August was a more successful month after an uneven June and July, though it still featured some of the fits and starts we’ve grown used to. Before we dive into that, here are the reviews for the first four months of 2019: March/April, May, June and July.
The Cubs were 16-12 in August, making it four of five months with a winning record this season. The month began with a 6-2 stretch that included a sweep of the Brewers and winning two of three from Oakland, followed by a 4-6 road trip to Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Chicago’s series win against the Pirates was their first on the road since May.
The North Siders’ next three series were sweeps, two on the positive side against the Mets and Giants and a beating at the hands of the Nats. The pitching, despite some rough individual performances, was decent with a 4.13 ERA. The offense had a big month with 47 home runs and a a .784 team OPS.
The run differential was just +2, which is a sign Chicago got better than expected results from their play in August. Their +74 overall run differential is still best in the NL Central ahead of the first-place Cardinals (+67).
Who Was Hot?
Nicholas Castellanos destroyed August after coming over from Detroit at the trade deadline, hitting 11 homers with a bonkers 1.098 OPS for the month. Victor Caratini hit .288 with four jacks as he split time between catching and playing first base. Despite missing eight games with a back injury, Anthony Rizzo had a .994 OPS in 23 starts.
José Quintana had a huge month with a 2.02 ERA and 39 K’s in six starts. Yu Darvish finally walked a batter in his last start of the month for the first time since late July. Overall, the Twitter superstar had a 3.45 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 31.1 innings pitched. David Phelps had a 2.08 ERA in 8.2 innings and struck out nine hitters to only one walk.
Who Was Cold?
Jason Heyward did not take to hitting leadoff, struggling mightily with a .156 batting average and a .587 OPS. Addison Russell came back up from Iowa and his issues at the plate continued with a .200 average in 14 games.
Jon Lester had a few blowup games, which resulted in a pretty ugly 7.12 ERA over 30.1 innings. Kyle Hendricks (5.20 ERA) and Cole Hamels (6.33 ERA) suffered similar issues. The Derek Holland (no relation) experiment has not gone well as the lefty had a 5.40 ERA in 8.1 innings before hitting the injured list.
After getting swept by the Nationals at home, the Cubs traveled to New York to face the Mets and starters Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom. That seemed like a daunting task, but Chicago scored 19 runs and swept the series. It could end up being a big turning point if the Cubs make the playoffs.
Game of the Month
The Giants game on August 21 was one of those high-scoring Wrigley Field classics. Homers from Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber built a 6-2 lead for the home team. A five-run 6th inning against Yu Darvish gave San Francisco a 9-7 lead, then the Cubs bounced right back with three in the bottom of the inning to go ahead 10-9. Tyler Chatwood and Steve Cishek gave up two in the 7th inning to make it 11-10. Kris Bryant finally gave Chicago the win blasting a two-bomb off of Reyes Moronta to secure the 12-11 victory.
Five months down, just one month to go!