The Cubs have won eight of nine after sweeping the Phillies and now welcome the Reds to Wrigley for the last home weekend of the season. I’d normally say something about this being a bittersweet series, but I think all of us are beyond ready for the season to be over. More than just an end to the frustration, there’s a sense that big things are in the works on the North Side this winter.
There remains, however, a not-insignificant group that seems to revel in the notion that the Cubs will never again make so much as an attempt to be competitive. Have fun with that, I guess.
This final home series opens with Adrian Sampson on the bump in search of his fifth straight quality start. He has gone exactly six innings in each of the first four, allowing no more than one earned run in any of them. The Reds were actually Sampson’s opponent back on September 8 when this little streak started, so maybe they’ll have a role in its continuation.
Going for the Reds is 24-year-old rookie Graham Ashcraft, who is making his 18th career start and third against the Cubs this season. He has been rocked pretty hard by them so far, allowing 11 runs (10 earned) on 13 hits with five strikeouts and just as many walks over 8.2 innings. This dude has one of the weirdest profiles I’ve seen and I still can’t wrap my head around his numbers.
Ashcraft doesn’t miss many bats and both his 6.12 K/9 and 15.6% K-rate respectively rank 134th and 137th out of 147 pitchers with at least 90 innings this season. His 54.9% groundball rate makes up for a lot of that, but what’s odd is we’re talking about a guy who sits 97 with both the sinker and the cutter. He routinely hits triple digits, so I don’t understand how he doesn’t get swings and misses.
I mean, look at this…
Graham Ashcraft, Stupid 101mph Cutter. 🥴 pic.twitter.com/A4Hdc5FdEb
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 24, 2022
The Cubs have handled him before, but this is a slightly different lineup from what Ashcraft has faced thus far. Esteban Quiroz leads things off at second, then it’s Seiya Suzuki in right, Patrick Wisdom at third, and Ian Happ in left. Franmil Reyes is the DH, Nico Hoerner is at short, Yan Gomes is catching, and P.J. Higgins is at first. Christopher Morel bats ninth in center.
First pitch is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 30, 2022