Pre-Gamin': Reds at Cubs (1:20 CT) - Lineups, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

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Pre-Gamin’: Reds at Cubs (1:20 CT) – Lineups, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs have just six games left, including this afternoon’s opener against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field. The Cubs are 7-6 against the Reds this season, but that record can be blown up with six straight contests to end the season.

Adrian Sampson is taking the mound for Chicago following FOUR STRAIGHT quality starts. And going back a full month, his *results* look pretty darn good: 1.67 ERA over 32.1 IP.

I say results, however, because I remain just wholly unconvinced by the peripherals. A 90 MPH average exit velocity is very bad, so is a 44.1% hard hit rate. And a 12.1% launch angle with just a 43.4% groundball rate is nothing to cheer either. The only good news is that an 8.1% barrel% isn’t *terrible*, so maybe he’s been really good at allowing hard contact ONLY when it’s also on the ground or popped up? It’s tough to understand. Either way, as a depth starter, Sampson has done more than enough to earn my support, I just think he’s been pretty dang fortunate to have results QUITE this good (I didn’t even mention the .268 BABIP, 90.4% strand rate, and 13% strikeout rate over this “dominant” stretch). Well, I did now.

The Cubs have faced today’s starter, Graham Ashcraft, twice already this season, and they figure to face him two more times before the year is up. Here’s a look at how the first two starts went:

6/30 @CHC: 2.1 IP, 7H, 7ER, 2BB, 1K
8/13 vsCHC: 6.1 IP, 6H, 4R, 3ER, 1BB, 8Ks

So basically, the Cubs got the better of him the first time around, but he turned it around on them the next time through. I took a look at what might’ve changed in terms of approach, and HOOOOO baby this is a big difference:

Four-seamer Usage:

Game 1: 57.4%
Game 2: 45.1%

Sinker Usage:

Game 1: 16.2%
Game 2: 35.3%

Slider Usage:

Game 1: 26.5%
Game 2: 19.6%

Way more sinkers, way fewer four-seamers and sliders. That’s a pitch-mix change if I ever saw one, especially because it stands out in stark contrast to his regular usage across the board before and after that game (more closely aligned with start 1).

Okay, that’s probably deep enough of a dive for game 157 between two losing teams. Go Cubs.

Game Info

Cincinnati Reds (60-96) at Chicago Cubs (70-86) – Friday, September 30 at 1:20 CT on Marquee, MLBN, 670 The Score

Starting Pitchers

Reds: Graham Ashcraft, RHP

Cubs: Adrian Sampson, RHP

Chicago Cubs (Lineup Discussion):

  1. Willson Contreras, C
  2. Seiya Suzuki, RF
  3. Ian Happ, LF
  4. Patrick Wisdom, 3B
  5. Nico Hoerner, SS
  6. Franmil Reyes, DH
  7. David Bote, 1B
  8. Nelson Velázquez, CF
  9. Chris Morel, 2B

Cincinnati Reds:

  1. TJ Friedl, LF
  2. Jonathan India, DH
  3. Kyle Farmer, 3B
  4. Jake Fraley, RF
  5. Donovan Solano, 1B
  6. Spencer Steer, 2B
  7. Mike Siani, CF
  8. Jose Barrero, SS
  9. Austin Romine, C

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami