The Chicago Cubs send right-hander Tyler Chatwood to the mound in lieu of Yu Darvish, who is sidelined with forearm tightness that’s spanned five outings.
One day removed from dropping a 2-0 decision at home to the Milwaukee Brewers and the first-place St. Louis Cardinals winning both ends of their first of two doubleheaders this weekend, the Chicago Cubs got some bad news at a time when they need a win.
Sunday’s scheduled starter, Yu Darvish, will not pitch in the series finale because of lingering forearm tightness he’s been battling for his last five starts. Instead, Chicago will turn to spot starter/long-man Tyler Chatwood hoping he can hold down the fort and the offense can do its job against Milwaukee.
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Darvish, of course, just closed the book on one of his best months in a Cubs uniform, pitching to a staggering 42.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 31 1/3 innings of work. In each of the last two months, the right-hander has put up a sub-0.900 WHIP, due largely in part to his essentially eliminating the free pass during that span.
He’s still battled the long-ball more often than we’d like to see – but there’s little doubt Darvish was the ideal choice to take the ball against the Brewers Sunday. He’s been pitching well and was coming off an eight-inning effort his last time out in which he allowed just one run, striking out seven.
As for Chatwood, he’s picked up the slack on more than one occasion this season – but it’s hard to expect much in terms of longevity given he hasn’t really been stretched out much this year. The good news? The team just got reinforcements in the form of September call-ups, so there are plenty of options down there for the Cubs.
The lineup Joe Maddon is trotting out hardly looks like that belonging to a team ready to win a division crown. Last year’s NL MVP runner-up Javier Baez, who’s been scuffling for some time now, will lead off. Nicholas Castellanos and Kris Bryant hold down the typical second and third spots in the order – but then it gets weird.
Victor Caratini, who will play first as the Cubs give Anthony Rizzo a scheduled day off to make sure is back is at 100 percent after returning Saturday, bats clean-up. Then, we’re relying on the likes of Jonathan Lucroy, Albert Almora Jr., Addison Russell and Ian Happ to lengthen the lineup and produce runs.
Let’s hope the Reds do something worthwhile today in St. Louis to help the Cubs out. Maybe, just maybe, the Cubs can somehow come away with a victory this afternoon – but, man, talk about not having the odds in your favor.