Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Fantasy Guru - Baseball

MLB Preview: Chicago Cubs (20-25) at Philadelphia Phillies (21-24)


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 today play the rubber match of a three-game series in Philadelphia, wrapping up a nine-game, three-city, 10-day road trip (2-6) … Chicago fell yesterday 12-3, marking the third time this trip the team has allowed 10 or more runs … Jameson Taillon threw 2.1 innings, his shortest outing since Aug. 30, 2022, and allowed eight runs (six earned) on six hits and three walks with one strikeout … Dansby Swanson hit his fourth home run of the seaon to get the Cubs on the board with a two-run shot in the sixth inning … Christopher Morel went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run, his seventh of the season.

With the loss yesterday, the Cubs snapped a seven-game winning streak against the Phillies and a four-game winning streak at Citizen Bank Park, the team’s longest winning streak at this stadium.

The Cubs went 10-3 in 13 games from April 4-19, but have gone 9-19 in 28 contests starting April 20 … Chicago is looking for the first road- series victory since April 17-19 at Oakland, having lost four-straight sets away from home.

Today is the final contest of a 22-game stretch (6-15) in which the team has been on the road for 16 of 22 games starting April 28 … the team will return home for nine games at Wrigley Field starting Tuesday, following an off-day tomorrow, before heading back out on the road for 10 games in California.

THE TALE OF 10s: Chicago Friday scored 10 runs and won by a score of 10-1, compared to yesterday when the Cubs allowed 12 runs and lost 12-3 … the Cubs have scored at least 10 runs in a game eight times this season, which is second-most in the majors and paces the N.L. … they have allowed 10 runs in three games this year, all of which have come on the current road trip.

The eight instances of scoring 10-plus runs through the team’s first 45 games are tied for fourth most in Cubs franchise history (the record is nine games), and the most since 2019 when they also scored 10-plus in eight games through team-game no. 45.

AT THE PLATE: In his 10 games this season, Christopher Morel is batting .381 (16- for-42) with three doubles, seven home runs, 13 RBI, 14 runs scored, a .409 on-base percentage and a .952 slugging percentage … since May 9, his first game of the season, he is tied for the major league lead in homers (with Aaron Judge) and extra-base hits (10, also Judge and Freddie Freeman), is second in slugging, and seventh in average.

Ian Happ’s .415 OBP is fifth-highest in the majors and he is tied for third in walks with 33.

Nico Hoerner Friday returned from the injured list (left hamstring strain) and went 3-for-6 with two doubles and four RBI … his four RBI tied his career-high … he ranks seventh in the N.L. in batting average (.304).

The Cubs rank third in the majors in OBP (.339), fifth in average .265 (413-for1,558) and walks (167), seventh in OPS (.771) and eighth in slugging (.431).

MORE FOR MOREL: Christopher Morel hit his seventh home run of the season yesterday in his 10th game of the year, and has homered in each of his last three games … Morel is the first Cub in franchise history (since 1901) to record seven home runs in the first 10 games of a season … the three-game homer streak ties a career-high (also June 29-July 1, 2022).

Morel has scored at least one run in each of his first 10 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).

What’s more? … Morel has also recorded at least one hit and one run in 10 consecutive games … he is the 13th Cub to have a streak of 10-games or longer with a hit and a run – the last Cub to do it was Mark DeRosa May 9-19, 2008 (10 G) … Morel is the only Cub in franchise history (since 1901) to hold such a streak from the start of his season.

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 eep in three-straight plate appearances … 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,

Through the eight games of this road trip, Suzuki is hitting .357 (10-for-28) with three doubles, four home runs, seven RBI and five runs scored.

UNDER ATTACK EARLY: Chicago has allowed first-inning runs in each of its last seven games starting on May 13 (15 runs total) … the previous time the Cubs gave up first-inning runs in seven-straight games? … Sept. 10-18, 1961, for eight games in a row … eight-straight games are a club record, also done in 1893 and 1890. (h/t to Ed Hartig for this one!)

LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: The Cubs have scored at least one run in each of their first 45 games in 2023, just the second time in the expansion era (since 1961) the team has gotten on the board in each of its first 45 contests … the longest season-opening streak in this span: 47 G in 1995.

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 D-backs, Angels and Blue Jays).

Below is a look at how each Cubs team stacks up through the first 44 games of their season-opening streaks with at least one run scored:

Year Record Win % R RA
2023 20-25 .444 219 197
1995 24-21 .533 200 190

Starting Pitcher – #35 LHP Justin Steele (6-1, 2.44)
Last Time Out
Justin suffered his first loss of the season May 16 at Houston, allowing a season-high five runs in 6.0 innings … suffered his first loss since July 28, 2022 at San Francisco, spanning 13 starts … has completed at least 6.0 innings in eight of his nine starts in 2023 … struck out a season-high-tying eight batters for the third time … his five runs allowed marked his most in a start since June 23, 2022 at Pittsburgh (6).

