The defending World Series Champions take on the high-powered Washington Nationals in the NLDS. We use Remarkable! to preview the series…
Manager Joe Maddon will hand the ball to Kyle Hendricks in Game 1 of the NLDS. The Changeup artist held a masterful 1.42 ERA throughout the Cubs World Series Championship run last season, and has continued the incredible success with his changeup this year. Nearly half of his strikeouts are recorded via the change (60/123 – 48.8%), third highest rate in the Majors. Opponents have chased 50.9% (223/438) of his changeups out of the zone, also the third best rate in the majors this season. The Nationals are slightly below average against changeups, with an OPS of .666 (league average .685).
Lefty Jon Lester will take the mound in Game 2. Lester might be the Cubs’ best candidate to shut down a tough Washington lineup highlighted by two of the better left-handed hitters in the league — Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy. This season, Lester struck out left handed batters 34.1 percent (58/170) of the time, the third best rate among starters. He also limited left-handed batters to the 12th lowest well-hit average against a starting pitcher in the Majors, at .099. Additionally, left-handed batters are hitting just 2-for-25 (.083) against Lester’s curveball this season.
Quintana does an excellent job getting ahead of hitters. This season, he threw a first pitch strike 67.1% (530/790) of the time, the seventh best rate in MLB. Ahead in the count, Quintana holds batters to a .181 batting average (60/341) against and a well-hit average* of .097. If he gets behind in the count, he can become a much different pitcher. When Quintana falls behind, opponents are hitting .311 (41/149) with a .242 well-hit average. He’s often out of the zone with his off-speed pitches, throwing them for a strike just 53.1% (635/1,196) of the time this season (Rank: 155th of 159 qualified SPs in MLB; League Avg: 61.7%). Despite not throwing his non-fastballs for strikes, Quintana allows an OPS against off-speed of just .600 (League Avg: .645 OPS).
Arrieta is dealing with a hamstring injury, but will be called upon if the series reaches Game 4. The Cubs righty put together a fine overall season, statistically speaking, but he pitched better after the All-Star Break. His second half success can be attributed in part to a much better slider. In the first half, Arrieta surrendered a 1.076 OPS with his slider, while in the second half, opponents went just 5-for-43 (.116) against it with an OPS of .568. Additionally in the second half, right-handed hitters have a line drive rate of 11.4 percent (12/105) against him, third lowest among qualified starters (League Avg: 21.8 percent).
With Max Scherzer nursing a hamsting injury, Stephen Strasburg will get the ball for Game 1. Strasburg has not allowed a home run in his last 53 innings pitched. He’s also recorded at least six strikeouts in each of his last eight starts. The righty has allowed an OBP of just .231 (54/234) since the All-Star Break, fifth lowest among starters (League Avg: .326). In the second half, opponents are slugging just .145 (18 Total Bases/124 ABs) on non-fastballs, lowest among qualified starters (League Avg: .387). Additionally, opposing batters are hitting just .109 against (6-for-55) Strasburg’s changeup in the second half.
Other Possible Starters
Gonzalez put together a stellar regular season. Even when he was behind in the count, opponents hit just .264 against Gonzalez (38-for-144) this season, fifth lowest among starters. Opponents are hitting just .239 against Gio Gonzalez (116-for-485) on pitches in the strike zone this year, fourth in MLB (League Avg: .301). Gonzalez’s strength is his devastating curveball. Opponents are hitting just .161 against (24-for-149) on the curveball this season, with just four doubles and one home run.
Despite a tweak of his hamstring in his final start of the regular season, Max Scherzer will likely take the ball at some point in the ALDS. Right-handed batters do not stand much of a chance against the fiery flamethrower. Righties are hitting just .136 against Scherzer (46-for-337) this season, best in the MLB (League Avg: .259). Lefties have a better chance, but his slider still shuts them down. Left-handed opponents have a .432 OPS against Scherzer’s slider this season. As if that wasn’t enough, batters have to worry about his changeup as well. This season, Scherzer allowed a slugging percentage of just .171 against his changeup, fourth best among starters. When you look at those two pitches it’s easy to see why all batters are only hitting .096 against Max Scherzer (44-for-457) with two strikes this season, best in the MLB (League Avg: .180)
Roark has success when he mixes it up on the first pitch. The Nationals righty has thrown off-speed pitches 46.3 percent of the time (348/752) on the first pitch of at-bats this season, 16th most among qualified starters (League Avg: 36.0 percent). Batters have a first pitch OPS of .744 against off-speed pitches, compared to 1.071 against fastballs. In addition, Roark has allowed an OBP of .226 (35/155) versus right-handed batters since the All-Star Break, 11th best in MLB (League Avg: .321).
