Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Fantasy Guru - Baseball

MLB Preview: Chicago Cubs (15-15) at Washington Nationals (12-18)

CHICAGO CUBS NOTES:

Cubs vs. Nationals
The Cubs and Nationals play seven games spanning two series this season … following this four-game set at Nationals Park, the teams will meet at Wrigley Field for three games, July 17-19 … Chicago has won the last two season series against the Nationals, going 4-3 in 2021 and 4-2 in 2022.

ONE-RUN CONUNDRUM: The Chicago Cubs today wrap up a seven-game road trip with the final contest of a four-game set against the Washington Nationals … the Cubs last night fell to the Nationals for the second-straight evening, this time by a score of 2-1, the team’s fourth one-run setback on this trip … Chicago is 2-6 in one-run games this season … following today’s matinee, the Cubs return home for a six-game homestand against Miami (3 G starting tomorrow) and St. Louis (3 G beginning Monday).

The Cubs went 10-3 in 13 games from April 4-19, but have gone 4-9 in their last 13 dating to April 20 … Chicago is now at .500 for the season (15-15) for the first time since finding itself at 4-4 following play on April 9.

Including last night, the team has 10 losses after holding a lead this season, tied for the most in the N.L. with the Cardinals.

Today is the seventh game (1-5) of a stretch that sees the team on the road for 16 of 22 contests through May 21. 15 UP, 15 DOWN: The Cubs have opened the season with a 15-15 record after going 11-19 in the first 30 games of last season (11-20 through 31) … Chicago this season has scored first in 19 games, fourth-most in the majors behind Atlanta (22), the Dodgers (21) and Tampa Bay (20) … the team is 15-3 when out-hitting the opponent and 0-12 when being out-hit … here’s a look at the team’s numbers in victories and setbacks this season:

2023 AVG OBP SLG R/G BB SO ERA IP ER BB SO
15 Wins .317 .382 .519 7.4 54 114 1.72 136.0 26 48 135
15 Losses .222 .304 .355 2.8 53 134 5.46 128.2 78 46 129

ABOUT THE BATS: Chicago’s .272 team batting average (282-for-1,035) ranks second in the majors behind Tampa Bay (.280), however, the Cubs have batted .240 (87-for363) in their last 11 games since April 22 (along with a .322 OBP and .402 SLG in that span) … Chicago’s .345 season on-base percentage ranks second in the majors behind Tampa Bay (.351) while its .442 slugging mark ranks sixth.

THIS AND THAT: Cubs pitching has surrendered 24 home runs this season, the fewest in the N.L. and third-fewest in the majors (Tampa Bay, 20 & Seattle, 21) … Cubs relievers have allowed just six of 27 inherited runners to score, and that 77.8% success rate ranks fourth in the majors (Miami leads, 78.8%).

Last night’s game was Chicago’s first without an extra-base hit since Opening Day vs. Milwaukee … the team’s 90 extra-base hits this season are right around the MLB average of 91 extra-base hits per club.

ARM CARE: Cubs pitching has posted a 3.54 ERA (104 ER/264.2 IP) this season, the third-best mark in the N.L. (Milwaukee, 3.40 & Atlanta, 3.53) … the starting rotation has a 3.18 ERA (57 ER/161.1 IP), the second-best mark in baseball (Tampa Bay, 3.13).

RISPY BUSINESS: Chicago in the first six games of this trip through Miami and Washington D.C., have hit .143 (7-for-49) with runners in scoring position including a .111 mark (1-9) with five strikeouts and a sac fly with the bases loaded.

Still, the Cubs have batted .279 (73-for-262) with RISP this season, third-best in the N.L. and sixth in the majors … Nico Hoerner leads the club, posting a .348 average (8-for-23) with 15 RBI when batting with RISP.

WAS A FINE STREAK: Nico Hoerner’s stretch of reaching base safely ended at 26 games after he was 0-for-5 Tuesday night in Washington … that 26-game was the team’s longest since Kris Bryant reached in 26-straight games April 17-May 17, 2019.

Hoerner’s 40 hits are tied for sixth in MLB … his 11 steals are tied for third in the N.L. and his 23 runs scored are tied for fifth.