Date Opp. Result IP H R ER BB SO PC-S Left
5/16 @HOU L, 3-7 6.0 5 5 5 1 8 82-56 1-5
2023 Splits and Season Notes
Home 4-0 1.48 5 5 30.1 23 5 5 10 23
Road 2-1 3.60 4 4 25.0 19 12 10 5 24
AVG vs. LHB: .250 (12-for-48) / AVG vs. RHB: .203 (30-for-148)

Justin is making his 10th start of the 2023 season today, fifth on the road … has posted a 1.86 ERA (19 ER/92.0 IP) since July 22, 2022, the lowest ERA in the majors during the run (min. 16 GS) … his 2.44 ERA in 2023 is tied for the third-lowest in the N.L. and eighth-lowest in the majors among qualified pitchers, while his .214 opponent average (42-for-196) is the seventh-lowest in the N.L. … is one of three N.L. pitchers with at least six wins … opposing batters are hitting .172 (11-for-64) with 22 strikeouts off his slider.

Went eight starts before suffering his first loss of the season May 16 in Houston … allowed a season-high five runs in the outing … at the time of his first loss, was the only pitcher in the N.L. with at least six wins and zero losses.

Allowed two or fewer earned runs in 14-straight starts from July 22, 2022-May 5, 2023, tied for the second-longest stretch in Cubs franchise history (since 1901), behind Jack Taylor’s streak of 15 games June 13-Aug. 14, 1902 (tied with Jake Arrieta, 14 G, 7/30/15-4/4/16).

Went 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA (4 ER/13.2 IP) with 13 strikeouts in four Cactus League starts in 2023 … started and tossed the first 2.0 innings of the Cubs combined no-hitter, March 3 at San Diego.


GAME #45 RECAP: The Phillies defeated the Chicago Cubs, 12-3, at a sold out Citizens Bank Park and evened the three-game series at 1-1 … Starter Aaron Nola (W, 4-3) went 7.0 innings and allowed 2 runs on 4 hits with 1 walk and 10 strikeouts … Kyle Schwarber blasted a grand slam in the 1st inning as the Phillies tallied 6 runs in the frame … Overall, four Phillies had multiple hits, and as a club, they had 7 walks to 8 strikeouts on the day.

BEDLAM AT THE BANK: Through 20 games at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies are averaging 39,691 in attendance per game which ranks 2nd among all clubs in MLB behind only the Dodgers (47,873) … Of Philadelphia’s first 20 games at home, 12 have been sellouts (60%) and 15 have been over 35,000 (75%) … Among all clubs in MLB, the Phillies have the largest year-to-year increase in attendance per game this season at +12,952 (up from 26,739 in 2022) … The Toronto Blue Jays rank 2nd behind the Phillies among all clubs in year-to-year attendance growth at +6,100 and the Pittsburgh Pirates rank 2nd among NL teams at +4,649.

TIME TO POKE THE BEAR: Yesterday, the Phillies defeated the Chicago Cubs 12-3 and snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Northsiders … The seven-game stretch lasted from July 22, 2022-May 19, 2023, and was the longest losing streak for the Phillies against the Cubs since another seven-game streak from July 7, 1995-June 3, 1996 … The Phillies offense put up 12 runs in yesterday’s win which was one more run than they scored during the entire losing streak (11 R).

RISP AND REWARD: Yesterday, the Phillies went 4-for-12 with runners in scoring position with 9 RBI, three walks and two extra-base hits (2B, HR) … In their five games prior from May 14-19, the Phillies went 2-for-42 with RISP with six RBI and only one extra-base hit (2B) … Kyle Schwarber’s grand slam in the 1st inning was Philadelphia’s first since Bryce Harper hit one on June 5, 2022 vs LAA (Raisel Iglesias).

SACKS PACKED: With the bases loaded this season, the Phillies are 14-for-36 at the plate with an MLB-best .389 AVG (next: CIN, .313 AVG) … In 41 plate appearances with the bases loaded, the Phillies are slashing .389/.366/.556 with a .921 OPS – Philadelphia’s .556 SLG and .921 OPS with the bases loaded both rank 3rd in the National League.

A REAL UNICORN: Since the start of last season (regular and postseason combined), J.T. Realmuto has played a total of 1608.2 innings at catcher (189 G, 185 GS) … That is 274.2 innings (almost 31 full games) clear of HOU’s Martin Maldonado who ranks 2nd in MLB at 1334.0 innings at catcher … 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 .327/.360/.535 (.895 OPS) over his last 28 games (111 PA, since 4/14).

CATCHERS ON THE FLY: Since 2022, J.T. Realmuto leads all MLB catchers with eight triples – that is one more than the two catchers who rank 2nd and 3rd behind him, combined – MJ Melendez (4) and Will Smith (3) … Catcher Garrett Stubbs ranks T-4th in MLB with two triples since 2022 … Combined, Realmuto and Stubbs have 10 triples since last season which is only two behind the entire total of the Chicago White Sox who rank 30th in MLB with 12 triples since 2022 … Per Statcast, Realmuto leads all MLB catchers in sprint speed at 28.5 feet/second which ranks in the 87th percentile of all MLB players – Stubbs topped out at 27.9 feet/second on his pinch-hit triple yesterday which was his fastest sprint speed so far this season.

