Monday, September 25, 2023
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MLB Preview: San Francisco Giants (70-68) at Chicago Cubs (74-64)


TODAY’S GAME: The Giants and Cubs play game two of this three game series tonight at Wrigley Field…SF has dropped four of the first five games on this seven game road trip against San Diego (1-3) and Chicago-NL (0-1). With yesterday’s 0-5 loss and Sunday’s 0-4 loss to the Padres…SF has been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since June 12-13, 2021 at WSH. SF is hitting .184 with two home runs and averaging 2.2 runs per game over the first five games of this road trip. Dating back to 2021, SF has won five of its last seven games here at Wrigley Field, outscoring the Cubs 38-23. The Giants are 9-19 (.321) since August 5, the fourth-worst winning percentage in the Majors in that time ahead of Kansas City (7-21, .250), Colorado (7-21, .250) and Los Angeles-AL (8-19, .296).

ROSTER MOVES: The Giants made the following roster moves prior to tonight’s game: OF A.J. Pollock placed on UR waivers…RHP John Brebbia (#59) returned from his rehabilitation assignment and reinstated from the 60-day IL. RHP Tristan Beck optioned to Triple-A Sacramento.

WILD ONES: With yesterday’s loss, the Giants dropped 1.0 game behind the Diamondbacks (71-67) and the Reds (72- 68) and 0.5 game behind the Marlins (70-67) for the third Wild Card spot. Entering play today, Fangraphs gives the Giants a 35.6% chance of making the postseason, significantly lower than it was just a month ago when it was 80.4% as recently as August 4.

NOT JUST THE OPENER: RHP Ryan Walker takes the hill for his 39th appearance this year. Walker is 4-2 with a 2.16 ERA (12er, 50.0ip) and has struck out 61 batters over his 38 outings so far this season. He’s slated to make his 12th start…he’s posted a 2.55 ERA (5er, 17.2ip) and pitched more than 1.0 inning six of the 11 times. SF is 7-4 when he opens a game, however they have dropped each of the last four games he’s opened after starting 7-0.

FEELIN’ THE FLO: IF Wilmer Flores leads the Giants with 20 home runs this season, a new career-high (previous 19 in 2022). 12 of his 20 homers have come since July 17. Nine of his 20 home runs this year have given the Giants a lead or tied the game (six go-ahead, three game-tying). Despite going 3-for-22 (.136) over his last six games, he’s still hitting .309 with 14 homers and a .970 OPS over his last 53 games (since June 12). Since June 12, his .599 SLG ranks as the sixth best in MLB
(min. 180 PA) trailing Shohei Ohtani (.741), Mookie Betts (.691), Corey Seager (.685), Matt Olson (.658) and Triston Casas (.608).

DOING IT ALL: IF Thairo Estrada leads the Giants in hits and stolen bases this season just as he did in 2022…the last Giant second basemen to lead the team in both categories in consecutive seasons was Frankie Frisch in 1923 and 1924 (Stats, LLC).

HOMESICK: San Francisco has posted a 32-37 record on the road this year and has dropped 18 of their last 22 road contests, dating back to July 19. SF has been outscored 115-65 over its last 22 road games. In that stretch, SF hitters are batting .203 (145×715) with 222 strikeouts and a .284 OBP. Giants pitchers have posted a 5.26 ERA (106er, 181.1ip) on the road and allowed 32 home runs in 22 games since July 19. The Giants have dropped seven-consecutive road series… the Giants last road series win came in their three-game series in Pittsburgh directly following the All-Star break (July 14-16).

A WINNING CLOSER: RHP Camilo Doval is one of four pitchers in Giants history to have a two-year span with 10+ wins and 60+ saves…he’s the only player in team history to have consecutive seasons with five or more wins and 25 or more saves (Stats, LLC).

POWER OUTAGE: Over their first 70 games, the Giants hit .255 and had 27 games with at least 10 hits…over their last 68 games, they’ve hit .216 and have 14 games with at least 10 hits…during that stretch they rank last in MLB in BA (.216), OBP (.292) and Slug (.338) (SIS).

UNDER PRESSURE: The Giants are 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position over their last four games and are 6-for-30 in five games overall on this road trip. Since June 22, the Giants .210 average with runners in scoring position ranks as the second-lowest in the Majors behind Oakland (.208).

DOWN ON THE FARM: Earlier today, the Giants had two minor leaguer players named Pitchers of the Month for August. Eugene Emeralds RHP Trevor McDonald went 2-1 with a 0.35 ERA in six starts…he allowed one earned run over 26.0 innings on 13 hits and four walks and held opponents to a .151 average and struck out 28 batters. ACL Giants Black RHP Christian Avendano held opponents to three unearned runs over 12.0 innings in six appearances…he held opponents to a .095 average as he allowed four hits and struck out 20 of the 36 batters he retired.


