The Cubs’ starting pitching staff is going through an incredibly dominant stretch right now. Check out these numbers covering their six wins going back to last week: 41.2 IP, 3 ER, 51 K, 8 BB, 0.65 ERA, 0.68 WHIP. There were three shutouts in those six victories
That is how you slam the brakes on a slow start. Sure, there was the one ugly outing against the Angels last Saturday, but nobody’s perfect and that was mostly on the bullpen, anyway. Even with that performance, the starting staff has an ERA of less than 1.00 in winning six of seven. If the Cubs can continue to make opposing offenses disappear with that type of consistency, who is really going to complain?
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 19, 2019
Yu Darvish gets the start today and I expect him to continue the current streak of sheer domination. I’m calling for double-digit strikeouts over seven or more innings with no more than three bases on balls. The Diamondbacks strike out at a rate of just under 25%, averaging nine whiffs per game against a little less than three walks.
Darvish will have to be spectacular because his mound opponent will be Zack Greinke. It should be a low-scoring affair, but I expect the Cubs to climb north of .500 for the first time since Opening Day.
Cubs News & Notes
- Kyle Hendricks was near-perfect in yesterday’s 5-1 win over the Diamondbacks.
- Hendricks changed speeds effectively using a filthy changeup and wicked curve, and never allowed Arizona hitters to get comfortable.
- The Professor was so dominant that he even surprised himself.
- Cubs pitchers went 31 innings without allowing a run, matching their longest streak since July 1976, before Brad Brach gave up an RBI double to Ketel Marte with one out in the 9th.
- According to the latest Scout.com power rankings, the Cubs are the fifth-best team in baseball, and third best in the National League.
- The Cubs lead the league in opposite-field slugging and are simply mashing when hitting with two strikes.
- Javier Báez leads the Cubs with 24 hits and has 16 RBI. Willson Contreras is 10-for-33 with two doubles, four home runs and eight RBI over the last 10 games for Chicago.
- The Cubs’ 2019 World Series dreams may hinge on the bat of Kris Bryant.
- Joe Maddon isn’t too concerned right now with Darvish, who has issued walks at a less-than-comfortable rate this season.
- The NY Post thinks today’s tilt will be a high-scoring affair. Home plate umpire Sam Holbrook has one of the smallest strike zones in baseball. Should be worth watching. Darvish tends to get frustrated and out-of-control when he is squeezed. Keep an eye on Maddon, too. Holbrook is never shy when it comes to tossing a guy for arguing balls and strikes.
- Tyler Chatwood will start Sunday’s game against the Diamondbacks, with José Quintana moving to Tuesday for the opener of the three-game set against the Dodgers at Wrigley Field.
How About That!
The Dodgers are the hottest team in baseball right now, though incredibly streaky. They’ve won six consecutive games…after losing six in a row…after winning five straight before that.
With the Red Sox slumping and the Yankees hurting, the Rays are the toast of the AL East. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, their 5 ½-game lead in the division on April 16 was the largest of any team in history that early in the season.
Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino was rather succinct in describing the No. 0 vs No. 0 MLB history he made last night, when facing Royals OF Terrance Gore: “I really don’t know what to say about it, honestly. Two guys with a stupid number.”
White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson served his one-game suspension yesterday and did not comment on Wednesday’s ordeal with the Royals and pitcher Brad Keller. A person familiar with the penalty told The Associated Press that Anderson’s suspension was the result of his language, which was allegedly included in umpire Joe West’s postgame report.
Ruh-Roh…Reigning NL Cy Young Award Winner Jacob deGrom has been placed on the injured list with an elbow issue. DeGrom has been sent back to New York to get an MRI after his elbow was “barking” while playing catch on Friday
Friday’s Three Stars
- Kyle Hendricks – The Professor easily had the best start of the day in MLB, if not the entire week. A true breakout performance.
- Cubs fans in attendance at Wrigley Field yesterday – The team announced a game-time temperature of 44 degrees with the wind out of the north at 26 mph. That represented a real-feel temperature of 37 degrees. It probably felt about 30 degrees colder than that in the shade.
- Dan Vogelbach – A 1-for-3 game with a a home run and two RBI usually won’t make this list but there weren’t a lot of standout performances yesterday and I just love this kid.
Not a Star
Angels’ first baseman Justin Bour. This is an inexcusable play.
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) April 20, 2019
In The Hole
It’s April 20th. Happy Bake McBride Day, everyone!
Maine won 4-1 on a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam and threw a no-hitter.
Oh, and the game took 95 minutes. https://t.co/tPeLGwqePT
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) April 20, 2019
They Said It
- “Q and Cole have been doing an unbelievable job, just attacking guys. I think it’s filtering down to the rest of us now. I’ve just been trying to stay right in stride with them, establish the heater early, attack guys, don’t give in. I did have a couple walks that weren’t great, but at least I made good pitches even in that situation.” – Kyle Hendricks
- “We all expected that, [the starting rotation] taking responsibility for themselves, for this team especially. I think that got into their minds — our biggest guy, Lester, went out, and we had to take his spot. Even when he comes back I hope they keep the same mentality out there.” – Willson Contreras
- “One thing I’ve learned about Yu is he’s brutally honest and he is going to tell you exactly what he’s thinking at that moment. There’s no filter. And I think by him saying that the paradoxical intent is that he’ll walk (fewer) people.” – Joe Maddon
- “If we don’t start playing better, J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, maybe myself, we could get traded. We’re, what, 30th in minor league systems?” – David Price
Saturday Walk Up Song
One Step Beyond by Madness. The Cubs starting staff has been legitimately out of this world over the last week.