Game Fifty-Four: Cubs (28-25) vs. Nationals (30-25)
- Game Time – 11:05am CDT
- Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network – Radio: WBBM 780, Cubs Radio Network, XM Radio Channels 183, 844
- Location – Nationals Park, Washington DC
Jason Hammel (4-2, 2.82/0.90/2.67) vs. Joe Ross (0-0, -.–/-.–/-.–)
Rise and shine, it’s time to play ball in one of the earliest start times for the Cubs in several years. No peanuts and Cracker Jack this morning, more like coffee and more coffee.
The Cubs turn to Jason Hammel this morning to get the team back on track. Travis Wood did a good job Friday night with two scoreless innings and allowed Joe Maddon to stay away from a majority of his relievers. Wood should be available for pinch-hit and pinch-running duty today if necessary while Maddon will be able to mix and match late in the game if the Cubs have a lead.
Offensively the Cubs are sputtering, and that is putting it nicely. Anthony Rizzo extended his hitting streak to 10 games Friday with his eighth career multi-homer game. Other players are going to have to step it up and it is not going to be easy with Joe Ross on the mound.
Joe Ross is making his Major League debut today. Ross is the little brother of the Padres’ Tyson Ross and was taken in the first round of the 2011 draft by Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod when the two were running things in San Diego. The Cubs did not find out until Friday that Ross was starting today. With preparation at a minimum, the Cubs must be patient early to see what he throws.
Today all starts with Jason Hammel …
Jason Hammel should have left the park before the game was over last night with the early first pitch today. Hammel missed the Nationals at Wrigley a week ago and is coming off one of his best starts of the season. Hammel beat the Marlins in Miami after allowing one run on five hits with no walks. Hammel struck out a career-high 11 batters in 6 2/3 innings. If not for an error by Starlin Castro in the seventh, Hammel would have notched his fifth straight outing of at least seven innings.
Joe Maddon is going to need a similar start from Hammel today while his offense tries to figure out the Nationals’ rookie right hander.
Hammel has been very good this season in his return to the Cubs. In 10 starts, Hammel has allowed just 53 hits with seven walks and 69 strikeouts in 67 innings. On the road this year, Hammel is 3-2 in six starts with a 3.03 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. Day games have been a little hard on Hammel, just 0-1 in three starts with a 5.12 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP.
Jason Hammel makes his 11th career start against the Nationals today. Hammel is 8-0 in the first 10 with a 3.11 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. At Nationals Park, 5-0 in six starts with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. The last time Hammel pitched in DC, he was removed from the game a little too early for his liking and was traded later that night to Oakland. Hammel doesn’t have to worry about not being with the Cubs tomorrow, just a Nationals offense led by Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon.
Nationals Career Numbers against Jason Hammel
- Ryan Zimmerman: 11-for-31 with three doubles, one home run and two walks
- Yunel Escobar: 5-for-26 with two walks
- Ian Desmond: 5-for-20
- Denard Span: 2-for-16 with one double and one triple
- Dan Uggla: 3-for-12 with one double and two walks
- Bryce Harper: 0-for-10
- Danny Espinosa: 1-for-6 with two walks
- Wilson Ramos: 2-for-6 with one home run and two walks
- Anthony Rendon: 2-for-6 with one double
- Tyler Moore: 2-for-4 with one double
- Jose Lobaton: 1-for-2 with one double
The Cubs get the first look at RHP Joe Ross at the Major League level. The 22-year old right hander was off to a very good start at Double-A Harrisburg in the Eastern League. In nine starts, Ross was 2-2 with a 2.81 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Ross allowed 18 runs on 46 hits with 12 walks and 54 strikeouts.
The Nationals acquired Ross, along with a PTBNL (SS Trea Turner) in the three-way trade with the Rays and Padres that netted San Diego OF/1B Wil Myers. Mike Rizzo sent Travis Ott and Steven Souza to Tampa. The Rays moved Jose Castillo, Gerardo Reyes and Ryan Hanigan to the Padres in the deal. The Padres parted with Jake Bauers, Rene Rivera and Burch Smith to the Rays with Ross and Turner ending up with Washington.
Joe Ross features a 91-93 mph fastball that he can run up to 96 mph when he needs it. Ross throws a heavy ball and gets a lot of groundouts. Ross’ slider has been graded as a plus-pitch and he throws it and his changeup in the mid-80s.
The Cubs must make Joe Ross work early and not allow him to get comfortable. Or his result could end up similar to the ones his brother puts up against Cubs.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …