Cubs

LIVE: Reds take advantage of wild Coleman

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LIVE: Reds take advantage of wild Coleman

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011
Posted: 10:17 a.m.
Associated Press

The Cincinnati Reds might not have much to play for in the final two weeks of the season, but Johnny Cueto certainly has reason to look forward to his last few starts of 2011.

Cueto continues his quest to finish with the lowest ERA in the majors when he faces the Chicago Cubs for the second time in as many starts Wednesday night at Great American Ball Park.

Tied with the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw for the majors' ERA lead, Cueto (9-5, 2.36 ERA) is aiming to become the first Reds pitcher to lead the majors in ERA since Elmer Riddle posted a 2.24 mark in 1941.

"Of course I want to (have the lowest ERA)," Cueto told the Reds' official website. "I've put in all my best to get it done."

Cueto is 2-0 with a 3.23 ERA in six starts since he allowed five runs and three walks in 3 2-3 innings of an 11-4 loss to the Cubs on Aug. 6. He also faced Chicago in his most recent outing last Wednesday when he gave up three runs in seven innings of a 6-3 loss.

Cueto is 1-1 with a 4.32 ERA in three starts versus Chicago (65-83) this season - all at Wrigley Field. He's 2-2 with a 5.04 ERA against the Cubs at Great American Ball Park.

"He's tough, and I wish I was smart enough to know why we've had some success against him, and we have," Cubs manager Mike Quade said.

Cueto looks to give the Reds (72-76) a second straight strong outing after Mike Leake allowed a run in eight innings to help them snap a three-game skid and even the set with a 2-1 victory Tuesday. Brandon Phillips homered for the third time in the series as Cincinnati won for just the fifth time in 15 games.

Phillips, whose three hits in six at-bats over the last two games have all left the park, has batted .362 with four homers and 15 RBIs in his last 25 contests. He's 9 for 27 in his last seven versus Chicago.

Carlos Pena and Darwin Barney combined for four of the six hits for the Cubs, who lost for just the third time in nine games.

Among the major league leaders with 190 hits, Starlin Castro had his 13-game hitting streak snapped after going 0 for 3 on Tuesday. The All-Star shortstop is 2 for 14 versus Cueto.

Scheduled Chicago starter Casey Coleman (2-7, 6.65) has not won since May 19 at Florida, and is 0-3 with a 5.74 ERA in five starts since being recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Aug. 17. He gave up four runs and struck out five in five innings but did not factor in the decision of a 5-4 loss at New York on Friday.

"It's not like I've been getting crushed or walking people," Coleman told the Cubs' official website. "It's just the point where if you give up a few hits, you need to bear down and get out of it."

The right-hander also did not earn a decision after he allowed two runs and struck out six in six innings of a 3-2 win over Cincinnati on May 7.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Lee Smith Hall of Fame edition

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MLB NETWORK

Cubs Talk Podcast: Lee Smith Hall of Fame edition

Listen to Lee Smith's entire Hall of Fame induction speech in the embedded player below.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Cubs trade rumors: Nick Castellanos drawing interest and could be the perfect fit

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USA TODAY

Cubs trade rumors: Nick Castellanos drawing interest and could be the perfect fit

Ever since infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist hit the restricted list for personal reasons on May 8, one of the biggest talking points around the Cubs has been the team’s need for a steady, veteran bat.

Enter Tigers outfielder Nick Castellanos.

Sunday, Chris McCosky of The Detroit News reported that the Cubs have emerged as a "serious suitor" for Castellanos, citing a source. 

McCosky’s report follows that of MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, who reported that the Cubs had a scout in attendance at Friday’s Tigers-Blue Jays game in Detroit.

It’s currently unclear what a trade package for Castellanos, 27, would look like, but his fit with the team is obvious. In Castellanos, the Cubs would acquire a veteran outfield bat, one that hits extremely well against left-handed pitching.

Castellanos, who is a free agent after this season, has mainly hit second and third for the Tigers and led the team with 23 home runs in 2018. He holds a .280/.339/.467 slashline, with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs this season. Those numbers are even better against left-handers — .377/.451/.639 — albeit in a small sample size of 61 at-bats. However, in his 6+ MLB seasons, he's hitting .302 with an .871 OPS against left-handed pitching. 

The Cubs have struggled against left-handed pitching in 2019, ranking 23rd in average (.243) and 28th in hits with 164. Castellanos would rank first among qualified Cubs hitters vs. left-handers in average and OBP and only trail Javier Baez’s .776 in slugging percentage.

While it's true that Castellanos hits left-handed pitching well, he'd instantly become an everyday player in the Cubs outfield. Thus, the Cubs depth chart would be hit with several ripple effects.

Albert Almora Jr.'s  playing time against right-handed starting pitching would be affected. Almora held a .282/.315/.369 slashline against right-handed pitching in 2018, but those numbers currently sit at .255/.291/.427.

Almora's numbers against lefites (.210/.247/.296) aren't better, but his 2018 slashline there (.295/.340/.402) leaves room for hope. Also, Kyle Schwarber is only hitting .224 against lefties, so adding Castellanos would likely mean Almora starts less against righties and Schwarber less against lefties. Almora does provide Gold Glove caliber defense, so the Cubs may be more inclined to let him work through his struggles at the plate.

Similarly, David Bote's playing time could also be affected by Castellanos. Without the latter, the Cubs have more of a need to play Kris Bryant in the outfield, meaning third base is open for Bote to play. Adding Castellanos might mean Bryant playing more third base and less outfield, so Bote would have to crack the starting lineup at second base, more likely than not. The same goes for Robel Garcia, though his bat is making it hard to keep him out of the starting lineup right now.

Between Almora and Schwarber's numbers and Zobrist’s absence, the Cubs have a glaring need for more outfield offense. Adding Castellanos could be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Cubs offensively.

Update: Our David Kaplan added that the Cubs have also had discussions for Tigers closer Shane Greene.

Greene, 30, is arbitration eligible this offseason. The right-hander has converted 22 of his 25 save chances this season and has 40 strikeouts compared to 11 walks. However, his 3.54 FIP is a far cry from his 1.25 ERA, and the overriding thought has been that the Cubs would seek left-handed relief help rather than right-handed.

Greene entered Sunday with a lower ERA against lefties (0.64) than righties (1.29), though lefties are hitting .222 against him compared to .097 by righties. If the Cubs were to acquire him, he obviously wouldn't slot into the Cubs closer role, as Craig Kimbrel has the position locked down. As Kaplan noted, the cost to get both Castellanos and Greene would be steep, especially with the latter being a top relief arm on the trade market.

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