Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 6.1.19

1st; +0.5
Streak: L

CHC 1- STL 2 *10 innings
The last week has been an all-or-nothing approach — hit it over the fence, or don’t score.

Too many strikeouts.

Not enough contact.

Last 7 games:
3 vs. CIN: 30 K
3 at  HOU: 40 K
1 at  STL: 06 K

76 total strikeouts.
Nearly 11 K per game.

That’s resulted in way too many missed opportunities with RISP, which the Cubs have had plenty of in the past week.

0-for-8 Friday
0-for-23 Last 3 games
3-for-33 Last 5 games

Not every hit needs to be a home run.

Put the ball in play.

Good things happen.

Runs score.

DARVISH: (2-3, 5.02)
6.0 IP — 1 ER, 3 H — 3 BB, 6 K

93 pitches

In short — one of Darvish’s best outings this season.

Much better than his first outing against St. Louis on Sat., May 4 at Wrigley: 5 ER in 4.0 IP.

By Game Score (65)
His 2nd best GSc this season (@ARZ, 68).

Three hits, one a line drive, all singles … the lone line drive ties a season-low (@TEX, MIA) … and in both those games he pitched only 2.2 & 4.0 innings.

Stayed around the strike zone; Cards took only 9 strikes looking … Yu’s 2nd lowest strike-looking total this season … his high is 26 vs. CIN.

By Win Probability Added, this was Darvish’s best outing (0.253) … go figure the Cubs lose and Darvish takes a no-decision, his 6th straight.

Bad night for home plate umpire Laz Díaz. He made a couple of terrible calls in critical situations, mainly in the 10th when he called ball 4 from Dillon Maples on a pitch that clearly struck out Harrison Bader.

Wasn’t even a close pitch. Just a really bad call by Laz.

Umpires are human. Those mistakes happen.

Maples deserves no blame; however, when your pitch command is wildly erratic, chances are you’re not getting the close calls, or even the ones you should get because you fooled the umpire, as was the case last night.

I’m not blaming Maples. His job is to make the ball move and throw it over the plate. He did both. Laz missed the calls.

As Maples gains more pitch command, which I hope he does, there’s less of a chance he suffers the same fate as last night.

RIZZO: (1-4)
12-game hitting streak.
His career high is 14 games (2017).

CARATINI: (1-4, R)
2019: .353/.476/.559
Look at that on-base percentage.
Since returning from a broken hand, has hit safely in 4 of his 6 starts.

104.3 MPH
Jordan Hicks’s fastest pitch of the night, which became the fastest pitch in MLB this season; a sinker Caratini grounded to short to end the 9th.

May: (9-18)
Won back-to-back games for the first time since the end of April.

NEXT – Sat. at STL, 7:15 p.m. CT
Jose Quintana (4-4, 3.73)
Jack Flaherty (4-3, 3.77)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.30.19

1st; +1.0
Streak: W

CHC 2 – HOU 1
Protective netting would’ve prevented the frightful scene that played out Wednesday night when a young girl, sitting just beyond the netting on the third base side, was cracked in the skull with a hard hit foul ball.

It was scary as hell.

If the netting is extended farther down the line it prevents the majority of those incidents, which do happen with regular occurrence, from causing serious injuries.

So what is the league waiting for? 

Extend the netting.

In the meantime, if you’re taking children or elderly to the game choose seats behind the netting or in the upper decks. Be responsible. Protect your loved ones. Enjoy the game.

After the fireworks show that saw a combined 26 runs scored through the first two games, the series finale accounted for all of three runs total.

And as miserable as the Cubs starting pitching was in Games 1 & 2, The Professor delivered a gem to earn the victory and salvage the series.

HENDRICKS: (5-4, 3.09)
8.0 IP — 1 ER, 4 H — 1 BB, 7 K

108 pitches

His 4th straight win.
Most pitches in an outing this year.
Most pop outs in a game this year (4).
Highest Average Leverage Index this season (1.45):
*Meaning he pitched mostly in high leverage situations given the score, number of outs, number of men on base, etc.

5 starts: 3-4, 5.33 ERA

6 starts: 4-0, 1.81 ERA

For an 8th straight game, the Cubs have gone deep at least twice, tying a franchise record last accomplished in 1961.

Homered for 2nd straight game.
Second leadoff HR this season.
Hit 6 of his 10 HR in the last 15 games.

BRYANT: (1-4, HR)
Returned after missing last two games.
Hit safely in 6 of last 10 games.
4 multi-hit outing in that span.

RIZZO: (1-4)
11-game hitting streak.
HOU series: 4-for-11.

ALMORA JR: (1-4)
Hit safely in 6 of last 10 games.
HOU series: 3-for-12, HR (7).
Hit 5 HR last year.
Career high is 8 HR (2017).

W L GB %
CHC 31 23 .574
MIL 31 25 1.0 .554
PIT 27 27 4.0 .500
STL 26 28 5.0 .481
CIN 26 30 6.0 .464

NEXT – Fri. at STL, 7:15 p.m. CT
Darvish (2-3, 5.40)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.29.19

1st; +0.5
Streak: L L L

CHC 6 – HOU 9
The series has played out as expected with the very talented Astros having won the first two games and the Cubs down to their final attempt to avoid being swept.