Cubs vs. Giants
The Cubs and Giants play two series spanning six games this season… Chicago took two of three from San Francisco at Oracle Park June 9-11 … it was the team’s first series win at San Francisco since 2013 … the Cubs last took a season series against the Giants in 2019 (4-2).

A BRILLIANT, OPEN AND SHUT CASE: The Chicago Cubs tonight play the second of a three-game set against the San Francisco Giants after taking yesterday’s Labor Day series opener, 5-0, as Justin Steele spun a career-best 8.0 shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out a career-high 12 batters … Steele, tied for the major league lead with 16 victories, yesterday became the first Cubs left-handed pitcher since 1901 to go at least 8.0 shutout innings, allowing two or fewer hits and striking out at least 12 batters. Yesterday’s shutout was Chicago’s 12th of the season, tied for fourth-most in the N.L. … last season, the Cubs recorded 11 shutouts. On the other end of the spectrum, Cubs batters have logged 21 games with at least 10 runs scored, tops in the N.L. and second in the majors behind the Rangers (23) … Chicago’s 21 games reaching 10 runs are its most in a season since doing so 21 times in 2019.

ABOUT THE RECORD: The Cubs sit a season-high tying 10-games over .500 at 74-64 (also was 72-62) … Chicago was 26-36 following play on June 8 and this marks the first time in franchise history that the club reached 10 games over .500 in a season in which it sat at least 10 games under .500. Since waking up June 9 sitting at 26-36, the Cubs are 20-games over .500 at 48-28 (.632), the third-best mark in the N.L. and fourth in the majors behind Atlanta (52-22/,703), the Dodgers (48- 5/.658) and Baltimore (48-27/.640). The team’s 74 victories this season matches its output from all of last year in which the club finished 74-88.

CURRENT EVENTS: This is the second of a three-game series against the Giants, which is followed by a four-game series vs. the Diamondbacks … following this homestand, the Cubs embark on a six-game seven-day sojourn through Colorado (3 games starting Monday) and Arizona (3 games beginning Sept. 15). Chicago is 11-1-2 in its last 14 series dating to July 17. Tonight marks the ninth of 14-straight games against teams either holding a division lead or sitting within a few games of an N.L. Wildcard spot … Chicago is 5-3 thus far. The Cubs are 18-10 in their last 28 games and 32-14 in their last 46 games since July 18 … following play on July 20, the Cubs sat 7.0-games out of a wildcard spot and 8.5-games back of the division lead … the club enters today in the second wild card spot (3.0-games ahead of Arizona) and 2.5-games back of division-leading Milwaukee.

COMFORTS OF HOME: Chicago has won eight of its last 11 home games since Aug. 5 and in its last 22 home contests dating to July 18 has posted a 16-6 record … Cubs pitching has posted a 3.77 ERA (83 ER/198.0 IP) in its last 22 home games while the offense has posted a .274/.346/.488 slash line in that span.

START STRONG: Cubs starters have pitched to a 2.09 ERA (16 ER/69.0 IP) in the last 12 games since August 24, which leads the majors … on the season, Chicago’s 62 quality starts rank fourth in the majors behind only Minnesota (68), Seattle (66) and San Diego (64) … Cubs starting pitching had 48 quality starts in 2022, 23rd in MLB. Justin Steele is tied for the major league lead in victories with Atlanta’s Spencer Strider and is second in the majors with a 2.55 ERA, trailing only San Diego’s Blake Snell (2.50). Tonight’s starter, Kyle Hendricks, enters tonight with 92 career wins, tied for 23rd in franchise history with Bill Hands (Larry French is 22nd with 95) … Hendricks’ start tonight will move him into sole possesion of 13th in franchise history with 242 starts, surpassing Mordecai Brown.

BRING THEM AROUND, BELLI: Cody Bellinger has driven in 25 runs in his last 17 games dating to August 19, with 38 RBI since August 1 (32 games) and 62 RBI since July 1 (58 games) … he tallied 59 RBI in a 55-game span from July 1-September 12 for the first time in his career … he is the first Cub to acheive the feat since Sammy Sosa did so August 3-October 7, 2001 (61 RBI in 55 games) and just the second player in the majors this season to do so (also Matt Olson). His 62 RBI since July 1 lead the majors (Kyle Tucker is second with 50). This season, Bellinger’s .320 average is sixth in the majors, his .912 OPS ranks seventh and his .549 slugging percentage ranks eighth. Bellinger and Ronald Acuña Jr. are the only major leaguers to have at least a .320 average, 20 home runs and 18 stolen bases this season.