BELLI AT THE DISH: Cody Bellinger since April 4 has hit .330 (29-for-88) with 22 runs, six doubles, a triple, six home runs, and 14 RBI in his last 23 games, reaching safely in 21 of those contests … has scored a run in 16 of his last 20 games.

Since April 4, Bellinger’s .625 slugging mark and 1.021 OPS are both fourth among N.L. qualified hitters.

NOBODY BEATS THE WIZ: Patrick Wisdom on Tuesday belted his 11th homer of the season, now tied for the second-most in the majors and just one behind the Dodgers Max Muncy (12) … Wisdom has gone deep in two of his last five games.

Wisdom is the eighth Cub to hit 11 home runs within the team’s first 29 games of a season and the first since Alfonso Soriano hit 11 home runs in the team’s first 28 games of 2011.

LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: The Cubs have scored at least one run in each of their first 30 games of the season, just the sixth time in the expansion era (since 1961) the team has gotten on the board in each of its first 27 contests … the longest season-opening streaks in this span: 47 G in 1995, 43 G in 2020, 40 G in 2012, 35 G in 1975 and 34 G in 199.

THREE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER … SO IS 30: The Cubs are one of two major league teams with at least four players who have already collected 30 hits apiece this season (Philadelphia, 5 players) … Nico Hoerner has 40 hits, Dansby Swanson has 33, Ian Happ has 32 and Cody Bellinger has 30.

Swanson on Monday night was 3-for-5 with a double, homer and two RBI … his six games of three or more hits this season are tied for the most in the majors with Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr.

Starting Pitcher – #50 RHP Jameson Taillon (0-2, 4.50)
Last Time Out
Jameson received a no decision April 15 at the Dodgers … struck out a season hightying seven batters for the second-straight start … tossed at least 5.0 scoreless innings for the first time this season (last Sept. 22, 2022 vs. Boston (6.0 scoreless innings) … has received two runs or fewer of support in all three starts.
Date Opp. Result IP H R ER BB SO PC-S Left
4/15 @LAD ND, 1-2 5.0 2 0 0 2 7 85-52 1-0

2023 Splits and Season Notes
W-L ERA G GS IP H R ER BB SO
Home 0-2 7.00 2 2 9.0 13 8 7 2 9
Road 0-0 0.00 1 1 5.0 2 0 0 2 7
AVG vs. LHB: .367 (11-for-30) / AVG vs. RHB: .148 (4-for-27)
Jameson is expected to be activated from the 15-day injured list to make his fourth start of the 2023 season today … is looking for his first win as a Cub … has walked two or fewer batters in 13-straight outings dating to Aug. 8, 2022, tied for the ninth-longest active streak among major league starting pitchers.

Began his stint on the 15-day injured list April 20 (retroactive to April 17) with a left groin strain.

Went 2-0 with a 3.93 ERA (8 ER/18.1 IP) with 23 strikeouts, compared to no walks during Spring Training … was the only pitcher in the Cactus League with at least 10.0 IP to not walk a batter.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS NOTES:

OPPONENT – CHICAGO CUBS
The Nationals and Cubs will play seven times this season (4 in D.C., 3 in CHC)…Nationals manager Dave Martinez served as the Cubs bench coach from 2015-17 and also made his Major League debut with the Cubs in 1986, going on to play four seasons with them (1986-88, 2000)…Bullpen coach Henry Blanco served as Chicago’s quality assurance coach from 2015-17 and played for the Cubs from 2005-08…Pitching coach Jim Hickey served the same role with the Cubs in (2017-18)…President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo is a Chicago native…He attended Holy Cross High School in River Grove, IL…Trevor Williams opened the 2021 season with the Cubs before being traded to the Mets…Carl Edwards Jr. spent five seasons (2015-19) as a member of the Cubs… Jeimer Candelario made his MLB debut with the
Cubs in 2016…Cubs catcher Yan Gomes spent three seasons (2019-21) in D.C. and caught the final out of the 2019 World Series.

SEVENTH HEAVEN
For the second time in as many nights, the Washington Nationals used a seventh inning rally to beat the Chicago Cubs…Tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Lane Thomas led off the inning with a triple and CJ Abrams followed with a line drive single to center field bringing him home.

• For Abrams it was his second game-winning RBI in as many games and the first time in his career he’s recorded a game winning RBI in back-to-back games.