Wednesday night wraps up 26 games played in 27 days, and given the strength of the Astros, especially at home (22-7), I felt the Cubs could depart Houston somewhat satisfied if they could take of 1 of the 3 games.

So here we are.

What wasn’t expected is how well Houston has managed without Jose Altuve, George Springer or Carlos Correa in the lineup the past two games, granted the Cubs themselves have been without Kris Bryant.

But it’s the starting pitching that’s dropped the ball in Texas. Cole Hamels and Jon Lester have each posted disappointing outings while the offense has produced just enough to fall short.

LESTER: (3-4, 3.59)
5.2 IP — 7 ER, 8 H — 3 BB, 3 K
102 pitches

Last 3 starts: 0-3
16 ER in 14.0 IP
10.29 ERA
2.14 WHIP
4 HR

BRACH: (3-1, 3.57)
1.1 IP — 2 ER, 3 H, HR — 1 BB, 2 K

Allowed ER in three-straight appearances.
And in 4 of last 6 outings.

BOTE: (3-4, 2 HR)
7-game hitting streak.
HOU series: 5-for-8
First b-2-b multi-hit games this season.

RIZZO: (1-4)
10-game hitting streak.
HOU series: 3-for-7.

HEYWARD: (2-5, HR)
Last 10 games:
3 multi-hit outings.
2 HR
8 Walks

Hit safely in 10 of last 15 games.
During that span:
5 HR
10 BB
23 K

BÁEZ: (1-5)
Last 5 games:
14 K

It’s been a topsy turvy month of May that began with a beatdown of the Mariners and continued with a weekend sweep at home against St. Louis.

But the offense quickly dried up during the homestand against Miami and Milwaukee; then a series loss on the road at Cincinnati; won 2 of 3 at Washington; split the Philadelphia series; another series loss to Cincinnati; and now the two losses at Houston.

The Cubs offense did find its power stroke this month. In the last 7 games, the team has clubbed 21 HR, 5 last night, and sit second in the NL in overall home runs at 90 (MIL, 1st: 92). The power, however, hasn’t necessarily equaled wins:

Cubs last 20 games: (10-10)

Cubs last 10 games: (4-6)

Cubs last 7 games: (2-5)

15 – Rizzo
13 – Báez
12 – Bryant
12 – Contreras
09 – Schwarber
08 – Heyward
07 – Almora
06 – Bote

NEXT – Wed. at HOU, 7:10 p.m. CT
Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 3.34)
Wade Miley (5-2, 3.32)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.28.19

1st; +0.5
Streak: L L

CHC 5 – HOU 6
Of course Houston is a measuring stick series. The Astros are deeply talented and have one of the best records in baseball. In fact, the ‘Stros just might be the best team in baseball.

Thankfully, the Cubs only play Houston once during the regular season and more importantly, we know that whatever the outcome of this series is it doesn’t mean much big picture.

I’ll be satisfied if the Cubs can take one, which means they’ll have to win 1 of the next 2 games after dropping the series opener on Monday.

Cole Hamels and Gerrit Cole were polar opposites on Monday.

What may have been chalked up as bad luck in Hamels’s last start against Philadelphia was far from it in this one. The Astros made him work and the Astros hit him hard.

HAMELS: (4-1, 4.02)

4.0 IP — 6 ER, 7 H — 4 BB 0 K

93 pitches

4.0 IP in back-to-back starts.
Last 2 starts: 8.0 IP9 ER.
Month of May: 5 GS — (1-1, 5.19)

Meanwhile, the other “Cole” was dominate.

After Rizzo tagged Cole for a 2-R HR in the 1st, the Cubs never put a runner in scoring position against him.

He sat down 17 of the last 19 batters he faced.

He struck out 12 to maintain his league-leading 112 punchouts.

The Cubs didn’t have much of a chance against him. 

Credit the Cubs bullpen for keeping the game close. Ryan, Maples, Kintzler:

4.0 IP — 0 ER, 3 H — 0 BB, 6 K

Last 2 games: combined 30 Ks.
Schwarber has five Ks in the last 2 games.
Báez alone struck out 5 times on Monday.

RIZZO: (2-3, HR)
9-game hitting streak.
May 27 is fastest Rizzo has reached 15 HR.

ALMORA JR: (1-4, HR)
Hit safely in 6 of last 10 games.
5 of his 7 HR hit last 13 games.

BOTE: (2-4)
6-game hitting streak.
First multi-hit outing in 11 games.
May: .250/.338/.328
1 HR
9 BB
23 K

NEXT – Tue. at HOU, 7:10 p.m. CT
Jon Lester (3-3, 2.68)
Corbin Martin (1-1, 4.97)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.27.19

1st; +1.5
Streak: L

CIN 10 – CHC 2
Two series against the Reds: 2 wins, 4 losses.

Cubs were fortunate not to get swept this weekend.

Victor Caratini pitching sums up Sunday’s game.

