11 in the series — 3 BB, 2 K

Sunday wrapped up an (8-2) homestand.

It all looks good on paper. But the flip side to the Cubs phenomenal starting pitching is an offense that’s faltering.

Warmer weather couldn’t hurt the bats.

We’re on to Cincinnati.

Make note of the 5:40 p.m. CT starts (applause).

NEXT – Tue. vs. CIN, 5:40 p.m. CT
Kyle Hendricks (2-4, 3.19)
Tanner Roark (3-1, 3.27)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.12.19

1st; +1.0
Streak: W

Willson walk-off in the 15th.

A merciful ending to a miserable game.

Marked the Cubs longest-ever home game against MIL.

4 hours, 56 minutes.

And raises one very important question:

Would you rather die of boredom or freeze to death at Wrigley Field?

Either applied Saturday.

Cubs-Brewers combined for:

10 double plays; ties an MLB record.

19 walks and 30 Ks.
0-for-13 with RISP.
20 men left on base.
15 pitchers used.
467 pitches thrown.
A total snooze fest.

Willson caught all 15 innings.

Will be interesting to see if he starts Sunday night.

Monday is an off day.

Cubs have won 11 of 13.

Thanks mostly to tremendous pitching.

The offense absolutely cannot score right now.

A top-to-bottom cold streak throughout the lineup.

3 walk-off HR in 5 games is wonderful luck.

And also playing with fire.

Hamels reliable as ever.

Another strong, seven-inning start.

His fourth no-decision in-a-row.

Chatwood continues to impress.

68 pitches over 4 innings, 3 BB, 7 K.

A life-saver for the bullpen.

Rubbermatch Sunday night.

Score some dang runs, Cubs…

Score. Some. Runs.

NEXT – Sun. vs. MIL, 6:10 p.m. CT
Jhoulys Chacin (3-3, 5.03)
Jon Lester (2-1, 1.41)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.11.19

Tied 1st; —
Streak: L

MIL 7 – CHC 0
Cubs never showed Friday.

Rolled by the Brewers 7-0.

Milwaukee’s won 7-straight.

Mistakes all-around for the Cubs.

Mental ones.

Fielding ones.

On the bases.

A collective dud.

Jose Quintana was the lone soldier.

6.2 IP — 3 ER, 4 H — 3 BB, 6 K

I anticipated a possible letdown against lowly Miami following last weekend’s emotional series against St. Louis.

Not so much yesterday with the Crew a game back and riding a 6-game winning streak.

Not so much considering the Cubs are (4-11) in their last 15 against Milwaukee.

Not so much given the last time these two met at Wrigley it was the Brewers beating the pants off the Cubs in the division tiebreaker game, which led to a wild card game that in turn led to a one-and-done in the postseason.

Offense continues to sputter since scoring 13 runs last Sunday vs. St. Louis.

Friday was the worst of the week.

No hard contact.

No hits with RISP: 0-for-9

No runs.

Gio Gonzalez breezed through the Cubs lineup.

He has a 1.69 ERA in three starts since re-joining MIL.

Saturday’s no cake walk either. 

Zach Davies brings a 1.56 ERA to the hill.

Cubs showing up would be a good start.

NEXT – Sat. vs. MIL, 1:20 p.m. CT
Zach Davies (4-0, 1.56 ERA)
Cole Hamels (3-0, 3.38 ERA)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.10.19

1st; +1.0
Streak: W W W

MIA 1 – CHC 4
Ideally, the Cubs sweep a 4-game series at home against the Marlins, the worst club in the majors.

Cubs take 3 of 4, the acceptable minimum.

A closer series than anticipated.

Things could’ve easily tilted Miami’s way.

Cubs survived on back-to-back walk-off home runs. 

That won’t play this weekend against Milwaukee. 

Brewers have won 6-straight and 8 of their last 10.

Yu Darvish was abysmal—again.

1 quality start in 8 outings.

No command.

No consistency.

Leads MLB in walks allowed — 33 in 36.2 IP.

Next closest is Brad Keller (KCR) — 28 in 47.1 IP.

4 wild pitches on the year.

8 stolen bases allowed, the second most in MLB.

The Marlins swiped 4 bags in 4 innings against him.

Painful to watch.

Huge boost from Mike Montgomery with his 5 shutout innings of relief.

Darvish — 97 pitches in 4.0 innings.
Montgomery — 71 pitches in 5.0 innings.

Wouldn’t shock me if Yu develops a phantom injury and Monty takes his spot in the rotation.

KB is hot again.

4 HR in his last 5 games … 6 in his last 12.

At least one hit in 10 of his past 12 games.

Overall, a 19-game on-base streak.

Báez has an 8-game hitting streak.
12-for-31 — .387/.412/.742
8 R
5 2B
2 HR
2 BB, 11 K

April — .309/.448/.544
May — .214/.290/.429

The Cubs have gone deep in 15 straight games.
Rizzo has 6 HR in his last 11 games.

11 – Báez
10 – Rizzo
9 – Contreras
7 – Bryant
6 – Heyward
4 – Schwarber
3 – Bote

Daniel Descalso was held out of the starting lineup for a fifth straight games due to a sore left ankle. He pinch-hit for Darvish in the 4th and struck out.