• Following Jake Irvin’s (4.1 IP, 2 H, ER, 4 BB, 3 SO), Major League debut, Washington’s bullpen combined to toss 4.2 innings of four-hit, shutout relief with five strikeouts and one walk.

STATUS CHECK
The Nationals cap this homestand having won three of their last four games…They are 8-7 dating to April 16 vs. Cleveland and 11-12 since April 7 at Colorado. • Following this afternoon’s tilt, the Nationals will embark on a six-game road trip against the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants.

CJ IN DC
Over his last eight games, CJ Abrams is 9-for-25 (.360) with a double, homer, seven RBI, one hit by pitch and four runs scored…He’s hit safely in six of the eight games.

• Since April 15, he is hitting .278 (15-for-54) with a .426 slugging percentage (2 2B, 2 HR).

MOUND PRESENCE
Jim Hickey’s starters rank tied for sixth in the National League in starts of at least 5.0 innings this season with 23…In 2022, the Nationals ranked 28th in Major League Baseball with 94 starts of at least 5.0 innings.

• Starters Josiah Gray (6.0 IP, 3 H, ER, 3 BB, 6 SO), MacKenzie Gore (4.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO), Trevor Williams (5.1 IP, 4 H, BB, 4 SO) and Jake Irvin (4.1 IP, 2 H, ER, 4 BB, 3 SO), have combined to pitch to a 2.75 ERA over the last four games.

• The bullpen has pitched to a 1.65 ERA (3 ER/16.1 IP) over the same stretch.

LET’S TALK ABOUT LUIS
Luis García is hitting .254/.324/.413 in 17 games dating to April 14…He has seven walks and just six strikeouts in 71 plate appearances over this stretch…This comes after he opened the season hitting .179/.172/.214 with no walks in his first eight games.

• García is 7-for-24 (.292) with a double, triple, five RBI, two walks, one stolen base and three runs scored over his last seven games.

• The left-hander is 7-for-20 (.350) with a double, triple, homer, four RBI and just two strikeouts against left-handed pitching this season.

SPEAKING OF DOM
Dominic Smith is 7-for-19 (.368) with one double, one homer, one RBI and three runs scored over his last five games…He’s struck out just twice in 19 plate appearances over this stretch.

• He is one of two National League first baseman to accumulate at three defensive runs saved along with Pittsburgh’s Carlos Santana (3), per FanGraphs.com.

NO Ks HERE
Thanks to Keibert Ruiz (3rd, 7.2%), Luis García (4th, 8.0%) and Victor Robles (19th, 12.6%), the Nationals have three players in the top 20 in MLB in strikeout rate…The Nationals are one of two teams with more than two players (Boston).

• As a team, the Nationals have the lowest strikeout rate in Major League Baseball (18.1%) and the fewest strikeouts (204) ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks (230).

STARTING PITCHER – #46 PATRICK CORBIN
Left-handed pitcher signed a six-year contract with the Nationals on Dec. 7, 2018…Was the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series…Is a two-time National League All-Star (2018, 2013)… Has started at least 30 games for five consecutive full seasons (2017-19, 2021-22), joining Gerrit Cole as the only pitchers since 2017 to accomplish the feat.

LAST START
Was saddled with the loss despite tossing 5.1 innings of three-run ball…Struck out two and issued one walk…Exited the game in the sixth inning with a runner on who eventually came around to score, giving Pittsburgh the 3-2 lead.

vs. CHICAGO (NL)
Today marks his second career start against the Cubs at Nationals Park…Last faced them at Nats Park, Aug. 16, 2022 (6.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, HR, 2 BB, 3 SO)…Has surrendered just two home runs to Cubs hitters in 30.2 innings pitched across his last five starts against Chicago.

THE SLIDE PIECE
Corbin’s signature slider has induced 39 swings and misses, the third-most of any left-handed pitcher behind Clayton Kershaw (53) and Reid Detmers (43).

CAREFUL OVER THERE
Corbin is tied for third in Major League Baseball with two pickoffs already this year…He picked off three runners each of the past two seasons (2021-22) and his career-high for pickoffs in a season is four in 2019.

APPRECIATE THE SUPPORT, FELLAS
Since joining the Nationals in 2019, Corbin is 27-3 with a 2.64 ERA in 34 starts when he throws at least 6.0 innings and receives at least three runs of support…The Nationals are 31-3 in those games.

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