Hitting: 13 strikeouts, Schwarber thrice.

Pitching: 15 H, 8 R.

Include Caratini’s performance: 17 H, 10 R.

Fielding: as many errors (2) as runs scored.

Then Bryant had to leave the game early after colliding with Heyward.

If you could scratch games from the record this would been one of them.

QUINTANA: (4-4, 3.73)

5.1 IP — 6 ER, 12 H — 1 BB, 2 K

85 pitches

Had gone 8 consecutive starts allowing 3 ER or fewer.
Most hits allowed this season.

RIZZO: (2-3)
Series: 6-for-11
Home run

BÁEZ: (3-4, HR)
First multi-hit outing in last 6 starts.
4th time this season with 6+ total bags.
Consistently going oppo and with authority, too.

First HR in 8 games.
First multi-hit outing in 8 games.
Hit safely in 8 of last 10 games.

Cubs lead NL in errors (41)
Descalso (2, missed catch)
Bryant (6, fielding)

NEXT – Mon. at HOU, 1:10 p.m. CT
Cole Hamels (4-0, 3.38)
Gerrit Cole (4-5, 4.11)

Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.26.19

1st; +2.5
Streak: W

CIN 6 – CHC 8
6 ER in 7-innings and … applause.

That’s where we’re at with Yu Darvish.

If it’s not a disaster outing it must be a step in the right direction.

2nd worst outing by Game Score (32).

Nine line drive hits on Saturday.

First time Yu’s pitched past the 6th … lasted until the 8th.

So, we’ll credit to him for supporting a taxed bullpen.

But it has to get better, right?

DARVISH: (2-3, 5.40)

7.0 IP — 6 ER, 12 H — 2 BB, 5 K

108 pitches

Tyler Chatwood earned the save.
His first since 2017.
The third of his career.

That’s where we’re at with the closer situation.

After Chatwood entered in the 9th and allowed back-to-back singles to Votto and Suárez, Jesse Winker became the real hero by grounding into a double play.

If not for that twin-killing, the half inning probably ends tied or worse.

But it didn’t, so it doesn’t matter—at least for one game.

But this is, by the Cubs own making, the closer situation going forward:

Hold on to your butts and cross your fingers the door stays shut.

Should be fun.

10-straight games leading off.
Hit safely in 8 of 10.
4-game hitting streak.

BRYANT: (2-4, 2B)
Multi-hits in 4 of last 5 games.
This series: 4-for-9

RIZZO: (1-4, 2B)
7-game hitting streak.
11 RBI during streak.

HEYWARD: (1-4, HR)
Series: 2-for-8
First HR in 15 games
*walk-off vs. MIA

ALMORA JR: (1-2, HR)
Sac hit, 2 runs scored.
Last 12 games: 4 HR

BOTE: (1-1, 2B, RBI)
Drove in go-head run in 8th.
4-game hitting streak:

BÁEZ: (0-3)
Hitless this series.
Last 7 games:

NEXT – Sun. vs. CIN, 1:20 p.m. CT
Tanner Roark (3-3, 3.51 ERA)
Jose Quintana (4-3, 3.30 ERA)


Bullpen Session

Bullpen Session 5.25.19

1st; +1.5
Streak: L L

CIN 6 – CHC 5
Cubs have a closer problem.

They need one and there’s not one on this roster.

Which means the unpleasantness we watched Friday will continue to resurface until this front office figures out a way to add a bona fide closer.

Nothing demoralizes a team like a blown lead in the 9th.

The Cubs save percentage is a godawful 47.4%.

It’s an issue.

One Eugenio Suarez exposed in the 9th with his go-ahead 2-run HR off Steve Cishek.

It’s the second late-inning, gut-punch home loss this week (Monday).

CISHEK: (1-2, 3.34, BS 2)
Friday’s sequence:

4/6 in save chances.


6.0 IP — 3 ER, 6 H — 1 BB, 9 K

99 pitches

Retired his first 10 batters.
Quality outing in 4 of last 5 starts.

Hit leadoff for the 9th time this season.
And for the 50th time in his career.
First career leadoff home run:
449-ft bomb to the back row of the RF bleachers.

BRYANT: (2-5, HR, 2 RBI)
Has hit safely in 6 of last 10 games.
During that span has 4 multi-hit games.

RIZZO: (2-4, HR, RBI)
Homered for a third straight game.
6-game hitting streak:
12-for-25 (.480 avg.)
9 Runs
4 HR
2 2B
3 BB
3 K

Pinch hit for Montgomery in the 8th.
Singled in the go-ahead run on an 0-2 pitch.

ALMORA JR: (0-4)
Hitless last 2 games (0-8).
Outstanding sliding grab in CF to steal a hit from Derek Dietrich.

These are not the same old dog-breath Reds.
They can pitch and they can hit.
Not a lot of depth.
But they can ball.
And they’ve taken 3 of 4 from the Cubs.

NEXT – Sat. vs. CIN, 1:20 p.m. CT
Tyler Mahle (1-5, 3.51)
Yu Darvish (2-3, 5.06)