Thursday afternoon on the MLB diamond and the National League East will square off with the National League Central as the Philadelphia Phillies duke it out with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in game four of their four-game series. The teams split the first two games of this series
Pitching Matchup: Aaron Nola (4-0, 4.47 ERA) will get the nod for the Phillies and the Cubs will counter with Jon Lester (3-2, 2.09 ERA).
(Was Written Prior To Yesterday’s Game)
Phillies Let One Slip Away
In game one of this series, the Phillies rallied in the 9th to tie the game and then won it in the 10th on a homer by JT Realmuto. The Cubs returned the favor in game two as they rallied in the bottom of the 9th for a 3-2 walk-off win. It was a tough loss for the Phillies and Juan Nicasio (0-2, 4.09) who served up the game-winning hit by pinch-hitter Javier Baez. The only good news on Tuesday night was that the Braves lost as well and Philly will still have a 2.5 game lead in the division as they enter play on Wednesday. The Phillies had been getting strong play from their bullpen of late and it has had a good season overall, but it just was not there on this night. Philly still has just five blown saves in 18 chances.
The offense needs to get back on track and particularly Bryce Harper, who came into the series hot but has goner 0-8 through the first two games of the series. Still, his defense has been strong. Check out the video below. The pitching has carried the Phillies so far and now it’s time for the offense to step up. Andrew McCutchen drove in both of Philadelphia runs in the loss, while Zach Eflin (2.76 ERA) took a no-decision after allowing just one ER on six hits and four walks while striking out just two in 6.0 innings of work. Efflin now has a 1.75 ERA over his last five starts.
Harper's throw to the plate:
96.0 mph, 264 feet on the fly.
Anthony Rizzo: Out by a mile. pic.twitter.com/jhKxgaeV1b
— #Statcast (@statcast) May 21, 2019
Toeing the slab for the Phillies will be Aaron Nola and he has gone 4-0 with a 4.47 ERA in 10 starts on the year, including 2-0 with a 6.14 ERA in three starts on the road. In his career, he has gone 19-14 with a 3.76 ERA in 50 starts on the road and 9-6 with a 2.65 ERA in 19 starts during the month of May, plus 14-12 with a 3.54 ERA in 39 day starts. Nola has gone 1-1 with a 5.12 ERA in three career starts against the Cubs, including 1-0 with a 4.61 ERA in two starts here at Wrigley Field.
The Phillies have been a decent offensive team so far as they come in ranked 12th in the league in scoring, putting up 4.92 rpg, while also ranking 21st in hitting at .242 and 23rd in homers with 52. On the mound, they have been solid as they come in ranked 9th in the league in ERA at 3.90, while also ranking 21st in WHIP at 1.36 and 19th in Ks with 406 The pen for the Phils ranks 8th in the league with a 3.84 ERA.
The Cubs Need Their Pen To Improve
Back in 2016, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. They had a mostly complete team but were missing one piece and that was a strong closer in the pen. Chicago went out and signed Aroldis Chapman mid-season and that was all she wrote. This year they have strong starting pitching as their starters have a 3.34 ERA and the offense is one of the best, but the pen seems a bit off. The Cubs have a pen that is 11th in the league in ERA at 3.97 but they also have nine blown saves in 18 chances, while in 2016 they had 15 blown saves all year while posting a 3.56 ERA, which was 7th in the league. It looks as if the Cubs will need to add a strong arm to the backend of their bullpen if they hope to make another serious run at a World Title. The pen almost bit them in game two, after blowing a lead in game one.
Jose Quintana (3.30 ERA) had a strong showing as he allowed no runs and just two hits and three walks while striking out four in 6.0 innings of work, but he got a no-decision in the contest. Carl Edwards Jr followed Quintana and allowed two ERs on two hits in 0.2 innings of work to give up the lead. The offense then bailed him out in the bottom of the 9th on a pinch-hit single by Javier Baez. Kris Bryant had a solid game as he posted three hits and scored two runs. He scored his first run from 2nd-base on a groundout and his 2nd run was also scored on a groundout. A lot is made about his power, but Bryant is an excellent baserunner and it was his legs that were really the difference in the game.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 22, 2019
The Cubs will counter with Jon Lester and he has gone 3-2 with a 2.09 ERA in eight starts on the year, including 1-1 with a 0.46 ERA in four starts here at home. In his career, he has gone 33-19 with a 3.22 ERA in 75 starts here at Wrigley Field and 36-18 with a 3.55 ERA in 67 starts during the month of May, plus 62-38 with a 3.35 ERA in 136 games (135 starts) in the daytime. Lester has dominated the Phils in his career, going 8-0 with a 1.49 ERA in 10 starts against them.
The Cubs have been a strong offensive team so far as they come in ranked 4th in the league in scoring, putting up 5.33 rpg, while also ranking 6th in hitting at .257 and 10th in homers with 69. On the mound, they have been solid as they come in ranked 5th in the league in ERA at 3.58, while also ranking 17th in WHIP at 1.32 and 14th in K’s with 412. The bullpen ranks 11th in the league with a 3.97 ERA.
- 37-76 in their last 113 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600
- 1-5 in their last 6 during game 4 of a series
- 12-3 in their last 15 home games vs. a team with a winning record
- 40-18 in their last 58 home games vs. a right-handed starter