The Chicago Cubs entered play coming off five games in four days against the St. Louis Cardinals. For that reason, Joe Maddon was forced to call upon Luke Farrell to start Monday night’s contest with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Farrell was not effective for the Cubs in his spot start, as the Cubs fell to the Diamondbacks 7-1.
While Monday’s start was just the third of Farrell’s big league career, the right-hander had an extensive history as a starter in the minor leagues. Despite that, in Farrell’s two big league starts he had posted a 13.50 ERA, lasting a combined 5.1 innings.
On Monday, things would not get much better for the young right-hander. The Diamondbacks’ offense entered play with the 17th best WAR in the majors at 10.9 while the Cubs began play with the best WAR in the league at 21.9. Those numbers, however, went out the window during Monday’s contest as the Diamondbacks wasted little time scoring runs.
In the first inning, Farrell got started off on the wrong foot, hitting former Cub Jon Jay, the first batter of the game. Perhaps the hardest hit ball of the inning came off Paul Goldschmidt‘s bat following Jay’s HBP. That ball, however, was caught by Ian Happ in left field.
Instead of barreling the ball up like Goldschmidt, Arizona used four singles, a double and a sac-fly to score five runs in the first inning off Farrell.
Farrell’s troubles in the first inning on Monday only continued to highlight the Cubs’ struggles with limiting runs in the opening frames. Entering play, Cubs’ starters owned a 4.87 ERA in the first inning, a mark that is topped only by their 5.05 ERA in the fifth frame.
After the first inning, things quieted down rather quickly. A solo home run off the bat of Goldschmidt only worsened the 1.19 HR/9 the Cubs’ starters had posted prior to Monday. That mark sits right in the middle of the major leagues.
Farrell’s rocky start limited his chances of going deep into the game on Monday. After walking Jay in the fourth, Farrell was pulled in favor of Brian Duensing. The right-hander’s final line looked like this: 3.1 innings, six hits, six earned runs, two walks and two strikeouts on 67 pitches.
Goldschmidt’s solo shot made the score 6-0 in favor of the Diamondbacks and it would remain that way until the home half of the sixth inning as Patrick Corbin was on point for Arizona.
Corbin began play with the fourth best starter’s WAR (3.3) in the National League. The right-hander amassed that by sporting a 3.24 ERA and an even better 2.82 FIP. In addition, Corbin owned the third best K/9 (10.96) and the 11th lowest BB/9 (2.57) in the NL.
It did not take Corbin long to display his strikeout ability as Albert Almora went down swinging to end the first inning, while Willson Contreras punched out ahead of a 6-4-3 double play in the second frame.
With the youngster striking out almost a third of the batters he faced on Monday, it was not surprising that the Cubs could not get anything going on offense. Until the fourth inning, the Cubs were unable to move a runner into scoring position. Anthony Rizzo, who made it to third base on an Almora single, was stranded when Baez struck out to end the fourth.
Corbin rolled through five innings before the Cubs were finally able to get something going offensively. A double off the bat of Happ immediately put a runner in scoring position for Jason Heyward who was pinch-hitting. Heyward, who entered play with a .324 batting average with runners in scoring position, ripped a ball through the shift and into right field to put runners on the corners for Rizzo. Rizzo, who logged another single out of the lead-off spot earlier in the game, grounded into a fielder’s choice to second base, plating the Cubs’ first run of the game.
Despite having an offense that ranked near the top of every offensive category entering play, the Cubs failed to get anything further on Monday. It’s for that reason that Corbin lasted deep into the game while sporting a solid pitch count throughout the entirety of the contest.
Corbin’s final line looked like this: seven innings, six hits, one earned run, no walks and nine strikeouts on 98 pitches.
With the win, the Diamondbacks improve to 55-46 while the Cubs fall to 58-41 on the season.
Next Up For The Cubs
The Cubs will continue their four-game set with the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, July 24 at 7:05 p.m. at Wrigley Field. Taking the mound for the Cubs will be Kyle Hendricks (6-8, 3.99 ERA). Hendricks has enjoyed a nice bounce-back month after posting a 7.03 ERA in June. This month, Hendricks is sporting a 3.13 ERA after yielding three earned runs over 4.2 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 19.
Opposing Hendricks on Tuesday will be right-hander Clay Buchholz (2-1, 2.56 ERA). Buchholz will be making his first start since June 24 after missing exactly a month with an oblique strain. When healthy, Buchholz has been solid, posting a 2.93 ERA in five June starts. Over that span, Buchholz struck out 26 batters and walked just six over 27.2 innings.
Follow Daniel Shepard on Twitter-Feature Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune