Series Preview: Cubs (40-54) at Diamondbacks (40-56)

In Series Previews by GW

It’s nice to have a competent front office. Sure, the team is really bad, but I don’t ever really worry about the little things, like our GM so offending a draftee that his agent won’t even return the team’s calls on signing deadline day. I never thought that Jim Hendry was a terrible GM, but were he in charge right now, I would be terrified that someone was about to get traded because the team has too many shortstops or somesuch. As it is, I am only vaguely aware of Mets fans who think that Starlin Castro is destined to be headed to the Big Apple for Bartolo Colon and Daniel Murphy.

The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, don’t seem to be very functional at the moment. After years of swapping talent for grit and a floundering start to 2014, they brought in Tony La Russa as Chief Baseball Officer, to oversee Kevin Towers in a role that he doesn’t even seem to understand. La Russa seems to be comfortable interacting with manager Kirk Gibson, at least, setting up strategy sessions that are undoubtedly worthy of a thousand facepalms:

As for Gibson, the two have been in semi-regular contact, with La Russa acting upon Gibson’s insistence on being critiqued. ...

“I gave him a situation that came up and said, ‘Here’s a test.’ He listened and he wasn’t offended. He knows I’m on his side.”

It’s not clear, though, how he’s working with Kevin Towers, in what is an important time for the club, as they should really be selling off assets for useful pieces.

Last week, an unnamed executive from an American League team told that the Diamondbacks’ current situation made trade talks confusing. Between Towers and La Russa, the executive said, it’s hard to tell who’s calling the shots. La Russa understands the sentiment, saying the “delineation of responsibilities” is not “crystal clear here or beyond here.”

“But if they’re interested in talking to the Diamondbacks, they can call either one of us and we’re going to talk to each other,” La Russa said. “As a matter of fact, there was one gentleman who called and left a message for both of us, which I think is the smartest thing. But we’re going to communicate and we are communicating.”

I just love that bolded quote.

Team Overviews


  • wRC+: 89 (12th)
  • UBR: .1 (9th)
  • SP FIP-: 107 (11th)
  • RP FIP-: 93 (7th)
  • UZR: -7.2 (11th)
  • DRS: 13 (6th)
  • BaseRuns Dif: -65


  • wRC+: 85 (13th)
  • UBR: 4.2 (1st)
  • SP FIP-: 91 (2nd)
  • RP FIP-: 92 (4th)
  • UZR: 0.4 (9th)
  • DRS: -4 (12th)
  • BaseRuns Dif: -11

Injuries, Notes, etc…

Last year’s breakout lefty sensation, Patrick Corbin, is out with the Tommy John. Daniel Hudson is currently rehabbing from his second bout with the disease. Even ironman Bronson Arroyo has recently succumbed, though not before making six (surprisingly OK) starts with the injured elbow. Relievers David Hernandez and Matt Reynolds also caught it at the beginning of the year.

Brandon McCarthy was traded to the Yankees a few weeks ago for Vidal Nuno, leaving their current rotation as Miley, Collmenter, Nuno, Chase Anderson, and Trevor Cahill. Almost-Cub Randall Delgado is the long man out of the pen. Former White Sock Addison Reed is still the closer, but he has been struggling of late.

On the offensive side, shortstop Chris Owings is currently on the DL with a sore shoulder, leaving Trevor Bauer Didi Gregorius to man the position. A.J. Pollock, who was having a breakout season, is out with a fractured hand. Mark Trumbo is back after having been sidelined for most of the season with a foot injury.

For the Cubs, Emilio Bonifacio is currently rehabbing in AA. Don’t be surprised if Arismendy Alcantara gets sent down when he returns, if only temporarily in an attempt to drum up some trade interest.

The Cubs only have three starters at the moment, though it looks like Kyle Hendricks will be called up next Tuesday. Tsuyoshi Wada is a good bet to fill the other vacant spot.

Pitching Matchups

(ERA, xFIP, Steamer ROS ERA)

Friday: Edwin Jackson (5.64, 4.02, 4.23) vs Trevor Cahill (5.66, 3.94, 3.86) 8:40 PM CT

Stellar matchup here. Cahill and the $17 million remaining on his contract were actually sent to the minors in June. This is his first start back with the big club. His time in Reno didn’t go all that well, as he walked 17% of the hitters he faced.

Saturday: Travis Wood (4.96, 4.60, 4.31) vs. Wade Miley (4.18, 3.31, 3.88) 7:10 PM CT

Miley’s periphs have been quite good this year, even though his ERA is off from his career norms. His strikeout rate is well above league average.

Sunday: Jake Arrieta (1.95, 2.72, 3.92) vs Josh Collmenter (3.80, 4.37, 4.40) 4:10 PM CT

Arrieta has been magnificent this year, even though the projection systems aren’t really buying it yet. If he can maintain, he could turn out to be a real steal for the Cubs. Collmenter has been pressed out of his typical long-man role and into starting duty with mixed results. His periphs have predictably suffered, even though his ERA is fine. I think a lot of Collmenter’s semi-success stems from the novelty of his delivery, which is about as over-the-top as humanly possible.

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