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billy marlin zambranoEverything is terrible! No, everything is great! That’s what a week in baseball can do.

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs swept the Mets after being swept by the Cardinals – it was as good as things could have gone after they’d gone as badly as they could. Maybe the Cubs will just take it easy on the extremes for the weekend, and win a couple games.

The Marlins, themselves, are coming off of a sweep. It was a particularly helpful sweep, too, as they beat the Giants in three straight.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Friday, July 3 at 1:20 CT on CSN, ESPN2.
  • Saturday, July 4 at 6:15 CT on FOX.
  • Sunday, July 5 at 1:20 CT on CSN.

And, if you’re not in the blackout region, you can always watch on MLB.tv.

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: Jason Hammel (2.92 ERA, 2.90 FIP; 5.82 K/BB), Donn Roach (10.80 ERA, 3.38 FIP; 1.00 K/BB), Kyle Hendricks (4.15 ERA, 3.54 FIP; 4.31 K/BB)

Lineup:

  1. Dexter Fowler, CF
  2. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  3. Kris Bryant, 3B
  4. Miguel Montero, C
  5. Starlin Castro, SS
  6. Chris Coghlan, LF
  7. Chris Denorfia, RF (Soler could be back … )
  8. Pitcher
  9. Addison Russell, 2B

Marlins

Starters: Tom Koehler (3.66 ERA, 4.54 FIP; 2.07 K/BB), Jarred Cosart (4.12 ERA, 4.57 FIP; 1.59 K/BB), Mat Latos (5.27 ERA, 3.62 FIP; 2.73 K/BB)

Lineup:

  1. Dee Gordon, 2B
  2. Christian Yelich, LF
  3. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
  4. Justin Bour, 1B
  5. Marcell Ozuna, CF
  6. Derek Dietrich, 3B
  7. J.T. Realmuto, C
  8. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

“It’s been a really rough stretch for the Cubs’ offense, which is hitting just .208/.272/.379 over the last two weeks (.289 wOBA, 75 wRC+). Man. Until I actually checked, I didn’t realize just how bad it’s been. Woof.”

That’s from the last time the Cubs faced the Marlins, which was the first series of the month of June. Wonder how the last two weeks compare … .226/.295/.323, .271 wOBA, 68 wRC+. Worse! It’s worse than the last time I felt compelled to type “it’s been a really rough stretch for the Cubs’ offense”!

Donn Roach gets a second start for the Cubs, at least this time against a much less imposing lineup. Last time out, he wasn’t terrible, but his style – extreme pitch-to-contact, extreme groundball – doesn’t offer much margin for error. His command has to be impeccable, or he’ll give up a couple walks (just about any is too many) and hard contact.

Brace yourself, because this is going to look really, really bad: going all the way back to May 2, Dexter Fowler is hitting just .210/.288/.362 with a .288 wOBA and 78 wRC+. You want to know why the Cubs’ offense struggles? If you had to boil it down, it’s Fowler and it’s Starlin Castro. That said, here’s the thing about Fowler: over that stretch, his K rate (23.9%), BB rate (9.7%), and ISO (.152) are all roughly in line with his career marks. The problem? The .250 BABIP is nearly 100(!) points lower than his career .342 mark.

Giancarlo Stanton is out, so the Cubs will miss him. Jose Fernandez is back, but he pitched yesterday (and homered), so the Cubs will miss him.

Former Cubs farmhand Justin Bour, whom the Marlins plucked in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft is still hitting well: .263/.340/.496.

After a big contract extension and a very slow start, Christian Yelich is heating back up: .329/.430/.507 since June 9.

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