Friday, June 21, 2024
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MLB Preview: Chicago Cubs (19-24) at Philadelphia Phillies (20-23)

CHICAGO CUBS NOTES:

The Cubs and Phillies face each other in six games this season … following the three contests this weekend, the teams will also play June 27-29 at Wrigley Field … Chicago last year picked up the season sweep of the Phillies for the first time in franchise history … the Cubs have won four of the previous five season series against Philadelphia.

THE CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE: The Chicago Cubs tonight play the first of three games in Philadelphia in the final leg of a nine-game, three-city, 10-day road trip (1-5) … Chicago fell to Houston in walk-off fashion on Wednesday in the final game of the series, suffering a series sweep for the second time this yerar … the Cubs scored six runs through the first four innings, behind eight extra-base hits including a home run from Christoper Morel and two from Seiya Suzuki, but failed to score again … Drew Smyly threw 6.0 innings, allowing one run on four hits and eight strikeouts for his fourth quality start of the season and second in as many games … Smyly’s 14-straight batters retired (excluding the one reached by error) is the longest stretch of consecutive batters retired since he sat 21 in a row in his seven perfect innings on April 21. © Chicago has lost a season-high five games in a row, the first time since July 30-Aug. 42 of last season … they are looking to avoid losing six-straight for the first time since July 7-162 (9 G) of last year.

The Cubs went 10-3 in 13 games from April 4-19, but have gone 8-18 in 26 contests starting April 20 … Chicago has lost four-straight road series, with the last series victory coming April 17-19 at Oakland.

Today is the 20th game (5-14) of a stretch that sees the team on the road for 16 of 22 contests through May 21.

SEIYA LATER, BALL!: Between his ninth inning home run on Tuesday and home runs in the first and third innings on Wednesday, Seiya Suzuki went deep in three-straight plate apperances … according to Elias Sports Bureau, Suzuki is the first Cub to have a home run in three consecutive plate appearances since Kris Bryant May 17, 2019 … he is the first Japanese-born player to achieve the feat in the majors.

Seiya’s first home run on Wednesday was his 200th home run in the Nippon Professional Baseball organization (Japan) and Major League Baseball,
combined.

MORE FOR MOREL: Christopher Morel hit his fifth home run of the season Wednesday in his eighth game of the season … all five of his homers have gone for 400-plus feet (401, 402, 422, 429, 461) … Morel is the seventh Cub in franchise history (since 1901) to record five home runs in the first eight games of a season, joining Shane Andrews (1999), Dave Kingman (1980), Billy Williams (1964), Randy Jackson (1955), Rogers Hornsby (1931) and Gabby Hartnett (1925, 6 HR) … as you can see, onlyn Hartnett had more home runs in that span.

Morel has scored at least one run in each of his first eight games of the season … the only other Cub since 1900 to do so was Hank Sauer in 1954, who held the streak for 13 games. (credit: Elias Sports Bureau)

EXTRA FUN: The Cubs notched eight extra-base hits Wednesday (4 doubles, triple, 3 home runs) for the first time since April 21 (9 XBH) … Dansby Swanson hit the team’s first triple since April 30 and his first since April 23, 2022.

The club on Wednesday hit three home runs in a game for the first time since April 27 and have recorded eight long balls in the last four games.

UNDER ATTACK EARLY: Chicago has allowed at least one run in the first inning of each of the previous five games (May 13-17), totaling eight runs by the opponents in that span … the last time the Cubs allowed a run in the first inning in five consecutive games was April July 23-27, 2014 (10 runs allowed).

The last time the Cubs gave up first-inning runs in six-straight games? … May 5-12, 2006.

GETTING RISP-Y AGAIN: The Cubs in their last seven games (2-5) since May 10 have hit .278 (15-for-54) with RISP, compared to .182 (22-for-121) in the previous 14 games (4-10) from April 26-May 9 … in the recent seven-game uptick, Seiya Suzuki leads the team with six RBI with RISP, followed by Christopher with five.

In the recent stretch Suzuki has a .800 (4-for-5) batting average and a .750 OBP, both of which lead Cubs hitters.

