The Cubs and White Sox kick off a four game series that is split between US Cellular Field and Wrigley Field. The series begins with two on the south side and then moves to Wrigley Field on Wednesday and Thursday. The Sox got off to a great start and early on were nearly matching what the Cubs were doing, but they fell off quickly. Now they’re in the middle of figuring out what pieces to sell. Chris Sale isn’t named as the starter on Thursday, but if he’s still with the White Sox by then, he’ll probably make that start. Or maybe he’ll cut up some more uniforms. It’s difficult to tell with him.
The Cubs will have a new face in the bullpen (one that a lot of people would like to punch) and their new look bullpen should turn a lot of games into 6-inning games.
Cubs (200 PA)
- OBP: Dexter Fowler (.401)
- ISO: Anthony Rizzo (.299)
- HR: Kris Bryant (25)
- R+RBI: Bryant (144)
- wRC+: Rizzo (157)
- BSR: Bryant (4.2)
- SP K/9: Jake Arrieta (9.57)
- SP BB/9: Kyle Hendricks (2.39)
- SP FIP: Arrieta (2.94)
- RP K/9: Pedro Strop (11.71)
- RP BB/9: Hector Rondon (1.22)
- RP FIP: Rondon (2.44)
- WAR: Bryant (5.1)
Once Aroldis Chapman officially joins the team, he’ll have the lead in most of the relief categories. His K/9 is 12.64 and his BB/9 is 2.30 (Rondon still has the advantage here). His FIP is 1.93.
- OBP: Adam Eaton (.362)
- ISO: Todd Frazier (.261)
- HR: Frazier (28)
- R+RBI: Frazier (120)
- wRC+: Melky Cabrera (113)
- BSR: Brett Laurie (3.1)
- SP K/9: Chris Sale (8.73)
- SP BB/9: Sale (1.96)
- SP FIP: Sale (3.70)
- RP K/9: David Robertson (10.93)
- RP BB/9: Nate Jones (2.00)
- RP FIP: Zach Duke (2.86)
- WAR: Eaton (3.7)
Todd Frazier has hit a ton of home runs, but he’s done nothing else. He has less than 1 fWAR.
K/9, BB/9, ERA, FIP, projected ERA listed for each pitcher.
Arrieta had a stretch of four starts where he threw a total of 21.1 innings before his last start on the 19th. Going into that start, he was coming off of his worst stretch in a year. In those 21.1 innings, he allowed 25 hits and 17 runs. He gave up 4 home runs. That was more than he’d given up the rest of the season combined. In his last start he was more like the Arrieta we have loved over the past couple years. He hasn’t been the same pitcher this year that he was last year. His walk rate is up quite a bit, but he’s still been effective. He’s just not been able to go as deep into games despite throwing a lot of pitches. He has walked only 2 over his last 13 innings so hopefully he’s found that control again and if he has, look out.
Despite cutting his home runs per 9 down by about half this season, Gonzalez still hasn’t been all that effective. He’s had trouble stranding runners, but he’s mostly just a meh pitcher. There’s nothing too special about him. He’s had a couple of horrible starts this season, but for the most part has been giving up about 3 runs per start and going about 6 innings. He had a 3 game stretch where he threw 15.1 innings and allowed 22 hits and 16 runs. Since then he’s thrown 26 innings, allowed 17 hits and 10 runs. He throws two types of fastballs, a slider, a curve and a change.
Tuesday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (7.78, 2.43, 2.27, 3.32, 3.58) vs James Shields, RHP (6.32, 3.75, 4.99, 5.26, 4.59), 6:10 PM CT
I think everyone would agree on two things about Kyle Hendricks: he’s having a great season and he’s been lucky. I’ll only add a couple of things that I didn’t say last time. First, his ERA last year was inflated by 69.9% left on base percentage and 12.4% home run per fly rate. This year he’s stranded 77.7% of the runners (he stranded 78.5% in 2014) and his HR/FB rate is 8.7%. He probably won’t strand quite that many runner and his HR/FB rate will probably go up just a bit. His BABIP will also go up so I guess I said more than a couple things. One more thing, though, Since 2I015, Kyle Hendricks ranks 25th in K-BB%, which in my opinion is about the best, most simple stat for a pitcher. The list of the best makes sense. Clayton Kershaw is at the top by quite a bit followed by Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner.
