After a few shaky early innings last night, the Cubs took care of business against the Reds in game 1. Hopefully, they have similar luck again tonight.
Of course, they’ll be facing an entirely different pitcher, with the right-handed rookie Luis Castillo taking the mound for the Reds. Castillo has made ten starts this season, and has been well above average throughout (3.73 ERA). And despite getting some help from a relatively low BABIP and relatively high strand rate, Castillo has been really unlucky with his HR/FB ratio, which is much higher than average.
Fortunately, for him, he doesn’t allow a ton of fly balls, controls the contact well, and is, in fact, ridiculously adept at getting grounders: 57.9 GB%. So be on the lookout for some double play balls tonight and don’t expect the ball to be leaving the yard quite as much.
If there is one thing working against Castillo – other than his relative inexperience, I guess – it’s probably his 10.4% walk rate. The Cubs have the second highest walk rate in the National League, so their patience could serve them well tonight.
Opposing Castillo and the Reds is Kyle Hendricks, making his 16th start of the season and fifth since returning from the disabled list. Since he’s been back from the DL, Hendricks has been pretty good (2.57 ERA, 3.37 FIP), but has also been quite fortunate in some ways (87.8% strand rate, 10.0% FB rate).
When you consider that he’s gotten just a 44.9% ground ball rate, has lasted just 21.0 innings across four games, and has induced some league average contact management (which isn’t great for him), you’re probably not thrilled with his performance, but there’s still plenty to like.
For one, he’s actually been quite unlucky with his BABIP, which, during this stretch (.328) is WAY above his career mark (.273). For another, his 5.4% walk rate has been pretty great. And after his last start, I took a very close look at the interplay between his velocity and command, so you’ll want to give that one another read before tonight’s start.
The Cubs can guarantee themselves a split with a great chance to win the series, with one more victory tonight. Let’s see it, Cubs.
Chicago Cubs (62-55) at Cincinnati Reds (49-70) – 7:05 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
Game Thread and Series Preview
Your game thread is down in the comments, so let’s have some good, clean (safe-for-work) fun today.
Cubs: Kyle Hendricks (R): 3.70 ERA, 4.21 FIP, 4.01 xFIP; 2.65 K/BB
Reds: Luis Castillo (R): 3.73 ERA, 4.51 FIP, 4.02 xFIP; 2.27 K/BB
- Billy Hamilton, CF
- Zack Cozart, SS
- Joey Votto, 1B
- Adam Duvall, LF
- Scooter Gennett, 2B
- Eugenio Suarez, 3B
- Jesse Winker, RF
- Tucker Barnhart, C
- Luis Castillo, P
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Jon Jay, CF
- Tommy La Stella, 2B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Victor Caratini, C
- Albert Almora Jr., CF
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Javy Baez, SS
- Kyle Hendricks, P