RIDING THE SEESAW: Since April 26, the Phillies have played 21 games and are one game under .500 at 10-11 … This 21-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), a five-game losing streak (5/14- 19) and last night’s win … The Phillies opened May with a 5-10 record: five losses to start, followed by five wins and five losses … Per Elias, the only other time in franchise history that the Phillies had a five-game losing streak followed by a five-game winning streak followed by a five-game losing streak over a span of 15 games in any calendar month was in May of 1897 (at any point in the month, not just to open a month) … The last MLB club prior to the Phillies who did so was Atlanta in April of 2017.

CASTY’S BACK, TELL A FRIEND: Phils right fielder Nick Castellanos has gotten ahead 1-0 in 57 plate appearances this season – after taking ball one, Castellanos is slashing .460/.526/.760 with a 1.286 OPS that ranks 4th out of 224 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.

75 AT CBP FOR THOMS: Today marks Rob Thomson’s 75th game at Citizens Bank Park as manager of the Phillies … Since taking over on June 3, 2022, Thomson has guided the Phillies to a 47-27 (.635 win %) record during the regular season in South Philly and a 6-2 record in the postseason (.750) … The Phillies are 16-5-2 in regular season series play under Thomson at CBP with a +74 run differential (386-312).

FIRST THINGS FIRST: In the 1st inning this year, the Phillies have scored 33 runs which ranks 6th among all clubs in MLB (most: LAD & TB, 38 R) while averaging 0.73 runs per game in the 1st inning which ranks 5th … Philadelphia’s 33 runs in the 1st inning are their most in any frame this season (next: 4th inn., 32 R) and their eight home runs are T-1st in any frame (also: 7th inn.).

2023: 3-2, 6.53 ERA Career: 57-52, 4.00 ERA

LAST START: 5/17 at SF: ND, 0.2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO … Walker vs Stripling … The Phillies fell to the San Francisco Giants, 7-4, on a getaway day at Oracle Park … 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.


  • Restless: Walker’s lone career start on fewer than 4 days rest came on 4/13/21 (4.1 IP), 2 days after a relief appearance in which he threw 4.2 innings. His last start 4 days ago was the 3rd of his career in which he did not make it out of the opening frame (also, 0.1 IP on 7/18/21 & 0.2 IP on 9/3/16).
  • Got ‘em: Walker’s career-high 12 strikeouts came against the Cubs on 6/15/21 while with the Mets through 7.0 innings of work.
  • Doing the Splits: Walker has used his splitter 35.7% of the time in 2023, the highest rate of his career (previous: 27.6% in 2022) … He has thrown it more often than any other pitch (262 times, next: 4-seam, 169 times) and has surrendered just 2 XBH (2B, 3B) on it. Walker threw his splitter for 46 of 85 pitches on 5/7 and 46 of 105 pitches on 4/9, the most he has ever thrown the pitch in a game in his career (previous: 43 times, 6/2/22 & 8/8/16). 18 of his 39 strikeouts have come via the splitter and his 24.7 strikeout percentage and 25.2 whiff percentage with the pitch are the 8th-best and 9th-best marks in the NL, respectively (min. 10 PA).
  • From the Ground Up: Walker’s 52.0% ground ball rate is the 9th-highest among all NL pitchers (min. 30.0 IP).
  • Limiting Lefties: This season, Walker has held lefties to a .260 (19-73) average, compared to a .273 average (24-88) against righties … Since his debut year, 2013, Walker has limited lefthanded batters to a .233 average (391-1676), 16th-best among right-handed arms during that span (min. 1,500 LHB faced).
  • No Free Passes: Walker did not issue a walk in 2 straight starts (5/7 & 5/12) and averaged 13.2 pitches per inning across those starts after averaging more than 18.6 pitches per inning in his first 6 starts of the year. He last went 2 straight games without walking a batter from 9/11-16/22 while with the Mets.
  • Pick ‘em Off: Walker’s 19 successful pickoff attempts since the start of the 2015 season are tied for the 7th-most among active major league pitchers in that span.
  • vs NL Central: 6-7, 4.29 ERA (52 ER, 109.0 IP) in 20 starts.


  • 2023: 1-0, 4.91 ERA (8 ER, 14.2 IP) in 3 starts.
  • Career: 25-21, 3.85 ERA (195 ER, 456.0 IP) in 83 games (81 starts).
  • CBP: 2-1, 5.12 ERA (23 ER, 38.2 IP) in 8 starts.

2023 SEASON:

  • Made his Phillies debut on 4/3 at NYY after signing a 4-year contract with the club in December.
  • Pitched for Team Mexico in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, making 1 start in Pool Play against Great Britain … He threw 4.0 scoreless IP with 2 baserunners allowed and recorded 8 of his 12 outs via strikeout.
World Elite Syndicate

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