If you just look at the records and have been living in a cave for the past month, you would think that this is an exciting matchup with both fanbases eagerly awaiting the return to baseball to watch two possible championship teams sizing each other up. Instead, both fanbases find themselves cautiously peeking over the edge of their dumpster, hoping that the past few days of quiet managed to put out the raging fires within.
Record-wise, things haven’t gone quite so bad for the Rangers. Dating back to June 21, when a loss to the Reds broke up a seven game winning streak, the Rangers have gone 8-11. So, not great but maybe not quite so sky-is-falling unless you want to read a lot into going 2-5 against the Twins. What is much more panic-inducing is seeing headlines expressing relief that Kyle Lohse won’t miss much time due to a minor injury suffered in his last start. That same game on June 21 that broke the Rangers nice little winning streak was the last game that Colby Lewis pitched due to a strained lat muscle. Since then it only seems to have been worse, and he’s currently not due back until maybe late August. Derek Holland went down just before the break with a shoulder inflammation, and Yu Darvish‘s long-awaited return from his 2015 TJS hit some snags after just three starts, and now the rotation is pretty much in shambles. Jon Daniels is probably out in the Crockett National Forest knocking on all the wood he can find to make sure that Cole Hamels doesn’t get into a barfight over the greatest British PM or arrested for every unsolved murder in Philly.
- OBP: Shin-Soo Choo (.388)
- ISO: Choo (.222)
- HR: Rougned Odor (16)
- R+RBI: Ian Desmond (120)
- wRC+: Choo (134)
- BSR: Desmond (5.8)
- SP K/9: Cole Hamels (8.76)
- SP BB/9: A. J. Griffin* (3.63)
- SP FIP: Griffin* (4.35)
- RP K/9: Jake Diekman (9.82)
- RP BB/9: Alex Claudio (2.05)
- RP FIP: Matt Bush (2.05)
- WAR: Desmond (4.4)
*among non-injured pitchers with qualifying innings. Lewis, Darvish, and Holland are all ahead of Griffin here otherwise.
- OBP: Anthony Rizzo (.416)
- ISO: Rizzo/Kris Bryant (.292)
- HR: Bryant (25)
- R+RBI: Bryant (138)
- wRC+: Rizzo (164)
- BSR: Bryant (3.6)
- SP K/9: Jake Arrieta (9.52)
- SP BB/9: Jon Lester (2.28)
- SP FIP: Arrieta (3.06)
- RP K/9: Hector Rondon (12.06)
- RP BB/9: Rondon (1.15)
- RP FIP: Rondon (2.22)
- WAR: Bryant (5.0)
K/9, BB/9, ERA, FIP, projected ERA listed for each pitcher.
Going into the break we were at a point where Hendricks was the only member of the Cubs rotation that didn’t seem to come down with an acute case of controlitis. He’s only given up more than three runs twice this year, and even then just barely. He worked really deep in two starts back at the beginning of June but for the most part he seems back on the 5-6 inning track typical of most of his career. Maddon could have started any of his guys here but it looks like he wants the current steadiest hand to control the jitters coming off the long stretch of awfulness.
Perez’s strikeout rate is…..not good. His success comes from getting a lot of ground balls but even Brandon Webb, the most extreme GB pitcher I can think of, still struck out around seven per nine. I can’t wait until the Cubs hit into roughly 18.37 double plays in this game. He was crushed by the Red Sox in his last start, giving up eleven runs in four innings with the help of some equally bad defense behind him.
Saturday: Yu Darvish, RHP (10.91, 3.45, 2.87, 2.73, 3.43) vs Jason Hammel, RHP (7.38, 2.80, 3.46, 4.55, 4.15), 1:20 PM CT
Darvish’s stuff seemed to be pretty good based on the result of his first two starts before walking four batters in his third start and hitting the DL. Even if he’s still pretty good stuff-wise, no big guarantee, chances are he won’t be pitching deep into this start either.
I just can’t wait for all of the Second Half Hammel Takes if he struggles again here. Hammel is just ok. It me the damning with faint praise guy.
Sunday: Cole Hamels, LHP (8.76, 3.78, 3.21, 4.56, 3.97) vs John Lackey, RHP (9.26, 2.78, 3.70, 3.78, 3.44), 1:20 PM CT
I’m sure we will hear absolutely nothing about what happened the last time Hamels pitched at Wrigley. Nope. Nothing. Hamels has posted a solid ERA this year with the Rangers but his peripherals are actually kind of lousy. He’s walking more batters and giving up a few more home runs, but the main thing that jumps out at you is his 83.2% strand rate despite a usual .300ish BABIP. In other words, he’s allowing a lot more baserunners this year but isn’t getting in trouble for it. Back in April/May, I would be salivating to see this Cubs lineup hit him with the regression bat. As it stands from the last few weeks, you feel like the Cubs are going to leave 20 runners on in this game. It could go either way.