It’s time for the Cubs to start another streak, but which will it be? Rafael Ortega has been doing his best to generate wins and he’ll again lead off in center today. Frank Schwindel bats second at first, Ian Happ bats third in left, and Matt Duffy cleans up at the hot corner. David Bote is at second, Michael Hermosillo gets the start in right, Robinson Chirinos is the catcher, and Sergio Alcántara handles short.
On the mound for the first time in a Cubs uniform is 29-year-old righty Adrian Sampson, who most fans probably didn’t know was in the organization prior to yesterday. And if you missed the announcement, your knowledge of him might only stretch to this very post. A longtime minor leaguer with stints in Seattle, Texas, and the KBO, Sampson signed a deal with the Cubs back in May.
He’s got a career 5.71 ERA in 153 innings and has made 20 starts out of 41 total MLB appearances. Sampson had a 5.40 ERA in 130 innings playing for the Lotte Giants last year and boasts a 4.96 mark over 81.2 innings for the Iowa Cubs. His low-90’s fastball has gotten very poor results in the majors and his changeup is okay, but his slider has been pretty good.
The biggest concern is that Sampson gives up a lot of homers. Like, A LOT. He has allowed 37 dingers over those 153 innings (2.18 HR/9) and has surrendered 19 at Iowa to this point (2.09 HR/9). Not great when facing a Reds team that has some mashers.
Tyler Mahle has dominated the Cubs the last three times he’s faced them after laying a poor outing in their first matchup. Back on May 2, he struck out five with no walks but also gave up three homers among the nine hits he surrendered in five innings of work. Two of those homers were hit by Kris Bryant, who you may have heard no longer plays for the Cubs.
On May 30, Mahle struck out eight with one walk and just one hit over five scoreless innings. He allowed only one earned run (two total) over five innings on July 3, but that run came on — you guessed it — a KB homer. Mahle has given up just one earned run over 11 innings in his last two starts against the Cubs, striking out nine with five walks.
This game should come down to whether or not Mahle’s cutter/slider is working, as that is easily his best pitch when it’s working. He’s throwing it a little less lately and has varied its usage against the Cubs, dialing it back after going very heavy in that second start, but this is a very different lineup from the ones he’s faced so far.
Mahle has also used the splitter to great effect against the Cubs, so that’s something to watch for. It’s a dangerous pitch when it’s on and it could be particularly good against hitters who aren’t familiar with it.
First pitch from GABP is at 11:35am CT on Marquee and 670 The Score. Out-of-market viewers can get the game on MLB Network.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 18, 2021