That’s a pretty good list of the five best starters in baseball right there and all you needed was K-BB%. Jake Arrieta is 10th, Jon Lester is 13th, Jason Hammel is 22nd and Kyle Hendricks is 25th. Hendricks is one spot ahead of Cole Hamels and 4 spots ahead of John Lackey and Jake Odorizzi. He’s just behind Masahiro Tanaka, Hammel, Dallas Keuchel and Johnny Cueto.
I’m not necessarily saying that’s where I’d rank Hendricks as a starter, but he’s actually pretty good at his job. He’s better than I think a lot of people give him credit for.
I have no idea why the White Sox traded for James Shields. That was one of the dumbest trades I’ve seen. All Shields has done this season is see his strikeout rate shrink considerably and he’s posted he worst season since 2010 and arguably the worst season in his career. He has been better over his last 5 starts. He’s thrown 34.1 innings over that span and given up 28 hits and 8 runs.
Wednesday: Jacob Turner, RHP (9.82, 8.59, 14.73, 7.78, 4.79) vs Jason Hammel, RHP (7.55, 2.77, 3.35, 4.37, 3.97), 7:05 PM CT
After making 18 mostly unimpressive starts in AAA for the White Sox, they called him up and he’s made 2 starts for them. He’s thrown 7.1 innings, allowed 12 hits and 12 runs. He’s given up 2 home runs, walked 7 and struckout 8. He pitched with the Cubs in 2014 and made 8 appearances (6 starts). He threw 34.2 innings and started the trend for Cubs pitchers in the minor leagues to try and strikeout as few batters as possible. He struckout just 4.4 per 9. That’s about all I got.
After a strong start to the season, Hammel has cooled off somewhat. Maddon is back to taking him out early in games, which we know doesn’t make Hammel too happy. I imagine with the new and improved Cubs bullpen his starts will only be shorter. Maybe he won’t get that one final at-bat in a crucial situation that he never should have gotten. That would be nice. He’s been OK over his few starts. The start before that he gave up 10 runs in 4 innings. It’s not often that a starter gives up 10 runs. To put that into a little perspective, in the final 13 starts of the season last year for Jake Arrieta, he gave up 9 runs total.
Thursday: Chris Sale, LHP (8.73, 1.96, 3.18, 3.70, 3.23) vs John Lackey, RHP (9.16, 2.76, 3.79, 3.87, 3.56), 7:05 PM CT
There’s a lot of trade talk going on about Chris Sale right now and he’s not listed as the starter on the White Sox website. He made history over the weekend for becoming the first player in baseball history to be suspended for cutting up the team’s uniforms. The White Sox suspended him for 5 days and his final day of suspension is Wednesday.
While there’s a lot of trade talk for Sale and rightly so, some teams should be a bit concerned about dealing for him. His strikeout rate has gone from 30.4% in 2014 and 32.1% in 2015 to 24.5% in 2016. It’s the lowest it’s ever been in his career (24.9% in 2012 was the lowest). His walk rate is still excellent and he’s not allowing any more baserunners thanks an unsustainable BABIP of .257. His ERA looks shiny at 3.18, but his FIP is a full run higher and so is his xFIP. He’s also giving up a few more home runs per 9 innings than he ever has.
Still, Sale is one of the best pitchers in the game and he’s coming off an 8-inning, 1-hit outing against the Mariners. However, his start before that (just before the All Star break), he pitched 5 innings, allowed 10 hits and 8 runs and he gave up 3 home runs. He’s had 2 starts this year in which he allowed 3 home runs. Once again comparing to Jake Arrieta, going back to 2014, Arrieta has had only one start in which he allowed 3 home runs. That was on May 29th of last year against the Royals. He’s had only 2 other starts in which he allowed 2 home runs (both of them this season). Think about that for a moment next time you consider how good Arrieta has been.
John Lackey has not been very good lately. He’s been bad enough while Hendricks has been good enough that we’ve wondered who would start game 3 in the playoffs. I still think it’s Lackey. He’s had a rough patch lately, but he’s had only 2 starts this year where he’s failed to pitch 6 innings. That matters. There are several games where he’d probably have been pulled earlier if it was the playoffs, but even when he’s struggling, he still finds ways to go deep into games. I’m not sure Hendricks is capable of that or at least we haven’t seen whether or not he is anyway. Lackey hasn’t won since early June.