Chicago’s .556 slugging percentage with RISP since May 10 ranks third in the majors and its .278 average in that span is good for fourth-best in the N.L.

HE’S HAPP-Y ON THE BASES: Ian Happ is fifth in the majors with a .422 OBP, while his .303 batting average ranks tied for 19th (tied with teammate Nico Hoerner) … the 119-point difference between the two stats ranks seventh-highest in the N.L.

Happ is tied for third in the majors with 33 walks … through 16 games in May, Happ has picked up 14 walks compared to 17 in all of April (25 games).

The Cubs as a team lead the N.L. in OBP (.340) and are third in the majors … the team’s 159 free passes ranks tied for sixth-most in the majors.

LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: The Cubs have scored at least one run in each of their first 43 games in 2023, just the third time in the expansion era (since 1961) the team has gotten on the board in each of its first 43 contests … the longest season-opening streaks in this span: 47 G in 1995 and 43 G in 2020.

Chicago is one of four teams in the majors this season to have scored at least one run in every game played thus far (also the Diamondbacks, Angels and Blue Jays).

Below is a look at how each Cubs team stacks up through the first 43 games of their season-opening streaks with at least one run scored:
Year Record Win % R RA
2023 19-24 .442 206 184
2020 25-18 .581 197 181
1995 23-20 .535 194 185

Starting Pitcher – #0 RHP Marcus Stroman (2-4, 3.24)
Last Time Out
Marcus allowed a season-high six runs and seven hits in 2.2 innings May 14 in Minnesota … the 2.2 IP marked his shortest non-injury shortened start since Sept. 3, 2018 (1.2 IP) … has received two runs or fewer of support in four-straight starts and seven of his nine outings in 2023.

Date Opp. Result IP H R ER BB SO PC-S Left
5/14 @MIN L, 3-16 2.2 7 6 6 2 3 64-44 0-5, 1 on
2023 Splits and Season Notes
W-L ERA G GS IP H R ER BB SO
Home 2-3 2.79 5 5 29.0 20 9 9 10 31
Road 0-1 3.86 4 4 21.0 20 9 9 9 16
AVG vs. LHB: .209 (19-for-91) / AVG vs. RHB: .228 (21-for-92)

Marcus is scheduled to make his team-high 10th start of the 2023 season tonight, his fifth on the road … dating to Aug. 30, 2022, has allowed two runs or fewer in 12 of his last 16 starts, pitching to a 2.74 ERA (28 ER/92.0 IP), the fifth-lowest ERA in the majors during that span (min. 16 GS) … his seven quality starts are tied for the major league lead this season and his 16 such outings since the All-Star break of last season are tied for sixth-most in the MLB.

Recorded his 1,000th career strikeout April 23 vs. Los Angeles (N.L.), retiring Freddie Freeman looking in the third inning.

Became the second Cubs starting pitcher since 1901 (also Jake Arrieta, 2016) with three outings of at least 6.0 scoreless innings in the team’s first 16 games.

Became the third Cubs starting pitcher since 1901 to allow two or fewer combined runs over his first four starts of a season (also Steve Stone, 1976; Jason Hammel, 2016).

Posted a 14.0-inning scoreless streak to begin the season, the fourth-longest by a Cubs pitcher since 1901.

Made his third career Opening Day start March 30 vs. Milwaukee (0 ER/6.0 IP), earning the win … improved to 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA (3 ER/21.0 IP) in his three career Opening Day starts.

In three Cacuts League starts with the Cubs, went 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA (1 ER/10.0 IP) and 10 strikeouts.

