Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago Illinois
When: Thursday, May 23, 2019, 2:20 pm Eastern
We have game four of a four-game series to consider for Thursday afternoon when National League rivals Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs conclude their four-game series under partly cloudy skies and temps in the mid-seventies. This preview was written prior to the conclusion of Wednesday’s play so all opinions and conclusions will be based on the numbers from Tuesday night’s action.
Philadelphia leads the National League East and plans on sending righty Aaron Nola to the bump on Thursday afternoon. Chicago leads the National League Central and will look to lefty Jon Lester to hopefully quiet the Phillies bats. I’m the Flash and will be discussing this game with you today.
Phillies First in NL East
Philadelphia split the first two games of their series with the Cubs and has a 2.5 game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. The Phillies has won six of their last ten games and enter Wednesday night hoping to end a one-game losing streak. Philadelphia has a .500 record of ten wins and ten losses away from home and if the Phillies are serious about winning titles this season, they had better figure out how to win on the road.
The Phillies have injury concerns, but no one significant for their Wednesday contest with Chicago.
Nola (4-0, 4.47 ERA) has been solid this season but his 1.55 WHIP is insanely high for a top tier pitcher like Nola is considered and his 4.47 ERA seems high but his 3.71 xFIP suggests Nola has been unlucky and maybe could see some regression headed his way at some point this season. Nola strikes out 10.32 per nine innings with 3.61 walks and allows 1.51 bombs per nine innings pitched.
Chicago ranks third against right-handed pitching this season and their 21 percent strikeout rate could see a bump against Nola and those ten strikeouts per nine innings pitched. Nola walks nearly four per nine innings and those 1.5 bombs allowed per nine innings could be real trouble against the Cubs and their .363 OBP and .197 ISO this season.
Cubs First in NL Central
The Cubs look like a team that is serious about winning baseball games and their 28-18 record seems to back that up. Chicago is also very good at Wrigley Field and has a record of 16 wins and seven losses. The Cubs is top three in both offense and pitching this season and Achilles Heel seems to be the Cubs bullpen and its National League-leading nine blown saves in 18 opportunities this season.
Chicago has a lengthy injury report with the most significant being a heel issue to shortstop Javier Baez leaving him as day to day. It didn’t prevent him from hitting a pinch-hit walk-off single to beat the Phillies on Tuesday night but could keep him out of the Cubs starting lineup Wednesday. Baez has a .362 OBP with 11 bombs and 32 RBI for Chicago this season.
Lester (3-2, 2.09 ERA) is having a strong season and his 1.26 WHIP seems reasonable for a control pitcher like Lester and has a solid 2.09 ERA but his 3.63 xFIP suggests maybe Lester has been a bit lucky and could see some regression at some point this season. Lester strikes out 8.79 per nine innings pitched with 1.88 walks and serves up less than a bomb per nine innings pitched.
Philadelphia ranks 17th in baseball against southpaws and their 20 percent strikeout rate could see an increase against Lester and his nearly nine strikeouts per nine innings pitched. The Phillies .319 OBP might also take a hit as Lester rarely walks anyone and Philadelphia has a .163 ISO and could see a decrease against Lester and his less than one bomb allowed per nine innings pitched and in a ballpark surrendering less than half a bomb per game this season.
- Cubs are 4-0 in Lester’s last 4 starts vs. Phillies.
- Cubs are 39-14 in Lester’s last 53 home starts.
- Cubs are 13-5 in Lester’s last 18 starts vs. National League East.
- Phillies are 1-4 in their last 5 road games vs. a left-handed starter.
- Phillies are 1-4 in their last 5 vs. National League Central.
- Phillies are 1-4 in their last 5 vs. a team with a winning record.
- Phillies are 1-5 in their last 6 during game 4 of a series.