NEXT – Fri. vs. MIL, 1:20 p.m. CT
Gio Gonzalez (0-0, 2.61 ERA)
Jose Quintana (4-1, 3.40 ERA)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.8.19

Tied 1st; x
Streak: W

MIA 2 – CHC 5
After a gut-wrenching loss on Monday, Kris Bryant reversed the club’s fortune on Tuesday. With runners on the corners and two outs in the 9th, Bryant smashed a fastball off Adam Conley over the center field wall for a 5-2 walk-off win. The Cubs have won 8 of 9 and share a tie of first place in the division with MIL.

Hit his third career walkoff HR.

First two came in 2015 (Rockies, Indians).

He also tripled and scored 2 runs.

Has reached safely in 17-straight games.

Owns a 5-game hitting streak.

A HR in 3-straight games, a career first.

5 HR in his last 10 games.

Leading off the 3rd, Albert Almora Jr. takes a low fastball from Caleb Smith for what appears to be ball four. Home plate umpire Adrian Johnson sees it differently and calls a strike. Almora drives the next pitch into the center field basket to tie the game 2-2.

That was all the scoring for both sides until Bryant went deep in the 9th. Had Albert walked, or reached without going yard, the Cubs may very well have dropped two straight to MIA.

ALMORA (2-5, 2 R, RBI)
Has at least one hit in 6 of his last 10 games.

BÁEZ (2-3, RBI)
6-game hitting streak.
2B in 3-straight games.

Has at least one hit 8 of last 10 games.
4 BB last 3 games.

BOTE (0-4, 2 K)
Last 5 games: 3-for-17
4 R, 2 RBI
3 BB, 5 K

HEYWARD (0-3, BB, 2K)
Last 5 games: 1-for-15
3 BB, 4 K
1 run
1 triple

Caleb Smith (3-0, 2.11 ERA)

The talents of this 27-year-old lefty are hidden in Miami. He’s been no pushover this season, including Tuesday when he struck out a career-high 11.

6.2 IP — 2 ER, 5 H — 3 BB, 11 K
112 – pitches

6.0 IP — 2 R, 0 ER — 8 H, 0 BB, 6 K – 109 pitches

Battled frigid conditions.
Two fielding errors behind him.
Worked out of two jams.
Another quality outing.
6 GS — 5 ER in 32.0 IP

KINTZLER (1-0, 2.16 ERA)
Worked a clean 7th with 2 K
16 G — 16.2 IP
4 ER — 2 BB, 17 K

BRACH (3-0, 2.40 ERA)
Worked a clean 8th with 2 K
Has not allowed a run in last 7 appearances (7.0 IP).

CISHEK (1-1, 3.38 ERA)
Worked a clean 9th with 2 K
Allowed runs in only 2 of 16 appearances.

NEXT – Wed. vs. MIA, 6:35 p.m. CT
Jose Urena (1-5, 5.45 ERA)
Kyle Hendricks (2-4, 3.93 ERA)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.7.19

2nd; –0.5
Streak: L

MIA 6 – CHC 5
Pedro Strop walked three in the ninth and the Marlins rallied to stun the Cubs, 6-5. And just like that, the team with the worst record in the majors snaps the Cubs 7-game winning streak. So baseball.

Clearly a game the Cubs should’ve won.

Strop was awful, Kyle Ryan had a brain fart; neither deserves full blame for the loss.

The offense had a 3-0 lead after one, yet missed plenty of opportunities to add on.

The Marlins walked 10 batters … the Cubs brought only one around to score.

9 left on base … 4 double plays: Zobrist, Bote, Rizzo, Hamels.

What should’ve been a blowout ended as one of the ugliest losses of the season.

Rizzo’s 2-R HR in the first marked the 200th HR of his career … he has 5 HR in his last 8 games.

Schwarber last 10 games:
10-28 (.357 avg)
1 HR, 4 RBI
6 BB, 10 K

KB last 10 games:
9-35 (.257 avg)
4 HR, 12 RBI
10 BB, 8 K

6.0 IP — 3 ER, 5 H — 2 BB, 7 K

Third straight no-decision for Hamels.

Did not expect to see CJ Edwards back this soon.

Spent one month at Iowa … seven of those days were spent on the IL with a scraped right hand.

An encouraging first outing. Edwards pitched a perfect seventh. He threw 12 of 19 pitches for strikes.

Goes without saying what a boost he’d be for the bullpen—if he’s right on the mound.

Dillon Maples returns to Iowa … has wicked good stuff … but he made the decision easy: 5 walks in 2.2 IP … wicked-good stuff doesn’t mean jack if you can’t throw it for strikes.

Strop is 4/6 in save opportunities.

I’ll keep saying it: Strop is a terrific setup man. As a closer, he’s serviceable.

If the Cubs are true contenders, they need to find a true closer. 

Victor Caratini (1-for-2, 2B) began his rehab assignment at Class A South Bend.

NEXT – Mon. vs. MIA, 7:05 p.m. CT
Caleb Smith (3-0, 2.00 ERA)
Jon Lester (2-1, 1.73)