Made two starts for Team Puerto Rico in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, posting a 3.00 ERA (3 ER/9.0 IP)

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES NOTES:

  • GAME #43 RECAP: The Phillies fell to the San Francisco Giants, 7-4, on a getaway day at Oracle Park … Starter Taijuan Walker (ND) couldn’t make it through the 1st inning as he allowed 4 runs on 4 hits with 2 walks and a strikeout (40 total pitches) … The Phillies rallied to tie the game at 4-4 in the 5th but the Giants put 7 consecutive balls in play against reliever Gregory Soto and took a 7-4 lead in the 8th … The Phillies had the bases loaded in the 9th against Giants closer Camilo Doval but failed to score.
  • A REAL UNICORN: Since the start of last season (regular and postseason combined), J.T. Realmuto has played a total of 1281.2 innings at catcher (150 G, 147 GS) … That is 240.0 innings (almost 27 full games) clear of HOU’s Martin Maldonado who ranks 2nd in MLB at 1041.2 innings at catcher … The next closest National League catcher to Realmuto is LAD’s Will Smith who has caught 984.1 innings, which is 297.1 innings shy of Realmuto (33 full games) … Realmuto started this season slashing .205/.222/.364 (.586 OPS) through his first 11 games (45 PA, 3/30-4/13), but since then, he is slashing .351/.379/.574 (.953 OPS) over his last 26 games (103 PA, since 4/14) … He carries an active 10-game hitting streak into play tonight (14-35, .400 AVG, since 5/5).
  • I’M OFF ON THE ADVENTURE: Tonight, Ranger Suárez will step on the mound at Citizens Bank Park for the first time since Game 3 of the 2022 World Series against the Astros at CBP (7-0 Phils win, Suarez tossed 5.0 scoreless and got the win) … The Phillies have not lost a game at Citizens Bank Park that Suarez has pitched in since June 29, 2022 – they have won all eight games Suarez has pitched in at CBP since July 25, 2022 (including postseason).
  • LEGEND OF THE FALL: Last postseason, Ranger Suárez went 2-0 in 3 starts with a 1.35 ERA (2 ER, 13.1 IP) … In 2 relief appearances, Suarez was 1-for-1 in save opportunities and tossed 1.1 scoreless innings … All said, the Phillies went 5-0 in all 5 games Suarez pitched last postseason … He was summoned to close out Game 5 of the NLCS and helped secure the 8th pennant in club history.
  • TIME TO POKE THE BEAR: Last year, the Phillies went 0-6 against the Chicago Cubs which included three games at Citizens Bank Park and three games at Wrigley Field … The Phillies scored 10 total runs against the Cubs last season (1.7 per game) as they slashed .216/.286/.291 (.578 OPS) with only nine extra-base hits in 220 plate appearances … Philadelphia’s last win against the Cubs came on Sept. 16, 2021, in a 17-8 barnburner at CBP … This marks the Phils’ longest losing streak against the Cubs since a seven-game streak, July 7, 1995-June 3, 1996.
  • BEDLAM AT THE BANK: Through 18 games at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies are averaging 39,400 in attendance per game which ranks 2nd among all clubs in MLB behind only the Dodgers (47,879) … Of Philadelphia’s first 18 games at home, 10 have been sellouts (56%) and 13 have been over 35,000 (72%).
  • BULLISH ON THE PEN: Over the last month (since 4/16), the Phillies bullpen has combined to post an MLB-best 2.47 ERA (27 ER, 98.1 IP) in 28 games with 116 strikeouts to 29 walks (4.00 SO/BB ratio) … The bullpen is 10-for-12 in save opportunities in that span … This stretch includes three games at Dodger Stadium from May 1-3 – in those three games, the bullpen allowed 18 ER in 11.1 IP (14.29 ERA) with a blown save … If you subtract those three games from the bullpen’s totals, since April 16, they have a 0.93 ERA (9 ER, 87.0 IP) in 25 games.
  • RIDING THE SEESAW: Since April 26, the Phillies have played 19 games and are one game under .500 at 9-10 … This 19-game stretch consists of a four-game winning streak (4/26-29), a season-long six-game losing streak (4/30-5/6), a season-best five-game winning streak (5/7-13) and an active four-game losing streak (since 5/14) … Per Elias, the last time a major league team had a win streak, then losing streak, then winning streak and then losing streak of at least four games each within a season was the 100-win Tampa Bay Rays from June 11-July 3, 2021 (4W, 7L, 4W, 5L) … Prior to this stretch, the only other time a Phillies team did this was from July 30-August 14, 1979 (4W, 6L, 4W, 4L) … Additionally, the Phillies lost their first five games this month only to rebound and win their next five to move to 5-5 through their first 10 in May … That marked only the fourth time in franchise history the Phils lost the first five games (or more) in a month only to win their next five in that same month in the same calendar year – others: June of 1969, Sept. of 1911 and June of 1909.
  • PHILLY SPECIAL: Since Rob Thomson took over as manager on June 3, 2022, the Phillies have played 72 games at Citizens Bank Park (46-26 record) and are 16-5-2 in series play with a +74 run differential (373-299) … The Phils have scored 373 runs in those 72 games (5.18 runs per game) and are slashing .270/.336/.462 with a .798 OPS … Among all major league clubs at home since June 3, 2022, the date Thomson took over, the Phillies rank 2nd in SLG, 3rd in OPS & AVG, 5th in OBP and 6th in runs per game …Philadelphia’s .639 winning percentage at home since Thomson took over ranks 3rd in the National League behind the Dodgers (.716) & Atlanta (.708) and 5th in MLB.
  • CASTY’S BACK, TELL A FRIEND: Phils right fielder Nick Castellanos has gotten ahead 1-0 in 56 plate appearances this season – after taking ball one, Castellanos is slashing .460/.518/.760 with a 1.278 OPS that ranks 4th out of 225 qualified players in MLB this year … He has nine extra-base hits (6 2B, 3 HR) after getting ahead 1-0 … Last season, Castellanos got ahead 1-0 in 174 plate appearances and totaled only 10 extra-base hits as he slashed .197/.276/.299 with a .575 OPS that ranked 201st out of 203 qualified hitters.

