Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

mr met logo featureThe Cubs are in the throes of a slump, especially on the pitching side and on the whiffing-at-the-plate side. I doubt the Mets are going to make that second one much better, and, as the Brewers just showed, even “bad” big league hitters can slap around struggling pitching.

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs dropped their second series in a week to the Brewers, sandwiched around a 1-3 series loss in St. Louis. Ugly. They’ve lost seven of nine, and are back to .500.

The Mets have been one of the darlings of the early going, winning 11 in a row back in April. They’ve gone 7-8 since then, but just took two of three from the Phillies and swept a two-game series against the Orioles. At 20-11, the Mets stand 3.5 games ahead of the Nationals in the East, and have the third best record in baseball.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Monday, May 11 at 7:05 CT on CSN.
  • Tuesday, May 12 at 7:05 CT on CSN+, MLBN.
  • Wednesday, May 13 at 7:05 CT on WGN-9, ESPN.
  • Thursday, May 14 at 1:20 CT on CSN.

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.


Starters: Jon Lester (4.04 ERA, 2.74 FIP, 4.25 K/BB), Jake Arrieta (3.41 ERA, 2.53 FIP; 4.22 K/BB), Jason Hammel (3.52 ERA, 3.49 FIP; 7.00 K/BB), Travis Wood (4.96 ERA, 4.38 FIP; 3.78 K/BB)

Lineup (obviously there’s been a lot of shuffling on the order lately:

  1. Dexter Fowler, CF
  2. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  3. Kris Bryant, 3B
  4. Miguel Montero, C (other catchers further down on the days they start)
  5. Jorge Soler, RF
  6. Starlin Castro, SS
  7. Chris Coghlan, LF
  8. Pitcher
  9. Addison Russell, 2B


Starters: Jacob deGrom (2.95 ERA, 3.56 FIP; 4.00 K/BB), Noah Syndergaard (MLB Debut), Matt Harvey (2.72 ERA, 3.08 FIP; 7.60 K/BB), Jon Niese (1.95 ERA, 3.83 FIP; 2.27 K/BB)


  1. Curtis Granderson, RF
  2. Juan Lagares, CF
  3. Lucas Duda, 1B
  4. Michael Cuddyer, LF
  5. Daniel Murphy, 3B
  6. Kevin Plawecki, C
  7. Dilson Herrera, 2B
  8. Wilmer Flores/Ruben Tejada, SS
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Baseball is often wacky and unpredictable, so anything could happen this week. That said, on paper, this matchup looks particularly rough for the Cubs. If they manage to split, I really think you’d have to be pleased about that.

Miguel Montero has been a beast lately, and has his line up to .299/.402/.522.

Each of Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, and Addison Russell have BABIPs above .415 and strikeout rates above 33%. I have some concerns.

No pressure, young man, but the Cubs’ recent skid – starting with their final game in Pittsburgh on April 29 – coincides with an ugly stretch for Bryant, who is hitting .175/.313/.300 over those 48 plate appearances with a 47.9% K rate (yes, you read that correctly). The league has definitely adjusted to his adjustment, learning that just working him out of the zone won’t cut it.

That Mets rotation, man. The Cubs are one of the most strikeout-prone teams in baseball, and these Mets starters will all strike you out. This could be an ugly matchup for that reason, if no other.

Get this: Thursday’s starter Jon Niese and reliever Sean Gilmartin are the only pitchers on the Mets’ entire staff with a strikeout rate lower than 20%. They have the 9th highest team K rate in baseball.

But get this: the Cubs’ pitching K rate is actually higher, at 22.1%. Of course, for batters, the story is quite different. Cubs strike out at an insane 26.3% rate, by far the worst in baseball. At just 18.9%, Mets batters are not particularly strikeout-inclined.

I love watching Matt Harvey pitch. He’s just so consistently dominant, and his pitches are so impressive. That could make Wednesday a real bummer.

Offensively, the Mets have been getting enough from Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer to get by, even after injuries to David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud.

Watch out for Noah Syndergaard not only on the mound, but also at the plate – as a pitcher, young for his level throughout the minors, Syndergaard is a career .270/.357/.405 batter. But then I realize for most of that career, he wasn’t actually batting, because most of the minors is already way ahead of the big leagues and uses the DH. Another reason it’s really stupid to have batters hit in the big leagues.

Oh, by the way: the Mets have a killer bullpen, too.


Keep Reading BN ...

« | »