Wade Davis is the big name in the back of the Cubs bullpen, but there are a multitude of strong relievers for Chicago. Remarkable! takes a look at the Cubs pen:
- Left-handed batters are hitting just .119 against Carl Edwards (13-for-109) this season (Rank: 3rd of 230 qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: .245)
- Opponents have a groundball rate of 77.1% (37/48) against Pedro Strop with RISP this season (Rank: 1st of 199 qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: 46.2%).
- Brian Duensing has struggled to the finish:
- Mike Montgomery’s changeup is his best pitch when he comes out of the bullpen: .118 BA — 2 XBH in 34 ABs
- Wade Davis has allowed an OBP of .185 (5/27) against the first batter faced in the inning since the All-Star Break (Rank: Tied for 4th of 94 qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: .325).
The Nationals bullpen got a huge boost at the trade deadline when it added Brandon Kintzler, Sean Doolittle, and Ryan Madson. Here’s what Remarkable! has to say about them and the rest of the pen:
- Sean Doolittle has a strike rate of 73.1% (354/484) since the All-Star Break (Rank: 3rd of 250 qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: 63.2%).
- Hitters have chased 62 of Brandon Kintzler’s 183 fastballs out of the zone (chase rate of 33.9%) since the All-Star Break (Rank: 24th of 248 qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: 25.0%).
- Ryan Madson has allowed an OBP of .111 (14/126) with two strikes this season (Rank: 1st of 238 qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: .244).
- Left-handed hitters have a Well-Hit Avg of .076 (5/66) against Oliver Perez this season (Rank: 16th of 230 qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: .149).
- Opponents are hitting .166 against Matt Albers (35-for-211) this season (Rank: 12th of 250 qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: .245)
- Nationals relievers have allowed a batting average against of .279 (112-for-405) to the first batter of an inning this season (Rank: 29th of 30th in MLB; League Avg: .244)
It has been a tale of two halves for the Cubs at the plate:
- Willson Contreras has an OPS of 1.245 (112 PAs) with RISP this season (Rank: 1st of 176 part-time hitters in MLB; League Avg: .773).
- Kris Bryant has an OPS of .993 (323 PAs) on the road this season (Rank: 8th of 145 full-time hitters in MLB; League Avg: .733).
- Anthony Rizzo is slugging .876 (99 total bases in 113 ABs) on low fastballs this season (Rank: 1st of 145 full-time hitters in MLB; League Avg: .444).
- Javier Baez has chased 58.1% of pitches out of the zone (187/322) with RISP this season (Rank: 145th of 145 full-time hitters in MLB; League Avg: 32.7%).
- Like many of his teammates, Addison Russell has turned turned it around in the second half:
- Kyle Schwarber is batting just .144 (14-for-97) with RISP this season (Rank: 174th of 176 part-time hitters in MLB; League Avg: .261)
- Ben Zobrist is slugging .750 (21 total bases in 28 ABs) on the first pitch of at-bats since the All-Star Break (Rank: Tied for 13th of 108 full-time hitters in MLB; League Avg: .582).
- Nationals hitters have a Well-Hit Avg of .179 (220/1,227) versus LHP this season (Rank: 3rd of 30 in MLB; League Avg: .158).
- Daniel Murphy has a line drive rate of 28.7% (132/460) this season (Rank: 2nd of 145 full-time hitters in MLB; League Avg: 21.7%).
- Anthony Rendon has an OBP of .364 (327 PAs) with two strikes this season (Rank: 4th of 145 full-time hitters in MLB; League Avg: .250).
- Bryce Harper is slugging .665 (149 total bases in 224 ABs) on fastballs this season (Rank: 2nd of 176 part-time hitters in MLB; League Avg: .465).
- Ryan Zimmerman has gone to the opposite field with 40.2% of balls he’s put into play (43/107) versus LHP this season (Rank: 4th of 145 full-time hitters in MLB; League Avg: 30.0%).
- Trea Turner has a Well-Hit Avg of .407 (11/27) on high fastballs since the All-Star Break (Rank: 1st of 90 part-time hitters in MLB; League Avg: .142).
- Michael A. Taylor has at least one strikeout in 10 consecutive games, dating back to September 21st.
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