out 43 in 44 1/3 innings.The left-hander defeated the Astros on June 2 in Houston and is is 6-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 13 games (nin
out 43 in 44 1/3 innings.The left-hander defeated the Astros on June 2 in Houston and is is 6-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 13 games (ninin Linden Comansa 11.01.2019 08:18
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Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesTwo years after the Chicago Cubs threw a World Series party 108 years in the making Chuck Klein Jersey , their returns diminished to an unceremonious exit from the National League Wild Card Game.The Cubs played 13 innings against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field and scored in just one of them en route to a 2-1 defeat. Thus their season ended only a day after the Milwaukee Brewers strolled into Wrigley and beat them 3-1 in the National League Central tiebreaker.So for the first time since 2014, the Cubs will go into the winter with zero postseason wins to show for a campaign.The one bright side to this is that president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have more time to answer the questions before them.The less bright side is how many of them there are.The biggest and scariest is what the heck just happened to the team's offense. It had a huge hand in carrying the Cubs to 195 wins and NL Central titles in 2016 and 2017. But in 2018, it fell off a proverbial cliff:2016: .772 OPS and 5.0 R/G2017: .775 OPS and 5.1 R/G2018: .744 OPS and 4.7 R/GIt only got worse as the year went along. The Cubs slumped to the tune of a .705 OPS and 4.1 runs per game in the second half. They were down to a .663 OPS and 4.0 runs per game by September and Game No. 163 against Milwaukee.To be fair, it didn't help that Kris Bryant wasn't hitting like his MVP-caliber self even before his left shoulder started acting up in June. He was even more of a shell of himself after he returned July 11, and there was no hiding it in either Game No. 163 or the wild-card contest.Otherwise, it's difficult to assess additional "to be fairs."Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesThe Chicago offense lost its identity in 2018. Cubs hitters walked in only nine percent of their plate appearances, down from 10.4 in 2016 and 9.9 in 2017. They also went from 223 home runs last year all the way to 167 this year.Only Javier Baez (34 HR and a National League-high 111 RBI) surpassed expectations. Anthony Rizzo endured a down year. And rather than taking steps forward, young stars Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. either regressed or were basically stuck in place.The solution for this problem might be as simple as showing hitting coach Chili Davis the door. Perhaps with better tutelage, a 2019 Cubs lineup with all the same ingredients (plus a healthier Bryant) as the 2018 Cubs lineup will have little trouble rebounding.Trouble is, the Cubs may not have much choice but to go this route.The free-agent market will be crowded with talented hitters鈥擝ryce Harper and Manny Machado chief among them鈥攂ut the Cubs already have $179 million committed to 2019. That's by far more money than any other team.This is counting all the club options the Cubs hold, including $20 million for veteran left-hander Cole Hamels. Unless they're comfortable trusting that Yu Darvish will return strong from the elbow injury that derailed his season, it seems all but certain Hamels' tab will be picked up.Ed Zurga/Getty ImagesWhat that $179 million doesn't include are arbitration costs for Bryant, Baez, Schwarber http://www.philliesfanproshop.com/authentic-jimmy-foxx-jersey , Kyle Hendricks and others. Once those are factored in, the Cubs will be bumping up against the luxury tax just when other rich teams (e.g., the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers) are getting under it.If so, the Cubs won't have much spending flexibility to improve their offense. Or, for that matter, to patch a bullpen with the highest walk rate in Major League Baseball over the last two seasons.One option is to cut some bad contracts, such as those belonging to Jason Heyward and Tyler Chatwood. But given how far gone their trade values are, that will be easier said than done.The Cubs could also resort to the trade market to find impact players, not unlike the Brewers did with NL MVP favorite Christian Yelich last offseason. But with only MLB's No. 29 farm system to pull from, that will also be easier said than done.Because the Cubs just won 95 games and notched a fourth straight postseason appearance, it's a tad soon to declare their supposed dynasty dead and buried.Yet whatever they were building has hit a major snag. And it's not clear how they're going to get around it. Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. BOSTON — After sweeping three games from one potential postseason opponent, the Boston Red Sox host another when the Houston Astros invade Fenway Park for three games this weekend.David Price, 4-0 with a 1.62 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break, returns from a one-game absence with a wrist contusion to pitch the series opener for Boston against 13-game winner Gerrit Cole as two teams go at it for the second time this season.From May 31 to June 3, the teams played four games in Houston — the Astros winning the first two before the Red Sox rebounded with two wins.Article continues below ...Now they come in with the Astros having won 12 of their last 15 games and leading the American League West by 3 1/2 games. The Red Sox, who swept three games in their interleague series in Atlanta this week Darren Daulton Jersey , capped by a wild 9-8 victory Wednesday – are 9 1/2 games ahead in the East.The Red Sox, playing a wacky lineup Wednesday as Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts rested, trailed the Braves 7-1, scored six in the eighth, fell behind again and then got a two-run homer from Brandon Phillips — capping his first game with his new team.“We were all in at one point, like here we go,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after the game. “It was fun. Honestly, that was the most fun I’ve had all season, watching the last few innings.“They could’ve folded and said, ‘you know what let’s go home. It’s been a productive road trip. People are talking about leads and where we are in the standings and all that. So whatever, let’s go home, enjoy the off day and we get Houston on Friday.’ But there was no sense of that. Everybody was pulling for each other. I pinch hit for a lot of guys and nobody was upset.”The win was Boston’s 97th of the season, the seventh time the franchise has won at least 97. They need only nine wins to break the 1912 team record of 105.The Astros just finished a 7-3 homestand with five straight wins, capped by a three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins as Alex Bregman continued his torrid hitting. The third baseman has reached base in 33 straight games, four shy of Lance Berkman’s club record.“He’s putting up so many quality at-bats http://www.philliesfanproshop.com/authentic-maikel-franco-jersey , one after another,” manager AJ Hinch said. “It’s hard to expect it at this level because it’s not as easy as these guys make it look sometimes, but he’s getting great pitches to hit and not missing them, and doing damage.”Price is 14-6 with a 3.60 ERA coming in. Since the break, he has an 0.92 WHIP and has walked seven while striking out 43 in 44 1/3 innings.The left-hander defeated the Astros on June 2 in Houston and is is 6-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 13 games (nine starts) counting postseason against Houston.Bregman is 2-for-5 (.400) against Price, Brian McCann is 11-for-32 (.344) with three home runs and Jose Altuve 8-for-22 (.364). On the flip side, Josh Reddick is 0-for-9, Martin Maldonado 3-for-13 (.231) and George Springer 5-for-21 (.238).Cole is 13-5 with a 2.86 ERA in his first season in Houston. He defeated the Red Sox with a quality start on June 1 and is 2-1 with a 4.74 ERA in three career starts against Boston.Phillips is 11-for-25 (.440) with a homer and J.D. Martinez 3-for-9 (.333) against Cole, and Bogaerts is 0-for-8, Ian Kinsler 2-for-22 (.091) and Mitch Moreland 1-for-8 (.125).The Astros didn’t have a starter listed for Saturday’s game, but Charlie Morton (13-3, 3.15 ERA) is expected to come off the disabled list to face Eduardo Rodriguez (12-3).Morton threw a bullpen session Tuesday and was on target to return.“Unless something unforeseen happens, he’s on track to be the starting pitcher,” Hinch said Wednesday.