TONIGHT’S STARTER – RANGER SUÁREZ • LHP #55
2023: 0-0, 6.75 ERA Career: 25-15, 3.16 ERA

LAST START: 5/13 at COL: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, BB, 4 SO … Suárez vs Feltner … The Phillies beat the Rockies, 7-4, at Coors Field in Denver … Offensively, Trea Turner walked twice and scored twice, Bryce Harper went 2-for-4 with 2 runs, a home run, 2 RBI & a walk and Nick Castellanos had 3 hits.

TONIGHT’S START:

  • Center Cut: Suárez has a career 1.85 ERA (14 ER, 68.0 IP) against the NL Central, including a 2.24 mark (14 ER, 56.1 IP) in 9 starts …His 1.85 overall ERA is the lowest of any of the 44 Phillies starters with at least 9 career starts vs the NL Central since the division was founded in 1994, and of the 645 major league pitchers with 9+ starts against the division, only Chris Sale (0.89) and Alex Cobb (1.58) have a lower ERA … The Phillies have won 7 of his 9 starts against NL Central clubs
  • Clear Skies: Suárez has never allowed a home run to a left-handed hitter at CBP (153 TBF) … In his career, at CBP, Suarez has limited left handers to a .180/.233/.223 slash line and only allowed six extra-base hits (all doubles)
  • Just Glovely: Ranger was selected as the 2022 Fielding Bible Award winner at pitcher… Suárez’s 9 defensive runs saved in 2022 were the most by any Phillies pitcher since 2002, when Fangraphs can track back to and most by any pitcher in MLB in 2022 by 3 (Taijuan Walker had 6) … He did not make an error in a career-high 44 chances over 155.1 IP and did not allow a stolen base
  • Start Your Engines: Since transitioning to a starter full time on 8/2/21, Suárez is 13-9 with a 3.08 ERA (77 ER, 225.0 IP) in 42 regular season starts … That ERA in that span is the 9th-lowest among all NL starters with at least 200.0 IP (best: Max Fried, 2.18)

HOME:

  • 2022: 4-4, 4.27 ERA (31 ER, 65.1 IP) in 13 starts
  • Career: 14-6, 3.08 ERA (56 ER, 163.2 IP) in 55 games (23 starts)
  • 2022 Postseason: 2-0, SV, 0.84 ERA (1 ER, 10.2 IP) in 3 games (2 start)
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