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Cincinnati-Reds-Mr-RedThe Cubs are either still hot and the series loss to the Pirates was just a blip, or they’re coming down from a long-ish blip of hotness. Interestingly, in June, the Cubs have lost just two series – both of ‘em to the Pirates.

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs have lost two in a row after everyone started chirping about their having the best record in the NL over the preceding 31 games. The Cubs are 11 games under .500, and just ahead of the Diamondbacks and Padres at the bottom of the NL.

The Reds have won eight of eleven, though one of those losses was a game in which they led by eight runs. So that probably stung. At 37-37, the Reds are 8.5 back of the Brewers in the NL Central.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Monday, June 23 at 7:05 CT on WCIU.
  • Tuesday, June 24 at 7:05 CT on CSN.
  • Wednesday, June 25 at 6:05 CT on WGN.

Expected Starters and Lineups

These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.

Cubs

Starters: Jeff Samardzija (2.60 ERA, 2.89 FIP; 3.10 K/BB), Jake Arrieta (1.98 ERA, 2.31 FIP; 3.67 K/BB), Edwin Jackson (5.12 ERA, 3.86 FIP; 2.37 K/BB)

Lineup (been shuffling a lot lately):

  1. Luis Valbuena, 3B
  2. Junior Lake/Chris Coghlan/Justin Ruggiano, LF
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Starlin Castro, SS
  5. Ryan Sweeney, CF
  6. Nate Schierholtz, RF
  7. Welington Castillo, C
  8. Darwin Barney, 2B
  9. Pitcher

Reds

Starters: Alfredo Simon (3.05 ERA, 4.44 FIP; 2.50 K/BB), Homer Bailey (4.68 ERA, 4.08 FIP; 2.79 K/BB), Mat Latos (3.86 ERA, 3.94 FIP; 2.00 K/BB)

Lineup:

  1. Billy Hamilton, CF
  2. Todd Frazier, 3B
  3. Joey Votto, 1B
  4. Brandon Phillips, 2B
  5. Jay Bruce, RF
  6. Ryan Ludwick/Chris Heisey, LF
  7. Devin Mesoraco, C
  8. Zack Cosart, SS
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Travis Wood, who does not pitch this series, but could pinch-hit, has accumulated 0.7 WAR this year. On offense. That makes him the Cubs’ fifth most valuable hitter, despite having 36 – 36! – plate appearances.

Darwin Barney has hit safely in his last four games, and is hitting .250/.272/.352 over his last 31 games. That’s actually far better than his overall line, which I won’t show you, in case you have small children around who might be terrified.

Anthony Rizzo is still killing it – he’s hitting .313/.409/.650 over his last 22 games, and has a .900 OPS on the year.

Aroldis Chapman appears to be feeling just fine after missing time early in the season (broken face). He currently has a 55.4% strikeout rate. That’s right: when you face Chapman, you are more likely to strike out than to do anything else COMBINED.

Devin Mesoraco continues to lead the Reds offensively, albeit in part-time duty (hitting .310/.365/.628).

Billy Hamilton isn’t just in a hot streak – he’s actually been quite good for a long time now. Over his last 45 games, he’s hitting .302/.339/.459.

Cleanup hitter Brandon Phillips has a sub-.700 OPS: 274/.306/.393.

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