A RESURGENT SEIYA: Seiya Suzuki in his last 18 games since Aug. 18 is hitting .343 (23-for-67) with a .400 on-base percentage and a .672 slugging mark … in that span, his eight doubles lead the majors while his 13 extra-base hits are tied for third and his 45 total bases are eighth.

ABOUT THE “O”: Chicago ranks third in the N.L. and sixth in baseball with 697 runs scored this season … its .328 OBP is fourth in the N.L. and ninth in the majors … the team’s 697 runs have already surpassed the 657 scored in 2022 and are nearing the 705 runs plated in 2021. Chicago is hitting .326 (43-for-132) with a .374 OBP with runners in scoring position in its last 18 games since Aug. 18 … on the season, the Cubs .272 average (326-for-1,197) with RISP ranks second in the N.L. and seventh in the majors … the team in 2022 hit .230 with RISP, 28th in the majors … Cody Bellinger is eighth in the N.L. with a .336 mark (36-for-107) with RISP.

GOMES AT THE DISH: Yan Gomes yesterday went 2-for-3 with a double and RBI … his 12 doubles since July 23 are tied for fifth-most in the majors in that span … he is batting .280 (30-for-107) with the 12 doubles, one homer and 14 RBI during the run.

Starting Pitcher – #28 RHP Kyle Hendricks (5-7, 3.59)
Last Time Out
Kyle received a no-decision Aug. 30 vs. Milwaukee, making his second start this season of at least 6.0 innings with no earned runs allowed (also June 10 at San Francisco) … has allowed three runs or fewer in five-straight starts since Aug. 9, posting a 2.48 ERA (8 ER/29.0 IP) during the run … has made six quality starts in his last nine outings since July 19 … has walked two or fewer batters in 13-straight starts since June 29.

Date Opp. Result IP H R ER BB SO PC-S Left
8/30 MIL ND, 3-2 6.0 4 1 0 2 6 98-62 2-1
2023 Splits and Season Notes
Home 2-4 4.31 10 10 54.1 60 29 26 10 39
Road 3-3 2.89 9 9 56.0 45 23 18 10 35
AVG vs. LHB: .239 (52-for-218) / AVG vs. RHB: .250 (53-for-212)

Kyle will make his 20th start of the 2023 campaign, his 11th at Wrigley Field … has posted a 4.31 ERA (26 ER/54.1 IP) in 10 starts at Wrigley Field, compared to a 2.89 ERA (18 ER/56.0 IP) on the road this season … has allowed three runs or fewer in five-straight starts since Aug. 9, posting a 2.48 ERA (8 ER/29.0 IP) during the run …ranks in MLB’s 98th percentile in average exit velocity allowed and 95th percentile in walk percentage … has made quality starts in six of his last nine outings … is scheduled to make his 12th career start vs. the Giants tonight (6-2, 2.03) … his 2.03 career ERA vs. the Giants is his lowest vs. any opponent (min. 10 GS) … has held opponents to a .163 average (35-for-215) with 55 strikeouts against his changeup. Aug. 30 made his 33rd career start vs. Milwaukee, his most vs. any opponent and the most by a Cub pitcher vs. the Brewers. July 25, made his 12th career start vs. the White Sox, the second-most by a Cubs pitcher trailing Carlos Zambrano (13). Walked one batter in five starts from June 29-July 19 (29.1 IP), his fewest in a five-game span in his career. Started July 9 at New York (A.L.) and July 14 vs. Boston, becoming the first Cubs pitcher since Carlos Zambrano (July 8-13, 2007) to start back-to-back team games. Posted a 1.95 ERA (7 ER/32.1 IP) in five starts from June 10-July 4, allowing three runs or fewer in all five outings … his 1.95 ERA was the fourth-lowest in the majors during that span (min. 5 GS). June 10 in San Francisco, carried a no-hit bid into the eighth … the 7.2 inning nohit bid was the second-longest of his career (Sept. 12, 2016 at St. Louis, 8.0 IP). Became the 12th pitcher in Cubs history to pitch for the Cubs in at least 10 season (last Kerry Wood). Made his season debut May 25 vs. Mets (3 ER/4.1 IP), his first major league start since July 5, 2022. Made five rehab starts with Triple-A Iowa, going 2-1 with a 5.75 ERA (13 ER/20.1 IP) … allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last three rehab starts, posting a 1.69 ERA (3 ER/16.0 IP) during those outings. Began the season on the 15-day injured list, as he rehabbed from a capsular tear in his right shoulder that he suffered in July 2022.

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